However, the future will depend upon the extent to which we address the emergent needs of high-quality education, skill development and new learning opportunities. A reasonable measure of skilling and reskilling is to assess the future of work and integrate it into schools. Intentional, sustained and seamless connectivity between schools and industry and between schools and higher education institutions (HEIs) can catalyse the process of human capital formation. A failure to achieve this will result in a degradation of employable talent, as highlighted in the India Skills Report 2021.
Schools, thus, need a redesigned curriculum to incorporate those skills to equip the students for the future. In India, we have relied on encouraging rote memorisation and perpetuating a system of education focussed on examinations.
Acquisition of competencies such as creativity, analysis, interpretation of data—all building blocks of higher cognitive skills—are entirely ignored.
Moreover, that has also led to a misplaced emphasis on competing for the highest percentile and not on what incredible contribution students can make to the world through service, project initiative, design thinking and dreaming of making a difference in society. Therefore, schools must recognise the importance of collaboration, communication, caring, valuing relationships, and multiculturalism as future skills.
The universal learning design also rests on examining the standard and expectations of learning, redesigning pedagogy to make it flexible and inclusive. A resilient education system must be student-driven, fostering moral imagination and student agency, expanding possibilities for each child, and embracing new technologies.
Fast-forward 2030—the year of global goals attainment—and beyond, technology seems to be the only option to ensure learning continuity for millions of students. New technologies also hold promise to solve human problems. The integration of technology is essential for children to become digitally fit for the new world’s ever-evolving paradigm. The new technology is advancing at a swift pace, making it difficult to predict which technologies our students will be using a decade later.
Debayan Gupta, assistant professor, computer science, Ashoka University, puts it succinctly, “Young professionals are aware of the dynamic nature of technology and future of work. They rate reskilling opportunities and flexible hours above all else when it comes to job preferences.” We cannot afford to push our youngsters into colleges hoping that critical life and digital skills and job-specific credentials will come automatically. Nor can we shift the responsibility to the industry to upskill them.
As the school-goers reach their twenties, they will find themselves amid massive advances in AI, mass adoption of AR, VR, 3D printing, quantum computing and a surprisingly continued digitisation of everything. This scenario calls for competencies to design transformative technologies—the capability to analyse and confidently handle complex data. Essential digital learning, including coding and programming skills, should form part of the early school curriculum like all other foundational skills.
Implementing strategies strewn in isolation will achieve little unless accompanied by creating a solid foundation at the school level. We need to recognise education as a service ( EaaS), learners as valued beneficiaries and school education as a central pillar supporting the national economy and growth.
Ashok Pandey is director, Ahlcon Group of Schools, and Amit Kumar is founder-director, Shabda. Views are personal