As I traveled around Nicaragua and spoke to more and more people involved in the Peace Corps Entrepreneurial Education program, I found out more and more about a big change that the government made in the high school entrepreneurship curriculum.
Prior to this year, entrepreneurship was taught in the last year and a half of high school, once a week, in a class called Technical and Vocational Orientation (known as OTV, using its Spanish acronym). I would consider it the equivalent of our Home & Careers class. However, over the summer break in December, the Ministry of Education changed the curriculum. They extricated entrepreneurship from the OTV curriculum, and created a new class, taught from kindergarten through graduation, called Learn-Innovate-Prosper (AEP in Spanish). In fact, they may have eliminated OTV altogether. I’m not sure.
The problem with AEP is that it was announced in December without any additional information. There is no curriculum. No guidance or training materials for teachers. It seems that the First Lady/Vice-President (yes, Nicaragua is stranger than fiction) simply dictated to the Ministry of Education that she wanted to incorporate vastly more entrepreneurship into the curriculum, and so they had to just do it, basically overnight.
In some ways this is a great victory for the Peace Corps. We were one of the first organizations in Nicaragua promoting entrepreneurship, and now all Nicaraguans will be inculcated with its importance from a very young age. The chances that our work brings about positive change is now even stronger. On the other hand, the First Lady’s/Vice President’s dictatorial approach to this new policy nearly ensures that there will be at least a few lost years of learning. Teachers have no idea what is going on or what they are expected to be teaching. They are not going to take the new class seriously, and the students certainly will not either. It would have been more reasonable for the Ministry of Education to announce the change in December 2016, only for it to be implemented in February 2018. That way the Ministry could have had a year to prepare a curriculum, prepare materials, and prepare the teachers accordingly.
When I asked an old friend of mine why they did not wait a year for implementation, she bellowed at me, “It would be illogical to do anything logically here, Eric!”