Each century has its unique challenges and requirements, and educational qualification and requirement must evolve as well. The 20th century educational system was designed to prepare people to work in offices and farms, and unfortunately, we still run this type of educational system in 21st century, when we have spaceships that go to the moon and electric cars. Each century supposed to have its own befitting educational system. Most of the work that human beings must do in 20th century are now being done by machines and computers. The human intelligence has now turned to artificial intelligence, so the priority and the style must change.
In this era, education is not exclusive to school, for you to be knowledgeable, you don’t have to go to school necessarily, in fact, even those that go to school, what they learn from school become outdated. We now have access to smart phones, which give us access to a more computing power and information more than the president of United State of America 20 years ago. So, access to education has never being so level as it is today. In a job market, “we no longer need workers who can retain and reproduce large amount of information, what we need are people who can sort through information and organize it effectively. We need new form of intelligence”. One of my mentors said. Learning must be reformed to enable us change the way we see and approach the world.
In 21st century, we have google and internet, where we can store, consult and learn information and skills better than what we would do within classrooms sometimes. So, the requirement is not only how much knowledge you can keep in your head, but what you can do with it. Your ability to finish with a high grade in school is not a sole indication of your intelligence and abilities.
Once we peg employment qualification or competence to a mere school grade, then we are training people to be unfit in 21st century. In this era, you don’t actually need the grade or the certificate to thrive. In fact, most of the billionaires don’t have a degree, and they are more successful than those with the highest grades from schools.
In fact, one might argue that school is the worst distraction to personal growth. Why would you stick your growth of knowledge and skill to a certain restricted and outdated curriculum only, while you have unlimited scope and boundless skills that you can learn in half the time. Schooling psychology tricks us into delaying every personal and skill development until we graduate, and eventually we have to start afresh, because 70% of what we learn in school are not applicable where we may find ourselves. In fact, most graduates forget more than 90% of the things they study in school.
What students eventually learned in school within 16 years, they can learn it in half of that time in this century, so the current school system waste students’ time more than we realize. Learning some of the subjects, professions or skills do not take more than five years, some even less, and with a levelled space for learning, one can go at his/her pace and learn more within far less the time, and keep updating his/herself timely.
Once you judge people by their grade alone, you are bound to hire people-like-robot, who only think and behave within the box, and they would not be able to adapt once you put them out of it. In fact, school system is not grading students fairly, because it subjected numerous learning styles to a single teaching style. It is like pairing fish and lizard in a climbing contest. You won’t be fair to the fish. Likewise, if you ask the fish and lizard to compete in a swimming contest, you won’t be fair to the lizard. So, even if one has the lowest school grade, it is not a case to condemn his intelligence and abilities, because he might have related to that fish in a climbing contest. He has not been tested in his best abilities.
Schools fail to teach students how to learn, it only teaches students what to learn, and by doing that students failed to effectively learn, and that’s why most of them forget what they were taught.
If we can subject our educational system to individual’s passion, style of learning and their chosen timeframe, we would be surprised by what we can learn within short time. If we can judge people by their skills, application, comprehension and motivations, we would have unemployment rate reduced drastically. People might have failed to score good grade, but they can be so creative and motivated to apply the skill.
Once we subject employment to grade, then everyone will compete for the grade instead of skills and comprehension, and without skills, people will have to keep waiting for the diminishing white-collar jobs, and more graduates are being produced daily, flooding the labour market, and keeping the unemployment rate constantly on the rise.
The competition should be on skill acquisition and knowledge application, and to do this, you would need shorter period of time, and you don’t actually have to go to school all the time. In this century, certificates should not be recognized, but skills, creativity and ability to apply the knowledge should be the measure of competence and qualification.
Technology has replaced human requirement for growth, so human beings must do what machines cannot do, and this cannot be achieved by just competing for who can remember facts better. Life skills have changed due to technological advancement, new economies and opportunities, and the school curriculum is not preparing students for these, that’s why they remained unemployed. Most of the skills you would need on a job are not being taught in classrooms, and that’s why most job seekers are not fit for job. That’s why we have high structural unemployment. On the other side, we have people who didn’t go to school or do not rely on their certificates creating jobs, and even employing the graduates.
School grade is delusional, it deceives students into believing that they have it all, while they don’t have it. Those with higher grades tend to rely so much of their grades, and those with lower grades lose hopes on their grades, and as a result pursue real life skills and opportunities. That’s why I advise students to burn their certificates, I don’t expect them to do that, but to give them the impression that certificate is not everything and that they should not over rely on it.
In fact, when you know you don’t have a good grade that’s when you become creative and innovative. I know Farida Kabir who said that, she graduated with a third class degree, but she is now employing first class graduates. The first class graduates have this impression that they can get a job because they have high grade, and of course they will get it, but they will be working under the creative minds, who may not have gone to school at all. In this century, grades are not indicative of how successful you may become, it might be good for you to have a grade, but don’t expect anything from it, and that alone is a motivation for creativity.
Conclusively, schooling is an outdated system, education is the new system, and for education to take place, you don’t need conventional schools. So, to address illiteracy, we have to create education beyond school. Schools do not have space capacity to accommodate educational needs. In fact, most of the valuable education are not acquired in school. School learning system is not always fair, because it teaches us what we don’t need, and it only teaches us what to learn, but not how to learn. School grades makes us redirect our energy towards grade competition instead of skill competition, and as a result graduates become unemployable. There are no enough opportunities to absorb the graduating students, they have to be trained to create the opportunities for themselves, otherwise, we will forever have unemployment on the rise. So, we have to reform our school system and our perception about school. Anyway, some schools are adapting nowadays, and we should have more of these reforms.
Dr.Adamu is a lecturer at Economics Department of Nile University of Nigeria, Abuja,