Discourses of entrepreneurship in contemporary commerce textbooks in secondary schools in selected Southern African Development Community (SADC) Countries.
Hutchinson, Maud Victoria.
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Strong emphasis has been placed on entrepreneurship in recent times as scholars and policy makers, including those in the field of education, regard it as a remedy for the social and economic challenges facing societies. Various programmes and courses promoting entrepreneurship can thus be found in the official school curriculum in many countries and numerous textbooks, specifically commerce textbooks are dedicated to the study of this phenomenon. In many classrooms, textbooks are a popular resource for the dissemination of ‘factual’ knowledge, such as entrepreneurship education to students. However, a number of studies have reported that the seemingly objective knowledge in textbooks that has been thoroughly screened by educational officials and approved for classroom use is not neutral but loaded with various ideologies and other one-sided incomplete knowledge. Against this background, this study adopted a qualitative critical research approach and applied the tenets of Multimodal Discourse Analysis (MDA) to critically analyse entrepreneurship discourses in contemporary commerce textbooks in selected Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries. MDA encompasses Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) and Visual Semiotics Analysis (VSA). The CDA and VSA methods drew on the frameworks of Fairclough (1989; 2001), Huckin (1997), Machin and Mayr (2012) and Nene (2014) to uncover the construction of entrepreneurship in the selected commerce textbooks. The findings of the study indicate that, despite regular revision, the analysed textbooks present an ideological rather than a factual perspective of entrepreneurship. The main ideological formations identified were the ease of business formation; personal enrichment; foregrounding of males as exemplary entrepreneurs, leaders and managers; stereotyping of gender roles; women on the lowest rung of the entrepreneurship hierarchy; economic growth; job creation; solution to poverty; improved standard of living and effortless globalisation. This resulted in selective entrepreneurship knowledge being presented to students in textbooks, with little attention paid to the realities of this phenomenon. Moreover, the ideologies that emerged promoted neoliberal and capitalistic values and were gender biased and gender insensitive. Students are thus presented with a one-sided version of entrepreneurship. This can be attributed to the assumptions in entrepreneurship scholarship and the neoliberal capitalistic ideology that is entrenched in societies and educational institutions around the globe, as well as the fact that entrepreneurship is not gender neutral. Finally, textbooks are biased political and ideological tools. The implications of these findings are that the different stakeholders involved in the production of textbooks should scrutinise them on a regular basis and improve them by including the reality of entrepreneurship, such as business failure, hardship and the many taken-for-granted assumptions and ideologies underlying entrepreneurship scholarship. The quality of textbooks and whether they are suitable resources to impart entrepreneurship knowledge should also be taken into consideration. This would help to enhance learning and also convey only factual and up-to-date knowledge to students in classrooms.