International Journal of Entrepreneurship (Print ISSN: 1099-9264; Online ISSN: 1939-4675)

Research Article: 2018 Vol: 22 Issue: 1

The Potential Contribution of the Intended High School Curriculum at Exit Level to the Entrepreneurship Education of South African Youth

Adri Du Toit, North West University

Kempen E L, University of South Africa


The highest unemployment rates recorded in South Africa since 2003 were announced in November 2016. Youth unemployment is still higher than the national average, adding to the conundrum. Government officials have long been mentioning entrepreneurship education as a potential contributor to addressing this challenge, but it seems like progress is slow. One instrument that could contribute to addressing youth unemployment is the national school curriculum, in the form of entrepreneurship education. The South African school curriculum has, however, undergone several changes in recent years and up-to-date analysis of the current curriculum is scarce. As no distinct entrepreneurship subject exists in the curriculum, a scaffold qualitative document analysis was launched to investigate how and to what extent entrepreneurship education is included in the intended high school curriculum of South Africa. Based on the findings and conclusions of the research, recommendations were made to improve the potential of the current high school curriculum to contribute to youth entrepreneurship education. These recommendations will be presented to authorities in the Department of Basic Education for consideration in subsequent curriculum upgrades, to bolster entrepreneurship education as part of formal schooling in South Africa.


Curriculum Analysis, Entrepreneurship Education, High School Curriculum, Youth Unemployment.

Background And Purpose

South African youth (aged between 15 and 35 years) has an unemployment rate of more than 38%, which is 11% higher than the national average (South Africa, 2016). The creation of new employment opportunities is essential in providing income for young people wanting to work, with a view of future employment. Despite South Africa having one of the highest unemployment rates in Africa, its entrepreneurial activity levels are well below that of other sub-Saharan African countries (Vision, 2020 & 2016).

The potential of Entrepreneurship to contribute to reducing the high unemployment rate of South African youth is recognised by the government. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa voiced this support at the 2017 Global Entrepreneurship Congress by stating “Entrepreneurship must be part of the school curriculum” to encourage learners to become “job creators, rather than job seekers” (City Press, 2017). Therefore, there is a clear expectation that the South African school system could and should contribute to entrepreneurship education, as part of the effort to address youth unemployment in this country.

The South African school system has, however, undergone some serious changes since the landmark elections of 1994, including considerable curriculum changes. The adjustment of the school curricula was necessary to address previous inequalities in the school system, but also to better align the curriculum with the needs of the country (Chisholm, 2003). One of the country’s needs is to address youth unemployment, potentially through providing entrepreneurship education, so that young people may be exposed to and develop opportunities for self-employment as part of their school education. Entrepreneurship education was formally introduced in the South African school curriculum for the first time in 1997 as part of Curriculum 2005 (Marks, 2012). In the subsequent RNCS curriculum, implemented in 2004, developing “Entrepreneurial opportunities” was mentioned as a developmental outcome in every single RNCS subject’s curriculum document (Department of Education, 2003). Developmental outcomes are key outcomes of the RNCS, inspired by the National Constitution. The South African school curriculum has since undergone more major changes, described in more detail in the literature review. These major changes to the curriculum, together with the high levels of youth unemployment still being experienced in the country, gave rise to the question how and to what extent, entrepreneurship education is included in the current intended high school curriculum.

The purpose of the investigation was therefore to analyse the curriculum currently in use in South African high schools to determine how and to what extent, entrepreneurship education is included therein. Analysis of the curriculum provided insight into its potential to develop or contribute to entrepreneurship among school-going youth. Based on the findings of the analysis, recommendations are made for the enhancement of entrepreneurship education as part of the curriculum currently in use, as well as for future improvements planned for the curriculum.

Literature Review

Entrepreneurship education and training features in several educational programmes in South Africa, as freestanding programmes or as part of the school curriculum. There is no distinct school subject focussing only on entrepreneurship, but entrepreneurship is embedded in a number of other school subjects. The explicit inclusion of entrepreneurship education in the intended curriculum for high school learners was the focus of this research. The investigation was framed within constructivism, exploring the contribution of each aspect to the construction of the overall body of knowledge dealing with entrepreneurship education in the intended high school curriculum. The review of literature therefore focussed on four main concepts: Constructivism, the South African high school curriculum, the intended curriculum and aspects of entrepreneurship education that can be taught.


