Is Our Education System Readying Students for Future Challenges?

Masum Billah

5 July, 2021 12:00 AM printer

Is Our Education System Readying Students for Future Challenges?

Masum Billah

The traditional education methods cannot help full bloom the talents of our learners, which impels us to introduce alternative methods. Corona has added another angle to it. The concept of education has started changing around the globe. One survey, conducted by Oxford University and published in 2017, says that in twenty years, the middle point jobs in the USA will decrease by 47 per cent. Besides, internet-based service organisation Mackinac Global Institute reports that the staff working for ICT can be reduced by 50 per cent by using computers. If it happens, half of the employees in this field will lose their jobs. The survey also explains that the creativity of humans, along with their inquisitiveness, power of imagination and emotional intelligence, will be prioritised and definitely these elements will take the centre stage in the future job market or meaningful productive works. That directly sensitises us to bring about a revolutionary change in our present style of teaching and disseminating knowledge to learners. We cannot be certain as to what will be the demands of the job market after decades. It will definitely see a lot of change and for that, the prevailing way of academic activities must give way to the full creative that will accommodate and enable learners to think differently, find out solutions to the recent problems approaching them and satisfying the growing needs of the evolving society and global market.

It has been observed that the traditional or the ongoing education system hardly promises to bloom the full potential of our children. Hence, it calls for a different stream of education that will help develop the hidden talents of our children, which we cannot identify most of the time through the present assessment, let alone help foster and unfold. This stream indicates the loopholes of the prevailing way of teaching, nursing and assessing the performances of our learners. The education system of the United States is based on two streams. For the last three decades, its education system accommodates alternative ways highlighting four layers. First of these are (a) school choice, on this stage, a student can choose what he wants to study. Then they have the (b) alternative school, which is established on the basis of new life theory. The style of their study, subject choice, student’s political philosophy and freedom of thought are shaped by this kind of education. Traditional ways of thinking do not exist here; hence the dropout rate registers very thinly. Then there is the (c) personal style and individually owned schools and finally, the (d) home-based education that stands as similar to our Open University system.

Most of the graduates can hardly meet the demands of industries, the corporate sector and other areas of the job market with the proficiency and knowledge they gain from the educational institutions. So, higher-skilled employees, the executive and technical people are hired from outside the country, mainly from Sri Lanka and India, because of their better performance, commitment, dedication and obviously communicative ability along with sound technical knowledge. This area deserves the sincere attention of the relevant authorities. One statistic makes us worried that only India takes ten billion dollars from our country every year by sending us their executives and technicians. On the contrary, the number of educated unemployed increases every year in our country. Currently, the total unemployed youth constitute 46 per cent of university graduates that genuinely question the traditional education system that only produces unemployed young instead of skilled workforce. We should, however, seek ways to get out of this mire. The job sectors, mills and factories, corporate sectors, etc. should place their demands unhesitatingly so that our educational institutions can produce graduates with desired skills and proficiency along with human qualities. Without human qualities, only machine-like graduates will exert another negative impact on the economy and social development. Coordination among the entrepreneurs, university authorities and the government needs to be developed.

The Bangladeshi expatriates working abroad constitute more than one million who directly help continue the wheel of the economy to move forward. They send the cost of their toil and sweat, the remittance, to their families in the country. However, they remain deprived of getting a satisfactory amount of remittances due to the lack of language proficiency and technical know-how. Had our education been based on a well-thought-out plan, they could have contributed several times more to the economy of the country. But who bothers? When the economy gets fattened by their toil, we just try to take credit for it. We are lagging behind in the global market, in reality. Still, no pragmatic step appears to bring about the desired change in education.

We know Japanese children walk to school even though almost all of the guardians have personal cars. They do not allow their children to use cars to go to school and create supremacy over their classmates, which constitutes a bigger part of education that children learn at the early stage of education. They enjoy mixing with all students who bear the sign of their institution, school being the most enjoyable place. They dine together in school to learn manners and etiquette. There, students do not fail in the exams; rather their teachers fail if they do not perform their duties properly. They learn to love each other, sympathise and empathise, and love nature in their schools. Also, they learn moral education and how to show honour to others and elders.

Indian film legend Satyajit Ray studied in better educational institutions and graduated in economics, but his institutional education hardly helped him be famous. His study in Shantiniketan enabled him to come into contact with several artists and teachers. All this goes beyond the institutional education that made him known to the entire sub-continent. His institutional education hardly contributed to it as per his conviction.

Our education minister said in a function once, “When our students want to study books beyond their textbooks, parents discourage them not to waste time by reading other books. You should not do that. Let your children read books other than their prescribed textbooks. Let them read literature, science, travelogue, ICT books, biography of great personalities. The individuals who have become famous in the world, many of them don’t have good degrees from educational institutions. However, they read books of various kinds. They read books beyond their textbooks. To become really educated, we need to read books, many kinds of books, not necessarily our textbooks only, but books of many kinds.” Rightly she has said so. Only textbooks cannot fulfil the desire of our learning of many important things. But we must acknowledge that only reading textual materials cannot make our children equipped enough to face the challenges of the 21st century lying ahead of them. They must gain knowledge on matters hands on to utilise what they learn in practice.

The writer works for BRAC Education