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Generation Z – The future of education

Saeed-Last Word

August 7, 2013 2:50 by

Recently, education has been viewed more and more as the primary way for society to move forward: to educate a growing, youthful population, create jobs and innovation in a struggling global economy, and bring tolerance to a world of increasing cultural division, writes Saeed Al Muntafiq, former executive chairman of Dubai-based Tatweer and current chairman of Rise UAE.

In a world that shifts its priorities on an almost daily basis – and where the need to move fluidly with the changing times is a constant part of our existence – how will our learning evolve 10 years from now and beyond? And what opportunities can we, and future generations, gain?

My ponderings have filtered down to five core elements. These are shifts in education that are taking place now that will drastically change education.

The role of teachers

Going back to before the advent of the internet, teachers were the fountain of knowledge. The student’s role was that of studious note-taker and information sponge. Technology in education is developing so that the connection between student and educational content will no longer be the teacher’s concern. The content is already readily available and efforts are being made to create smart technology to collate and connect students with this. The teacher’s role will shift to one of a guide and mentor, to motivate, ask questions and spur thought on how to apply the knowledge, while aiding students to use the tools they now have available.

It is the role of schools to push the barriers and ensure our teachers are continuously adapting with the times – new teaching theories and methods, new technologies and new ways to motivate and encourage their students to learn.

Reviewing social priorities

Particularly in the light of recent global events, social issues have been high on the agenda: the right for a democratic vote, jobs for all, a fair wage, and better living standards. These are all crucial issues, but often lower on the agenda is the critical issue of improving educational standards. Therefore, the gap between schools that teach their students to think and learn independently, and those still stuck in the trench of rote learning, is getting bigger.

Access to education is getting easier through the internet, yet while internet penetration is increasing in emerging markets it still remains incredibly low compared to the west and far east. Part of paying greater focus on education means providing far more online accessibility and access to technology in general.

Advancing parental engagement

During my student years, my parents never paid any attention to my studies. Like the attitude of many parents at the time, my school was responsible for my education. Trends have changed and parents today tend to be much more involved – but to what level? When reading our children’s reports, do any of us (as parents) really know what is the right action to take? What is our role in all of this?

With youth unemployment being an ever-growing concern across the globe, and with so many graduating without any direction in their careers at a young age, the position of parents as role models for work, success and careers has a much more long-lasting and powerful impact than the disciplinary role most parents take.

The schools of the future will be able to guide parents and entwine them in their child’s education. There will be more programs for parents to take their children to work, and methods parents can take to help students apply their knowledge.

I’ve started adopting a slightly different tack of late. When asking my own son: “what did you learn at school today?” I follow on from his answer with questions such as: “and what does that mean to you?” Or, “and how might you apply this lesson in a practical life situation?”

Increasing government intervention

How do governments today link their educational agendas directly to their own economic and strategic growth plans?

For example, if a government has a target to achieve a certain percentage of GDP to technology or healthcare, it might want to ensure it doesn’t end up with an excessive amount of historians or geologists. However, an emphasis on geologists might be more appropriate for a country with huge natural resources. What if governments had educational counselling units in every city, helping parents and students align their current academic choices towards a national agenda and future job opportunities? Food for thought, perhaps?

Changing student mindsets

Some years ago, jobs outnumbered educated people. Now, for every job vacancy, there are dozens of qualified candidates in the running. And as time goes on the competition will get stiffer. Twenty years from now it will be even harder to get a job after you graduate – and the importance of getting not just a good degree but a good postgraduate qualification will also increase.

Already, the competition for jobs has no global boundaries. Just, as an example, if I’m looking to hire someone I now have access to 225 million people around the world through LinkedIn alone. The youth don’t compete for jobs with their neighbours anymore, but with people from other continents. That’s what will trigger a continual and fundamental change in student mindsets.

The future of education is the future of our children. These are my views. What are yours?

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1 Comment

  1. VINAY KUMAR on August 13, 2013 10:29 am

    Dear Mr. Saeed

    Thank you very much for your thoughts on the future of education and your inputs, its very thoughtful article which I suppose is the need of the hour of every government to think out of box and your suggestions that there should be education counseling in every city is very progressive thought.

    As I notice every parent wants there children to choose a profession which provides them employment and good life as soon as they finish there college education, there are many courses which are untapped where some of students should t not think for the immediate future but they should be employed and contribute to the society for future generations as well, as many universities have already started in there MBA courses , specialized courses , there are 100`s of courses which some students should take up to be competitive.



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