Constructivist epistemology is a worldview used to investigate “the scope, structure and very nature of knowledge” (Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). Constructivists believe that new knowledge construction is based on prior knowledge and experiences (Bazemore, 2015; Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). Prior knowledge and experiences that create a foundation for new knowledge, is therefore vital. The structuring and sequencing of knowledge should be carefully considered to serve this purpose, but also to accommodate differences in levels of prior learning and understanding (Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). To achieve these aims, Bruner (1983) suggested that a curriculum should be organised to support learners in revisiting prior learning on which they are to construct new learning (Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). Active and learner-centred learning is supported in constructivism (Bazemore, 2015; Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). Bazemore, (2015) describes the role of the teacher in a constructivist curriculum as “to provide a learning environment that prepares students for the workplace and everyday life experience”. The effectiveness of constructivist learning to support entrepreneurship development and understanding has also been established in prior studies (Assudani & Kilbourne, 2015; Löbler, 2006).

Learner’s entrepreneurship education should therefore be carefully sequenced and constructed in the curriculum to provide meaningful and sequentially sound prior learning as foundation for new learning in this field and to support their development as entrepreneurs for the real world. The inclusion of references to prior entrepreneurship learning, sequencing of content, as well as linking entrepreneurship education to real life experiences in the intended curriculum, were therefore particularly scrutinized as part of the investigation.

The South African High School Curriculum

The South African school system consists of various phases. In high schools, two Phases occur, namely the Senior Phase and the Further Education and Training (FET) Phase. This study only focussed on the latter. The FET Phase is comprised of Grades 10, 11 and 12 and learners in this Phase have approximate ages of 16 to 18 years. Grade 12 is an exit-level grade, where learners attain a National Senior Certificate qualification upon fulfilment of the prescribed requirements. When exiting the school system after Grade 12, learners can continue their education in tertiary or vocational institutions or start employment. The description of ‘youths’ as 15 to 34 year-olds (South Africa, 2016) implied the FET Phase (where the majority of students are 16 years and older) as suitable for the investigation of entrepreneurship education available to South African youth in the high school curriculum.

The South African school curriculum has been significantly altered a number of times since the first democratic elections of 1994. Two prior major curriculum changes, namely Curriculum 2005 and the Revised National Curriculum Statement (RNCS) preceded the curriculum currently in use (Umalusi, 2014; Zenex Foundation, 2013). The focus of this investigation was on the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 (NCS), which was phased in from 2012, to determine how and to what extent entrepreneurship is included in the intended curriculum that is currently in use in South African schools.

The Intended Curriculum

Though various definitions and explanations exist for the term ‘curriculum’, in simple terms it can be seen as a plan for learning (Thijs & Van den Akker, 2009). Thijs and Van den Akker, (2009) differentiate between the intended (planned), the implemented (put into practice) and the attained (or assessed) curriculum. The intended curriculum refers to the formal, written or ideal curriculum envisaged and ‘put on paper’. It encompasses the rationale or vision for the curriculum and specifies the intentions for the curriculum. The South African Department of Basic Education [DBE] prescribes a set of national curriculum documents that comprise the core intended curriculum to which educators have to adhere. A subject-specific curriculum document for each of the subjects approved as part of the national curriculum is available in the public domain and “aims to provide clearer specification of what is to be taught and learnt on a term-by-term basis” (Department Of Basic Education, 2011d). Each of these documents contains subject-specific information about the teaching and assessment of the subject, including indications for time allocation, sequence and pacing for theoretical topics and practical work (Umalusi, 2014). Due to time and resource constraints, in this study only the intended (written) curriculum for high school subjects were investigated for evidence of entrepreneurship education.

Entrepreneurship Education

Consistent with the constructivist worldview with which the research was approached, the assumption that some aspects of entrepreneurship can be taught, is acknowledged. This assumption is underpinned by both local and international research (Elert, Andersson & Wennberg, 2015; European Commission, 2014; Finkle et al., 2009; Henry, Hill & Leitch, 2005; Jones, 2004; Kuratko, 2005; Löbler, 2006; Marks, 2012; Mwasalwiba, 2010; Ruskovaara, 2014; Steenekamp, 2013; Valerio, Parton & Robb, 2014). According to these scholars, the aspects of entrepreneurship that can be taught include knowledge, skills, attitudes, values and capabilities associated with entrepreneurship.

