Primary school students will be taught the fundamentals of business and economics under a new move by the Gillard government, but a small business group says a more specialised program should be implemented.
School Education Minister Peter Garrett released a paper yesterday outlining directions on the purpose, structure and organisation of an Australian curriculum for business and economics.
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Titled Shape of the Australian Curriculum: Economics and Business, the paper was prepared by the Australian Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Authority.
“The economic and business curriculum will be developed from Years 5 to 10. It is assumed that all students will be taught economic and business across Years 5-8,” it said.
“In Years 9-10 students will have the opportunity to continue their study of economic and business.”
According to Garrett, the paper recognises that economics and business are inter-related disciplines.
“This curriculum will equip the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and businesspeople to continue to grow the Australian economy as well as take advantage of the global business opportunities the Asian Century will bring,” Garrett said in a statement.
“As well as preparing students for employment, the curriculum will also teach students how to manage their personal finances.”
The curriculum is underpinned by four ideas: resource allocation and making choices, the business environment, consumer and financial literacy, and work and work futures.
It was developed with input from a range of stakeholders including state and territory and non-government education authorities, teacher associations, schools, businesses and universities.
Feedback from the paper will guide the writing of the Australian Business and Economics Draft Curriculum, Garrett said, to be released for public consultation later in the year.
Peter Strong, executive director of the Council of Small Business of Australia, told StartupSmart he is “always behind” initiatives that aim to raise awareness of the business sector.
“There seems to be an awful lot of teaching to young people about their rights in the workplace and everywhere. Hopefully this [initiative] says, business also has a right to survive,” he says.
However, Strong believes certain students should be privy to a more tailored program focused on entrepreneurship.
“Kids in years five and six who are running businesses – they’re the ones we’ve got to get in a different way,” he says.
“Studies show kids at school who are deemed to have behavioural problems have the same traits as entrepreneurs.
“They’re the ones who won’t take any notice of the class because they’ll be thinking of running their own business.
“Hopefully this also is a lead into some way of early identification of the small business operators of the next generation.
“We already identify special groups within schools – people who are good at maths or science or whatever – so there’s nothing wrong with identifying this group of people who want to do their own thing.”