Aligning Today’s Education With The Probable Reality Of Tomorrow

Aligning Today’s Education With The Probable Reality Of TomorrowIndian education system needs reforming. (Prasad Gori/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Snapshot
  • The present system is not able to create human resource as asset and it’s time to adopt the change and introduce education reforms.

    We need to develop a culture of quality, discipline, health and fitness.

The traditional education system is undergoing a transformation especially in the knowledge-driven economies. This is perhaps one of the most significant changes the world has witnessed since the information technology (IT) revolution in the early 21st century. Global change in education and a capability development approach will have far-reaching impacts on business and economy in the years to come. India needs to reform its education system to enable its talent force to remain competitive and drive growth.

Global multinationals and large corporate employers are increasingly sceptical of the correlation between academic performance and workplace outcomes. The definition of education credential is changing. As the shelf life of skills and competency shrinks, the degree is fast losing relevance as the primary unit of measurement for post-secondary education. Many experts in business and strategic organisations believe that the age of degrees is perhaps over, and scoring of marks and ranks is no guarantee for success in the emerging world. The emerging paradigm suggests that as long as a guy has the basics in place, the person can be trained to do the job. Thus a corporate university run by an IT giant may be graduating as many computer scientists as traditional universities.

Technology majors like Google and IBM are looking beyond the degree to find employees with the skills and competencies they demand—regardless of whether they went to college or not. Alibaba’s Jack Ma says he would prefer to recruit a person who is exposed to a variety of experiences such as sports, and comes with a cultural and geo-political awareness, rather than someone who is a rank holder. It seems the future will be expert-driven programmes by corporate universities or subject specialists, superior to generic degree-driven college programmes. They will have professional experts to facilitate learning, and the institutions will specialise more on the student’s ability to collaborate and subject’s scope of application.

Many researchers have found that a holistic development, including participation in team sports like football and basketball, spending unstructured time, and engagement in a hobby, art and craft, plays a vital role in development of foundational competencies crucial for learning the required capabilities at work.

Examples abound. Israel, Japan, South Korea and Singapore are moving towards an education model based on creating a culture of cooperation and co-creation rather than competition alone. In Japan, there is an additional focus on counselling and co-curricular activities. The United States is moving more towards a model of education more specialised and better designed for application along with encouragement for innovation and co-creation.

According to the World Economic Forum, Denmark, which has emerged as a great success story and is ranked among the top countries in Teenager Happiness Index, has created a collaborative culture. The Netherlands has made it easy to switch between academic and vocational education and to retake a year if needed. Most (86 per cent) of the Dutch youth feel they have helpful and kind classmates — among the highest in the world. Dutch youth have the lowest levels of schoolwork pressure in Europe.

Finland’s education system has made learning more activity-based and enjoyable, and it is mandatory to provide play time to learners at every 45-minute interval. Finland’s education model focuses on co-creation-based learning, inculcating a culture of cooperation from the early age. Finland has introduced activities at school for children to be more playful and have fun.

Yet, our dominantly prevalent education system is largely failing to create a diverse pool of talent by continuing to over-emphasise the ability to score in examinations. In India, lack of encouragement towards sports is leading to declining levels of physical fitness and is creating stress. It is also leading to a falling ‘social intelligence’. Sports are a great way to enable the youth to learn confidence, commitment, endurance, character and discipline.

Additionally, sports activities provide the leadership skills that play a vital role in building great careers. Team sports are the best way to engage youth and help learn interpersonal skills and team work. The lack of fitness and social intelligence will negatively impact our human quality. Team sports and other co-curriculars can help the child and youth to be more inquisitive, build a higher level of emotional quotient, ability to think, analyse and learn ways to apply their knowledge. Most importantly sports and co-curricular activities will help create a culture of discipline and patriotism. This is not an either-or for universities. It is possible to accommodate more space and time for development of the future generations within their existing frameworks by enabling them to do and experience life beyond just academics and scoring in exams. The global trend is to expose children to diversity of knowledge and develop an imaginative and creative mind.

The ancient civilisation of India has given the world some of greatest institutions of learning—Takshashila, Nalanda, Vikramashila, Valabhi, Somapura and Odantapuri, to name a few. They made significant contribution to the world for 1,800 years beginning sixth century BC. They were magnets for the finest minds and scholars in the world and played a vital role in the evolution of Indian nation-state. Chanakya’s Arthashastra, an authoritative text on state-craft, was also written during this period.

Education reform is an idea whose time has come. Time has come for India to develop and adopt a national curriculum, reduce the load of study, make learning enjoyable and application oriented, discard the old school approach of focus on study alone, discouraging of sports and co-curricular activities. India needs to develop a sporting culture right from school and encourage kids to participate in sports and co-curricular activities. Sports, co-curricular activities and basic military training should be a mandatory part of education journey as has been done in Israel. This will help in character building and enabling the youth to be successful in career and life.

Rabindranath Tagore and Swami Vivekananda said we need to evolve our own education system based on our national needs for nation-building. The present system is a legacy of the colonial era that focuses on passing exams and scoring marks to get a degree with no development of real capability of our youth for nation-building. The economics of higher education in India also makes it sensible to ask the question on return on investment in terms of money, effort and time put in by the learners. The present model also fails to tap available talent across the country, specially the Himalayan states and the Northeast. Education reforms will also help address the issue of brain drain and India’s losing out talent to drive its economic progress.

We need to develop people with pride in India, who understand the nation’s strategic interest. Knowledge gives purpose to human life. If people lead healthy, happy and productive lives they will be able to develop our nation. The present system is not able to create human resource as asset and it’s time to adopt the change and introduce education reforms. We need to develop a culture of quality, discipline, health and fitness. The right approach for human resource development can play a vital role in emergence of a new India.

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