TES Virtual Guide: Italy’s point of view
Speranzina Ferraro, Italian Ministry of Education (MIUR)
How can the TES Virtual Guide support the focus on entrepreneurship education in your country?
TES project and its Virtual Guide to Entrepreneurial Learning has a strong and innovative value for our schools. One aspect I consider extremely significant is the decision to focus the attention on the training of teachers who are involved in the project. Innovation in the education system mainly depends on how much teachers change their teaching method and practices, and this is possible only through teachers’ training. Another important aspect is the focus on entrepreneurship education, that has been always absent in our educational system in Italy. Entrepreneurship education, which is already included in the list of soft skills and key competences for active citizenship, is strategic in the current economic and social view because it aims to make people independent, informed and also able to dare, meet challenges, get involved and take a leading role in the society. TES Guide offers different tools that allow students to develop these competences in school through an educational path which faces the reality. TES investment on teachers is strategic and I think that having trained teachers means having experts who can educate other colleagues throughout the national territory. These teachers will have to establish effective orientation guide in accordance with the “Guidelines for lifelong orientation” of the Italian Ministry of Education.
Have you had any feedback from teachers about the TES Virtual Guide?
I have not received yet any feedback from teachers on the Virtual Guide, but I personally know some teachers I met at various education-training events. After having talked with them, I can easily confirm that the Guide offers a support for their training and qualification and has a positive influence on their way to be teachers and on their schools.
What are the next steps for “Italy” regarding the TES Virtual Guide? How do you plan to reach more teachers and more users?
I consider TES project and its Virtual Guide a significant and useful experience. Therefore, as coordinator of the National Orientation Plan of the Italian Ministry of Education, I think to proceed with a check of the professional figures who are expert in entrepreneurial education in each regions of Italy. The idea is to use them as trainers at local level, as an active resource and multiplier of training and change. The "Guidelines for Lifelong Orientation" must be implemented and – at the same time - it is necessary to show to schools practical ways to define "orientation training" that are in line with these days, with the new work ethic, with the needs of employers and employees, with the challenges of the global society. All the tools and methods included in the TES Guide can be a useful starting point and a reference for the future.
Daniela Russo, Teacher, Italy
What is your experience with the TES Virtual Guide?
Entrepreneurship education has never been more important than today, in this time of financial crisis, because it allows young people to have more chances of getting a job. The Guide makes it easier to apply entrepreneurship education in any discipline and it is an essential tool, especially for teachers in Italy where entrepreneurship education is not institutionalized. Thanks to the Guide, schools can access different entrepreneurship educational materials and teachers can become part of a network where they learn from each other.
Which tool is the one that you would suggest to your colleagues and why?
I recommend Impresa in Azione. It is a programme of Junior Achievement Italy that offers the opportunity to take part in an experience of entrepreneurship education at school, learning how to start and run a business. The experience allows students at secondary level to develop a business idea, learn about organizational models and business processes, enhancing their creativity. The programme encourages dynamics of informal learning and it is enriched through local, national and international competitions. Impresa in Azione is a learning by doing programme: its effectiveness is linked to its practical aspect that allows students to manage real situations; as well as competitions represent an incentive to stimulate the competitive spirit, that is an effective way to learn for students.
What feedback did you receive from students in class about the entrepreneurial tools you are using?
Our participation in Impresa in Azione programme was a revelation. At first, students approached the program with a lot of mistrust, but gradually their interest increased by seeing their ideas materialized and learning about a world totally unknown until that moment. They showed great enthusiasm for competitions because they represent a good challenge to compete against other students of other schools and regions. Apart from the development of a technological product, the students have approached aspects related to organisations’ structure and the business plan. The help they received from some business volunteers allowed us to deal also with bureaucratic, legal and ethical issues of doing business. Through this programme the synergy in the classroom and students’ participation in school activities has improved, together with their interest in learning different subjects. It was an unforgettable experience and a great opportunity to transfer the concept of working together. Now my students really understand the importance of being a tight-knit team.
Can you share with us an interesting story?
This summer students who joined Impresa in Azione programme had their High School final exam and four of them got in contact with some organizations that support new businesses to get a loan, using the business plan they wrote at school. Soon they will fund their enterprise and they will start their adventure in the world of work.
Is there something that you would change or improve in TES Virtual Guide?
The translation of the tools and methods of the Guide in local languages is something very important from my point of view. It will help in making the Guide a tool totally used at national level.