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13 years of education: New paradigm

Age of Sci-Tech-Human Power Complex has made 16 years bachelor and 18 years masters programs archaic and counterproductive. In countries where education starts at the age of 5 or 6; 16 years’ education means student will be a graduate or a post-graduate during his 20s’, ie, by the age of 22 or 24. In developing countries, this duration also depends upon the smooth running of educational institutions. In case of any breaks or disruptions, the time period could be lengthier than normal.

Besides, professional degrees like MBBS take even longer and exact a heavy toll on the prospective students because their education tenure ends after the house job or after acquiring a masters or fellowship degree. Such protracted period creates an unnecessary rather harmful, inter alia, financial and psychological drag not only on students but also on parents. It deprives society benefiting from the potential of a young person at her/his prime age as well.

Moreover, curriculum presently being used all over the world from west to east and from north to south has also been proving antediluvian and stressful. For instance, education system of Singapore, which has earned a high-ranking reputation, is said to be a pressure cooker for the kids. Education system in South Korea and Finland with high expectations from students along with unrealistic social pressure is also ruinously taxing not only students but also parents.

Factually speaking, globalization of knowledge, research, innovations, and development (KRID) as an outcome of continuous revolution of information and communication technology particularly after the advent of internet in 1990 has given birth to a new type of people. Since then, dormant brainpower of people at large got a kick-start and commenced converting into a dynamic one at faster pace.

Though people born during the period of 1960s to 1980s have also benefited from the new technological revolution and have multiplied their productivity and efficiency, the generation born during 1990s and after is genetically different cohort.

More importantly, brainpower of the people in this new age is incessantly on an increasing trajectory. Almost all human beings regardless of the age and geography are beneficiaries of the globalization of KRID; however, younger people particularly born around or after 2000 are the greatest beneficiaries of all. Millennials and Z-generation are the titles being given to these young persons.

The education system that does not allow to employ and exploit the potential of these young persons at their prime age, and that does not provide them a space to stand on their own feet and be useful for them, for their parents and for the society require to be substituted immediately, for any delay would have extremely negative consequence not for these young persons but also for progress of society at large.

Undoubtedly, the education system and curriculum of education lag behind the swiftly unfolding advances. Hence, both curriculum and the system in general in the face of ICT revolution and globalization of KRID are obsolesced.

For instance, existing academic degree tiers have enjoyed longevity of more than 100 years. As regards duration, our current degree structure includes matriculation of 10 years, O levels or so of 3 years, followed by intermediate of 2 years, graduation of 4 years and then post-graduation of further 2 years.

This degree structure does not reflect the environment created by the Sci-Tech revolution rather it is stagnant and has become awfully burdensome. It must be reckoned that world before and after internet is not the same. And, world after broadband, social media and smart gadgets stands qualitatively more transformed.

Additionally, the velocity of change in technology and human power does not follow a fixed pattern. The only rule of this change is rule of continuous disruption so much so that sci-tech-human power developments after 2010 are more than that of previous two decades. It could safely be said that every year from now onwards will bring bigger revolutionary changes that were brought about previously by whole decade.

Hence, in this era of an exponentially unfolding sci-tech revolution both horizontally and vertically, we not only need new paradigm for education and degree tenure system but we also need new curriculum and methodology of pedagogy.

Education is a great leveller. Education is swift transformer. Education gives immediate dividends. Education can defeat socio-economic disparities. Education can help defeat psychopathological behaviour of extremism and terrorism if whole society inclusively becomes prosperous. Education above all can create hope and optimism.

Currently, formal education revolves around the one goal, ie, job in public or private sector. Whereas, education must not be dwarfed to such an old and obsolete objective. Education must be seen as empowering and self-actualization toolkit. As regards source of revenue to live a prosperous life; free lancing, self-employment, DIY and many more methods are already in vogue and are diversifying every day.