Sirelkhatim & Gangi (2015) organise these aspects into three generic entrepreneurship education themes or types, namely (1) programmes teaching “about” entrepreneurship, with the purpose of increasing awareness regarding entrepreneurship and its potential for self-employment; (2) programmes teaching “for” entrepreneurship, with the purpose of propagating it to learners to increase their entrepreneurial intentions; and (3) programmes “through” entrepreneurship, which have the purpose of developing entrepreneurial competencies, supporting venture creation and advancing entrepreneurs. Programmes about entrepreneurship tend to have more theoretical, teacher-lead content often focussing on entrepreneurial traits; personality characteristics; business planning and-management; and economic success, to name but a few (ibid). Programmes for entrepreneurship are generally more practice orientated, using active, learner-centred learning to facilitate content and techniques to encourage entrepreneurship, such as recognising opportunities; generating ideas; creativity and innovation; networking and team building; adapting to change and learning from mistakes. Programmes through entrepreneurship are similar in content to those for entrepreneurship however; the focus is more on real-life learning, rather than “pretend” learning. Real-life entrepreneurs are often used for the teaching of these programmes, in which learners have to pitch and develop entrepreneurial ideas in a real environment (Sirelkhatim & Gangi, 2015).

Insight into the inclusion of aspects of entrepreneurship education and the structuring thereof in the curriculum would support the identification of strengths and areas for improvement regarding this important topic. Since the array of entrepreneurship aspects that can be taught is vast and utilises numerous expressions, this study focussed on the explicit inclusion of the term “entrepreneur” (or derivatives thereof) anywhere in the curriculum documents. The three themes described by Sirelkhatim & Gangi, (2015) were additionally used for the analysis and identification of the types of entrepreneurship education available to learners in the South African high school curricula.

An analysis of entrepreneurship content in the South African curriculum will give insight into the inclusion, construction and type of entrepreneurship education within each subject, as well as across subjects in the FET Phase of the intended high school curriculum. Based on such an analysis, strengths and potential areas for improvement regarding entrepreneurship content in the curriculum can be made. Improving aspects of entrepreneurship education (such as content and structure) in the curriculum will support the effectiveness of teaching and learning related to this particular topic and might contribute to the development of more entrepreneurs, which in turn will assist in reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Research Methodology

A qualitative document analysis, specifically focussing on curriculum documents, was used for this research. Document analysis is a systematic and analytical process used to review and evaluate particular documents in order to gain empirical knowledge and develop understanding (Bowen, 2009). Curriculum analysis is one form of document analysis in which particular curriculum documents or sets of documents, are analysed and investigated with the purpose of finding patterns, reflected intentions, similarities and divergences in the curricula (Houang & Schmidt, 2008). Content analysis is frequently used in curriculum analysis to provide insight into various aspects of the curriculum, such as its design, unique features or the inclusion and distribution of particular topics (Cai & Cirillo, 2014). In the current study, qualitative curriculum analysis was conducted to identify and describe the presence and patterns of inclusion of entrepreneurship content in a set of South African curriculum documents used for high school subjects, to contribute to an understanding of what the intention of the inclusion of such content was.

Document Selection

Current electronic copies of the South African high school subject-specific curriculum documents (the intended curriculum), were obtained from the DBE’s website. Two generic documents (the National Policy Pertaining to the Programme and Promotion Requirements (NPPPR) of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 and the National Protocol for Assessment (NPA) Grades R-12), which form part of the NCS but do not contain subject-specific content, were omitted from the analysis. The study only analysed the subject-specific Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statements (CAPS) documents for the 30 approved non-language subjects that comply with the programme requirements of Grades 10-12 in the FET Phase of the South African high school curriculum.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

Methodical individual document analysis of the intended curriculum for each of the subjects (excluding languages) in the FET Phase in South African high schools was conducted. Mayring, (2014) states the purpose of data analysis in documents as filtering “out particular aspects of the material, to give a cross-section through the material according to pre-determined ordering criteria or to assess the material according to certain criteria”. To achieve this purpose, the content of each subject’s curriculum document was analysed individually and iteratively to identify all explicit reference(s) to the term “entrepreneur” and its derivatives. Digital term finding software was applied to each document individually, followed by reading and re-reading the content in each subject document to identify how and to what extent entrepreneurship is mentioned therein. Words and passages (data) were not merely ‘lifted’ from documents (Bowen, 2009), but deeper investigations were conducted to gain insight into the information surrounding each reference to entrepreneurship, such as descriptions, related content, sub-topics or its position in the document. For each instance, a copy of the section containing the entrepreneurship term(s) was made, together with is positioning in the curriculum document. Careful notes were made of page numbers and document references to add to reliability of data.

