The Québec Entrepreneurship Contest (QEC) has released a comprehensive report based on an analysis of the spinoffs and success factors of entrepreneurial projects that were carried out in Québec elementary and secondary schools in disadvantaged areas (according to the socioeconomic indicators of the Ministère de l’Éducation, du Loisir et du Sport), in the context of the Valoris project. Over 800 young people and 50 teachers from five regions of Québec (Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches, Estrie, Mauricie and Montréal) took part in this process during the 2009-2010 school year.
The observations that emerged from this survey are very revealing. As QEC President and Director General, Natacha Jean, put it: “Although we are in a unique position to observe the workings of entrepreneurship in the schools, we are favourably impressed by the Valoris findings. These data confirm the full scope of the benefits of entrepreneurial projects for both young people and their teachers.”
Young people with more confidence, motivation and a sense of empowerment can work towards their potential – “I now know that I can go farther in life.” said one 16-year-old student in special education.
During entrepreneurial projects, students are encouraged to make decisions, take on responsibilities and come up with ideas. In doing so, they become aware of their abilities, and sometimes even reach the point where their perceptions of themselves change. Moreover, 95% of teachers have observed that entrepreneurial projects have led to increased self-esteem among students with learning difficulties, while 82% of students stated that, by taking part in such projects, they have developed pride in their abilities. And 77% of students said that they were more confident as a result of the experience.
Thus, motivation to succeed in school is one of the positive spinoffs of student entrepreneurship projects. Indeed 97% of teachers feel that entrepreneurial projects have increased students’ motivation in the classroom, 99% say that students’ feeling of belonging in the school has also increased, and 66% of students claim that such projects motivated them to stay in school.
Moreover, according to 98% of teachers entrepreneurial projects developed students’ entrepreneurial profiles. A sense of responsibility, perseverance and team spirit were the qualities that the students themselves mentioned most often in response to the question. Through entrepreneurial projects, students have also come to know themselves better and discover new talents, according to 96% of teachers.
Teachers who are happier in their work and who tailor their interventions to their students’ needs – “Carrying out this project reminded me of why I became a teacher. It’s what keeps me grounded in my work!” comments one secondary school teacher.
The benefits of entrepreneurial projects were also much in evidence among the teachers themselves. In fact, all of the teachers surveyed said that they appreciated their entrepreneurial experience and 91% of them stated that it made teaching fun. Eight out of ten teachers interviewed pointed out, without being asked, the extent to which entrepreneurship had motivated them in their work.
Thus, according to 94% of teachers, entrepreneurial projects allow them to revitalize their teaching practices, and all those who were interviewed stated that they incorporated their subject-specific content into the project, regardless of the subject involved. These teachers found this to be a different way of teaching, one that was more adapted to their students’ needs and made learning more meaningful. Many of them said that that they could no longer see themselves teaching in any other way, since their students were now mobilized around a common objective (94%) and that carrying out an entrepreneurial project gave them an opportunity to take up new challenges (95%).
In brief, given the current issues in education, student entrepreneurship at school is a factor that facilitates greater involvement on the part of both students and teachers.
Ten factors were identified in connection with the successful completion of entrepreneurial projects in class and deriving the greatest possible benefits.
1. Teacher motivation and conviction
2. Students’ active involvement in the project
3. Equitable participation by all the students involved
4. A realistic challenge for students and teachers alike
5. The visibility of the project outside the classroom
6. Student feedback
7. Proper planning
8. The frequency with which entrepreneurial projects took place
9. Community support
10. Access to resources
The Valoris Project is an initiative of the Québec Entrepreneurship Contest. Its mission is to foster the implementation of entrepreneurial projects in Québec elementary and secondary schools located in disadvantaged areas. Valoris receives funding from the Secrétariat à la jeunesse, the Ministère de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale and the Forum jeunesse de la Capitale-Nationale.