The job of education systems, more so now, than ever before is to equip our children with the life skills that will be required to tackle any of life’s challenges head-on.

India’s education system, a la most East and South Asian education systems are centered around the pursuit of the Holy Grail of Marks. Education in its most fundamental sense is only about learning, yet education systems focus most of their efforts on the students achieving the best marks.

While tests are an important barometer to judge the level of understanding of the student, they are supposed to be diagnostic in nature. They are meant to diagnose the strengths and weaknesses of the individual child, rather than pigeonhole children into different labels of intelligent/average/weak or whatever the latest jargon being used by some institutions to label children lately.

The current focus on this rat race of getting the best marks, to secure a seat in the toughest-to-get-into college, which is misunderstood as the child’s sure shot way to success in life, needs to change. Even Sundar Pichai in his recent interview at IIT Kharagpur echoed the sentiment that getting into a top college isn’t a necessary pre-requisite to success in life.

In the 21st century, the world economy does not reward you anymore for what you know. Why? Because with Google Baba, we all have almost infinite information at our fingertips. You are never going to know more than Google.

The world economy doesn’t reward you for what you know, but for what you can do with you know, and how you apply the knowledge that you have!

In the west, human jobs have already started being replaced by robots, which are more intelligent, efficient and can work 24 hours, at far less cost.

Children in school today will be retiring in the 2070s– 2080s. We have no clue what the world will look like next year (which is quite evident from the recent global election and referendum results), yet we are preparing them for their lives decades ahead. The pace of change is staggering, the uncertainty is fascinating.

The current education system is one which was conceived and designed many decades ago, to suit the needs and requirements of students passing out at that time. Most young adults at that time either went to the farm or factory. Today, the number of different jobs that exist is more than ever before in history. The top 10 most in-demand jobs in 2010 did not even exist in 2004. We are preparing kids for jobs that don’t even exist today. They will be solving problems that we don’t even know are problems yet; using technologies that haven’t even been invented yet!

What does all this mean?

The job of education systems, more so now, than ever before is to equip our children with the life skills that will be required to tackle any of life’s challenges head-on.

The most important skill sets that will be required in the 21st century are:

  • Communication
  • Exploration
  • Teamwork
  • Problem Solving
  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Innovativeness
  • Resilience
  • Collaboration

It’s about time our education system sits up and takes note, and makes the necessary adjustments to cope with and tackle the challenges of the exponential times we live in.

India is at the threshold of a youth-led revolution on the global stage, and there is just too much at stake to continue following antiquated 20th-century models!

Time to wake up, and smell the coffee!

(The writer is a trustee at Podar Education and Chairman, Podar World School).