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Business education and 21st century

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Business education like many other concepts has been defined in several ways by several people to suit different situations and purposes. Some define it from the way it is practiced in the field, while others define it from the angle it is taught in schools and colleges. Business education refers to those business subjects taught at the secondary school level such as book-keeping, Typewriting, shorthand, general subjects-synonymous with education for entrance into business word given at any educational level, (Della, 2011). However, there are other people who think of business education as those courses taught at post-secondary school level such as Accountancy, marketing, Business Administration, secretarial Administration, Finance and Banking. The definitely tells us that business education is a very versatile area which has different aims.

Recognizing this fact, the term business education is normally used is two distinguishable senses which for want of terminologies one could refer to as first, a general mono-dimensional sense, and secondary, a special bi-dimensional sense, (ibid). In the general mono education as Education in-business subjects, in this respect, one can inferred that business education then implies only education in subjects like shorthand, typewriting, book-keeping Accountancy, office practice and is armed at happing the students to know how to use the services provided by the business world. Building career in business education at a time of rapid change, accelerated innovation, intense globalization, and profound demographic shifts. Success depends on how quickly you can identify and evaluate trends, adapt to new cultures, and craft creative approaches to stakeholders, products, services and social contexts.


Business education has its own terminology just like other professions such as Medicine, Law, Banking and Finance and so on. The said appreciation of the course (Business Education) can only take place when you are made aware of the terms and the historical foundation of business education as your course or programme of study. In this unit you would be introduced to the definition of business education concepts, its development in Nigeria as well as in other countries. This is very important because it would arm you with all you need to know about the take off of the business education programme in the teaching/learning situation. The earliest form of business education according to Osuala, Popham (1975) and Njoku (2006) as well as most authors was the apprenticeship training. At that time an individual had to learn a trade under another person who had the skill for the trade, or who was experienced in a particular area. These were craft, bookkeeping, farming, and sales, etc.

The period of training varied from one trade to another. Sometimes the length of time was based on how fast the apprentice could learn the skill. For instance, sole traders were able to take apprentices to assist in the sale of wears through the learning of how it was done. Today, this type of skill is carried and acquired through apprenticeship training. As time passed the apprentice became free and was either a salesman or bookkeeper. As time went on, businesses started growing, Popham (1975) stated that more people were needed in businesses and the idea of restricting the training to certain places was not achieving much and itinerant tutors started travelling around the country (USA) giving instruction in book keeping and penmanship. People started appreciating the need for business skills and grammar schools started including book keeping, penmanship and commercial arithmetic in their curricula as a result of demands for commercial training. This gave business education a place in the formal setting.


Business education as a course of study has to move with time, and according to Popham (1975) when a group of people where asked what business education is? They reply was as follows: A business executive replied, “Business Education is education to produce goods and services”. A radical retorted: It is the avenue to enormous profit. One teacher responded: Economic concepts necessary for living in a business economy. Another teacher answered: Learning skills to enter a business or distributive job. Business education is a course that prepares students for entry into and advancement in jobs within business and it is equally important because it prepares students to handle their own business affairs and to function intelligently as consumers and citizens in a business economy.

Nolan, Hayden, Malsbary (1967) defined business education as those business programmes and courses taught ordinarily at the secondary school level. Osuala E.C. (1989) defines Business education as an essential part of the preparation of youth for live and living. In 2004, Osuala, gave another definition as: Business education is a programme of instruction which consists of two parts (1) Office education, a vocational programme of office careers through initial, refresher and upgrading education and (2) General business education a programme to provide students with information and competences which are needed by all in managing personal business affairs and in using the services of the business. Njoku (1997) defines business education as that facet of educational training that helps the individual to acquire relevant skills needed for living. However in 2006 Njoku gave another definition as an educational programme that equips an individual with functional and suitable skills, knowledge, attitude and value that would enable him/her operates in the environment he/she finds himself/herself. Today business education is not looked at as preparing you for the acquisition of skills only as teachers or secretaries but also prepares you as administrator, manager, responsible citizen, leaders or entrepreneurs.


The content of any programme of study is derived from the objectives. This is to say that the objectives would determine what is to be taught and how it should be taught. While the needs of the society would influence the objective the curriculum is out to achieve. The content must meet the needs of the learner, society and business of development to take place at the different levels. Since the objectives of business education programme vary from one level to the other, it means that the contents vary too. Hence, it becomes imperative to be exposed to the different contents and why they are considered relevant. These would be discussed below.

