For years, the Zimbabwean curriculum has been founded on knowledge acquisition and the systematic remembering of facts and information, delivered by teachers in front of classrooms, filled by eagerly awaiting students, ready to fill their empty minds from the teachers’ well of knowledge. The implication from this set up is that education belongs only to the knowledgeable teachers and administrators. The learners have to look up to educators for their development.
How true is this assumption? The Virtual Innovation Accelerator Program challenges this hegemonic narrative of education. It places learners at the centre of education and provides them with relevant recognition and support to champion their dreams and bring about the much needed shift in focus where curriculum design is concerned. Thus, learners own their own knowledge, ideas and strategies for implementing them. What they lack is the means, however given the right support, they are able to scale unimaginable heights and bring about interesting and before-thought of solutions
The Virtual Innovation Accelerator
The National Business Case Competition (NBCC) began as an idea, borne out of the dream of a young man who saw the potential in Africa to create entrepreneurial opportunities for young people who are often directed towards one path, that of seeking employment after Advanced Level. The competition provided more than one thousand learners with an opportunity to DREAM. I highlight the word dream as it is an often avoided word in the Zimbabwean education system.
Learners are constantly told to stop ‘dreaming’ and focus on passing their exams, going to university and looking for employment. But, how realistic is this trajectory of education? The NBCC was an opportunity to visualize, to dream, to take risks and to engage the reality of the world young learners were going into soon after high school. The journey is not as it is laid out in the talk of teachers, instead there are fewer opportunities for both higher education and employment as we move up the ladder of life.
What then does this mean for the millions of youth coming out of high school in Africa and the thousands in Zimbabwe? It simply points to the truth that the world out there is more challenging than the theory we learn in the classroom. Therefore, it is critical that we ‘catch them young’ and allow them to ‘spread their wings and fly.’ It is my strong belief that learners have the ability and capacity to influence how they learn and to make decisions regarding what they envision of their future. Student entrepreneurship is one way in which this freedom and individuality can be explored.
The eight teams that qualified in the NBCC were afforded the opportunity, through partnerships from Deloitte Germany and ZB Bank, to receive guidance and support from amazing group of experts in the business world. The learners tested their ideas and made connections between the theories they learnt in the classroom and the practical application of the knowledge gained.
The learners went through sixteen hours of theory and practical exercises in breakout rooms which helped them to think critically about business models, problem ideation, solution validation and operating models, financial management and marketing through social media. This opportunity allowed learners to learn from various industry experts and to realise that their own ideas are valid and relevant. With the right support, we can make difference in the future of he younger generation.
- Dreams should be had and can be achieved. When we allow learners to dream we give them a reason to pursue their interests with passion.
- Learners are aware of what they want to do in life, they only need support and proper guidance
- Public-private partnerships are key in helping young people to build their dreams.
- Nothing is impossible, only dare to dream and turn the dream into a reality
- Opening the minds of young people to the reality of the world they are going to encounter is critical. Let them experience it and they will grow.
- Teaching skills is critical through project based learning
- Challenge young minds and you will be amazed at what they can do, DARE TO SUPPORT
Written by Tendayi Dzinoreva
Curriculum Development Manager – Emergination Africa