“Junior Achievement catches up on what schools have neglected.”

The University of New York in Prague has long been committed to educating young people to compete in the global economy. For this reason, we are proud to be affiliated with Junior Achievement in the Czech Republic, one of the largest Czech organizations that helps train young people for fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship.

As UNYP enters into a brand-new relationship with Junior Achievement in the Czech Republic, this dedication now takes on an extra dimension. Last year, UNYP had the pleasure of hosting the Czech JA Student Company Competition Finals, and we are now pleased to offer you a summary of the Czech Forbes magazine article about their organization, “Děti učí podnikat už přes sto let. Junior Achievement dohání, co školy zanedbaly.”

UNYP is proud to be aligned with JA in the Czech Republic, one of the largest organizations that helps prepare youth for fiscal responsibility and entrepreneurship.  

Mathematics, Czech, music, science…and business

STEM and the social sciences have always had a permanent place in the school curriculum. But the world is moving faster and faster, progress is on the agenda every day, and the traditional knowledge base is no longer enough. Instead, after graduating from high school, young people often find that they lack the practical information and experience to navigate real life. In the United States, this knowledge deficit was recognized more than a hundred years ago; in 1919, the president of then-local telecommunications company AT&T founded the non-profit organization Junior Achievement, together with two American senators. Today, Junior Achievement teaches financial literacy and business basics to children in more than 110 countries around the world.

Czech graduates of the JA educational program prove that this business education pays off, as they use their accumulated knowledge and experience to further their own careers and the management of their own businesses. Examples include Socialsharks founder Petr Andrýsek, Skladon and BeWooden founder Patrik Babinec, and Prague mayor Zdeněk Hřib. International JA graduates include the American billionaire Mark Cuban and the founder of the Subway chain, Fred DeLuca.

Every year, thousands of students join JA, from kindergarten to university age, with a tailor-made educational program for each age group. “In kindergartens and primary schools, the most important thing is to acquaint children with the basics of financial literacy and gradually develop their logical thinking. Therefore, teaching is in the form of games and interactive activities to ensure their greatest possible attention,” says Martin Smrž, the current director of the organization.

One of the most popular programs is the “JA Studentská firma” course, which makes maximum use of the organization’s worldwide connections. The program is designed for high school and high school students and allows them to experience starting their own company. According to Martin Smrž, the student companies usually create simple products, such as homemade sweets or handmade soap products, but these days, it is more and more common for students to develop more sophisticated products such as apps. 

“Students are often influenced by what happens in the media. They perceive what is happening around them and choose what they find interesting, so the topics are often very contemporary,” says Smrž. Topical products are usually focused on ecology, such as biodegradable pasta straws, or water collectors which are intended to alleviate droughts, but recently a JA company was established that focused on shooting videos. 

Another group chose an utterly different financing strategy and decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign on Hithit (which has already brought in 75,000 crowns in advance) for their relatively simple product – fragrant bags for dirty laundry. 

The winners of the national finals will qualify for the European championship, where they will compete with their project against teams from other countries.

Schools do not need many resources to participate in the JA program. It is enough if they have a teacher who is interested in teaching students something beyond the usual curriculum – even if the teacher has no personal experience in business! Experts from various business disciplines, who work closely with the entire program, will provide detailed training and materials for the teacher. These expert trainers represent companies whose support makes this non-profit organization possible: mostly large international financial and technological companies such as AT&T, SAP Concur, MetLife, Raiffeisenbank, and Citibank. However, Czech companies are also represented – for example, Dermacol, Baťa, and the University of New York in Prague.

We are proud to support Junior Achievement in the Czech Republic, and we wish the trainers, teachers, and students all the very best.

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