Who has the opportunity for education? Who doesn’t? What opportunities does that include? Who is left out? To whose and what detriment?
We could use those questions as a starting point for an interesting discussion at a variety of social levels: the family, locally, regionally, nationally and internationally.
A key assumption would be that individual educational achievement and success impacts on the good of society as a whole, and therefore it is a matter of social responsibility that we help all individuals, at every level, to access education and achieve in it.
Beyond the values and motivations of the individual, their family and immediate community, it seems to be down to policy makers, consultants and social entrepreneurs to improve educational opportunity in general. I’m not including teachers or schools/colleges/universities/training centres themselves, as in this context they seem to be merely cogs in the machine (important cogs, but cogs nonetheless).
Social entrepreneurs are an interesting one: in the UK it is exciting to see how many ‘free schools’ have been set up and sponsored to deliver education that parents and the community deem of importance and relevance – are those who set up free schools in the category of social entrepreneurs? I would argue yes. They are innovating educationally, based on seen and conceptually recognised opportunities. At the heart of their endeavours they believe that their enterprises will achieve some social good. Some of these social entrepreneurs are or have been teachers by the way, but not all. Some haven’t even got a background in education. Do they need one? I guess it would help, but…
Close your eyes and think for a moment: in your family, locally, regionally, nationally or globally, who are those without access to a ‘decent education’? What is a decent education? We’d have to assume it was at least being in full time education until the late teens, and being able to leave with excellent chances of continuing into a chosen profession/trade or further/higher education. But beyond that, why not level up the playing field even more? Of those that you just imagined in your family, locally, regionally, nationally or globally, what is stopping them from not just getting a decent education, but an amazing education that would open up everybody’s chances of reaching out to the most amazing opportunities globally for everyone? Why not? What is stopping that from happening? Not just to the poor and marginalised who have trouble staying in school until 16.
Why doesn’t everyone have the chance to go to Oxford and Cambridge in the UK? Or Stanford, Berkeley, Harvard, Yale or MIT in the USA? Or Insead in France or The London Business School in England?
If you had the magic wand that would give everyone in your family, and everyone locally, regionally, nationally and globally the opportunity to engage in all the opportunities that exist in those educational institutions and beyond (because, after all, those who go to those places have amazing prospects afterwards), what would you do? What needs to change to allow that to happen? What would need to happen to people’s mindsets, values, motivations and financial situations to allow that to happen?
Do you see a stepping stone that would allow that change to happen? What is that stepping stone? Can you formulate that stepping stone into a mission and a set of objectives and tasks? Can you visualise the end outcomes? What support would you need to put this plan into action?
If you have answers to all these questions, then maybe you are a social entrepreneur. So, what ideas do you have?