Mohammed Amine Belarbi (Morocco, RCN, 2010-2012)
A striking feature of UWCs, and which I realized the importance and the danger while reflecting on a similar institution, African Leadership Academy, is the lack of an Entrepreneurship spirit in student’s initiatives. There are, to be honest, several projects and leading ventures on campus which operate on the basis of social entrepreneurship, mainly fundraising groups. The elementary driving force, though, is not a core part of the student life when engaging in such fundraising projects: Profit!
The word sounds wrong and indeed may repel, falling in the greed and selfishness category UWC has long constructed for it. Yet, the question which imposes itself is the necessity for an institution such as ALA (African Leadership Academy) to promote and engage in For Profit business, granting students starting capital and encouraging them to initiate their own little, campus based company.
The answer is easy: Profit, like it or not, is the catalyzer of great initiatives, projects and creative businesses. It is an inherent feature in mankind to work harder when the benefit is greater for oneself. This does not necessarily encourage greed and extensive profit search, but tends to lay the foundations for an atmosphere prosperous for mind flourishing and projects creativity. An easy analogy would be the free market economy, where the profit and competition is the driving force behind creative marketing and genius product manufacturing.
Imagine how active a student would be if he knew the profit made out of a business will end up in his pocket? Bearing in mind that the brave adventurers who will throw themselves in the business venture will be those in need of money, not the better off student who are simply ready to consume what’s on sale. A good UWC approach would be to enhance cooperation between the two sides, where one would contribute with capital; the other one can invest with the handy skills acquired back home. A cooperative business where profit is a force which unites people from different cultures, races and religions!
It is time to reform the UWC movement and make from it a place where realism and idealism coexist, it is time to dare explore challenging horizons and think big enough to enclose the whole world. If JFK mentioned in his last speech that humans were meant to be free and independent, UWC are indeed urged to move along the same philosophy: a strong and innovative educational network, but above all, free and independent!
-United words team-