Marina D’Ambrosio Junior Achievement program manager in Puglia (Italy) explains us the mission, the main characteristics and some of the programs offered by this organisation, leader in fostering entrepreneurial competences at schools from primary education till High school and University.
JA mission: this is not just about teaching how to do business
«The meaning of this organization is to raise awareness among young people, to be able to recognize their full potential and to be able to exploit it in some way. It is a very ambitious mission, which goes beyond business and economy, and also deals with education and school.
All this implies a really difficult job but at the same time necessary. It’s the recognition of something that derives precisely from the intergenerational exchange with other people within a team. These are very human aspects but somehow are linked also with the economic and financial aspects of the entrepreneurship. This is something pursued by JA throughout the world, translated in all the various countries of the European Community.
It is about transmitting self-entrepreneurship to children, so they become protagonists of their own conscious life, aware of how you can build your own future.»
A progressive model of entrepreneurial development from primary to University
«Junior Achievement offers many programs from elementary schools to universities. It tries to offer a progressive model starting from the early stages of development, planting that seed that can be cultivated until the end of the study.
These programs mainly deal with business economic education, and therefore with active citizenship. In particular with respect to elementary schools we have a new program called “kidsville” that was designed precisely to make students aware even if they were small.
There is another program called «Crescere che Impresa» that becomes a place where students in the secondary school continue in some way on this subject, entering in more realistic environment instead of just digital.
Environment is very important. There are some partners such as ABB that has created the award for the best business project idea regarding sustainability. There is another program called «Green Jobs» where companies that are dedicated to having a positive impact on the environment are rewarded.
In the contests when the jury evaluates the companies/projects the most important criteria it’s always the social scope.»
How do these programs work?
«Basically, the territorial reference of JA goes to the schools and proposes these programs and shows what they consist of. This way the teachers are informed of the possibility of entering any program which is free for schools.
Then once a school choose to join an specific proposal we discuss how this program can be done better, plan a calendar, find the experts who have the competence and the time to be able to accurately work with the students.
This way a relationship is established and this relation continues during the course of the years. The results are always very positive, having the possibility of continuing a topic from primary to high school. It is a progressive and effective model with proven results.»
Professionals from a variety of contexts working as volunteers supporting students
«Our coaches represent the client that is so important for us. They are often very busy people, so they do not have much time to dedicate and above all, they are very competent people so what we ask them is very significant, a mental and personal compromise.
The good thing about JA is not only that it allows the student and teachers to grow, but also all the people who engage in the programs inevitably face something new.
There are different geographical contexts, where perhaps the economic context generates important differences between one territory and the other but the fact of being strongly connected to this mission makes all this territorial diversity converge towards that common goal.
I can guarantee that what we have achieved in Milan is what we have also achieved here in Puglia. Therefore, it means that there is something behind that, that goes directly to the heart of people and is the reason why these volunteer professionals accept and then never leave.»
«We need the engagement of the Teacher to be successful in the implementation of the programs»
«You have to respect a whole series of bureaucracy as the subject of «Alternanza Scuola-Lavoro», a ministerial issue that is often reviewed and modified. This creates confusion and uncertainty and anxiety in people who have to implement these programs and also difficulty in the same approach of teachers because, on the one hand, they must implement the program, but on the other hand, they may not have been those who have decided to implement it.
If the attitude of the teachers is not positive, this is reflected in the students and can lead to a complicated situation. Therefore, the difficulty is in empathising with these teachers so they understand the value of these experiences. Sometimes it is a question of will or disability, it is a case that can be intervened and on the other it is better to address other people.»
«The end of the path is just the beginning of a new one«
«The success for the kids is to reach the end of a road where they are explained the meaning of their entire trip. The meaning of everything they did and above all, they are explained that the point they have reached is not the point of arrival but is the starting point of a long way of life and future.
There is the possibility of certifying this starting point through an exam the entrepreneurial skill pass that allows all the kids once passed this exam to be able to demonstrate the competence in economic, entrepreneurship and financial field and this is surely a very important success that opens many doors for their future.»