South African kids find their inner Donald Trump
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA
Donald Trump would be so proud.
All across South Africa - in every elementary and middle school - kids are crafting business plans, doing market research, balancing budgets, and hawking everything from hot dogs at 50 cents a pop to car washes for $7 each.
In a dramatic bid to tackle this country's persistent unemployment rate of at least 35 percent, entrepreneurship has become a key part of the evolving postapartheid curriculum. Students can't count on getting good jobs when they graduate, so they're being taught to create their own work - and help forge a kind of Apprentice Nation.
It won't be easy. The latest edition of Global Entrepreneurship Monitor - a survey of 31 countries - ranked South Africa 22nd in entrepreneurial activity, down from 19th last year. Experts say it's partly due to the lingering effects of apartheid, as well as a cultural disinclination toward do-it-yourself capitalism.
Yet in a bustling classroom outside Johannesburg, 32 seventh-graders are hustling to find their inner Donalds. As part of a twice-weekly Economic and Management Sciences class, they're spending several weeks learning what it takes to start a hot dog stand. Today's lesson: the four means of production - resources, capital, labor, and entrepreneurs.
It's all preparation for the annual "Entrepreneurship Day" at Weltevreden Park Primary, a public school in an upper-middle-class neighborhood. Once a year, all sixth- and seventh-graders set up stalls on the athletic field.
They usually sell playful toys like shaving cream pies or "jelly syringes" (plastic sleeves filled with jam). But some kids are more ambitious. Last year one group offered $7 car washes - and then paid other kids to do the washing at $1.50 per car. They reaped more than $300 in profit without even getting wet.