Entrepreneurial Learning: formal vs. in- and non-formal education and training

Professor Dr. Radmil Polenakovikj, Business Start-up Centre, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University

"Entrepreneurship and Innovation is for all" - This is my motto.

Entrepreneurs are made, not born. It is true that not everybody has the same entrepreneurial spirit, some people are more entrepreneurial than others.

However, entrepreneurial skills can be learned, nurtured and improved. This is the crucial principle that is accepted by the Macedonian government, mirrored in many activities, projects and strategic policy documents.

The central strategic document related to entrepreneurial learning (EL), which was adopted recently, is Entrepreneurial Learning Strategy of the Republic of Macedonia 2014-2020 (EL strategy is developed with support from The European Training Foundation, Turin) . The EL ecosystem foreseen in this strategy consists of 5 central pillars: primary, secondary, higher and non- and in-formal education, and young entrepreneurs. The EL strategy requires strengthening of the systematic approach in building entrepreneurial education institution through strengthening of the managerial systems and building strategic alliances in a formal and informal way with businesses and local community. This indicates that the government’s intentions are to foster both: formal and non-formal/in-formal ways of entrepreneurial education and training.

Informal education is a spontaneous process of learning through conversation, exploration and enlargement of the experience, while the formal and non-formal ways are planned, organized and structured educational processes. The non-formal entrepreneurial education has some advantages, such as: flexibility, project-oriented, more interestingly implemented, but on the other hand it is dependent on available funds.

Macedonia aims to promote entrepreneurial thinking massively. For that purpose, it uses formal education as a vehicle for teaching entrepreneurship in a more organized way and delivering it systematically to every young individual in the country. The transformation of formal education toward something more entrepreneurial and innovative started from secondary education, with the introduction of the subject Business and Entrepreneurship in the 4th year of secondary schools in 2007. Few years later, (2012), a new mandatory subject entitled Innovation and Entrepreneurship was introduced in 1st, 2nd and 3rd year of secondary schools.

Starting in 2013, primary education also experienced innovative transformation, by injecting the Innovation and Entrepreneurship topic in six regular subjects (mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, arts and informatics) for 9th graders. All these activities were supported with extensive teacher training courses.

The most recent (Feb 2015) actions for enhancing EL, were revisions undertaken by a mixed expert group of the school curricula in order to ensure an overall match between the entrepreneurial subjects taught in school and the real needs of students and labor market.

To redesign the curricula of the five entrepreneurial subjects, the expert group developed a methodology that could be summarized in the matrix presented in the Annex 1. Each of the subjects is divided in five themes, providing gradual expansion of students’ formal knowledge, but also facilitating the students to interact with their environment and community, learning practically through informal educational methods. The application of this methodology for revising the curricula for entrepreneurial education ensures a step-by-step evolving education experience for the Macedonian youth, blending together both formal and informal educational ways.

Now we are faced again with the same dilemma, which way is better: formal or non-/in-formal entrepreneurial education and training. We definitely need both to have a bigger impact – formal entrepreneurship education in primary and secondary schools, and different forms of non-formal/ in-formal types of entrepreneurship education (trainings, camps, summer schools, competitions, weekend trainings, evening classes, mentoring, tutoring, bootcamps, etc.)

We need all of these in order to change our youth mentality. So, please not use VS., or, OR, but AND – Formal AND Non-/In-formal entrepreneurial education and training for better future of our children.

Read more about the methodology matrix for EE in primary and secondary schools

Category : entrepreneurship education, education Posted : 15 September 2015 11:18 UTC
About the Author
Professor Dr. Radmil Polenakovikj, Business Start-up Centre, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Ss. Cyril and Methodius University


Dear Radmil,

Thanks for sharing your valuable experience from Macedonia. I have one question: do you/does your strategy also include in "non-formal" education areas that are typically covered by employment, youth or social policy - i.e. entrepreneurship training for the unemployed, for women, for minorities and other disadvantaged or geographically isolated groups? I recently did some desk research on practices in EU-28 states, and found that there was rarely any connection between "entrepreneurship education" policies (focusing primarily on formal education), and such examples of non-formal education and training policies or practices. Would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

Thanks for your input,
Thomas Farnell, SEECEL
Thomas Farnell, SEECEL 2015-09-16 13:13 Reply
Dear Thomas,

Thank you very much for your interesting question, and I am sorry for my late reply. I was on 10th European Conference on Innovation and Entrepreneurship that just end in Genoa, Italy.

The answer on your question is YES, our strategy fully incorporate areas that you mentioned “employment, youth or social policy - i.e. entrepreneurship training for the unemployed, for women, for minorities and other disadvantaged or geographically isolated groups”. Furthermore, in the action plan that is following the strategy, the highest percentage of the budget is devoted to these activities. However, because it is Government priority and significant state funds are allocated to these activities, more than 90% is going to the formal sector (State and Local agencies for employment). Other 10 % mainly is donor (European Commission, USAID, GIZ, ADA, World Bank, ….) driven, project oriented and implemented by NGO’s and other local companies and organizations.
Radmil Polenakovikj
Radmil Polenakovikj 2015-09-19 06:31 Reply
Dear Radmil

Thank you for this overview of MK efforts to build a lifelong entrepreneurial learning system.

You raise a critical issue which I feel the EEhubEU group perhaps needs to give more considered attention - non-formal entrepreneurial learning.

If we take family business, almost all knowledge and skills are learnt on the job - no curriculum, no assessment, no qualifications or certificates. I had the chance recently to review how the Flemish Chambers of Commerce were promoting entrepreneurship amongst young people. Guess what? No curriculum, no assessment, no qualifications or certificates. And very effective results in terms of start-ups. There is not 'attach button' here to allow me to share a file on Bryo - excellent stuff! Maybe, Peter from the eco-systems sub-group could share more detail on Bryo.

Anthony Gribben
Anthony Gribben 2015-09-22 16:14 Reply

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