We are living in a constantly changing globalized society where we are faced with myriad opportunities and challenges alike. The question arises, to what extent is our education system preparing the young to fulfill their potential in a rapidly changing world?
There are many skills that students will need to learn in order to succeed in the 21st century. Here are the few of the most important 21st century skills:
Ability to collaborate, work in teams
Critical thinking
Oral presentation skills
Written communication skills
Digital skills

Unfortunately, in the present education system, there is a complete lack of creative and active learning environment in the classrooms and students remain passive most of the time. Teachers usually provide pupils with information through prescribed text books which is the most common way of disseminating information. Students attempt to memorize this information more than they are capable of which leads to extreme negative impacts and a total waste on their young creative minds. Thus, badly failing to foster above mentioned skills of 21st century education.
In the 21st century classroom, students must actively participate in learning activities which will boost their interest in learning and enable them to enthusiastically attend school daily. Students not just with their own school but also from different schools and countries need to collaborate with each other to achieve the given tasks. Teachers must work with them as mentors, guide them and enable to them to think critically instead of spoon feeding. Under the supervision of their mentor, students gather information from different platforms by using technological and creative skills , community sources, interviews, and use more than just a book to teach them a task.
Moreover, the 21st century education system needs to design a curriculum where classrooms are required to incorporate various skills and intelligence levels, and utilise technology and multimedia. The lessons are not based on textbooks, instead they are project and activity based which enhance the children’s’ creative and critical skills. Skills and content are learned through their research and projects and textbooks are provided as one of many possible resources.
New schools in the 21st century are required to be bigger and better than before and allow pupils to avail room for their group projects and spacious libraries full of books and digital equipment. Students must have complete access to technology and possibly every student will be provided a personal tab or laptop. Each classroom should be equipped with smart boards and LEDs so that students can see the visual productions of their own school as well as other schools’ presentations to better compare and differentiate. The ability to foster a love of learning is truly the role of education in the 21st century.
Education should be delivered in a vastly different manner than what we are seeing today in most of the Pakistani schools. We should understand that the 21st century learning and teaching techniques must involve more than information literacy alone in order to keep up and compete on the global level.
Schools can take the relevant information but must stop the use of prescribed text books only to store and retrieve information .
Rather, assessments should be based on the projects completed by students, effectiveness in team work and creativity.
Teachers must stop being dispensers of data and information and become mentors, imparting skills that help students to become not just content experts, but expert learners.
They have to provide students flexible, open ended, project -based and real world learning situations to become life-long learners.
Work on concept of classroom without walls.
Create digital libraries for students.
Involve the community which comprises of home, business and governments into the learning process.
The school premises need to be more roam free and every corner should be accessible to students to learn. A Preschooler, for instance, might like to be seated in a particular corner of classroom for various reasons than the one teacher chooses for him/her. Students must be allowed to take decisions for themselves instead of forcing decisions on them which will allow them to learn the consequences of their decisions and give them confidence early on in life.
“we should seriously consider the claim that we are now undergoing one of the most significant technological revolutions for education since the progression from oral to print and book based teaching” (Dr Douglas Keller)


By Anila Ahmed Junaid

The writer is Principal of Edu21 – The 21st Century School, an Educationist, writer and PBL expert working to transform traditional education into the 21st century education based in Islamabad, Pakistan

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