MUSCAT — Dr Madeeha bint Ahmed al Shaibaniyah, Minister of Education and Member of the Main Committee of the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Symposium, appreciated the Royal Directives of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos to hold the symposium to support and encourage Omani youth to start their own business and to increase the contribution of small and medium enterprises to the economic development of the Sultanate.
Dr Madeeha said His Majesty has directed the Council of Ministers to enhance the role of the private sector in the economic development of the Sultanate and to strengthen the partnership between the government and the private sector to provide projects and investments that will generate job opportunities for the Omani youth and to nurture the individual initiatives through small and medium enterprises.
She said the symposium, which will be held in Saih Al Shamikhat in the Wilayat of Bahla between January 21-23, will include four themes and will be a platform to formulate a plan to activate the recommendations of the symposium. “Entrepreneurship culture” is considered one of the main hubs for the social and economic development all over the world. His Majesty pointed out in his speech in the Council of Oman in 2011 and 2012 that attention must be given to develop the national human resources and to support entrepreneurs by providing opportunities for learning, training, qualification and employment.
Dr Madeeha said, “Encouraging the youth to establish their own entrepreneurial initiatives contribute in the economic diversification plans adopted by the Sultanate and will generate more job opportunities to meet the increasing numbers of the job-seekers. Nowadays, it’s known that SME projects are among those main investments that absorb the numbers of job-seekers to keep pace with the increasing number of population.”
She added, “The culture of entrepreneurship plays a great role in achieving the goals of the development in the Omani society which is now aware of the importance of the SME in the government and public institutions. Providing the requirements of the entrepreneurial environment is a good thing to attract the youth to join the business. This requires a unified effort between the society institutions. The youth should be well oriented towards the business since early stages of learning to develop their abilities and skills to achieve success. Furthermore, this is a joint responsibility between the educational institutions and the civil society organisations to provide physical, and non-physical support to start their own enterprises.”
Regarding the outcome of the symposium, Dr Madeeha mentioned that the organisation of this event reflects the Royal attention to this field and a message to the relevant government and private institutions to increase the efforts to build attractive environment for entrepreneurs. The three-day symposium will be a good chance for the entrepreneurs to meet decision makers and discuss their expertise and ideas in this field. Also, the government policies and plans in this field will be viewed as part of the symposium.
Dr Madeeha highlighted the role of education to enhance the culture of entrepreneurship in the society by shedding the light on it as one of the solutions that will improve the living standards for the citizens and enhance the economic growth of the country. The symposium will include a number of sessions through which visions and initiatives will be reviewed and discussed by the participants.
As a stakeholders, the Ministry of Education has made many steps to spread the culture of entrepreneurship among students. The Ministry issued the Ministerial Decision 33/2012 to form a committee to study the cases of entrepreneurship followed by the Decision 422/2012 to form a main committee for entrepreneurship and another executive committee in which a number of government and private institutions will define the values, skills and knowledge to be included in the curricula. Besides, the two committees are assigned to study the international expertise and to provide training opportunities.
Recently, the Ministry with the co-operation of the government and private sector institutions organised a workshop about “Incorporation of entrepreneurship in education”. It aimed at exploring the skills and knowledge needed for the labor market and ensuring that the entrepreneurship programmes meet the requirements in the general and university education beside the technical education.
The National Career Guidance Centre is one of the Ministry’s directorates, which worked along the past years to spread the mindset of entrepreneurship through the career guidance services for the students in the schools and through the life skills curriculum.
The Minister pointed out that the Ministry of Education implemented the innovation incubators with the cooperation of The Research Council. The project aims at developing the innovative and research skills as part of the national innovation system, besides training the Omani cadres to develop the students’ innovative thinking skills. The programme also provides a special environment with all the equipment needed besides human and financial resources.
The Ministry also supervises other educational programs related to entrepreneurship such as “Ghaituh” programme which was designed to provide students with entrepreneurship skills such as home appliances and electronic devices maintenance, maintenance of vehicles, event organisation and hospitality, graphic design and photography. There is also another programme “Rowad Takatuf”; which is implemented with the co-operation of the Oman Oil Company and it is one of these excellent educational programmes in developing the skills of the youth and preparing them for the business market.
She also referred the Oman Challenge Program which aims at providing the participants with life experiences and taking them out to a different environment unlike the one they live in. Thus, taking them to the world of challenge through self-reliance, teamwork, self-discovery and leadership.
Dr Madeeha confirmed that the Ministry is seeking to achieve a number of objectives to promote the mindset of entrepreneurship among the educated. For example, promoting the mindset of entrepreneurship among the educated and strengthening the relations between stakeholders and beneficiaries of entrepreneurial culture. That is as well as to identify possible opportunities for co-operation between educational institutions and industry and the exchange of experiences and expertise of entrepreneurship locally and internationally.
The Ministry also tries to highlight the role of small and medium enterprises in generating job opportunities for Omanis. She also added that the Ministry is currently working to achieve these goals through a range of themes and actions. One of the themes is educational curricula and its role in supporting entrepreneurship. It includes best practices in learning entrepreneurship and developing the educational curriculum to serve entrepreneurship.
Another theme is teacher preparation to promote entrepreneurship. This theme includes the role of teacher-education institutions in promoting entrepreneurship, and in-service teacher training. Another theme is educational initiatives and programmes in promoting entrepreneurship. This includes models of entrepreneurship initiatives and programmes, programmes to instill positive attitudes on learners towards freelance work and self-employment, women and their role on entrepreneurship, and the role of handicapped in entrepreneurship.
Yet another theme is civil society and promoting entrepreneurship. It includes the role of the media in promoting entrepreneurship, and the civil society organisations and their role.
Dr Madeeha added that the Ministry of Education is paying special attention to the entrepreneurship subject. The Ministry will intensify working towards highlighting entrepreneurship mindset in all kinds of knowledge sources in the educational curriculum. The results of work of the entrepreneurship committee formed by the Ministry of Education last year will be accompanied by the results of the project Education Assessment and Development, which is also a reality coming to existence after the orders of His Majesty to develop education to keep pace with the economic and social requirements in the Sultanate.