Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Changing needs of Education

“In 2070 when there will be an extreme shortage of water …..we will all have to shave our heads and be bald… we will not be able to wash our hair…..there will be no need for barbers or hair stylists…..the only two places where we will be able to live will be the poles due to their melting ice ….. as the poles will get crowded we will fight and push each other out into the space…..we will have to carry parachutes with us all the time in case we have to make an emergency landing…..or make spaceships our means of transport to beat the crowd…..we will have to find ways to harvest water deep inside the Earth’s surface…..else a 35 year old will look like a 90 year old…..and we will all wear masks to look beautiful…..” 
These were some thoughts that my 9 year old shared with me about the future of our world.
Her words brought a smile to my face but some elements of her conversation rang a warning bell, suspecting the capabilities of our current academic system to cope with the needs of the fast-changing world in the 21st century. To inculcate skills for ones who may work in low earth orbit travelling in space ships or thousands of feet under the sea level in search of water, performing jobs yet uncreated is difficult to grasp.
Even if we don’t go as far as 2070, the expected average age of an Indian in 2020 is 29 years. This makes one wonder, how is a population of 1.2billion and growing going to make itself employable?
Some optimistic people may argue that 2020 is farfetched. Then in today’s world where knowledge and service are the two economies expanding across all industries horizontally and vertically and when employers are looking for employees who have not only mastered core subjects, but are flexible, deal with change maturely and can learn new skills quickly, the question is:
Is academic excellence measured on the percentile scale the best way to judge a person’s caliber in this fast changing world? 
The expanding knowledge and service economies make communication, collaboration and creativity as mandatory skill requirements for future.
The changing environment, like the Arctic vortex, tsunamis, frequently happening flash floods, make it critical for us to enable our children to think about the future challenges and requires them to master the subjects fundamentally to be able to re-build the world when required.
The everyday shrinking world requires our children to be ‘globally competent’, understand cultures and show empathy.
The crunch in supply of jobs owing to mere numbers requires our children to develop entrepreneurial skills way early in life.
The BIG DATA trend fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT) requires our children to discern, aggregate and synthesize information in ways we cannot yet imagine.
The growing consumerism and constantly changing living standards and the divide amongst the fellow beings require our children to be self aware, steadfast in their beliefs and walk the path of happiness without begrudging.
In the face of such unpredictable and dynamically changing world we need to rethink, how our children are taught. By teaching the integrated way of approach, where they apply the knowledge gained with the help of life skills like problem solving, decision making, communication, creativity, flexibility, team work, empathy and self awareness to contribute to their communities, we can divert their attention from television and video games and make them enterprising, independent, strategic thinkers, who reach their highest potential, contribute to the world and realize self worth.
Today the toughest job lies with the parents, who need to raise the children of the 21st century, who will operate in jobs beyond our imagination. The lack of our insight into the future and the limitation of our knowledge from the past limit the growth of our children and clip the wings of their dreams from taking flight.  
The Commuknitree is a first of its kind initiative that intends to address this concern by creating community level platform/s to empower parents with the information to enable far reaching growth of their children.
For more information, visit

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