Organizers of the FLOW/ Barbados Entrepreneurship Foundation (BEF) $20 Challenge are not pleased that after five years the competition is still not receiving the support of officials at some secondary schools.
They expressed disappointment, saying that despite the Ministry of Education giving the all clear for the programme to take place within the secondary schools, and although students were eager to participate, some educators were still not accepting it.
“We’ve got evidence lined up that shows how successful the $20 challenge is and by success, I mean the difference it makes in our young people’s lives and what it does to them. We have lots of evidence of how successful it is, but one of our biggest challenges is still getting into all the schools. We would like to be in every single school – Government and private,” said executive member of the BEF, Keith Miller.
Stating that the challenge was open to every fourth and fifth form students despite their academic ability, Miller said he saw the competition as a classic example where educators and the private sector could work together “to create an environment where our young people will become more enterprising, will have greater confidence in life, [and] will be more innovative and creative”.
“I find it ironic because you often read in the newspapers or hear in the media about the private sector complaining that the young people leaving the education system are not ready for the workplace. Then you hear the educators saying we do our best but it is not all our responsibility, we can only do so much. So it is the classic situation where people are identifying the problem but who is trying to fix them?” queried Miller.
On average only between 12 and 15 of the over two dozen secondary schools across the island take part in the challenge each year.
A total of 230 students from 14 schools participated in the 2015 Challenge, which saw 34 winners from six schools.
Chief executive officer of the BEF Celeste Foster said while she was pleased that the programme was been achieving measureable success, the aim of the BEF was to get it in every secondary school.
She noted that so far 14 schools have signed up for this year’s competition, which is scheduled to begin next month.
“We anticipate a ten per cent increase in the students who will participate this year and we look forward to much bigger and better 2016,” she said.
In the past, some schools expressed concern about the sale of items on the compound, saying it was “disruptive to the environment”.
Others defended their nonparticipation by saying that the challenge competed with the students’ timetables and studies.
However Foster said that the concerns were addressed by creating marketplaces and the challenge was conducted during lunch periods.
This year’s $20 Challenge was launched on Friday at FLOW’s head office in Warrens, St Michael.
Under the competition students will be given a $20 loan to create an innovative and profitable business. The most successful business will be announced at the end of the competition.