Entrepreneurship Development through Distance Education in Sri Lanka

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1999-03
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Commonwealth of Learning (COL)
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PCF1 // The small business sector of any country has great potential for employment generation and for overall socioeconomic development. It is evident that Sri Lanka has not exploited the full potential of this sector to generate employment compared to other Asian countries. The importance of this sector has been greatly felt since the number unemployed in Sri Lanka is increasing every year. The statistics show that the general education system has failed to guarantee life long employment to educated youth. As a solution to this, the government and various other non-government organizations have tried to encourage people to start small businesses through different types of entrepreneurship development programmes. The duration of these programmes varies from three days to one month. Since almost all these programmes are residential, the participants find it difficult to attend the programmes continuously leaving their residences and day to day activities. // At this point, the certificate programme in Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management (ESBM) conducted by the Department of Management Studies of the Open University of Sri Lanka (OUSL) provides a significantly important service since it is conducted through the distance education mode. According to the unique characteristics of distance education, the students can follow the programme while being engaged in their day to day activities in their own environments. // This programme scheduled to last for one academic year is designed to develop knowledge and skills on small business management and to motivate students to become successful entrepreneurs. The programme has attracted a large number of students from all parts of the island who wish to improve their knowledge and skills. The recent requests made by authorities involved in community development projects to open up study centres in those areas indicate the massive demand and the recognition this programme has earned. However, a question that is frequently being asked by many successful entrepreneurs is whether entrepreneurship development can be taught at all through university study programmes. This question arises from their belief that entrepreneurs are born and not made and that they should be groomed gradually in the practical work environment. Although this idea is now being gradually rejected, the question still remains when it comes to distance teaching where the emphasis is generally on cognitive skills rather than psychomotive skills. // Necessity has arisen to examine the impact of the programme on the national requirement to generate employment through the creation of new business avenues. A survey based on the outcome of the programme in the academic year 1984/85 was carried out to examine the impact of the programme on the development of entrepreneurship through distance mode. After a lapse of ten years, another research on this programme, based on the outcome of the academic year 1994/95 was done. This paper is based on the findings of these two surveys. //

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Sri Lanka
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Asia
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