According to Wikipedia, Business education is a branch of education that involves teaching the skills and operations of the business industry.
This field of education occurs at multiple levels, including secondary and higher education institutes. Education in business has many forms, mainly occurring within a classroom of a school.
Internships are also another way to receive this type of education. A business education has many components, as there are many different areas of the business industry as a whole.
An education in business varies greatly in its curriculum and popularity around the world. Career development is often an integral part of an education in business.
Origin of Business Education
The earliest form of Business Education according to Osuala, Popham (1975) and Njoku (1990) as well as most authors was the apprenticeship training.
At that time an individual had to learn a trade under another person who had the skill for the trade, or who was experienced in a particular area.
These were craft, bookkeeping, farming, and sales, etc. The period of training varied from one trade to another. Sometimes the length of time was based on how fast the apprentice could learn the skill.
For instance, sole traders were able to take apprentices to assist in the sale of wears through the learning of how it was done.
Today, this type of skill is carried and acquired through apprenticeship training. As time passed the apprentice became free and was either a salesman or bookkeeper.
In some cases the apprentice paid for the period of training but where it was not possible, the family of the apprentice was required to mortgage land or any valuable property.
At the end of the training it was an option put forward to the apprentice whether to remain with his master and be paid a token sum, which may be complimented with material items.
The second option was that of the freed – apprentice to establish his own business and have his own business and have his own apprentice.
If the first option was chosen, the master was obliged to feed him and provide him with routine help. In all he was still responsible to the master and must operate within the rules stated by his master.
I tell you one thing that made the training very striking and worth emulating but which we lack in our society today, was that the apprentice must be worthy in character and learning.
You all will agree with me that today, the issue of character and learning has been jettisoned, especially that of character.
There were certain skills which some families endowed with, but which they did not want to share with outsiders. All these took place in a non- formal setting.
As time went on, businesses started growing, Popham (1975) stated that more people were needed in businesses and the idea of restricting the training to certain places was not achieving much and itinerant tutors started travelling around the country (USA) giving instruction in book keeping and penmanship.
People started appreciating the need for business skills and grammar schools started including book keeping, penmanship and commercial arithmetic in their curricula as a result of demands for commercial training.
This gave Business Education a place in the formal setting.
Business Education in Nigeria
Business Education in Nigeria has its origin in private business schools or commercial schools some of which were recognized or “approved” by Government. By “approval” it meant that a school could present students for the West African Schools Certificate Examinations.
Also it meant then that the students who dropped out in class four could gain employment as clerical assistants.
However, the earliest type of business training in colonial Nigeria was done on-the-job after primary or secondary education.
It was believed that after secondary education a worker could be trained on the job to acquire skills in office occupation, except in typewriting and shorthand aspects of secretarial occupations.
As a result, graduates of secondary schools were automatically employed into clerical positions on application and interviewing.
In some cases primary school graduates and some secondary school dropouts were employed for office jobs.
As the need for typewriting and shorthand increased, private schools were established to teach these two subjects. These schools were known as commercial schools.
They provided typists and stenographers for the civil service and the private business organizations in the country.
The school actually prepared candidates for the Royal Society of Arts (R.S.A) examinations. Successful candidates of these examinations were thus employed by Government and businesses.
The employees were mainly typists and stenographers. Since these groups of workers benefited most from the commercial training schools, many small private institutes were established to teach only typewriting and shorthand.
As a result of this, Business Education in Nigeria was conceived as training in shorthand and typewriting.
Business Education is an area of education which deals with the study of the subject of related disciplines.
It is a combination of two disciplines dealing mainly with the art of shorthand writing, typewriting, accounting, business mathematics, secretarial duties, and commerce and office practice.
The field of study offers every individual an opportunity to develop those abilities, skills and understanding of the vocational opportunity available.
One of the important macro-economic problems of our system is unemployment. Unemployment exists because most of the products of our education system look for jobs that do not exist because the system of education was general in nature not meeting specific occupational needs.
To meet the needs of the society the National policy on education de-emphasizes our liberal education system for the utilitarian type of education.
In recognition of this, Business Education programme was incorporated into our educational system right from the junior secondary school level for a gradual skill development and competency.
Business Education plays a significant role in Nigeria’s economic growth and development.
