The vast majority of private schools in the emirate teach some form of entrepreneurship, according to a survey by the education regulator.
According to the Knowledge and Human Development Authority study, 74 per cent of schools teach the subject and most start it from Grade 6, when children are 10 and 11.
“Entrepreneurship education builds so many skills in students that they will need in their future lives, from communication to collaboration, resilience, negotiation and financial literacy,” said Kaltham Kenaid, head of research at KHDA.
“It was wonderful to listen to students’ positive stories of entrepreneurship in their schools and we hope that all students in Dubai will be able to benefit from this rich experience.”
The findings were presented at the International Council for Small Business World Conference, held at Dubai World Trade Centre on Tuesday, and highlighted some of the best practices in Dubai’s schools.
Questionnaires and interviews were conducted with school principals, teachers and pupils from across the emirate.
The research reveals how schools are teaching the topic and how they are working with community organisations to provide more opportunities to pupils.
Entrepreneurship promotes creativity, innovation and initiative, all qualities identified as vital as part of the National Innovation Strategy, and to achieve the targets set for the 2021 National Agenda.
The study also found that 72 per cent of entrepreneurial activities in schools develop pupils’ business skills; 59 per cent of schools conduct visits to local businesses as part of entrepreneurship education; and 72 per cent of entrepreneurship lessons focus on generating new ideas.
David Cluley, leader in learning for technology and the arts at Uptown School in Mirdif, believes entrepreneurship education helps to prepare children for life after school.
“We don’t teach entrepreneurship as a separate lesson, it’s more integrated into our lessons,” he said. “During our lessons we give them some guidance on what they need to do. But it’s up to them to design and develop ideas that they feel could go into the market.”
Among the projects that Grade 6 pupils at Uptown School do is design T-shirts for staff and visitors to the Dubai Crocodile Park, which is under construction. “It’s then up to them to decide on the design and promote this product,” Mr Cluley said.
He hoped pupils would be inspired to set up their own businesses when they are older and pupils agreed.
Andreas Packhausen, 15, from Denmark, said: “I’m interested in astronomy and aircraft so maybe there is something I can design that helps people with that kind of thing.
“To be a good entrepreneur you need to know what products or services people will find useful and that is the kind of thing we are taught in class.”
Belgian Samir Yousfi, 14, converted a Rubik’s Cube into a tic-tac-toe game, using 3D printers.
“The great thing is that although we are given some general direction, it’s up to us to come up with products,” he said. “This kind of learning is really important because you learn to think for yourself and come up with solutions to problems.”
Samyuktha Ramnath, 14, from India, designed and made a reusable handwriting book.
“With my book children can practise their handwriting as much as they want because the pages are laminated,” he said.
“I want to do chartered accounting and then get some experience working for a company before starting my own business.
“I can use the same principles I’ve been taught here and apply that to what I want to do.”