The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is reshaping the sphere of human life. According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2018, changes from the 4IR are expected to displace 75 million jobs and create 133 million new roles by 2022 in 20 major economies, requiring reskilling efforts. In the context of job disruption, demand for new skills, and increased socioeconomic polarization; primary and second¬ary school systems have a critical role to play in preparing the global citizens and workforces of the future. Education models must adapt to equip students with the skills to create a more inclusive, cohesive, and productive world.
“Education 4.0: Empowering education to produce innovation” is an imperative for seizing the opportunities (e.g., creation of new products and markets) and addressing the challenges (e.g., risk of greater inequality in labor markets) of the 4IR, the World Economic Forum illustrates. Education 1.0 builds on centuries of experience with memorization. Education 2.0 is mainly internet-enabled learning, whereas Education 3.0 signifies consuming and producing knowledge.
The World Economic Forum determines eight critical characteristics in learning content and experi¬ences that outline the Education 4.0 framework as well as define high-quality learning in the 4IR. Global citizenship skills include content that focuses on building awareness about the wider world, sustain¬ability, and playing an active role in the global community.
Knowledge and (creativity) skills are crucial to innovation. These skills are also essential for complex problem-solving, analytical thinking, creativity, and sys¬tems analysis. Technology skills entail content that is based on developing digital skills, including programming, digital responsibility, and the use of technology. Interpersonal skills focus on interpersonal emotional intelligence, including empathy, cooperation, negotiation, leadership, and social awareness.
Four types of learning are fundamental to Education 4.0, besides four kinds of skills. Personalized and self-paced learning is based on the diverse individual needs of each learner, and flexible enough to enable each learner to progress at their own pace. Accessible and inclusive learning is universal in terms of accessing and providing lessons and is, therefore, sustainable.
In contrast, problem-based and collaborative learning is all about moving from process-based to project- and problem-based content delivery, requiring peer collaboration, and more closely mirroring the future of work. Lifelong and student-driven learning creates a system where learning and skilling decrease over one’s lifespan to one where everyone continuously improves on existing skills and acquires new ones based on their individual needs.
The Education 4.0 framework provides a vision for how school systems can be updated to deliver on student’s future needs. The World Economic Forum identifies inspiring sixteen examples of “Schools of the Future”, which provides inspiring examples to guide the transition to Education 4.0 globally. These schools’ identification was based on some criteria, for example, a multistakeholder approach to design and implementation and potential for scaling up. Some of the schools of the future are presented below.
The Green School promotes public and private partnerships (PPPs). Key measures of success are students’ greater resilience and greater motivation to explore the planet. In its latest annual report, the school shows a 40% reduction in their environmental footprint(also known as ecological footprint).
In Toronto, the Knowledge Society was founded in 2016 which is an extracurricular three-year program for students aged 13–18 that focuses on building technology and entrepre¬neurial skills. This society was designed to mirror the learning and working environments of major technology companies, exposing learners to the most cutting-edge innovations, such as artificial intelligence, to help them understand how to use these tools to drive posi¬tive change in the world.
The Knowledge Society establishes partnerships with companies such as Walmart and Airbnb to expose students to real-world challenges those organizations are currently facing. Students’ measures of success include designing their own company, many of which have been converted to real companies by the end of their third year.
TEKY is the first STEAM (Science, Tech¬nology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) academy in Viet Nam. They have established 16 labs in five cities nationwide and partnered with 30 schools across the country to deliver 9–18 month-long technology courses. TEKY focuses on teaching technology skills through mod¬ules on programming; Students spend about 80% of their learning time interacting with technology via collaborative projects. TEKY students were evaluated through consistently participating in national and inter¬national STEM competitions to demonstrate their mastery of technical skills.
In Finland, South Tapiola High School was founded with a unique focus on collaboration through entrepreneurship, active citizenship, and social awareness. The school takes a perspective-driven approach to learn¬ing. The school works with several private-sector companies. These partnerships focus on the inte-gration of technology into the curriculum in a tailored way that meets students’ needs. This school has consistently placed among the top-performing schools in Finland.
Pratham’s Hybrid Learning Programme in India is empowering local communities to support student-centered learning. This program works under two underlying assumptions (a) it takes a village to educate a child, and (b) children are naturally inclined to learn. These two premises underpin the design of the Hybrid Learning Pro¬gramme. There are no teachers in the Programme. Instead, the Pro¬gramme taps into children’s natural learning curiosity to enable entirely student-group-led activities, with volunteers acting as supervisors and facilitators.
In the USA, Prospect Charter School’s “diverse by design” model aims to address this challenge by creating genuinely diverse and integrated learning environments where students can gain a deep understanding of how alternative perspectives drive innovation and cre¬ativity. The Prospect Schools closely mirror the city’s diversity. The school network also hires teachers that reflect the diversity of their student population. In addition to fostering inclusion and diversity, the system embeds learning in real-world application leveraging (global) citizenship skills.
Innova Schools in Peru takes a multistakeholder approach to a collaborative blended-learning model that focuses on group and independent learning, leveraging online learning tools such as Khan Academy, Aleks, and other platforms. Students collaborate to move through the various stages of design thinking, closely mirroring the collaborative process they may experience in the workplace of the future.
In the UK, the Skills Builder Partnership is a global partnership that works with schools, teachers, employers, and other organi-zations to build essential skills in children and young people. They link learning to the real-world application by connecting schools and employers. This partnership is collaborating with private sector partners to implement this framework in their organizations to build a shared skills language that follows their participants through to employment.
An action agenda to accelerate the transition to Education 4.0 to seize the opportunities of the 4IR is crucial. Accelerating the transition to Education 4.0 will require greater alignment between actors on defining and assessing the skills of the future, preparing the teaching workforce to lead this transition, and enhancing connectivity across schools and school systems.
Specifically, this transition can be prompted by implementing a new national education policy, developing a shared vision through reskilling and upskilling, adopting global best practices, and build-ing mechanisms for assessing progress against these goals.
The writer is a Professor, Dept. of Agricultural Extension and
Information System, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University