Education for the future: our children need a new set of skills

November 05, 2018 11:08
Today's education must be able to equip our children with the knowledge and skills they need for the future. Photo: Freepik

The current education system is not much different from what it was a century ago, centering on teachers. Classes are focused on teaching knowledge. But can this traditional approach keep up with the demands of society, which is now on the cusp of the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

In an era of rapid technological advances and widening use of artificial intelligence, can today's education equip our children with the knowledge and skills they need for the future?

The Future of Education and Skills 2030 project of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has suggested some capabilities that today's children would need to have to succeed in the future. These include courage, resilience, leadership and creativity, which are pretty much the same qualities that successful entrepreneurs possess.

Quite a few nations have started to implement Entrepreneurship Education in recent years. Some countries have even made it a national policy. For example, Finland’s Me&MyCity plans to teach entrepreneurship and economics to 45,000 sixth-grade students every year.

Under this program, students take up a professional job in a micro city and earn real money for their work.  They learn by doing and experiencing, and thereby gain the knowledge and skills they would need in the real world.

The program has been very successful, helping students to improve their interpersonal skills, tackle problems, and boost their self-esteem and sense of responsibility.

In Singapore, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is well aware of the importance of digital skills amid the advances in big data, artificial intelligence and robotics technology.

He has required around 20,000 civil servants to learn how to use data analysis devices. Schools have launched basic programming courses and universities are encouraged to make digital studies a compulsory course.

Hong Kong's Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in her latest policy address, stressed the importance of developing a diversified economy. But her address has not shed much light on how the city’s education policy should be adjusted accordingly.

Three years ago, I started the DreamStarter program, which focuses on providing experiential learning to students, allowing them to use creative thinking to bring changes to their community.

Starting with just one primary school, the program now has 11 participating schools. I hope this program could contribute to the development and enhancement of education for the future, and that policymakers can take reference from it.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov 2

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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Hong Kong Information Technology Federation Chairman