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The effectiveness of entrepreneurship education in selected high schools in the Cape Town metropolitan
Entrepreneurship continues to play a quintessential role in the economies of many developing countries as well as in South Africa. One of the drivers of the economy is the creation of small business ventures, which has greatly affected the economic growth, created jobs as well as increased the national competitiveness of the nation in the world business market. In South Africa, entrepreneurship presents opportunities for bringing together the relatively younger population and to redress the past social and economic differences among its citizens. However, the lack of efficient educational and professional training in entrepreneurship is hampering the ability of South Africa to benefit from these opportunities that are associated with sustainable small business start-ups. The aim of this study was to evaluate entrepreneurship education in transferring entrepreneurial knowledge and skills to learners in selected high schools in the Cape Town area. The main questions are: Is the current entrepreneurship education in high schools effective in the development of transferable entrepreneurial knowledge and skills among school leavers? Secondly, what do successful business people deem important to study by high schools learners in order to be able to start up businesses? Finally, what are the learners’ perceptions of entrepreneurship education in transferring entrepreneurial knowledge and skills? These questions were answered by using mixed research methods. A self-administrated questionnaire was distributed to 403 school learners in Grades 10-12 and nine Teachers of Business Studies, to assess the current entrepreneurship education and examine Learners’ perceptions of the current curriculum. Interviews of 30 business owners were conducted to determine the factors that entrepreneurs deem important to study in order to start up and run sustainable businesses. A purposive sampling method was used to select the schools for the case study. Both quantifying and non-quantifying data analysis methods were used to interpret the data. Descriptive analysis techniques were also used to analyse the survey data. The researcher being also an observer in the field explains all his/her observations. Data sets were subjected to multivariate statistical analyses including Chi square, and Kruskal-Wallis statistics test analysis was carried out using the Past (Paleontological Statistics) software. The results of this study indicated that high school learners from middle income schools are enthusiastically interested in becoming entrepreneurs. An overwhelming majority of learners (73%) agreed that they are ready to start up businesses from the knowledge and skills gained in the entrepreneurship education received. On the other hand, 55.6% of the teachers agree that the earners would be capable of starting a business from the knowledge gained. A majority of the teachers (89%) would advise their learners to be employees rather than employers. Small business owners recommended that aspects such as creativity, self-reliance and problem solving skills should be incorporated in the curriculum of entrepreneurship education. Finally, in order to improve the teaching of entrepreneurship education in high schools, all stake holders, business owners as well as parents must be involved. This study recommends the inclusion of hands on practical simulations in the curriculum for the improvement of entrepreneurship education in high schools in South Africa.