Islamabad, Dec 7: Youth Engagement Services (YES) Network — an emerging entity in the field of service learning and youth social entrepreneurship in Pakistan — has integrated the concept of Youth Social Entrepreneurship into the curriculum of the University of Agriculture, Faisalabad, as well as 155 vocational training institutes of the Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC).
“The purpose of including youth social entrepreneurship in education is to help young people gain the appropriate knowledge, skills, resources and attitudes they need to secure jobs or to start their own businesses or social enterprises. We are partnering with leading regional and international organizations to develop and implement high-quality and results-oriented youth engagement initiatives aimed at building and promoting an entrepreneurial culture and spirit among young people,” the chief executive officer of YES Network Pakistan Ali Raza Khan informed this scribe here on Monday.
YES is playing a pioneering role in introducing and institutionalizing the concept of youth social entrepreneurship in the country’s public and private institutions. It has integrated the concept in the curriculum of two disciplines (Population Sciences and Rural Sociology) at the University of Agriculture. The organization carried out a series of workshops to introduce and sensitize faculty members and students of the university about the concept and its need in the perspective of growing youth unemployment and unrest in Pakistan.
Conducted in partnership with British Council Pakistan, the purpose of these workshops was to provide an opportunity to young people to learn and be inspired for taking positive action in the society. During each workshop, several interactive sessions were held to engage young people in developing critical knowledge and skills regarding social entrepreneurship. The first session of the workshop focused on dealing with two important questions: What is social entrepreneurship, and what is the difference between business entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.
The second session was aimed at developing critical thinking among young people about their future. They were asked to visualize where they see themselves after completing their diplomas and degrees. A majority of the participants were skeptic and pessimistic about their future. They were of the view they would be looking for jobs.
The third session focused on identifying key characteristics of social entrepreneurs. Young people were informed that the key characteristic of a social entrepreneur is his/her ability to invent new ways of solving old and persistent problems. Young people were given an interesting problem and solution identification exercise. They found out that it was very easy for them to identify problems in comparison to identifying new solutions.
The fourth session focused on sharing the process of development of a social enterprise. Young people were encouraged to design a social enterprise by selecting a local problem. The hardest part for them was to create an in-built revenue generation model for their ideas. The last session of the workshop focused on preparing young people to share their ideas impressively and assertively.
The students were very excited to participate in the sessions as many of them expressed that it is for the first time that they have developed this feeling that they can also become self-reliant and contributing members of the society. In the end, they were asked how they would like to view their communities now and whether they tend to focus on problems-or possibilities. Almost all the young people stated that now they would like to focus on creating and delivering solutions rather than discussing problems.
Referring to PVTC, Ali Raza said, “We carried out a series of activities for integrating the concept of social entrepreneurship and service learning into the curriculum of PVTC. The youth social entrepreneurship course is designed not only to engage students in solving social problems of their communities, but also for helping them to build a better future for themselves. The duration of social entrepreneurship and service learning course is 50 hours. This includes 10 hours of actual class work to assist participants to get familiarized with the concept of youth social entrepreneurship and the process of development of a social enterprise plan and 40 hours of field work to serve the society.” PVTC has become the first organization in the country to have launched a social entrepreneurship and service learning course for transforming disadvantaged youth from victims to social entrepreneurs.
YES has also conducted sensitization workshops on the concept of youth social entrepreneurship with principals and senior instructors of approximately 1100 technical institutions across Pakistan. Each workshop focuses on clarifying the concept and on generating interest for integration of social entrepreneurship into the curriculum of the technical institutions.
Several exercises were conducted to identify gaps in the existing education system and to explore new ways of empowering and engaging young people. The sensitization workshops encouraged innovative and creative thinking among participants. The workshop provided essential technical knowledge, tools, opportunities and resources to the participants to further explore the topic of social entrepreneurship and to take solid steps in rolling out youth social entrepreneurship education in their respective institutions.
The CEO of YES Network Ali Raza Khan and chairman of Punjab Vocational Training Council (PVTC) Faisal Ijaz Khan exchanging documents after signing of a Memorandum of Understanding for incorporation of youth social entrepreneurship education into the curriculum of 155 vocational training institutes of PVTC.
Published by Daily News on Dec 6, 2011