The world is witnessing unprecedented changes and technology, societies and environment we lived in even a few years before, are evolving fast. Along with this change, we are also facing a plethora of social and environmental challenges including – hunger, discrimination, joblessness, climate change – all of which are interlinked set of serious problems. Countries all over the world now agree that collaboration is the only way forward.
What role do students have in this changing world? How can they be instrumental in contributing towards a better world by mitigating challenges? We at Stoodnt.com sought answers from stakeholders of the Indian education sector on if students should develop leadership and social entrepreneurship skills in high school and how it can help them in their long-term career.
Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship Skills Development at High School
According to Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Adamas University, Kolkata, “students in school need to understand today that information gathering is no sure path to success in the era of internet and Google. It is the blend of the left brain with creative, aesthetic, leadership skills and the right brain with the logical, rational and scientific skills that can ensure success and happiness in life.”
“Take responsibility, owning a task, taking charge, and simultaneously being a team member in another task makes the best emotionally intelligent young man or woman today. Hence, sports that develop teamwork and leadership simultaneously, organizing events that develop taking ownership, planning strategy for a trip or an event or a small business that develops managerial along with entrepreneurial skills are valued very high in higher education positioning globally. Basic awareness of reading, writing, arithmetic, knowledge of the domain are given skills today. It is the leadership along with entrepreneurial acumen that makes the differentiator,” added Chowdhury.
Prof. Mahadeo Jaiswal, Director IIM Sambalpur, feels entrepreneurship and leadership skills are important to cultivate in a student, and schools should focus on providing a holistic education. “While some students might exhibit entrepreneurial and leadership skills at a young age, but we must remember, not everyone is a born leader. Every student has their niche interest and skills, some might excel in other areas as well. Hence, I believe schools should try to provide the best education they can in every subject. There are always higher education institutions where one can hone these skills post high school, if their interest persists,” he explained.
Prof. Jaiswal also stated that every school is the cradle where dreams are born in the minds, it takes shape into a career much later. “Schools should provide an all-inclusive curriculum that opens the panoramic vistas of the outer world by inculcating values through holistic education. Development of skills and honing them in the right direction should be undertaken at the higher school level. This will build focus among students to choose the right career that suits their personalities and matching skill sets. All students are not future entrepreneurs. It requires some inherent skills and passion that grows with time and knowledge. There are multiple avenues to channelize these skills once a student completes 12th grade. ITIs, IITs, IIMs are there to sharpen the focus towards a career in entrepreneurship,” he pointed out.
Dr. Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani Group opined, “doing volunteer work for social enterprises enables students to develop capabilities like leadership, team-working, problem-solving skills and empathy for others. Young people with these traits tend to stand out among their peers. They are highly in demand by colleges and employers who recognize their value, which builds their careers for long term success.”
Beas Dev Ralhan, CEO & Co-Founder, Next Education, India Pvt Ltd opined, “As per the World Economic Forum, by 2030, higher cognitive skills such as decision making, critical thinking and creativity will be in higher demand. Due to this upcoming trend and to meet the demands of the future, education is moving away from traditional classroom-based teaching to student-centred learning. Therefore, it has become the need of the hour to implement a pedagogy that focuses on inculcating 21st-century skills in students which will prepare them for an ever-changing workforce and facing global challenges.”
“In high school, students start getting opportunities to innovate and hone their creativity. The exuberant learners should be encouraged to take ownership of tasks and events in school, and volunteer for debates, student parliament, extempore, sports, excursions, etc. to develop managerial and teamwork skills so that they become responsive and responsible at an early age. These experiences will also foster problem-solving and decision-making skills that will help build leadership and entrepreneurial acumen in the youth. Not only do these skills propel them towards academic and professional success but also help them for college admissions. Often, college admissions consist of various processes that aim to evaluate the knowledge and skills of students. For instance, group discussion or case-study-based discussions focus on communication skills, leadership qualities, collaborative skills, and patience of students, which are essential to sustain in this dynamic world. If these skills are developed in high school, it gives students an edge over others during college admissions. Secondly, the college admission process gives weightage to students who have been active participants or members of various committees, groups and social causes. Hence, it is essential that students engage in related activities during schooling. Schooling has proved to be the foundation of a person’s career. The values and skills learnt at school pave the way for one’s success in one way or another. Therefore, it is important to help students develop their personality and hone their skills to make them self-assured and flexible, with a broad vision to lead the society,” further added Ralhan.
