The Future of Education: Making education sector more personal, local, and long-lasting
The future of education and its trends
On 18th December 2020, I was invited to share opening words at my school’s (where I completed 10th grade) annual festival. The theme was Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Skill Development. This got me thinking.
Why should school students discuss SDGs? What would the interaction yield? Structures of the education sector have not evolved in centuries: students, professors, classrooms, discussion, assignments, and then the next day back to school. However, the fact that a school decided to plan its upcoming year around SDGs, provides hints of innovation.
In this case, then, the other two ‘I’s include inspiration and involvement at an early age. I spoke to the school students about A for acceptance, B for binoculars, and C for collaboration that helps achieve the SDGs.
When the Sustainable Development Goals were being formed, they had to undergo a series of consultations. For students and youth, this means, all that they need to do is put on binoculars and understand the finer details that will shape their future.
The youth must imagine working alongside decision-makers and make their voice heard. Through an uprise of start-up culture, the formation of youth networks, and even parliamentarians who seek involvement at grassroots, it is rather evident that the youth can drive collaboration at their level.
The question that remains in my mind is – what sort of definitions must the youth set for their future? Here is my take on how education systems made of students at all levels may evolve:
Technology pull –
COVID-19 of 2020 has had a significant impact on primary standard students. In Week 51 (21st December), I was on the phone with a friend who has a 6-year-old daughter. She (my friend) was upset that her child has been forced to ‘increase screen-time to 4 hours a day due to new teaching method’ or that her daughter can only ‘wave to her friends over a devise’.
In my understanding, a solution is hologram technology, arising from the amazing hologram stickers most popular in the 1990s.
Let us assume that COVID has taught education systems the importance of resilience. Adoption of hologram technology is not expensive. It is a perfect way for students to see their friends in real form.
Not only does it get the students’ eyes off a screen, but it also feels personal. The technology has applications pan-industry and can have a helpful (possibly addictive) impact on the education sector.
Furthermore, the advent of virtual reality (VR) and more so augmented reality (AR) fits perfectly with classroom teachings requiring visual aid. Imagine explaining how parts of an automobile fit together or how a surgery takes place without the aid of augmented reality.
On one hand, students would spend non-classroom time on their cell phones or wear virtual comfort spectacles and then come to the classroom and read paper-based textbooks. Such a switch will only make students run back to their cell phones every moment they get.
Classrooms will have to use a combination of VR, AR to explain the fundamentals of physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, economics and possibly even utilize a hologram of the famous poets in English class or Hitler in History class.
In essence, my assumptions are the following:
- availability of technology will pull education institutions towards these technologies
- there is a good internet connection
- education institutions do not see technology as a threat
- there is a willingness to invest in such technology
- access to such technology is made possible despite the economic background of the student
- the education institution fully understands the benefits of the investment before investing
Private sector push –
At the above mentioned online festival, the Principal of the school spoke of student-led entrepreneurship, the dare to dream minus inhibitions. Knowledge combined with skills to utilize that knowledge is indeed a richer experience for the student in the first place. This is probably where the private sector has a long-term role to play.
The idea behind start-up culture, entrepreneurship infrastructure (incubation labs, venture capitalists, and so on), and the private sector are to eliminate challenges as soon as possible.
However, the skillsets to cope with modern challenges are not necessarily practiced in school or university systems. I suspect that there will be an upswing in privately funded institutions focused on solving non-academic challenges.
Imagine institutions being redefined with the sole aim to build skills and convert ideas into action. Schools and universities partner with companies from day one of admission. Students have entire teams, equipment, data availability, expensive tools, resources, and rich conversations over meals at their disposal.
In return, the private sector entity receives insight into youth psychology and first rights to innovation. Together both entities prosper.
Without a doubt, I am assuming the following:
- such a future is one where there are no lies, deceit, and robbing students of their ideas
- it benefits and uplifts those students where there is weak internet penetration
- education progresses to become a knowledge-skills capsule
- the student has every right to withdraw from such inclusion
The nature of innovation will be local. It will first benefit communities and families in the given geographic area. Thanks to private funding, student-led entrepreneurship will have the potential to scale.
Governance and government impact –
Eventually, I believe that governments will take notice of technology pull and the private sector push influence on education systems and want in. Education ministries around the world will feel the pressure.
Subsequently, there will be improvements in public schooling, teacher salaries, attitude to solve challenges in the rural sector through students, focus on practical pedagogy, and an increase in quantum of schools across villages.
More schooling in the rural sector will produce new thinking, not necessarily limited to agriculture. I imagine a time when rural sector schools will match urban schools, rural sector students will attract investments in the form of technology and resources, and the rural sector will not be looked down, in comparison to the urban sector.
I am making two very crucial assumptions:
- the political will to improve rural education
- the willingness to shift resources towards rural sector education
Do not mistake me for suggesting that the government impact on education needs private sector push as a pre-requisite to improve rural education. Instead, the rural sector has enough control to invite or decline private and technology innovation into their backyard.
The structure of the education sector might not have transformed in centuries. Children must have improved access to education, skills, technology, and resources. For a society to be long lasting, it needs its children, students, young innovators, and disruptors.
The future of education rests on the ability to include maximum students of all ages into the solution mix without discrimination and the attitude to ask, ‘what would our students do to solve this challenge’?