Entrepreneurship education in South East Europe and Turkey

Thomas Farnell, Entrepreneurial Learning Expert, South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL)

Despite significant political, economic and social challenges, the EU’s pre-accession countries of South East Europe (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro and Serbia) and Turkey have begun to address entrepreneurship education systematically, including through regional cooperation and peer learning. And some countries are already achieving inspiring results.

Measuring progress in entrepreneurship education: the SBA assessment

Within the framework of the Small Business Act for Europe (SBA), the EU's policy framework for promoting entrepreneurship, special attention is devoted to entrepreneurship education. Education is seen as playing a key role in building an entrepreneurial culture in the EU and its future member states, which in turn will result in a more competitive economy, job creation and social cohesion.

Currently, EU-28 countries provide limited information on progress achieved in the area of entrepreneurship in their SBA reporting. However, in the pre-accession countries the SBA assessment for entrepreneurship education is an in-depth analysis of existing policies and practices carried out every two years.

Led by the European Training Foundation and SEECEL, in cooperation with each country's public authorities and business world, the assessments effectively measure the extent to which an entrepreneurship education “eco-system” is in place. This means looking not only at policy and the curriculum, but also looking at the institutional culture of schools, teacher training, stakeholder cooperation, monitoring and evaluation, good practice exchange, etc. (see Figure 1).

Figure1: The entrepreneurship education eco-system


Source: Thematic Working Group on Entrepreneurship Education (p. 14)

The SBA assessment is complex and demanding: it consists of dozens of indicators and requires both desk research by local experts and critical discussions at national stakeholder meetings. But it is worth the effort: the assessment provides each country with a good picture of its achievements and a road map of how to improve its entrepreneurship education policy and its implementation.

Preliminary results in South East Europe and Turkey: commitment, cooperation and implementation

The SBA assessment has been taking place since 2006. The results of the latest SBA assessment, which will be officially published in early 2016, show the following positive trends in the region of South East Europe and Turkey:

  • Political commitment to the entrepreneurship agenda has been confirmed through the Charter for Entrepreneurial Learning: the Keystone for Growth and Jobs, jointly signed by ministries from all countries in the region in 2012.
  • Policy commitment also exists since all countries have included entrepreneurship education into relevant national strategies, with some even developing separate entrepreneurship education strategies.
  • Regional cooperation has played a significant role in the process, despite geo-political tensions. Namely, SEECEL was established upon the request of all the countries of the region in order to support the entrepreneurship agenda in each country, including through peer-learning between schools and experts.
  • Implementation of entrepreneurship education is now taking place in all countries’ primary, secondary and tertiary education systems through piloting an instrument developed by SEECEL. There are over 170 pilot institutions, and the positive impact on the acquisition of relevant learning outcomes has been confirmed by independent experts, as well as by the schools and teachers themselves.

In addition to these general achievements, examples of intelligence gathered from the SBA analysis demonstrate the value of the assessment process in capturing progress within the countries:

  • Montenegro has begun the full-scale implementation of entrepreneurship as a cross-curricular competence in primary and secondary schools, and has ensured special training for teachers and school principals in every school.
  • Turkey has set up a highly original structure for promoting entrepreneurship in higher education through an Entrepreneurial and Innovative University Index.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina is implementing a state-wide project on introducing entrepreneurial learning as a cross-curricular competence in secondary education and in non-formal education.

In most countries in the region, the unemployment rate is over 20% (more than double the rate of the EU-28 average), and youth unemployment often reaches 40% or more. The significance of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship education in such countries is therefore huge. Maybe it is precisely these countries that will soon be making the most rapid progress in entrepreneurship education?

Category : entrepreneurship education Posted : 1 October 2015 07:51 UTC
About the Author
Thomas Farnell, Entrepreneurial Learning Expert, South East European Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (SEECEL)

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