Adding to this content and context analysis, data was analysed by investigating links between data found in different Grades in each subject, as well as between the positions of entrepreneurship references in each document. Categories were constructed for the positioning of entrepreneurship references according to its placement in the curriculum document as part of the subjects’ specific aims; in the “Career links” section; as part of learning content; or as part of the subjects’ assessment. This gave insights regarding the effectiveness of construction of entrepreneurship within subjects, as well as across subjects within the Phase. Data was also analysed and interpreted to find evidence of sequencing, real-life learning or prior entrepreneurship learning. Furthermore, data was interpreted and categorised according to the three generic entrepreneurship education themes or types described by Sirelkhatim & Gangi, (2015) namely learning about entrepreneurship, learning for entrepreneurship and learning through entrepreneurship. This was done to gain insight into the overall type of entrepreneurship education found in the South African high school curriculum.

Findings And Discussion

The findings are reported in five sub-sections: (1) Subjects in the high school CAPS which include references to entrepreneurship; (2) The positioning of explicit references to entrepreneurship in subjects’ CAPS documents; (3) The inclusion and sequencing of entrepreneurship content across grades in FET subjects; (4) The type of entrepreneurship content; and (5) How entrepreneurship education is constructed in subject curriculum documents.

Subjects in the High School CAPS that Include References to Entrepreneurship

Explicit references to entrepreneurship appear in the CAPS documents of only thirteen of the 30 approved non-language subjects in the FET Phase. These thirteen subjects are Agricultural Management Practices; Agricultural Sciences; Agricultural Technology; Business Studies; Civil Technology; Consumer Studies; Economics; Electrical Technology; Hospitality Studies; Mechanical Technology; Technical Sciences; Tourism and Visual Arts. The thirteen subjects are listed alphabetically in Table 1. Entrepreneurship is mentioned as a key outcome in every single subject’s curriculum document as part of the RNCS (the curriculum preceding the current CAPS), therefore the fact that only thirteen subjects in the CAPS contain references to entrepreneurship (and not as key outcomes), shows a clear reduction in the importance attributed to entrepreneurship in the current high school curriculum. This is troubling, especially when considering that youth unemployment is such an immense challenge in South Africa and is still increasing.

The references to entrepreneurship appear in various positions in the CAPS documents. The placement or positioning of entrepreneurship references in an intended curriculum is meaningful, as discussed in the next sub-section.

Positioning of Entrepreneurship in the High School CAPS

In the FET Phase CAPS documents, entrepreneurship appears predominantly in one (or more) of three particular sections, namely in the purpose or specific aims of the subject, in the career or employment links section or as part of the learning content, as presented in Table 1.

TABLE 1: Positioning Of Explicit References To Entrepreneurship In Curricula
Subject Purpose or specific aims As career or employment Learning content
Agricultural Management Practices    
Agricultural Science    
Agricultural Technology   ­
Business Studies  
Civil Technology  
Consumer Studies  
Electrical Technology  
Hospitality Studies    
Mechanical Technology    
Technical Sciences  
Visual Arts  

When entrepreneurship is mentioned as part of a subject’s purpose or as a potential career option linked to the subject, it is reasonable to assume that entrepreneurship was intended to be included as an outcome or intended learning in that subject. However, despite entrepreneurship being mentioned explicitly as part of the purpose or specific aims of six FET Phase subjects; only two of those six include entrepreneurship as subject content (Table 1). Entrepreneurship is explicitly mentioned as a potential career or self-employment option in relation to seven subjects, however, only one of these seven subjects (Tourism) include entrepreneurship learning content (Table 1). These patterns indicate a divergence between the intention of including entrepreneurship for some subjects and the learning content that is included (or omitted in these cases) in the subject curricula.

The inclusion and sequencing of entrepreneurship as part of learning content is inconsistent across grades in the different subjects, as discussed in the next sub-section.

The Inclusion and Sequencing of Entrepreneurship Content across Grades in the FET Phase

Explicit references to entrepreneurship as part of subjects’ learning content vary in the FET Phase curriculum. Of the thirteen subjects initially identified with references to entrepreneurship in their curriculum documents (Table 1), only seven subjects explicitly include entrepreneurship as learning content. Table 2 shows the inclusion and sequencing of entrepreneurship content in each of these seven subjects, across grades in the FET Phase. The distribution of particular content across grades is significant as it suggests effectively constructed learning, consistency and possible progression of that topic.

