Eleven schools from Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and the United Kingdom won the Entrepreneurial School Award, a European and national recognition for the best schools championing entrepreneurship education. The ceremony, with Junior Achievement (JA) Europe as a leading organisation behind the initiative, was hosted at the European Parliament in Brussels on 15 October.

JA Europe, a regional centre of the JA worldwide, is Europe’s largest provider of entrepreneurship education, with 3.2 million students across 39 countries in Europe.  JA works with education and business communities, as well as governments, to provide young people from primary school to university with a great experience and entrepreneurship skills. “If you don’t successfully bring together these issues, you are not fulfilling the purpose of JA”, JA Europe’s CEO, Caroline Jenner, told New Europe

“One year ago I couldn’t dream of being 18 and speaking in front of MEPs,” Paulo Ferreira, JA Alumni from Portugal, told New Europe. He added, “what school lacks, JA entrepreneurship programme completes it … it provides us with hands on experience in theoretical knowledge.”

The event on Thursday gathered several members of the European Parliament, European Commission officials and JA Europe board members, alumni and teachers.

The event was supported and hosted by the European Parliament’s member Michaela  Šojdrová, an author of the report on the importance of promoting youth entrepreneurship within school curricula, which has been recently adopted with an overwhelming majority.

“I believe that entrepreneurship skills must be learned at all levels of education and be promoted by concrete steps, in order to tackle employment and ensure career prospects for young students,” Šojdrová said in her speech during the ceremony.

Speaking about the event to New Europe, Jenner said “this is one of my favourite initiatives because it is all about the teachers, the grassroots of entrepreneurship education.” She added, “nothing would happen without them.”

“They [the teachers] are not often celebrated … we often celebrate the students. While students are there for a year, the teachers in schools are there year in and year out.” “And if they are not appreciated, we won’t reach out to more kids. So I am happy we are doing the entrepreneurial schools award.”