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E³ will contribute to solving youth unemployment in South Africa by 2035

A programme of the Department of Basic Education, E³, will contribute to solving youth unemployment in South Africa by 2035. E³ aims to achieve this by ensuring that learners will be meaningfully engaged in the South African society and economy by being better prepared for life after school through their schooling, whether being further study (Education); work opportunities (Employability) and/or establishing their own businesses (Entrepreneurship).

E³ is rallying all key stakeholders behind this mammoth task, by preparing in-service and pre-service teachers to transform their classrooms into conducive learning environments using playful project-based learning (PPBL) which activates the intentions of the CAPS curriculum. PPBL is a learner-centred teaching approach where learners learn by actively engaging in the real world and personally relatable and meaningful projects that mirror reality. Exposure to play creates an environment conducive to learning and so play has an integral place in E³’s approach. Children start life intrinsically motivated to learn by playing and discovering – and the schooling process should create environments that contribute to continuing this motivation to learn. Through PPBL, learners can explore projects that interest them and that are relevant to the challenges and environment that  they find themselves in.

Other key stakeholders include corporate and non-profit partners who create a supportive ecosystem around the schools and provide access to the necessary real-world teaching context. These strategic stakeholders are identified according to the role that they play in supporting teachers (the primary delivery channel for this new teaching approach) to adopt the E³ model. The E³ programme speaks directly to businesses’ need for graduated learners who have the requisite skills, including entrepreneurial and solution-seeking mindsets, to take their place in a rapidly changing work environment. E³ is built on the premise that an entrepreneurial mindset can be developed and therefore taught through relevant education. E³ also distinguishes between enterprise development and having an entrepreneurial mindset. Enterprise development, commonly referred to as entrepreneurship, is the process of designing, launching, and running a new venture, often a small business.

The entrepreneurial mindset, however, is a broader notion based on the underlying beliefs and tacit assumptions that drive individual behaviour towards taking responsibility to make themselves useful to others and therefore add value to society. Individuals with an entrepreneurial mindset are purpose-driven, opportunity-seeking, critical thinkers, and are empathetic problem solvers. They generally have a set of skills and behaviours that reflect self-efficacy, a growth mindset, resilience, an internal locus of control and tend to be intrinsically motivated. E³ facilitates the development of these skills early in the learning journey – at the school level. E³’s entrepreneurial education approach, PPBL, therefore, uses student-centred learning, including projects and games, in the existing CAPS curriculum to better prepare learners for the modern economy. The E³ approach has been piloted in more than 330 schools since 2018, with the aim of increasing pilot schools to more than 3600 in 2021/2022.

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