Let's Mentor New Generation to become Entrepreneurs

“So who is going to employ you as a doctor, engineer or pilot in the long run?”

Entrepreneur or not, you probably have been in this situation at least once in your student life: the teacher asks “What do you want to be in the future?” and reply that you want to become a doctor, an engineer or a pilot. It is highly likely that you did not have a clue as to what being one of them actually meant or whether you really wanted to become what you said. Amid the discussion, the elephant in the room that is always ignored is who is going to create jobs for these doctors, engineers and pilots?

Whenever I talk to school kids about entrepreneurship, I always ask: “Who is going to employ you as a doctor, engineer or pilot? Who among you is going to create those jobs?” The students rarely have an answer. The question forces students, if nothing else, to ponder about the role of entrepreneurs in society. It is no secret that our educational system has failed miserably in instilling the values of entrepreneurship, innovation and problem-solving in our younger generation.

As a result, only a fraction of the 4,50,000 people who enter the labor market every year get jobs, and even fewer get jobs that pay well. Our unemployment and underemployment rates have refused to climb down from 46 percent for many years now. As a response, millions of Nepalis have left the country to look for job opportunities in foreign lands.

In fact, I have come to believe that our education system is doing just the opposite of what it should be doing. I feel it might be killing the entrepreneurial instincts in young people. A student’s academic competence has always been judged by how well the student can conform to a common set of values, skills and beliefs. One gets good grades if one has memorized things, and is able to articulate a certain set of knowledge prescribed by the curriculum – hardly a quality needed in an entrepreneur.

A negative impression that our education has given our young generation is that if they have a degree, they are entitled to a well-paying job. “I completed a degree with good scores. Therefore, the world owes me a living.” These are common ramblings I have come to hear again and again. In my view, a person who has received almost two decades of education should be ashamed that she cannot fend for herself.

I have met people with little or no education who are more willing to help themselves than their educated counterparts who whine about not getting a job or getting a job that doesn’t pay handsomely.

In this context, I think it is high time that we start teaching entrepreneurial values and skills to our younger generation. It is essential to teach them not only to become doctors but also become someone who will create employment opportunities for doctors. While we try to etch into their minds that Nepal is an agricultural country, why not instill in them that unless we can be innovative about it, agriculture will only mean poverty.

While we teach them to take pride in the thousands of mega watts of electricity we are capable of producing or the mountains in Nepal, we should also teach them that without entrepreneurship these resources are of no use.

As Nepal gets propelled into a globalized and rapidly evolving world, bracing ourselves for our entrepreneurial adventure is the need of the hour. While the world rides the waves of unprecedented prosperity and innovation, it is sad to see that millions of Nepalis do not see opportunities in their homeland and have to seek employment in foreign lands. Let’s inculcate entrepreneurial values and norms in our future generation so that we are not left behind.

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