Envisioning education for the new generations
Dr. Bidya Nath Koirala
A Nepali inherited the community intent that formal education equates for social recognition and non-formal and informal education for domestication. S/he also learnt that local contents limit the learner and global contents expand the horizon of the same individual. They also knew that lecture, elaboration, illustration, and use of intuition are the pedagogies of the formal learning system. Observation, informal discussion, question answer, experimentation, demonstration, and problem solving through trial and error are the pedagogies of the informal and non-formal learning system. A Nepali also holds the knowledge that formal education requires summative evaluation and informal and non-formal education demands formative evaluation. This culturally transmitted learning knew no religious boundary, no territorial boundary, no economic boundary, and no caste/ethnicity boundary. Eventually this became a sociological structure and anthropological learning.
West witnessed frequent changes in their understandings. In the 1950s, they were looking for absolute truth. In the 70s they generated participatory truth; in the 80s they came up with the knowledge of constructed truth; and very recently they look for the blend of subjective and objective truth (Cresswell, …). This paradigm shift of understanding truth came there along with the shift in development theories: indigenous to modernization, modernization to post structural development, and post structural to post modern development, and post modern development to post-post modern development i.e. individualization of development. East in many ways failed to revive its glorified past and hence imitated the West as it is understood. However there are some toppings of the east as well.
The comprador bourgeoisies established the western truth as the truth of the east as well. The hybridized truth seekers gave the third truth, the truth of the east and west together in a capsule form (Bhabha, 1994a; 1994b; 1996). The complementary theorists imparted the knowledge that East and West are saying the same thing but their ways of saying and the premises of understanding are different. This shows that people have their own learning about the truth that education should seek, the pedagogy that it should apply, and the evaluation system that it should follow. The massive development of computer technology and the emergence of cyber generation/digitized generation/virtual classroom generation/e-generation helped generate another truth, the wishful truth (real truth, envisioned truth, virtual truth).
Belief of 21st century
The 21st century educationists believed on (a) change in the intent of education (b) possibility of blending the local and international contents under a single lesson (c) use of informal/non-formal pedagogies in formal education system (d) application of formative evaluation system in the formal education program (e) reaching the learners' home and workplace with modern means of communication (f) flexibility of the formal education institution to accommodate the interest of the individuals and the groups (g) value of knowledge regardless of its origin (h) the computer technology that it can do whatever we dream to do (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2008) (h) modern means of communication are going to be affordable (i) a simple machine can work as teacher, taught, resource center, anywhere classroom, anytime classroom, and self correcting Guru. The educationists also believed that virtual classroom will enable schools/colleges/universities to pull international resources at their doorstep, will make students borderless to learn, learn, and live.
Envisioning Nepali education
The analysis of the 6 decade long educational history of Nepal shows that our education system aimed to make a child patriotic, self-employable, and practical. But this 21st century does not need such human being. Instead it needs global citizen, assertive thinkers for the employment of others, and expert to manage available human and natural potentialities for the benefits of the people and the nature that they live in. As a global citizen the students of the 21st century should be able to think of his/her home land as local, countries around as a neighbor, and entire universe as conscious being of the creation. This aim of education demands the blended contents to be studied: contents of the local origin; content of the country that the students live; content of the neighboring countries and/or the countries of the dream to be permanently/temporarily immigrated; and the ecology of the globe. This means the traditional contents cannot address the need of the 21st century: the learners' needs more than what their predecessor were in need. This shows that school cannot make the child expert in the content. What it needs to do is to enable students to be voracious readers and in no time thinkers.
This automatically demands the change in pedagogy because teacher cannot teach students, students are supposed to learn more than what teachers are supposed to teach. It means traditional lecture method should be redesigned by putting enough questions for students. Demonstration method should be organized by the students at different places and positions. Problem solving methods should be individualized. Students should be linked with the computer and internet facilities to dig out anything that they want, anytime that they are interested in, and anywhere that they find the time. Research, project work, and self initiated learning programs should be the core of the pedagogical process. It means a teacher is everywhere in the universe. S/he can teach to anyone who is interested to learn from anywhere. This kills the traditional concept of presence of teacher at school, student teacher ratio, furniture facility at school, management committee in each school, and supervision for specified number of school. Along with the changes in pedagogy, index and indices based evaluation system will be evolved. Students will set the index and indices for them. Such index and indices consist of subject/level specific competencies, and individual as well as collective excellence. It also demands individualized question, local/national/global normative question. Some of the questions will be programmed and others will be evaluated by the experts. Take home exam, on-line exam, classroom exam, and choice exam will be applied simultaneously.
