Social Entrepreneurs are agents of change.
They provide innovative products and services, create jobs offering entrepreneurial solutions in the pursuit of organizational and economic sustainability. There are 2 million social economy enterprises in Europe, representing 10% of all businesses in the European Union. More than 11 million people work for social economy enterprises. Stimulating innovation and entrepreneurship is at the core of the Europe 2020 Strategy. In order to accelerate growth and increased levels of employment, Europe needs more entrepreneurs (ENTREPRENEURSHIP 2020 ACTION PLAN). Service Learning (SL) is a method of teaching and learning that has proved to be a successful approach to social entrepreneurship education. SL engages students in the process of identifying challenges at their educational institution or out in the broader community. Problem-solving and action to address said challenges are incorporated in their academic program.
The SL methodology builds upon John Dewey’s ‘primacy of experience’, which advocates active learning and reflection. SL is also informed by the evolving body of ‘experiential learning’ research, which entails pupils applying academic models to solve problems outside the classroom (Dewey 1933).
Service Learning has considerable potential for boosting social entrepreneurship in education, that has to a large extent, not been taken advantage of in Europe. The PIONEERS project has identified a key factor to unleashing Service Learning’s full potential: providing teachers with adequate competences. According to the European Commission, providing teachers with adequate skills to teach entrepreneurship is seen as a major challenge in Europe. Currently, most teachers have not been trained in entrepreneurship and may not know the correct approach to teaching in this field. In order to bring about greater awareness of how to support the entrepreneurial mindset, there is a need for more training, seminars and workshops for teachers. This includes information of the range of aims, contents, and methods within the field of entrepreneurial education.