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Social School Entrepreneurship

The “Establishing social school enterprises in rural areas and small towns to engage youth in social entrepreneurship in Ivano-Frankivsk, Zhytomyr and Donetsk Oblasts” project was undertaken by East Europe Foundation jointly with ChildFund Deutschland e.V., a German NGO, with funding from the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development. The timeframe for this project was September 2019–August 2021.

This project was aimed at increasing the competitiveness of Ukrainian youth on the labor market by developing social entrepreneurship skills among school children and integrating the social model of the school enterprise into local education curricula.

School or pupil entrepreneurship is one of the most successful methods for developing the entrepreneurial spirit among young people, as well as a sense of social responsibility, and preparing them for a conscious life while at school. It also fosters and develops the school itself as an open institution. This pilot business model of “adult” forms of entrepreneurship, put together by the pupils themselves based on their initiative, and working according to all the rules of business within the context of a school, has been successfully supported by the government, society and business in Germany. The plan is to adapt the German model and implement it in Ukraine.

The school enterprise model is a stable and, more importantly, practical application of an educational concept for entrepreneurship that is as close as possible to the real rules of the business market, while taking the form of a prototype. Pupils from age 13 to 18 or grades 7-11 can work with an idea for a school enterprise and make their own decisions, come up with their own concept of a school enterprise, and learn about strategic and business planning in the process of implementing it. They also learn how to make and sell products, and about social responsibility, sustainability, joint decision-making, communicating with colleagues and partners, and more. School enterprises foster the early acquisition of such skills as self-organization, teamwork and behavior culture, along with an understanding of what a young person’s professional or social orientation might be in the future.

As part of this project, focus groups were held in Kyiv, Kramatorsk, Ivano-Frankivsk and Zhytomyr to study the situation and opportunities to effectively introduce models of school entrepreneurship in the target oblasts. The legislative context was also analyzed regarding the development of school entrepreneurship in Ukraine. A total of 15 specialists in school entrepreneurship were trained with the participation of German and Ukrainian trainers.

Two summer/winter schools were organized for 30 pupils each to test and disseminate the model of school enterprise. The experience gained was systematized into a handbook in social school entrepreneurship, which will be used to train 20 teachers. To test the model in action, the project funded 26 pilot initiatives to set up social school enterprises. These initiatives were mentored by the specialists in school entrepreneurship trained under this project. To enable the exchange of experiences among pilot oblasts, 5 visits were organized for pupils, teachers and representatives of the CSOs engaged in this project.

The EEF also developed information and promotional materials to promote public awareness and understanding of the idea of school entrepreneurship in Ukraine. The project ended with a closing conference in Kyiv, where partners and participants shared their experiences and talked with educators, business and community activists on how to further develop school entrepreneurship across the country.

We are confident that, with the development of school entrepreneurship, young people will acquire real skills of an entrepreneurial and innovative nature in rural and small-town schools and thus gain an edge for engaging in business activity later on. In addition to this, the practical experience of working in a specific sector and having the opportunity to discover their own strengths and weaknesses should help young people make better career-oriented decisions. The pilot schools, in their turn, should become more competitive in a decentralized environment.

For more about this project, visit us at: http://sse.eef.org.ua/