Education expert says the future of education is inclusive, equitable and virtual
The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education to celebrate the pivotal role that education plays in creating peace and development. Unesco states that, "Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth, and adults behind." The pandemic has however perpetuated this cycle and made us question if the old methods of imparting education were adequate. Rajesh Bhatia, founder of the pioneering online preschool chain TreeHouse believes that the future of education is inclusive, equitable, and virtual. Here are the five emerging trends that could redefine the meaning and expanse of education according to him.
Education will be hybrid and digitally adaptive
Rajesh says, "According to a post on unesco.org, 258 million children and youth in the world still do not attend school and over 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic maths. The pandemic has exacerbated this inequity more and I believe only hybrid, flexible and adaptive education can help bridge these gaps. This means that where we cannot build infrastructure, we must create digital networks to teach children. Education will have to adapt to the post-pandemic world with a mix of online and offline modules." Innovations like gamification have altered the way students engage with their curriculums and more digital tools will make learning increasingly interactive. He says, "Online schooling is estimated to be USD 2 billion in India by 2021 and online schools are going to grow in big numbers. This will also make schooling more affordable and inclusive."
Education will be more personalised
Rote learning and lack of individuation will now be a thing of the past, says Rajesh and adds, "We must prepare students to not just fit in but stand out as global citizens who have something unique to offer. It is hence important to engage with young minds with caution and sensitivity and mould them to process knowledge rather than just imbibe it passively. We will have to create modules where unique talents are encouraged rather than erased to blend into a sea of mediocrity. Excellence comes from the passion for learning and knowledge and that is missing from our curricula right now."
Education will become less focused on ranking systems
The obsession with marks, percentage, and ranks is unhealthy, generates unnecessary anxiety and stress, and serves no purpose, says Rajesh and adds, "The pandemic showed us that grading and rankings are not as important as bridging learning gaps, taking care of the mental health of our children and encouraging them to be their best rather than aim for unrealistic scores. I hope this becomes normative in the future and our education system becomes less rigid and more empathetic to the different ways in which children learn and encourage them accordingly." Artificial Intelligence (AI), he adds, will also be employed more and more in the assessment process.
Vocational training and unconventional courses will gain importance
TreeHouse has already initiated vocational courses for school-going children, informs Rajesh, and says students do not just need to be educated but employable when they step out in the real world. He adds, "They will need to be abreast with new learning strategies and with digital advancements in various fields like Data Science, Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. They will need to have in-depth knowledge of how industries work and have skills that can be applied in multiple fields. They will have to constantly upskill themselves to meet the demands of the global job market and mere academic learning is not enough to help them succeed." He says courses in digital content creation, video editing, design PR, etc are also gaining popularity along with conventional ones that engage with industries like law, banking, hospitality, etc. In a nutshell, vocational courses will have to become an intrinsic part of the learning process along with all the nourishment that conventional education provides via books.
Education will focus on creating well-rounded individuals
Empathy is the distinguishing feature of a well-rounded individual and in a world where economic and social disparity abounds, education will have to sensitize students to actively engage with their environment and help change the narrative, says Rajesh. He explains, "The pandemic has made it amply clear that a crisis impacts those without economic privilege most severely. We cannot just sit out this pandemic as educators and not teach students how to become active citizens and not just exist in a bubble. Helping others is one way of helping yourself because only equitable growth is sustainable in the long run."