TABLE 2: Entrepreneurship Learning Content Per Subject Across Grades In The Fet Phase
Subject Grade 10 Grade 11 Grade 12
Agricultural Management Practices    
Agricultural Science    
Business Studies  
Consumer Studies
Hospitality Studies    

In five of the seven subjects in Table 2, entrepreneurship appears in only one grade (Table 2). In Economics, it appears only in Grade 10; in Tourism only in Grade 11 and in Agricultural Management Sciences, Agricultural Sciences and Hospitality Studies it is included as learning content (for the first and only time) in Grade 12. This tendency of dealing with entrepreneurship only once in a subject during the three years of the FET Phase is disquieting: The importance of entrepreneurship seems to be unrecognised. Pritchard and Woollard, (2010) reiterates that effective curricula should be structured so that the same content is “introduced early but reintroduced repeatedly at later stages”, which is not evident for entrepreneurship education in most subjects in the CAPS. There is limited evidence of sequencing, progression or effective construction of learning regarding entrepreneurship in most subjects, which cause fractured or disconnected learning of the topic.

Conversely, two subjects’ curriculum documents contain noticeably more and better constructed entrepreneurship content than any other FET subjects, specifically Business Studies and Consumer Studies. In Business Studies, entrepreneurship appears in the curriculum in Grades 10 (covering three weeks of teaching time) and 11 (one week), but not in Grade 12, the year before learners exit the school system. The expectation exists that learners should leave school with recent knowledge of entrepreneurship opportunities or learning that would be useful in entrepreneurship, therefore it is unfortunate that Business Studies do not include entrepreneurship as part of the Grade 12 learning content at exit level.

The only subject that covers entrepreneurship in each of the three grades of the FET Phase is Consumer Studies. Clear and detailed progression of content regarding entrepreneurship is evident in the subject overview, as well as in the detailed content tables in the Consumer Studies CAPS. The topic ‘Entrepreneurship’ is one of the seven main theory topics in the subject and underpins practical skills development (in the form of small-scale production) (Department Of Basic Education, 2011d). A significant amount of teaching time is allocated towards entrepreneurship education in the Consumer Studies curriculum: Five weeks in Grade 10, five weeks in Grade 11 and six weeks in Grade 12. This excludes the additional time that teachers and learners spend on practical production work that links to entrepreneurship education. The unambiguous statement of the large amount of teaching time required for entrepreneurship theory content (16 weeks in the FET Phase), as well as explicitly linking entrepreneurship to practical skills development (Department Of Basic Education, 2011d; Koekemoer & Booyse, 2013; Umalusi, 2014) emphasises the importance of this particular topic in Consumer Studies. The expanded coverage of entrepreneurship in the subject also underlines its importance and the potential of Consumer Studies to promote and develop entrepreneurship in the high school curriculum.

Once it was established which subjects include entrepreneurship learning content and how the topic is sequenced across grades in the subject, the entrepreneurship content for these seven subjects was analysed and classified according to the type of entrepreneurship education implied by the curriculum.

Types of Entrepreneurship Education Content

The entrepreneurship content in each of the subject curricula was analysed and classified according to the three generic entrepreneurship education themes discussed by Sirelkhatim & Gangi, (2015) namely content about, for or through entrepreneurship (Table 3).

TABLE 3: Classification Of Entrepreneurship Content According To The Entrepreneurship Education Themes Of Sirelkhatim And Gangi (2015)
Subject About entrepreneurship For entrepreneurship Through entrepreneurship
Agricultural Management Practices
Agricultural Sciences
Business Studies
Consumer Studies

All seven of the subjects contain content about entrepreneurship. Examples of such content include ‘entrepreneurial qualities’ in Agricultural Management Practices (Department of Basic Education, 2011a) and in Business Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011c); ‘reasons why people become entrepreneurs’ in Consumer Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011d); and ‘entrepreneurial opportunities in Tourism’ (Department of Basic Education, 2011f). This is entrepreneurship education that is mostly theoretical and deals with content such as entrepreneurial traits; personality characteristics of entrepreneurs; and factors leading to or hindering economic success (Sirelkhatim & Gangi, 2015).