It improves personal qualities and builds the attitudes of individuals that are necessary for adjustment to personal and employment situations, and also provides knowledge, skills and competence for individuals to function well in office occupation and also create jobs for themselves and others (Amoor and Udoh 2008).
In spite of federal government’s initiatives to eradicate unemployment and poverty in the society the nation’s economy is still characterized by high rate of unemployment and poverty.
Therefore, the importance of a curriculum that will help to reform Business Education programme in Nigerian Universities by developing individuals that will contribute meaningfully to economic growth and development of the nation cannot be under estimated.
The uncontrolled rate of unemployment and poverty has brought about the dire need to carry out some modifications in the curriculum of Business Education programme in Nigerian universities so that the students will not only be exposed to a particular skill but also to creative thinking sufficient enough to establish and run a business at least at the small scale level.
Now that the nation is experiencing economic meltdown, which will in turn, increase the rate of unemployment and poverty in the society, integrating entrepreneurship courses into the curriculum of Business Education programme in Nigerian institutions is a right call and at the right time since entrepreneurship education will provide additional skills, resources, and methodologies to Business Education graduates to transform their ideas into visible and viable businesses after graduating from the College.
If this is rightly done, the graduates do not need to queue up in the labor market for paid employment but rather create jobs for themselves and others. This will go a long way to reduce poverty in the society and unemployment in the labor market.
In order to be able to understand the concept of business education, it would be necessary to look at the definitions of business education in the past and present time.
This is because technology has helped to change definitions of certain things. It therefore, implies that business education, as a course of study has to move with time.
Popham (1975) said when a group of people were asked what business education is? The reply was as follows: A business executive replied, “Business Education is education to produce goods and services”. A radical retorted: It is the avenue to make enormous profit.
One teacher responded: Economic concepts necessary for living in a business economy. Another teacher answered: Learning skills to enter a business or distributive job.
A person on the street said “Shorthand and typing, that’s it”. After looking at the different views of people about business education, Popham came to a conclusion that:
Business education is a course that prepares students for entry into and advancement in jobs within business and it is equally important because it prepares students to handle their own business affairs and to function intelligently as consumers and citizens in a business economy. Nolan, Hayden & Malsbary (1967) defined business education as those business Programmes and courses taught ordinarily at the secondary school level.
Osuala E.C. (1989) defined Business education as an essential part of the preparation of youths for live and living. In 2004, Osuala, gave another definition as a programme of instruction which consists of two parts
(1) Office education – a vocational programme of office careers through initial, refresher and upgrading education and
(2) General business education – a programme to provide students with information and competences which are needed by all in managing personal business affairs and in using the services of the business.
Still on the definition of business education, Njoku (1997) defines business education as that facet of educational training that helps the individual to acquire relevant skills needed for living.
However in 2006 Njoku gave another definition as an educational programme that equips an individual with functional and suitable skills, knowledge, attitude and value that would enable him/her operates in the environment he/she finds himself/herself.
It can be seen from the foregoing discussions that as the years go by; the definitions of business education continue to change. This means that business education is not static.
Therefore any worthwhile programme has to move with time.
However, business educators have always accepted that change is a fact of life. From the typewriter to the transistor, business curriculum has continually shaped itself to meet the needs of business.
As a result, the success and survival of business education constantly depends on its ability to adapt and keep pace with the needs of its recipients.
These changes present challenges for both the learner and instructor. Nevertheless, it is the business educator that must be willing to adapt and manage these challenges to ensure successful programs for the future.
It is essential that business education be a useful and vital component of transformation agenda if the curriculum of business programs across the country is to continue to meet the needs of its students.
It could be deduced from the definitions above that Business education is an education for and about business. It combines both theoretical and practical knowledge.
In the same vein, it exposes the recipient to the economic system of his country and equips him with lifelong skills that would enable him to make reasonable judgment as a producer, employee or consumer of goods and services.
Business education deals with empowerment necessary to meet business challenges in a dynamic business world or society. It offers recipients the ability to cope with emerging changes in education, and in business where the person is expected to manifest all the skills acquired while in training.
Therefore, business education is planned for training and developing recipients to expose them in the field of business, and as a professional, consequently, expanding the way for imparting competences for economic development of the society.
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