Future Education Trends – 2020 Onwards
In a few years, today’s student community will be in the job market looking for employment or for opportunities to have their own Start-Ups. Schools, colleges and universities are busy churning out students, even though this future is shrouded in mystery and they have no clue about most of the jobs and job requirements that will exist in the near future. Why? Because a lot of the jobs that our present student community will be vying for in the near future, do not yet exist! As per a recent study, four out of every five jobs that will exist twenty years from now, do not exist today.
The HRD Minister, Prakash Javadekar, has started a debate by suggesting that the syllabus be reduced to de-stress the students. What we are not discussing is the root cause of this stress. Stress is caused not by that which is known, even though the quantum of syllabus may be increasing rapidly; but rather by that which is unknown or unpredictable. And the perceived level of preparedness for that ‘unknown’. Unless we start preparing our students for the ‘unpredictable future’, the stress will remain, nay increase further, even though syllabus may have been reduced by half.
So how should the Schools and Institutes of higher education prepare their students? And for what scenario should these students be educated? There is a pressing need to answer these questions now.
The knowledge-era is over. Information, data, facts are no longer the game changer. The neo-generation learners will be a generation steeped in the presently nascent field of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Not the threatening and potentially destructive AI of filmdom; rather a supportive and enabling AI tempered with the socio-emotional balance of human beings to harness the huge potential of AI for the greater good and advancement of humanity.
Schools and potential Employers have already started aligning themselves to the needs of the future. School education is moving towards Flipped classes and Blended classrooms; from teacher-centric to student-centric learning. From conventional chalk-and-talk to multiple inputs through online content, digital media, social spaces, collaborative projects and presentations, teamwork, creativity, physical sports and life skill development.
Curriculum in the 21st century is now focused towards Mindfulness, Wellness and Positive Education. Mindfulness is paying attention with a non-judgmental attitude; Wellness is social, mental and spiritual growth along with physical growth; and Positive education with individualized learning is being given due importance. Multi-culturalism, globalization, and uniqueness is taking center-stage. One size fits all is no longer the guiding force.
The recent spate of sexual abuse incidents against children and teenagers has further focused attention on women empowerment, self confidence and skilling for self defense and self assertion. The onus is on the educational institutes to rise to the occasion by re-aligning the curriculum and the pedagogy to address these critical aspects of a young adult’s educational priorities; both for girls and for boys.
It has been observed that Indian students perform consistently better when studying abroad. Why, then, does the Indian education system pale before the American or even the European higher education? Where do we fritter away the intellectual advantage that we have in secondary and senior secondary education, to fall so far behind when it comes to our Colleges and Universities?
At the national level successive governments have been making claims of how education figures high on their agenda. Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar has resolved to revolutionize education through Operation Digital Board. Despite ambitious goal-setting the spending on education remains a meagre three percent of GDP against a required minimum target of six percent. The recent UNESCO Global Monitoring report has pointed out all that ails the ambitious RTE act. Lack of accountability and a dismal compliance rate of eight percent with the RTE norms has undermined whatever benefits were deemed to have accrued through the mission-educate India. The sheer reach and the huge student base of government schools means that unless the government schools also reinvent themselves, the revolution will remain limited to the fortunate few who study in private schools. The revolution will by-pass the vast majority of students studying in government schools.
Another weak link appears to be our colleges and universities which are still stuck in the age of marks and grades over skills, attitudes and character. Financial dependence and political interference; perhaps a certain ennui and complacency, is holding back the huge potential of our revered IITs to respond to the demands of the present generation. The recent QS World University Rankings 2018 are a wake-up call where most IITs have slipped in their rankings for technical courses such as BTech, Mtech and PhD. Rather the focus has shifted to Humanities, Social Sciences and Management where rankings are up, marginally. STEAM – Science/Technology/Engineering/Art/Mathematics are steaming ahead to provide education relevant to the next generation.
Higher education has to move away from its obsession with grades and entrance exam marks. Diversity, both national and international, within the student community should be fostered to bring a sense of Indianness to our regional colleges. Diversity also in the admission process by including a detailed subjective application process along with Group discussion and Interview options rather than depending on marks and ranks alone. Diversity not only in academics but also related fields by highlighting sports, arts and humanities. The recent bounty of medals at the Commonwealth Games has brought Indian sports into the limelight; at the cusp of glory and with the Sports graph ready to take off, it is the right time for Indian sportspeople waiting for their time under the sun.
A conscious change of direction is required by our Schools, both government and private, and our institutes of Higher Education – our colleges and universities. We must strengthen our efforts to realign higher education to the needs of the future so that India may rightfully regain its position as the cradle of civilisation, the land of the zero; at the cutting edge of innovation in Education.
Post Graduate in English Literature (Gold Medalist)
System Design from OHIO, USA (GPA 4.0. Member Phi Theta Kappa)
Educationist and Director of EKLAVYA SCHOOL, Jalandhar.