All seven of the subjects also include content for entrepreneurship (Table 3). According to Sirelkhatim & Gangi, (2015), this includes entrepreneurship content and skills related to the mechanisms of planning for and running a business and techniques to encourage entrepreneurship practice, such as generating ideas; team building; business planning; or creativity and is often taught in a practical, ‘learning by doing’ manner. Examples of content for entrepreneurship include: ‘Producing a unique product’ in Agricultural Management Practices (Department Of Basic Education, 2011a); ‘reasons for drawing up a business plan in the agricultural sector’ in Agricultural Sciences (Department of Basic Education, 2011b); ‘creative thinking to generate entrepreneurial opportunities and to solve business problems’ in Business Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011c); ‘use the principles of work simplification to adapt household processes and workflow to produce a product for small-scale production from home’ in Consumer Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011d); ‘developing and evaluating a basic business plan for small-scale entrepreneurial opportunities’ in Hospitality Studies (DBE, 2011e); and ‘skills needed to be an entrepreneur’ in Tourism (Department of Basic Education, 2011f). These examples and other entrepreneurship content included in the curriculum documents of these seven subjects (Table 3), indicate that content for entrepreneurship, in combination with its specific subject applications, will contribute to learners’ learning for entrepreneurship.

There are then, opportunities in these seven subjects in the FET Phase for learners to learn content about and for entrepreneurship. All seven of these subjects are however optional subjects from ‘Group B’. The NPPPR of the National Curriculum Statement Grades R-12 prescribes that all FET learners have to have two languages, one Mathematical subject and Life Orientation as compulsory subjects (Department of Basic Education, 2011g). Learners may then select three (or more) additional optional subjects from ‘Group B’. Each school only offers some of the ‘Group B’ subjects and in particular combinations to accommodate timetabling. This means that countless learners may never have exposure to entrepreneurship in the FET Phase, unless they select one (or more) of the seven optional subjects (listed in Table 3) that include explicit entrepreneurship content.

Only one FET Phase subject, specifically Consumer Studies, include entrepreneurship education through entrepreneurship content. Sirelkhatim & Gangi, (2015) describe this type of entrepreneurship education as learning “with” and “through” real-life entrepreneurship experiences, where real products are pitched as entrepreneurial opportunities. In the Consumer Studies curriculum, this is included in the form of the compulsory Grade 12 project in the first term, where learners have to implement their ‘plan for the production and marketing of a homemade product’ (Department of Basic Education, 2011d). In the project, Consumer Studies learners design and develop a marketable product using the making skills they developed in the practical production part of the subject, then implement the plan and report on its success. The project also forms part of the formal assessment for Grade 12 learners in Consumer Studies (Department Of Basic Education, 2011d). This project, as the only evidence uncovered of entrepreneurship education through entrepreneurship in the FET phase, contributes to the uniqueness of Consumer Studies and emphasises its value as contributor to entrepreneurial learning for FET Phase learners. Consumer Studies is however also an optional ‘Group B’ subject. Of the 610,178 learners who wrote the final Grade 12 examination in 2016, 43,214 wrote the Consumer Studies examination, signifying that only 7% of learners selected Consumer Studies as one of their optional subjects (Umalusi, 2017). Therefore, only a small percentage of FET Phase learners have this opportunity to learn through entrepreneurship experience as part of their school career.

After each curriculum was analysed for its inclusion and type of entrepreneurship content, the entrepreneurship content in each subject was further analysed and interpreted concerning the construction of the topic to support effective learning.

Construction of Entrepreneurship Education in Subject Curriculum Documents

To support learning, content should be constructed effectively. Five aspects were used in this consideration, namely (1) if prior entrepreneurship knowledge is referenced in the curriculum, (2) if entrepreneurship knowledge and (3) skills are included as learning content, (4) if entrepreneurship is clearly linked to real-life learning in the curriculum and (5) if entrepreneurship is explicitly included in the subject-specific assessment in the curriculum document. All of these aspects contribute to the construction of holistic entrepreneurship education and were included in the analysis of the entrepreneurship content in subject curricula (Table 4).

TABLE 4: Aspects Of Entrepreneurship Education Construction In Curricula
Subject Reference to prior entrepreneurship learning Entrepreneurial knowledge as learning content Entrepreneurial skills as learning content Links to real life learning Assessment of entrepreneurship
Agricultural Management Practices  
Agricultural Science        
Business Studies
Consumer Studies
Hospitality Studies        

Of the seven subjects that include entrepreneurship content, only the curricula of Business Studies and Consumer Studies include references to prior entrepreneurship learning (Table 4). The Business Studies CAPS requires teachers to ‘recap entrepreneurship qualities from Grade 10’ when dealing with ‘identification and assessment of a business against the entrepreneurial qualities’ in Grade 11 (Department of Basic Education, 2011c). The Consumer Studies CAPS refers to ‘link with Grade 11’ in the Grade 12 content dealing with ‘Moving from an idea to producing and marketing a product’ as part of the topic Entrepreneurship (DBE, 2011d). Both of these references to prior entrepreneurship learning are useful, but only refer to learning in one prior grade in the FET Phase.

