The rapid development of digital technology and the globalised nature of economic systems are creating an entirely new set of educational challenges for the world to adapt to. The workers of the future will need to master a suite of adaptable interpersonal, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, and navigate an increasingly digital and automated world. This paper presents the results of the first Worldwide Educating for the Future Index , which was created to evaluate the extent to which education systems inculcate such “future skills”.
The main findings are;
1.Too many governments are not doing enough to prepare millions of young people for seismic changes in work and life.
Millions of young people are not being taught effective and relevant skills, leaving them unprepared for the complex challenges of the 21st century. The performance of various economies in the index indicates substantial room for improvement. Although in general, richer economies do better, many struggle to beat the average, suggesting that more can and should be done.
- Crucial areas such as project-based learning and global citizenship are being widely ignored.
It is not enough to simply teach traditional subjects well. Education systems need to adopt new approaches that help students learn skills such as critical thinking, collaboration and awareness of global concerns like climate change. Yet only 17 out of the 35 economies indexed offer any kind of assessment framework to test global citizenship skills, and only 15 evaluate project-based learning to some degree.
- Policy needs to be complemented by a pool of talented teachers well-equipped to guide students in gaining future skills.
An effective system must be built on resourceful and highly capable teachers, who are willing and able to tackle the challenges of preparing students for an ever-evolving and complex future. The index suggests that important strides are already being taken in this area: in most markets, teaching modules stress the importance of future skills to at least some extent. Teacher training is also a particular bright spot: nearly half of the economies surveyed demand teachers hold bachelor’s degrees in teaching, and all require at least a university education.
- Classroom walls must be broken down.
Education must not stop when students step out of the classroom. Teachers and parents need to equip them with the skills and attitudes to apply academic concepts to the outside world. They must see learning as an organic process, not one confined to traditional teaching environments. Study abroad programmes, for example, which nearly all economies in the index show support for to some extent, are good conduits for this. The index also indicates that governments are involving the business community in their education systems: all but three economies show some level of university-industry collaboration.
- Pay for teachers and adequate funding for education are important, but money is not a panacea.
There is a link between monetary inputs to education systems and success in the index. Our research suggests that governments could stand to devote more resources to cultivating teaching in particular, raising the salaries, profile and prestige of the profession. Though simply boosting budgets is not an all-encompassing solution, it can show to what extent education is a priority for policymakers with limited resources. Some lower-income economies, for example, spend a far higher share of their GDP on education than rich ones.
- A holistic and future-ready education system is inextricably linked with societal openness and tolerance.
The index results also rely on broader societal attitudes, including those toward cultural diversity, the treatment of women and freedom of information. Education systems cannot be expected to address nextgeneration global challenges if their socio-political backdrops are insular, repressive and hostile to new ideas. In general, economies with liberal economic and social traditions perform better in the index.