New paradigm, inter alia, necessitates that we must start education at early age of 4 and put in place a system that awards bachelor degree to a young person at an age of 15 and post-graduate degree at an age of 16. It goes without saying that such graduate or post-graduate degree system does not preclude lifelong learning process.

Success of new education paradigm definitely depends upon new and innovative curriculum which must focus on developing and enhancing the imaginative and analytical capacity of the student. It must broaden the mental horizon of the student from very beginning. Education must not tax the mind of the student that always has negative consequence on the mental growth of the student. In fact, it rather should trigger the process of self-evolvement.

Education from early levels must incorporate interactive methods, simulations, animations, visuals, videos, audios, apps, bots, and smart gadgets. For last many years, kids in developed countries are learning coding at an early age of three years. Without any shadow of doubt, kids here even in the backward or peripheral areas if introduced to such tools and gadgets can also learn the same skills. Difference could only be of speed of learning at initial stage.

There are many methods to sharpen the numeracy and computing skills of the kids at an early age of 4. Math is usually one of the most difficult subjects to learn, it could be made easy and playful practice for a kid. Word problems of math could be used as puzzle practices for the kids to boost the astuteness and analytical skills of the child.

New curriculum stipulates that a student studying geography must see animated visuals of all topographical features and natural landscapes. Why a student should memorise the definition of a lake or a glacier or a mountain or any other natural phenomenon or manmade structure? Why a student must not see animated and interactive visuals of all these objects? And, why student must not virtually visit and feel these entities?

It does not need to overemphasise that VR and such other gadget are available everywhere and are relatively inexpensive. Moreover, in coming one or two years, prices of such gadget will decrease further and they will be more efficient than they are now. It is also expected that soon smart phones will also work as VR gadget.

Why a student must memorise the definition of a factory. It is no longer needed for a student to only memorise to explain that what a textile, cement or pharmaceutical factory is when virtual videos and VR have already made it possible to see such factories more clearly, thoroughly and more elaborately than even one can notice during a physical visit. Student can see animated science experiments and even can do it oneself repeatedly with the help of simulation tools. Simulation tools are new revolutionary gears to learn many skills needed by the society.

New curriculum should be built mainly on three pillars. Bundle 1 text; bundle 2: visuals, videos, animations, simulations, apps and bots, etc, as discussed above; and bundle 3: skill development. Education system should be designed on following lines.

a) Toddlers and pre-school babies should be introduced to education toys, games and gadgets.

b) Primary education should start at age 4. Education up to class 2 or 3 (age 6 or 7) should be in mother tongue.

c) Focus during primary education should be on learning language skills, geography, numeracy, computing and coding. Word problems of math should be introduced from class 2 to sharpen the analytical mind of kids.

d) There should not be any formal examination during primary education.

e) Secondary education should be mix of all three packages with gradually increasing share of skill development. For instance, a student well trained in MS office tools, software like SAP, Data Science and using apps, bots, VR and AI will be more efficient, capable and productive than ordinary graduate and post-graduates.

f) Undergraduate programme should start with 11th year of education and 12-year education should be equivalent to graduation degree.

g) Post-graduate programme will be of one year and should mainly be focused on skill development.

Thirteen-year education programme based on new curriculum will solve many problems even in the developed countries where they are short of technically skilled and educated workers. This new paradigm must be updated according to continuous changes in the technology.

Yet unless this education system is not adopted globally or at least by certain regions, it cannot replace the old system. However, there is solution for the conundrum. Countries or their units can adopt new curriculum while keeping the same 16 or 18 years education model. They can reduce the duration gradually over certain period of time. Whatever method is adopted, there is no escape from treading on new road. Sooner the better.

Ghulam Murtaza Khuhro, "13 years of education: New paradigm," Business Recorder. 2016-12-04.
Keywords: Social sciences , Developing countries , Technological innovations , Education system , Logic puzzles , Education model , MBBS , KRID , ICT