A previous study (Toit, 2016) established that only one Senior Phase subject, Economic and Management Sciences (EMS)-includes explicit entrepreneurship learning content. Therefore, learners receive limited exposure to entrepreneurship in the high school curriculum before the FET Phase. The limited coverage of entrepreneurship in the Senior Phase imposes a heavy responsibility on EMS teachers to provide a solid foundation of prior knowledge on which subsequent FET Phase entrepreneurship education can be constructed (Toit, 2016). However, no references to the entrepreneurship content included in the Senior Phase EMS could be uncovered in FET subject curricula. Obvious similarities exist between the entrepreneurship content in the FET subject curricula and the Senior Phase EMS (Toit, 2016), such as ‘definition of an entrepreneur’; ‘characteristics of an entrepreneur’; and ‘skills of an entrepreneur’. Despite these obvious links, the important foundation of entrepreneurial education laid in the Senior Phase is not explicitly referred to in any of the FET subject curriculum documents. This leaves a lingering concern if FET subject teachers know about and would refer to prior (Senior Phase) entrepreneurship learning in an effort to strengthen the construction of learners’ entrepreneurship education in the FET Phase. Prior learning should form the foundation for new content and learning should be linked to the real-life experiences of learners to make it meaningful (Pritchard & Woollard, 2010). The deficiency of references to prior entrepreneurship learning means that the topic lacks a foundation for the construction of new knowledge.

All seven of the FET subjects include entrepreneurship content knowledge, but only four subjects (Agricultural Management Practices, Business Studies, Consumer Studies and Tourism) include explicit entrepreneurship skills as part of the curriculum learning content (Table 4). Some examples of the entrepreneurial skills identified in these four subjects include ‘the ability to manage risks and combine production factors creatively to produce superior goods and services’ in Agricultural Management Practices (Department of Basic Education, 2011a); ‘creative thinking to generate entrepreneurial opportunities and to solve business problems’ in Business Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011c); and ‘skills needed to be an entrepreneur’ in Tourism (DBE, 2011f). Although several instances of skills related to or useful in entrepreneurship, such as team work, communication skills, management skills or problem-solving skills, are included in various FET CAPS subject documents, it is uncommon for such skills to be explicitly linked to entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship education is constructed of both knowledge about and for entrepreneurship and skills for entrepreneurship (Ndedi, 2012; Steenekamp, 2013; Syden & Gordon, 2014; Valerio, Parton & Robb, 2014). The limited inclusion of entrepreneurship skills seems to be another missed opportunity for entrepreneurial learning in the curriculum, as teachers and learners might not make the connection between those skills and their usefulness in or transferability to, entrepreneurship.

The same four subjects (Agricultural Management Practices, Business Studies, Consumer Studies and Tourism) that include entrepreneurship skills as learning content include clear links of entrepreneurship to real-life learning (Table 4). Some examples of such real-life learning include the farmer’s role as an entrepreneur in Agri-tourism in Agricultural Management Practices (Department of Basic Education, 2011a); the assessment of a business against entrepreneurial qualities in Business Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011c); evaluating the sustainable profitability of an enterprise in Consumer Studies (Department of Basic Education, 2011d); and opportunities to start an entrepreneurial tourism business (Department of Basic Education, 2011f). The explicit linking of entrepreneurship to real life is considered advantageous and supportive to learning in entrepreneurship education (European Commission, 2014, Ndedi, 2012) and is therefore considered strength in the current curriculum.

The curriculum documents of only three subjects, namely Agricultural Management Practices, Business Studies and Consumer Studies, include explicit references to the assessment of entrepreneurship content (Table 4). The CAPS for Agricultural Management Practices state that “The aim of the Practical Assessment Task for Agricultural Management Practices is to assess the management, entrepreneurial. Skills of learners in the production enterprises to which they are exposed” (Department of Basic Education, 2011a). According to the CAPS “The study and assessment of Business Studies must not only cover essential business knowledge, skills and principles, but should also promote entrepreneurial initiatives, sustainable enterprises and economic growth” (Department of Basic Education, 2011c). Assessment requirements in the Consumer Studies CAPS include the topic of Entrepreneurship explicitly in the weighting and mark allocation for formal assessments (Department of Basic Education, 2011d), leaving no room for misinterpretation and signifying the importance of this topic in the subject. According to Steenekamp (2013), the construction of effective learning includes assessment of learning content and is therefore an important requirement for effective entrepreneurship education. Including formal assessment of entrepreneurship in the intended curriculum contributes to the topic’s perceived importance and will compel teachers to emphasise it as such.

