What Kind of Education do we Need in the Future

Key to success is often keeping pace with the present so that we are ready to face the challenges posed by an uncertain future.

Technology is ever-evolving and constantly influencing our lives and means of livelihood. But we can rest assured technology will play a major role in shaping the future of mankind.

To quote an authoritative source, Dr. Vishal Sikka, Chief Executive Officer, Infosys, “Emerging technologies in artificial intelligence, deep neural networking, and machine learning (will) enable us to reimagine the possibilities of human creativity, innovation and productivity.”

However, Dr. Sikka is deeply concerned about the current system of education. Says he, “Our educational system was built more than 300 years ago when farmers composed the majority of our society; when memorization was rewarded more than curiosity and experimentation; when getting something right outweighed learning through failure.”

He adds: “We must transition away from our past; shift the focus from learning what we already know to an education focused on exploring what hasn’t happened yet. This system would resemble an ecology – constant, small adjustments made by independent actors inside of a cohesive whole.”

The analysis by Infosys CEO is fascinating. It offers definitive solutions and charts out a clear road map to overhaul our education system and to transform our learning methods:

      It is very important for every individual to find their niche to learn. When a balance is found between high level of skill and challenge at a personal level, then the scope for our potential is limitless.

      Mother Nature’s most disruptive innovation is human mind. It enables us to analyze, understand, evaluate, communicate, empathize, collaborate; imagine, dream, and create.

      But these capabilities have a pre-requisite - our fundamental ability to understand and to learn. This is what transforms raw data and information into true knowledge.

      Public policy must be transformed at all levels, starting with Governments, through modern, responsive IT infrastructure. It must help create a conducive environment for our students to become fluent in technology. The education systems must keep pace with the latest trends in technology.

      The new reality is our educational systems must modernize to keep pace with the rapid technological changes, a fact corroborated by the  results of a recent Infosys survey of 9,000 16-28 year olds worldwide. (see graph below)

      Our education systems must teach the ability to learn, not the ability to memorise.

      Computers should be made available to all. With a word of encouragement from an instructor, a friend or a relative, students will self-organize around the devices. The result is emergence of natural leaders and also the curiosity of children, and subsequently, their willingness to share new ideas, and the solutions.

      The best way to take away students’ fear or timidity is by familiarizing them with technology at a young age and by encouraging a more inclusive and open debate about the role of tools and technologies in finding solutions for the great problems of our time.

But, Dr Sikka also cautions that in order for these new educational systems to be successful, we must re-examine our own approaches. All of us can help to transform the context around us - the context which limits our potential.

He continues, “These are times of great transformation; a period when I believe the technologies around us will alter all aspects of life. Education has the unique and unassailable opportunity in our society to prepare us for such a change.”

Dr. Sikka concludes with a note of optimism: “It is precisely our human ability to learn, to harness our minds and to apply creative thought to new problems that will allow us to adapt and overcome any future technology or transition, as it has so many times in the past. Undoubtedly, the next industrial revolution will amplify our humanity, but we must also bring a new context, to make it as adaptable, curious, collaborative, engaging and powerful as our own minds.”

(Thanks to Dr. Vishal Sikka, CEO of Infosys, whose article ‘What kind of education do we need in the future?’ for the World Economic Forum (WEF), which appears on their website https://www.weforum.org/ and has been condensed for the benefit of our readers)

Note: The graph is not part of the original article and has been created using the data provided in the article.