30 Apr 2018

PREPARING TODAY’S CHILDREN FOR THE DIGITAL FUTURE

Technology and globalization continue to reshape business models across all sectors and geographies, creating new types of jobs and disposing of old ones at a great pace. Sadly, there is little in our education system that prepares children for employment now – let alone in 2040, when the world of work will be more complicated still. If the students are to succeed in the future, we need to begin considering how we can best teach new competencies, new skills, new applications and new knowledge.

Most early childhood education and care systems make less provision and funding for children under three because their care and education are very expensive. However, it is precisely these years when the family’s influence is the greatest. Future early childhood education and care systems should provide stronger support for local families with younger children. There is no reason some of this support cannot be offered through digital technologies, streamed directly into the home, which helps parents learn about the power of early child parenting, and sensitive, responsive care and appropriate interactions.

Focus on the early years: Reinventing education starts in early childhood, where the focus should be on literacy and reading. Adequate childcare provision for working parents will be critical in both developed and developing economies.

Giving students a sense of the real world of work: Similarly, students should experience the world of work from early on – for example through internships and ongoing career coaching – to help them see a variety of career options and the skills required.

Digital fluency: Digital skills will be fundamental to a wide range of careers, but “digital fluency” is not a given. The report highlights the need for a greater focus on ICT in teacher training and students’ work placements to address the growing digital skills crisis.

Education, education, education: Perhaps it is time to construct a new curriculum and to create a re-envisioned early childhood education and care system that includes a workforce of high quality, which is fit for purpose, well-rewarded and well-educated. Such a re-envisioned system may truly provide the foundational learning our children and grandchildren deserve. They and all their fellow citizens will need to sustain them and to face the challenges thrown at them by the brave new world we have entered.Given the rapid evolution of the job market, workers can no longer rely on just one skillset or narrow expertise to sustain long-term careers. The report advocates incentivizing employees to commit to lifelong learning so they continue to develop their skills or even retrain for new roles.

Future learners will need an excellent start in early learning if they are to cope with mid to late 21st century challenges. It is vital that early education curricula emphasise the process and the outcomes of both soft and hard skills to create the most competent learners and citizens. The family’s role is also essential in nurturing and enriching young children’s development. Any early childhood education and care system that ignores this reality will not be able to optimise children’s potential.

 

Article by: Busayo Tomoh

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