Education remains the key to equality in a world where discrimination still abounds. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), there are, to this day, twice as many illiterate women in the world than men. They conservatively estimate that there are over 773 million illiterate people in the world. And this while the most widely ratified human rights treaty in history, The Convention on The Rights of a Child, as well as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) have firmly established education as a fundamental human right to which all human beings are entitled.
The sad truth is that, in many parts of the world, minority groups still do not have access to the same educational opportunities. To ensure a sustainable future, the world needs to think clearly about a fair economy, social justice as well as long term goals for the general wellbeing of our precious planet, and every one of the huge variety of creatures that inhabit her.
So, the time has come for us to reconceptualise education, especially in the light of rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI). We are no doubt heading for a tsunami of new technologies, so this is the time to understand how we as human beings need to adapt to make the most of our tomorrows. AI is likely to encourage a move away from academic knowledge to more specific emotional intelligence, or what is being described as a trans-intelligence or meta-intelligence. The requirement will be to empower the mind in a new way, to redefine values, as well as the meaning of human-ness in an age of technological disruption. Women are often more adept at the ‘soft skills’, our guess is this is where women are going to be way ahead of the game.
The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index also foresees huge changes in assessment systems in the form of a shift away from fact-based tests and examinations.
The CADMUS Journal, has suggested that a new mindset needs to be developed in 5 areas. They have identified the creative mind, the respectful mind, the ethical mind, the disciplined mind and the synthetic mind. This kind of thinking calls for a reconsideration of the nature and scope of educational systems and what, and how, students should be taught. Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (the STEM sciences) will likely remain at the epicentre of educational programmes but within the tight embrace of ethical considerations – especially when it comes to the development of new technologies.
To attract resourceful, future-minded teachers, it will be imperative to raise the profile, prestige and pay-grade of teachers. Future-ready schooling will only be possible where there exists a climate of equality and a genuine acceptance of physical, cultural and sexual differences. Societal openness will have to replace insular, repressive and hostile thinking in favour of a new way of being. Respect for civil liberties, religions and fluidity will be at the forefront.
While these changes may feel daunting, it surely looks as though future education may be the reference point for a gentler new dawn, in which women could star in the leading roles.
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