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The European Union has recognised ‘the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit’ as one of eight key competencies for lifelong learning (Official Journal L 394, 30.12.2006), being that it is fundamental for personal fulfilment and development, to the promotion of social inclusion, active citizenship and employment.
One of the strategic political objectives of the European Union is to promote entrepreneurship education and an entrepreneurial learning model, its importance having been underlined in different European documents, such as in the ‘Rethinking Education’ communication (European Commission, 2012a) and in the ‘Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan’ (European Commission, 2012b).
Different Member States are at different stages in terms of development and public investment in entrepreneurship education policies.
Historically, in Portugal, the first programme of entrepreneurship education – the National Plan of Entrepreneurship Education (PNEE) – arose in 2006, under the authority of the Directorate-General of Curriculum Innovation and Development of the Ministry of Education. The objective of this project was to promote entrepreneurial activities in primary and secondary schools. It was first implemented in the academic year of 2006/2007, and in the following three academic years.
In 2012, the Assembly of the Republic issued a recommendation to the Government (Assembly of the Republic Resolution no. 58/2012, May 3) to promote incentives for youth entrepreneurship, especially in schools, adapted to different levels of education.
According to the 2016 Eurydice Network report about entrepreneurship education, where data about 38 educational systems are presented, there is no explicit/relevant national strategy regarding entrepreneurship education in Portugal. This assessment took into account the initiatives and measures implemented under the Strategic Programme for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (+e+i), created in 2011.
The current national strategy of the Government of the Portuguese Republic for entrepreneurship – StartUp Portugal, which follows the previous Strategic Programme for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (+e+i), aims to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit. However, the measures and initiatives of the programme have a primary focus on business and startups’ development, with no strategies and direct measures in the field of education and entrepreneurship skills, at this time.
In May 2016, a Working Group of Citizenship Education was established, for the creation of a Strategy of Citizenship Education, which started to be implemented in the school year of 2017/2018. The goal is to integrate, in the school curriculum of all levels of education, a set of skills and knowledge in the field of citizenship, including the field of entrepreneurship education.
The existing initiatives and programmes are developed mainly at a regional level, where entrepreneurship is promoted as a basis for local economy (Eurydice, 2016).
At a regional level, partnerships are established between universities, research and educational institutions, and small and medium-sized companies. The investment in the promotion of innovation, research and entrepreneurial skills among students, through the cooperation with regional companies, is encouraged.
Some of the strategies developed locally to promote young entrepreneurship are ran through campaigns in schools, competitions, training workshops and business counselling.
Alongside the local development of strategies, Portugal has a network of governmental entities and non-governmental organisations of public utility that work in a collaborative manner in this field of activity.
Some entities take on a particular importance in the development of projects, many with the financing of European funds and with collaborative partnerships with public entities of the local and central public administration.
- National Association of Young Entrepreneurs (ANJE);
- Platform for Entrepreneurship Education in Portugal (PEEP);
- Junior Achievement Portugal Foundation.
Despite the lack of an established strategy regarding entrepreneurship education, Portugal participates and leads some policy experiences in the field of entrepreneurship education at a European level. The majority of them result from candidacies developed by the previously mentioned entities/organisations. One example is:
- The Youth Start – Entrepreneurial Challenges project, led by PEEP with the involvement of public authorities from the field of education, such as the Ministry of Education.
In the School Curriculum
In Portugal, entrepreneurship education is not incorporated in the school curriculum in a direct manner, nor is it taught as an independent class. It is included in the Citizenship Education curriculum.
The Citizenship Education curriculum is defined as a non-mandatory autonomous class, in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd cycles of primary education, and entrepreneurship education is only one of its subjects.
Its implementation is managed and adapted independently by each school, in accordance with their educational projects, and can be achieved through several activities, with the possible involvement of partnerships with other entities or with families.
In secondary school (ISCED 3), entrepreneurship education is not integrated in the curriculum of any of the classes of the scientific-humanistic courses.
In vocational education courses, incorporated in the formative offer of secondary education in Portugal, in professional courses, in apprenticeship courses and in technological specialisation courses, all of them levels 4 and 5 the National Qualifications Framework (QNQ) and ISCED 3 - 4, entrepreneurship isn't a separate class, and it can be integrated and developed as a theme in a module, a unit of training or a class, in accordance with the objectives and skills of each course.