Content of Business Education in Private Vocational School

They include the following subjects:
Vocational Subjects General Subjects
* Typewriting
* Economics
* Shorthand
* Commerce
* Office Practice
* Bible Knowledge
* English Language
* Government
* Bookkeeping/Accounts
* Secretarial Studies
* Maths and Business maths

Content of Business Education at the Junior Secondary School Level At this level, the objectives of the programme as said earlier would be considered based on the needs of the learner, society and business. Similarly, the contents would have a close relationship with the objectives. Business education has two facets and they have general education and vocational education aspects. The Junior Secondary School level is focused on General Education. At the JSS level Business studies is presented as relatively integrated subject which intended to be taught as unit of Business Studies, not as single subjects. The following include the components of business studies:

· Typewriting
· Shorthand
· Commerce
· Book keeping
· Office Practice
Content of Business Education at the SSS Level
· Book-keeping
· Commerce
· Shorthand
· Typewriting
· Economics
Content of Business Education at the Tertiary Level
The content at the Tertiary level is grouped into the following headings:
1. Business education courses vocational
2. Education courses
3. General business courses
4. Teaching Practices
5. Industrial work experience

1. Business Education Courses/Vocational – They are keyboarding (Computing)
Accounting Business Maths, Shorthand.
2. General Education Courses – English Humanities, Mathematics, Psychology, Sociology.
3. General Business Courses – Economics, commerce, business law, office practice, personnel management entrepreneurship education, book keeping, consumer education (marketing), human relations, professional work ethics,
4. Professional Education Courses – Curriculum development, methodology, research techniques, principles of business education. Having studied all these subjects, it is important for us to know the courses studied in institutions offering business education subjects in Nigeria and identify their lapses in order to propose remedies.

a. Courses for Nigerian Colleges of Education

Advanced Finance, Accounting, Auditing & Taxation, Basic Maths, Business Finance & Economics Institution, Business Law, Business Statistics, Commerce, Computer Application, Cost Accounting, Financial accounting, International Economics, Introduction to Economics, Methodology, Office Practice, Principles of Account, Principles of Market, Principles of Management, Public Sector Economics, Economics, Research, Project, Shorthand Theory, Typewriting (Keyboarding), Secretarial English, SIWES, etc.

b.Standard Courses for Federal Government Owned Universities offering Business Education Courses
Industrial Work, Methodology in Business Education, Project, Business Communication, Consumer Economics, Principles of Business Education, Office Technology, Principles of Small Business Management, Seminar in Business Education, Administrative Office Management, Shorthand, Business Law & Government Regulation, Transcription, Business Organisation, Typewriting, Comparative History of Business and market, Vocational Guidance, etc.

c. Professional Education Courses

Curriculum Implementation and Instruction, Introduction to Education, Curriculum Theory & Planning, Measurement and Evaluation, Teaching Practice, Educational Psychology, etc.

d. Marketing/Accounting/Office Studies Components

Element of Accounting, Nigerian Marketing System, Element of Marketing, Fundamentals of Government Account System, Introduction to Financial Accounting, Shorthand Transcription, Advanced Typewriting, Audio Typewriting

e. Social Sciences and Statistics Courses

Humanities, Principles of Economics, Use of English, Introduction to Computer, Computer Application, Natural Sciences, Micro Economics Theory, Statistics for Social Sciences, etc. From the above analyses, we can see that the courses were not uniform in and this may be the reason for the refusal of institutions to accept graduates of other institutions in the same programme for a higher degree programme. More on this will be discussed under issues in business education.


Business education has its own traditional subjects that whenever such subjects are mentioned people would know that they belong to the family of business education. The major traditional subjects of business education are: Shorthand and typewriting. These are highly skilled subject. Office practice is rarely mentioned as a traditional subject.

i. Shorthand: Since the introduction of shorthand as part of the business education programme, its study has been taken seriously until recently. The teaching of shorthand was taken seriously because of its great need by verbalism reporters and those requested to be present during proceedings. It was reported that no one could talk of typewriting without any mention of shorthand. Hence, this gave the 2 subjects a prominent place in the business education programme.

ii. Typewriting: Typewriting as one of the major traditional subjects was offered by almost all business schools because of its own importance then. Offices during the colonial days were engaged in typing business letters and several documents that kept the offices moving then. The colonial masters used typewriters as their major office tool; hence they believed that students after leaving school would need the typing skill for personal use and for office use. At that time it was believed that no matter your area of study there was need for you to acquire typewriting skill. You need to type your document, communicate whenever you like and be employed with the skill you have acquired. A third traditional subject was clerical office practice or what is today called office practice or secretarial practice. The reason for this traditional subject was due to the importance attached to the production of good documents. There was need for proper organization of office documents in relation to filing, retrieval, pay rolling, purchases and sales, operation of office machines and billing, among others. NEW EXPERIMENTS AND INNOVATION IN BUSINESS EDUCATION CURRICULA AND HOW COURSES ARE TAUGHT IS WIDESPREAD AT TOP SCHOOLS Professor Datar described case studies, each of which has an area of excellence that represents an important trend in Business Education:

-Globalization: The basics to making a program more global are international students and faculty. In addition, international content is required in all courses. The challenge is how to teach students what it is like to be a general manager in a globalized world. While some schools have international exchange programs, international trips, or international research centers, INSEAD’s second campus in Singapore provides the ultimate international experience. Students get exposure to another country and culture, and do coursework and work on projects in a different country, a far more immersive experience than a trip.

