Today, the university's objective must expand beyond information transmission to also encompass fostering entrepreneurial culture and business thinking, as well as promoting and strengthening entrepreneurship ecosystems. Business became an experimental environment as foreign universities realised the value of entrepreneurship education, which was pioneered in America in the late 1940s and later in Western European nations in the 1980s. The result was a global spread of entrepreneurship education courses that encouraged students' abilities to turn ideas into work, which increased their creativity and self-assurance.
Egypt’s political leadership has focused on enhancing the activity of the Medium, Small, and Micro Enterprise Development Authority to promote a culture of entrepreneurship, creativity, and innovation among youth and citizens, provide job opportunities, and foster an environment that is conducive to implementing audacious initiatives related to the development of this sector.
Three years ago, at the same time, Cairo University launched its critical initiative to require entrepreneurship and critical thinking courses for all undergraduates. The Supreme Council of Universities in Egypt approved this effort in order to foster a better informed and educated generation and to improve students’ abilities. Other public and private institutions were encouraged to copy the model, provided that students completed the theoretical breadth of study and pursued practical experiences.
A project to establish multiple entrepreneurial clubs within Egyptian universities was then initiated by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology to encourage students explore their own commercial endeavours. This programme, which was sponsored by grants, led to the creation of 65 clubs.
In this article, I will discuss a recent initiative to spread creative thinking and entrepreneurship in European universities and schools known as "YES" or Youth Entrepreneurship Strategies. The initiative started in 2008 in the Swedish region of Ostergötland, but soon expanded to the rest of Europe.
With the incorporation of an entrepreneurial perspective into the educational system and the development of an entrepreneurial culture, the initiative seeks to boost the number of entrepreneurs and increase European competitiveness.
The strategy provided a number of crucial suggestions concerning the necessity of:
1. Strengthening students' personal attributes including creativity, accountability, risk-taking, problem-solving, and teamwork – as well as relevant business competencies on how to build and operate a firm.
2. Political adherence, backing, and real, unambiguous, and forceful support provided by a public government declaration, plan, or initiative.
3. Providing sustainable activity finance.
4. Integration across every stage of education, from primary to secondary to university. As a student moves from one phase to the next, the nature and level of the assignments should change.
5. Empowering teachers with specialised training on entrepreneurship and establishing creative methods for their ongoing professional development while teaching.
6. Setting up national support services to help universities, schools, and teachers, and creating connections between them, which represents one of the crucial issues in raising the awareness of entrepreneurs.
7. Supporting a strong network of communication and exchange of experiences at the regional, national, and international levels with the search for best practices to learn from.
What are we doing right now in Egypt? Cairo University currently has four organisations that help foster an entrepreneurial culture and advance its scientific environment: the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre, the Active Business Incubator at the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, the Entrepreneurship Club supported by the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology and the prestigious entrepreneurial programme.
They must be united behind a single vision and strategic goal that has been approved by the institution's top administration and has adequate support from the faculty of the prestigious university.
A strategy may be created that would serve as a model for the university. It would demonstrate the Egyptian universities’ capacity to hold onto elements of progress and long-term vision while also fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem that can support the desired potential effects of entrepreneurship on Egypt's future, economic expansion, and job creation for the country's youth. This is especially true of the fourth generation university, which promotes entrepreneurship as a way of thinking and living.
Creativity and entrepreneurial spirit are crucial for overcoming social and economic challenges, and Egyptian colleges should concentrate on problems like unemployment, poverty, poor economic growth, and inequality. They must go beyond teaching, learning, research and engagement if they are to develop into innovators and entrepreneurs who work with all stakeholders in the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem.
This is essential for the welfare of the nation and its citizens.
* The author is a professor at Cairo University, Faculty of Science