When prior learning, content knowledge and skills, real-life learning and assessment are considered as aspects that contribute to the construction of effective (entrepreneurship) learning, only two subjects in the FET Phase adhere to all the required aspects: Business Studies and Consumer Studies (Table 4).

The Consumer Studies curriculum allocates four times more teaching time (sixteen weeks) to entrepreneurship than Business Studies (four weeks) in the FET Phase. Consumer Studies has another advantage over Business Studies: It develops practical (“making”) skills, together with entrepreneurial knowledge and skills. Consumer Studies learners therefore learn practical skills to make a marketable product, as well as the knowledge and skills to market and sell that product as an entrepreneurial opportunity. This is also evident in the specific subject aims of Consumer Studies: ‘Small-scale production, entrepreneurship and marketing of quality products’ (Department of Basic Education, 2011d). Such a combination of practical skills with entrepreneurship knowledge and skills content in a single subject is believed to offer excellent entrepreneurial opportunities to learners (Toit, 2016).

These findings reported on how and to what extent, entrepreneurship is included in the current intended South African high school curriculum. The findings indicate that there are several areas for improvement of the current high school curriculum regarding entrepreneurship, as discussed in the conclusion and recommendations.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Entrepreneurship education only appears infrequently and in isolated subjects in the South African high school curriculum. Although entrepreneurship is mentioned as part of the purpose, aims or as a potential career path for several subjects, it is not always included explicitly as part of the learning content for those subjects. Of the few subjects that do include entrepreneurship content, only Consumer Studies includes the topic sequentially in each of the three grades of the FET Phase. The curricula contain mainly content about entrepreneurship and content for entrepreneurship, with minimal evidence of learning through entrepreneurship. The construction of entrepreneurship content is fragmented with limited references to prior learning, real-life learning, entrepreneurial skills development and assessment of the topic, which will result in disjointed learning. The inclusion and perceived importance of entrepreneurship in subject curricula has decreased from its appearance in the previous RNCS curriculum to the current CAPS.

Of the current CAPS subjects, Consumer Studies mandates the most teaching time for the topic entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurship is integrated and combined with numerous aspects of Consumer Studies learning content, as well as practical skills development. Consumer Studies therefore has substantial potential to make a significant contribution to entrepreneurship education in the South African high school curriculum. Disappointingly, this potential does not reach all learners, since Consumer Studies is an optional subject, selected by a minority of FET Phase learners. Promoting the entrepreneurship education found in Consumer Studies to learners might increase the number of learners selecting it as one of their optional subjects, which will in turn expand the entrepreneurship education of more high school learners. If more high school learners could be exposed to effective entrepreneurship education as part of the curriculum, more school leavers might consider entrepreneurship as a (self) employment opportunity and in that way contribute to reducing youth unemployment in South Africa.

Based on these conclusions, several recommendations are made for the strengthening of entrepreneurship as part of the intended high school curriculum. Consumer Studies shows the most potential to contribute significantly to learners’ entrepreneurship education and should be purposefully promoted to heads of schools, teachers, parents and learners for its value and potential to develop entrepreneurship education in the high school curriculum. It is also recommended that the DBE investigates and addresses the limited and fragmented inclusion of entrepreneurship education in the current curriculum: In instances where entrepreneurship is mentioned as a potential career link or specific aim in the curriculum document, entrepreneurship should be included in those subjects as part of learning content. Clear and explicit references to prior (Senior Phase) entrepreneurship learning and the assessment of entrepreneurship, should be included in all high school subjects with compelling entrepreneurship potential. If tampering with the curricula of several existing subjects seems too much, the DBE should consider introducing a separate high school subject focussing on entrepreneurship. It is imperative to keep in mind that entrepreneurship education should be well planned, constructed around an effective framework and be addressed on all curriculum levels (not just the intended curriculum). Further research should be conducted on the implementation of the intended curriculum in practice, to determine how entrepreneurship education manifests in practice (the implemented or applied curriculum) in South African schools.

Limitations Of The Study

We acknowledge that not only the intended curriculum will influence entrepreneurship education. The applied curriculum-in other word how teachers implement the intended curriculum, as well as their own training for and experiences of entrepreneurship-will definitely also significantly influence entrepreneurship education. The purpose of this study was, however, to determine if and how entrepreneurship is included in the intended curriculum. Insights gained from this research can be used to structure and inform entrepreneurship education training for teachers.


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