Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland; Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs, Neil Rowe and officials touring one of the booths at the Ellerslie Secondary School Extravaganza today. (Photo courtesy of The Ellerslie Secondary School)

Entrepreneurial efforts within schools have been welcomed by Minister of Small Business, Entrepreneurship and Commerce, Dwight Sutherland.

Attending The Ellerslie School’s Entrepreneurship Extravaganza today, Mr. Sutherland told the school body: “As Minister responsible for entrepreneurship, I am extremely pleased to see how the leadership within our educational system, working in consort with the principals and management of our primary and secondary schools, have been able to expose the minds of their young charges to the tenets of entrepreneurship and innovation, so as to lead them towards becoming more productive citizens, and to spur the next wave of entrepreneurial excellence within the global marketplace.”

Expressing the view that the school, like the home and the church, must be positioned to become a critical change-agent for behavioural reforms within society, he said: “I believe that entrepreneurship and academia, though to some seemingly conflicting contemporaries, must find a way to work together to provide a viable solution to the many societal ills we now face.”

The Ellerslie School was commended for its outstanding achievements which Mr. Sutherland noted was “by no means coincidental”. He said: “Rather, it is obvious that your operational underpinnings are guided by your motto ‘Make wise use of your time’ and your mission ‘To provide a secure, structured and innovative environment which empowers staff and students to maximize their potential to develop into responsible, creative, caring members of our changing society’.”

He further surmised it was perhaps this same philosophical ethos that would have guided the organizers of the extravaganza to leverage the opportunity to provide another teaching moment to students.

The Commerce Minister stressed it was his view that as Barbados sought to build out a “business start-up revolution” it was imperative that its educational system similarly responds with relevant and targeted curricula reform.

Some of the African inspired jewellery on display by guest exhibitor, Akela Jones at The Ellerslie Secondary School Extravaganza today. (S.Forde/BGIS)

“In its design, must be the critical role innovation, digitization, and modern technology advancements must play in a more modern Barbados,” he added, noting such reform must also be the type that recognizes teaching of subjects/courses within educational institutions cannot be done in a vacuum, but must be tied to some strategic entrepreneurial outcome and guided by a clear and holistic governmental vision.

Students were also told that entrepreneurship could teach them to be better decision makers, a quality that is important not only in terms of business enterprise, but in determining the best company to keep, in being a leader or follower, as well as determining whether it was more profitable to pursue a life of crime, or to be able to enjoy the freedoms of expression associated with making wise use of their time at school and beyond.

The objectives of the extravaganza were to: provide practical experiences for a select group of students; create and maintain interest among students in the area of business, and entrepreneurship and leadership.

The aim also was to provide an opportunity for students to showcase various talents, and to market and sell their work/produce, as well as provide a means of assessing their business capacity.

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