Educational Entrepreneurship Incubator for Educators from the Field
Public education systems around the world are struggling to find their way to innovate. Top-Down reforms have failed to achieve the needed transformation. Mifras has created and successfully implemented an innovative model to transfer schools into hubs of educational innovation. With a focus on supporting school administrators to establish an intrapreneurial culture and ensure sustainability of innovation developed for continued creation of relevant education ventures at their schools.
Educators in the field are the most important professionals in transforming the education system into a relevant and advanced one, for the benefit of children, teachers, communities and society.
Unfortunately, both the educators themselves, and the "system", do not recognise this powerful potential. This is where tools and methodologies from the technological innovation domain are required. This is what the incubator does from a methodological standpoint – develop an intrapreneurship mindset, capabilities and actions, which allow educators to push forward the needed solutions to the tremendous challenges faced. Each school principal who participates in the 2-year incubator programme, immediately affects 20-150 teachers, which impacts 200-2000 children and many more within the school community. Since 2012, over 200 schools became entrepreneurship hubs, impacting over 10,000 teachers and 120,000 students of all ages. The official acknowledgment by the government came in 2014, when the Ministry of Education matched the programme's philanthropic funds, doubling the incubator budget and tripling its capacity. They also adopted the innovation as a formal outcome of the system and appointed Mifras as a consultant to the development of an intrapreneurial culture at the ministerial level.
For the future, the hope is to impact to all schools in Israel and other education systems around the world, promoting more disruptive innovation initiatives and allowing educators not only to lead educational intrapreneurial innovation, but to also bravely challenge some of the very basic assumptions of modern education. This will translate into creating new forms of learning processes and child development mechanisms.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship are traditionally perceived as related to business. Mifras' innovation stems from the idea of developing educators as educational entrepreneurs, incubating ventures to transform schools and education systems itself. By adapting the most innovative tools from the start-up domain to incubate innovation in education that is developed specifically for educational environments, Mifras' methodology has unique attributes:
*Digital platform designed as a blended learning and gamified tool to develop both teachers and student as educational entrepreneurs
*Hackathons with an emphasis on involving all school populations, parents, the community, and municipality
*School Entrepreneurship Index for self-assessment and development design and comparative research
The outcomes of all these processes are innovative ways for each school to deal with challenges and develop current and future relevancy that is relative for each school individually.
What is the current status of your innovation?
The incubator has been operating since 2012, with 30 headmasters each year, totalling 210 graduated schools.
The Israeli Ministry of Education chose to join the effort in 2014 by matching Mifras' capabilities, making them the organisation's biggest partner.
In the last three years there has been a lot of interest in Mifras' work, including delegations from around the world who seek to deep dive into the model and its implementation.
Collaborations & Partnerships
Philanthropic foundations, leading the education sector in Israel, were our first very important partners both financially and professionally. The Ministry of Education (different stakeholders) is the most important partner supporting the process and outcomes.
Entrepreneurial school principals
Ecosystem key players interested in promoting school level innovation: academies, NGO's, EdTech leaders, The Makers Forum
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Schools, principals, teachers, communities, children, officials (Ministry of Education), teacher training organizations, and the public education system as a whole.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
Mifras' initiatives are starting to play a role in school routine. Teachers are starting to understand initiative goals, develop faith in initiative feasibility and show enthusiasm. There is an increase in reports of entrepreneurship sparked by the initiatives. At schools where participating principals have remained at their posts, all the initiatives have continued even after completion of the program, and are developing in new directions.
Entrepreneurial culture is developing, particularly in schools headed by Mifras graduate principals. The schools headed by graduate principals appear to be the ones with the most “availability” for promoting entrepreneurial culture among teachers.
89% of teachers agree initiatives have a significant positive impact on the school
90%- The initiative strengthens the relationship between teachers and students
78%- The initiative increases sense of belonging to students in the school
73% of managers felt Mifras brought about significant change.
Challenges and Failures
Most education systems today are organised in a centralised way. Reforms are promoted top-down by regulators with innovation coming from outside through the Ed-Tech Industry.
At the beginning Mifras' bottom-up approach to Intrapreneurship made it hard to convince different system level stakeholders to support the innovation. It was also challenging to convince educators themselves to change their mindset to being proactive, innovative and entrepreneurial. They had to overcome years of suppression from following top-down directions, internalized boundaries, and paradigms about what is possible and what is under their control.
This change was achieved through group training and mentoring, using experiential and action based paradigm-shift methodologies, empowerment, and connecting to their own dreams and passions etc. The same challenge was encountered when the principals worked with their team and additional resistance to change occurred until they were giventhe tools to lead their teams.
Conditions for Success
The conditions needed are:
At least one visionary system level stakeholder (government, municipality or other, willing to give the field educators the space to dream and actualise their dreams.
Organisational infrastructures for the operation of the incubator in collaboration with all relevant stakeholders to enable the educators the basic conditions for innovating bottom up. Sometimes it is about knowing where the resources are, sometimes about how to collaborate with supporting forces, how to work around politics, etc.
Local professionals, familiar with the education system, qualified for leading the educators' training processes (which requires empowering, mentoring, working with the different needs and preferences of each entrepreneur) while role modelling all the guiding principles of how new, relevant learner-centred pedagogy looks like.
Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship as a vehicle for innovation is a basic human characteristic. If you can dream you can innovate given the right guidance.
Mifras' incubator has been scaled to over 200 schools all over Israel through the participation of principals in our programmes.
It was also scaled for ministry departments (the national preschool department, municipalities and school chains). Mifras also works with all types of education throughout early childhood to high-school.
Israel’s unique demography has allowed to successfully prove the incubator is relevant to different languages and cultures and can be implemented in multi-cultural contexts.
The team believes this model can address any ‘educational network’ of schools: public, private or municipal. As such, the model has been replicated to assess educational changes in municipalities.
Mifras has been engaging internationally to discuss scalability and the ability to replicate in different countries such as Brazil, Estonia, and Germany
Changing the education system is a global challenge. Most countries struggle with turning this heavy ship to the 21st century. Despite many islands of transformation and innovation around the world, they still do not sum up to a full systematic transformation for all.
At the same time, all around the developing world, education is still not accessible as basic right to every child like it should be. In this challenging reality, it was found that when allowing educators from the field to follow their dreams, with their team, community and children, to design and execute local relevant innovation with the proper training and tools, it can go much beyond just changing one school, it can change the whole system.
This becomes not only about changing education, but about being an active person, active citizen, entrepreneur and innovator for every aspect of life.
This is also risky, since proactive educators can challenge many traditional structures. The importance of using the entrepreneurship mindset, tools and skills is that the stakeholder management, change management, coping with obstacles and long term persistence is already built in.
Last but not least, the educators that Mifras worked with are not the “obvious entrepreneurs”. This was not chosen. The team works with the “average” principals, proving again and again that entrepreneurship can be acquired by the individual and the organisation. This is both satisfying and a great reason for hope.