Responding the current concerns
Pearson Foundation, New York (2007) advocated for "rights to education". It says that wherever we live and whatever we have we deserve the rights to education. This advocacy to rights to education challenges the current school system where students are supposed to come to school for the given time and should live there for the stipulated time. This locations specificity and rigidity of time requires to be thought out to ensure the rights to education. It also looks for the change in isolated settlement system. It also opens the room that teachers and/or media should go to students' convenient address and reach at their convenient schedule. This shows that ECD/school/college/university needs three track systems: traditional classroom for the regular students; remedial classes for the irregular students; home delivery teacher service to the students of the isolated settlement that includes traditional doko (bamboo basket) delivery to modern Skype and online education; and 24 hour mass media based education service to the never schooled learners. These provisions also address the concern of EFA global monitoring report (2011) that education should reach to all at least for the children. It also paves the ways to create opportunity for lifelong education program.
The buzzword social inclusion demands the celebrations of the varieties of people of different caste, ethnicity, religion, topography, and many more (SIAG, 2008). This demands de-stereotyping of the jobs, reducing preconceptions of the best and worst person/jobs, establishing creative co-existence as aim of education, and developing policies and practice to enjoy diversity in school and elsewhere to include historically excluded groups.
People are looking for job; school/college/university graduates including that of dropouts look for job. But the question is can education guarantee job? This question can be answered by following the world development report on job (2011). It also indicates that educated people should lobby with the authorities for infrastructure development, innovative policies, skill upgrading, entrepreneurship fostering, and global competition to create self employable jobs. The reason is that farming provides non-wage income and the job market is increasing by 1.3% while job seeking youths are increasing by 5-45% depending on the countries where they are living (World Bank, 2012). In the case of Nepal such youths are about 400,000 a year (ILO report cited in Sharma & Acharya, 2012). In order to address such problem, US AID education strategy (2011-2015) recommends for improved workforce skill and reading skill to ensure job for the educated people (UNCHR, 2012; UNESCO & UNEVOC, 2012). So does the PISA report (John, 2012).
Education of the girls is the next concern of the years to come. This concern can be addressed by following UNGEI framework (2012) that advocates for localization of girls' education agenda and guarantee of the technical and financial support for them.
There are innovations everywhere. Some of them are the discoveries and others are differently doings. But they are not systematically documented and widely shared inside and outside the countries. For examples, the large management of schools has been replaced by small management. But Nepal has been exercising the long hand management system no matter it is community managed schools or centrally managed universities including that of Tribhuvan University. It means the future generation does not want to persuade the center; they will not have time, resources, and the willingness to do so. This situation demands local government run schools, industry run colleges, and business run universities. It also demands for federated parents, pregnant women, and potential pregnant girls to promote parenting education, parental education, and early childhood education to the infants, toddler, and pre-school children. These federated people require constant support of the local government.
Teachers are social artists. These artists require regular sharing of their art; the pedagogical process they explore; the research they do, the experience they obtain, the wisdom they show, and the creation they do no matter they come from the indigenous community, modern community, and/or hybridity (Bhabha,1996) of the knowledge (s) for the improved living. They also need skills to make school/college/university as a needy center of the community: the center where the pregnant women learn, teach, and play with their embryo; father of the embryo learn to enjoy life with the non-born human being; school/college/university students and their dropout counterparts manage reciprocal learning programs; job seekers get job training; potential persons get entrepreneurial skills; elderly people get time to reflect upon their life and prepare the new generation for intergenerational learning.
Technology is forcing teachers and parents to learn outside classroom wherever they are, whatever they like, and whenever they like. This has been possible because of the virtual classroom. This means teachers of today need the skill to apply voice thread for online classes from the country and abroad. They also need self-evaluation, peer evaluation, national evaluation, and global evaluation simultaneously to assess their cognitive, affective, and psycho-motor domains.
Communities are expecting many more things for school/college/universities. They have been as silent expectants for years. But the future communities will look for their direct bearings with school/college/university. This will push the curriculum developers and teacher trainers to develop local curricula, community as lab for teaching and learning, and extension service of the school/college/university for the development of the community.
There will be many questions to be answered while envisioning the education for future generation. They are (a) which institution or the network of institutions will be there to ensure education, training, and learning for all the members of each household (b) what will be the mechanism to collect and share the learning of the stakeholders of education in a systematic way (c) how can we make curricular adjustment to accommodate the learning of the people no matter what they get and what they want to offer to the education system (d) how can we create dependent co-arising (Buddha's understanding of misery and happiness together) type of institute where one or many institutions will guarantee that each student will get earning and learning skills together (e) who will be there to develop regular continuum to accommodate the power levels of people and empower the powerless simultaneously (e) how the private, public, and religious institutions collaborate for guaranteed quality education and life skills for all (f) who will be instrumental to provide inter-varsity/school/college degree to the students who opt for it by interest or by compulsion (g) how could be teachers trained to blend intergenerational international knowledge together (h) who will develop terrains of self learning and teacher training packages (for self, for group, for mass) to make teachers and learners as human potentiality managers (i) what can be done to make religious and scientific knowledge complementary to each other (j) who will take lead to create Unicode of all the languages of the world to learn the literatures of the globe (h) who will work for imaginal education (Packard, 2009)for the community, nation, and the globe all the time i.e. systematic dreaming on education for the generations to come.
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