The syllabus includes a technical training component, with a strong training component held in the context of a company, including a component of Practical Training in the Workplace (FPCT), where the goal is to develop working habits, entrepreneurial spirit and a sense of professional responsibility.
In terms of formal education in higher education, entrepreneurship has been making part of IES, namely through the dissemination of transverse skills integrated in the curriculum and extracurricular activities, and, furthermore, by the increase of the collaboration between higher education institutions and corporate structure.
Partnerships with other entities – practical entrepreneurship experiences
In Portugal, practical experiences of entrepreneurship are not yet part of the school curriculum. However, they can be offered in extracurricular activities, national programmes or initiatives that involve the participation of external partners.
In collaboration with the Ministry of the Education and the Directorate-General of Education, the Platform for the Education of Entrepreneurship in Portugal (PEEP) leads the European project – Youth Start – Entrepreneurial Challenges. In the project, a pilot test is developed for the introduction of practical experiences of entrepreneurship in compulsory schooling, in primary and secondary education.
The programme is guided by a framework of enterprising skills and by an experiential learning theory, and is aligned with the Europe Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan.
One of the purposes of the project is to assess its impact on students, through the use of the ASTEE assessment tool, for the evaluation of entrepreneurial skills of students attending the 2nd and 3rd cycles of primary and secondary education.
The project was funded with 2 million euros for a period of three years.
Regarding non-formal education, there is a series of initiatives that promote entrepreneurship education, in particular, the practical experiences of entrepreneurship, in accordance with the guidelines of the European Union memorandum – Education (European Commission, 2012).
Youth Programme for Green Entrepreneurship and Employability (JEVE)
The Youth Programme for Green Entrepreneurship and Employability (JEVE) project intends to promote, among young people between the ages of 18 and 30, the development of skills, knowledge and entrepreneurial attitudes in the scope of green economy. It is coordinated by PEEP and it enlists the participation of different public and private entities, one of them being the High Commission for Migrations (ACM, I.P.). From this strategic partnership results a strengthening of the action of the ACM in the scope of the "Choices Programme" (Programa Escolhas), both directed to technicians, and especially to young NEET.
Choices Programme (Programa Escolhas)
It is a nationwide governmental programme, promoted by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers and integrated in the ACM, I.P, which was created to promote social inclusion of children and young people from the most vulnerable communities, especially immigrants and ethnic minorities. One of the priority areas of intervention is entrepreneurship and the empowerment of young people.
In the scope of its intervention for entrepreneurship, the Choices programme developed an electronic portal – Entrepreneurship, a choice with a future (Empreendedorismo – uma escolha de futuro) with an area for trainers and one for young people between the ages of 14 and 24, where manuals in the field of entrepreneurship are available.
Assessment tools of entrepreuneurial skills in non-formal education
Assessment Tools and Indicators for Entrepreneurship Education (ASTEE)
It is a project developed within the framework of a partnership established between various European countries, with the objective of developing a set of common tools, structured in order to allow the identification and the systematization of learning results acquired by students of primary, secondary and higher education, in the field of entrepreneurship education.
In Portugal, the project was coordinated by PEEP, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, through the Directorate-General of Education.
Inicial and continuing training
Entrepreneurship education is not included in most of teacher training or in continuing training.
In vocational courses the curricular programmes offer guidelines, pedagogical strategies and resources in the field of entrepreneurship education. However, teachers have the autonomy to adapt the learning materials and methodologies.
The continuing professional training in the field of entrepreneurship for teachers is one of the planned contents in the Curriculum Guide in Entrepreneurship Education, which is in development at this point, foreseeing training sessions for teachers of primary and secondary education.
Training of other entities
In the scope of the Youth Start Entrepreneurial Challenges entrepreneurship programme, there are training activities and training for teachers planned in all countries involved.
In regard to central public administration, the Directorate-General of Education offers educational resources about entrepreneurship education on its website, particularly educational and interactive manuals, including some videos.
In Portugal, GTREE – an inter-governmental work group including members of the Ministry of Education and Economy – is developing a basic document regarding entrepreneurship education for primary and secondary education. This document will contain guidelines for entrepreneurial knowledge, as well as skills and attitudes to promote in that field.