DeJaeghere, Joan (2017). 'Educating Entrepreneurial Citizens: Neoliberalism and Youth Livelihoods in Tanzania' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.


Governments in sub-Saharan Africa face increasing pressure to educate young people through secondary school, supposedly equipping them with knowledge and skills for employment and their future. At the same time, many youth do not complete their education and there are insufficient jobs to employ graduates. The development community sees entrepreneurship education as one viable solution to the double edged problem of inadequate education and few jobs. This book examines the multiple and contradictory purposes and effects of entrepreneurship education aimed at addressing youth unemployment and alleviating poverty in Tanzania.


The book examines how, on the one hand, entrepreneurship education is aligned with a governing rationality of neoliberalism that requires individuals to create their own livelihoods without government social supports. On the other hand, a capability approach combined with local social and economic relations offers an alternative perspective of entrepreneurship – one in which training programs are enacted with attention to the value of such education and training for youth’s wellbeing within their community context. The book extends the use of a capability approach by showing through a rich empirical analysis of quantitative and qualitative data over 5 years how capabilities from education/training programs can be converted into well-being. It also offers a perspective of situating wellbeing within local meanings and practices.


The two NGO programs discussed in this book draw on a rights-based discourse that seeks to educate those not served by government schools, providing them with educational and social supports to be included in society; they also utilize neoliberal ideals of risk-taking in insecure economic environments and taking responsibility for one’s own livelihood. The chapters explore the tensions that occur when international organizations and NGOs draw on both neoliberal and liberal, human rights discourses, what I term neo/liberalisms, to address the problems of poverty, unemployment and poor quality education. Furthermore, these neo/liberal perspectives meet local ideas related to ujamaa, reciprocity and solidarity, creating friction and altering the programs and effects they have on youth.


The book introduces the concept of entrepreneurial citizens—those who utilize their innovative skills and behaviours to claim both economic and social rights from which they had been previously excluded. The programs taught youth how to develop their own enterprises, to earn profits, and to save for their own futures, but youth used their education, skills and labor to provide for basic needs, to be included in society, and to support the families’ and communities’ well-being. Still, the youth’s social and political inclusion remains precarious without broader changes in macro-economic and social policies affecting their livelihoods.




Ina Conradie, University of Western Cape

Elaine Unterhalter, Institute of Education, University College London









scroll to top