Shubika Bilkha, Partner, EdpowerU, feels in a constantly evolving and disruptive world, developing leadership qualities and capabilities are essential to be able to navigate a number of key situations in life while learning to self-manage effectively.
“If we go back to ancients texts such as the Vedanta, yoga psychology or even the approach of cognitive behavior science, they lay emphasis on self-management to be able to handle situations successfully. It has been found that 60% of success can be attributed to behavior skills rather than technical expertise, which has traditionally been the focus at educational institutions. Developing skills such as agility, resilience, navigating change, handling difficulty, being emotionally intelligent, communicating effectively, anticipating, building relationships, being commercially aware, having a vision, collaborating effectively, inspiring yourself and others, are important as students go from one stage of their life to another. While building these capacities is a lifelong process starting at the high school level will help in preparing students for all that is to come,” enunciated Bilkha.
Alka Kapur, Principal Modern Public School Shalimar Bagh New Delhi, considers leadership and social entrepreneurship skills as catalysts to strengthen and speed up the nation’s development. “The onus lies on the schools to develop leadership and interpersonal competencies amongst its students. The young exuberant learners in high school are brimmed with energy and enthusiasm to do something different and the only need is to channelize this energy in the right direction to ensure that they prepare themselves to lead the society to make it better than the best. It would be a matter of pride for any institution if it is able to give versatile change-makers to the society with an aim to improve the quality of life through innovative ideas,” advocated Kapur.
Dharini Upadhyaya, Co-CEO & Co-Founder of Furtados School of Music, said, “Based on numerous research and studies, there is a distinct upward trend towards increase of demand for skills like creativity, decision making, problem solving, critical thinking, etc. Education that is strongly focused on social entrepreneurship and problem solving prepares the student for an ever-changing workforce and prepares them with the skills necessary to address and tackle contemporary global and local challenges. These skills popularly get noticed in any area of work/education one chooses to opt for. The child is exposed more towards opportunities during his/her educational years as well as when it is a chance to go out there in the real business world. A lot of companies look out for. Having creative skills in the field of Music and arts are creating beneficent impact on the empowerment of social entrepreneurs and innovators. Research shows that learning music facilitates these skills exponentially. Picking an instrument teaches discipline as well as helps individuals to process situations and find solutions mentally. Those with musical training have been found to have higher levels of grey matter volume in their brains, which are directly tied to auditory processing and comprehension.”
When asked, Achin Bhattacharyya CEO and Founder Notebook, shared very specific insights on the importance of developing leadership and social entrepreneurship skills in high school.
Here is what Bhattacharyya said-
- Building your personality and working on positive traits is a lifelong process, however, the foundation for the same is best laid out in the formative years as flexibility in that age is a huge asset, which helps in gaining a quick grasp on new useful concepts.
- Leadership is not a job it’s simply a “way of life “ where you are ready to take on responsibility for others and support others selflessly with vision, courage, and compassion.
- Whether it’s leading a high school community development project of increasing traffic rule awareness or helping with the education of underprivileged children it gives you a sense of responsibility and confidence in being able to accomplish a given task with the help of some like-minded people.
- Entrepreneurship also needs you to be a visionary who has great organizing and motivating skills and the courage to face all odds and still lead his team towards success that very few could dare to dream of.
- Many of these qualities can be developed best during high school, and once you develop them these skills will be your lifelong asset.
- With the passage of time, every educational institution and the business house of eminence has realized the importance of wholesome development. Life is an open book examination, Your marks can at best give you an entry in your chosen arena but to march ahead in your career what you need is much more than rot memory that chalk and talk pedagogy teaches you. The world wants confident and bright individuals who are self-assured and flexible, those who are approachable and open with a broad vision and excellent social skills, willing to take on any new challenges without being afraid of failure. Thus leadership and entrepreneurial skills are priceless in the journey of life.
To end with let me quote Klaus Martin Schwab, a German engineer and economist best known as the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum – “Entrepreneurship and education are two such extraordinary opportunities that need to be encouraged and interconnected if we are to develop the human capital required for building the societies of the future.”