-Leadership: Many schools have focused on leadership through a class on corporate accountability and/or ethics. But some schools are going further. For example, the Center for Creative Leadership is focusing on individual personal development. The learning takes place in small groups or individually. Students are given a baseline assessment followed by challenges to develop weak areas, and then individual coaching.

-Flexibility and Customization: The University of Chicago provides tremendous flexibility. There is only one required course and courses are customized to the student’s background, with multiple options and choices. In addition, students have complete flexibility as to when they take any course, with no mandated sequence. Stanford also provides tremendous flexibility with three levels of courses in many areas: basic, advanced, and advanced applications. Also, unlike most other schools, Stanford teaches strategy in the first semester to expose students to the 50,000-foot level and then allow them to go deeper in other areas. Yale is conducting an experiment where the curriculum is highly integrated. The faculty doesn’t teach functional courses. The course is not “Marketing”; it is “Customer.” There is no course on “Strategy”; it is “Competition.”

-Innovation and Creativity: The Stanford Design School, which is modeled on the principles of IDEO, aims to help develop students’ skills in the areas of creativity and innovation through experiences.

-Presentation Skills: Yale teaches a one-week course that focuses on critical thinking. Students are graded by a writing coach for style and whether they are getting their idea across. Beyond that, the course deals with how to attack a question looking at different possible methods: analysis, debate, and inductive versus deductive thinking.


The content of the business education programme are “make-ups” of the objectives at the different levels. Knowing all this would help you as a teacher to direct the teaching of the course towards the desired objectives stated for learning at the different levels of education. Knowing what issues are in the content of the curriculum would help to have an in-depth knowledge of what is required and understand what is needed for teaching and learning to take place. Issues in the content of a curriculum are diversified in nature. This is because they have to touch all aspects of teaching and learning. It is pertinent for you to understand what they are and be able to apply them as the need arises. Issues are best handled if you are allowed to brainstorm and generate ideas that would lead to further issues. In this case you have to make use of different methods of teaching and learning styles in order to get the best from your learning efforts. The importance of any course once it is known to the individual acts as a stimulant to the learner.

Knowing the importance of business education would help to inspire the students to conscientiously work towards the achievement of their goals. In effect, the students become act co-participants in the learning and teaching process. Business education is important to everyone – individuals, nations, entrepreneurs, etc. Its importance to each group is highly needed for them to properly understand how the economy operates. In this regard, explaining the importance of business education to the learner would help them to appreciate studying the course and apply it when the need arises.

Della Bradshaw (2011). Navigating a Route for Business Education in the 21st Century. Harvard Business School, U.S.A Njoku, C.U. (1997). An Appraisal of Business Education Programme in Selected Tertiary Institutions in Nigeria Unpublished. Ph.D Thesis. University of Nigeria Nsukka.

Njoku, C.U. and Nwosu, A..N. (2002). Role of Business Education in Sustaining Small Scale Businesses for National Development. Business Education Journal. III. (5) 95 – 105.

Njoku, C.U. (2006). Business Education and Value Orientation for National Economic Empowerment and Development. Paper presented at the Owo. 2006 Annual Conference of the Association of Business Education of Nigeria (ABEN)

Ntukidem, E. (2003). Need for Career Guidance for Business Education Students. 4. (1) 134 – 139.

Olofintila, A.O. (2006). Business Education a Gateway to National Development and Survival. Book of Readings, 1 (6). 122 – 131.

Osuala, E.C., (1989). Principles & Practical of Business Education. Obosi, Nigeria. Pacific Correspondence College and Press Ltd.

Osuala, E.C., (2004). Principles and Methods of Business and Computer Education. Enugu, Enugu State: Cheston Agency Ltd.

Popham, E.L., Schrag, A.F., and Blocklvs (1971). A Teaching Learning System for Business Education. New York: Megraus.

Ubulom, W.J. (2003). An Evaluation of Undergraduate Business Education Programmes of Tertiary Institutions in River State.

UNESCO and ILO Recommendations Technical and Vocational Education and Training for the 21st Century. (2001).

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