IT IS expected that up to 250,000 fifth and sixth class children will take part in the Junior Entrepreneur Programme by the year 2020, after the programme was expanded to cover the entire country this year.
Launched by Kerry entrepreneur Jerry Kennelly, along with Shannon Development and Mary Immaculate Teaching College, the programme has been successfully piloted in schools since 2010, with 1,500 primary school children having already participated.
The 10-week programme encourages children to make decisions, negotiate, resolve conflict and connect with the wider world - all in the interest of developing entrepreneurial and business sense. Team building games link with PE and, depending on the focus of the project, there may also be a strong link to other classes, such as arts, history, geography or science.
Mr Kennelly said he has found this age group to be particularly creative when it comes to taking their fledgling steps in the world of business. "There's something about the energy that exists in a primary school classroom. The 11 and 12 year old pupils have not been impacted by the points race – they are open, creative and quick to learn," he said.
"We have 11 entrepreneurs signed up and the programme will be run in 11 regions this academic year at no cost to the parents, schools or department," Mr Kennelly added. "The entrepreneurs' role will be to appoint a coordinator to work with the schools to ensure the programme is successfully run and to participate in meeting the Junior Entrepreneurs during the year. In the first year of our national roll out we have capacity for 40,000 children, covering nearly half the schools in the State."
JEP instils a new interest and focus on learning, while also teaching invaluable skills in a real life context that motivates and inspires pupils. Carefully aligned with the Primary Curriculum and the SPHE element in particular, the JEP is designed to enhance the teaching that already takes place.