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Harnessing education through entrepreneurship in consumer studies to address youth unemployment in South Africa

A Du Toit


As South Africa has an extremely high youth unemployment rate, entrepreneurship education is vital to provide this country’s learners with opportunities for, and insight into, creating their own employment. Such education can be offered using the approaches about, for or through entrepreneurship. Each of these approaches serves a different purpose. This article specifically focusses on education through entrepreneurship, which is deemed best to prepare learners for real-world entrepreneurship. Only one subject in the South African school curriculum (i.e. Consumer Studies) has the advantage of potentially providing education through entrepreneurship. Most Consumer Studies teachers, however, face several challenges in their efforts to ensure that this advantage reaches their learners. These challenges impair teaching and learning in Consumer Studies, demoralise teachers and diminish the potential advantage of the entrepreneurship education embedded in the subject. The subject needs to be fortified to ensure that this unique advantage can be implemented with more frequent success in Consumer Studies. A qualitative exploratory case study was conducted to explore how one selected school had successfully applied education through entrepreneurship in Consumer Studies. Data were collected through qualitative interviews (n=2) with the teachers at this school, as they had managed to successfully fortify Consumer Studies at their school against many of the challenges reported in this subject by teachers at other schools. The data analysis was interpretive, informed by the major challenges that Consumer Studies teachers face in South Africa, as reported in the literature. The findings indicated that the teachers at this school implemented a series of well-planned strategies to generate continuous income for sustaining Consumer Studies. Their successes have contributed to the subject expanding in their school, with increasing numbers of learners who select it, meaning that a growing number of learners will benefit from the entrepreneurship education embedded in Consumer Studies. As a result, a model – with the main aim of supporting and strengthening education through entrepreneurship in this subject – was subsequently developed, which Consumer Studies teachers could use to overcome some of the challenges they face in the subject. Further research is needed to refine the model for different contexts in the South African educational landscape.

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eISSN: 0378-5254