Capt. Rohit Sen Bajaj
2020 was a year unlike any we have experienced before … until 2021. We have witnessed the “hoaxification” of the COVID-19 pandemic, massive civic unrest in response to long-tolerated systemic racism and injustice, continued denial of climate change in spite of an increasingly inhospitable natural environment.
At the root of these issues is more than a conflict between change and the status quo: it’s the difference between equitable and sustainable societies and life-threatening imbalances in power and privilege. One critical challenge is that our education systems are fundamentally designed to advance individualistic goals over collective success. Even “21st century skills,” such as collaboration and communication, are implemented in ways that fall short of their goals. Education should foster in each and every child an egalitarian mindset — a positive sense of oneself as a worthy individual rooted in valued cultural traditions, able and disposed to construct a view of reality from multiple perspectives and act in collaboration with others toward the common good.
The Indian education system is evolving rapidly in response to social, economic and technological innovations. Various scientific and technological advances such as big data, machine learning and artificial intelligence are expecting a workforce with multidisciplinary capabilities including science, social science and humanities. A current fifth grader, for example, will graduate from college in 2030 and enter a world in which artificial intelligence, robotics, big data, and now the coronavirus pandemic have fundamentally changed the landscape for them. Fifty percent of the jobs they will have do not even exist yet, and once-stable professions such as medicine, law, insurance, business, banking, social work, and so on will be done in substantially different ways. Some current professions will cease to exist altogether. In this new context, it is important that students know what to do when they do not know what to do – that they have competencies and mindsets they can apply in any setting. We are moving to an era where an individual will not be stuck to a single profession all his life. Thus, an individual will continuously need to re-skill and up-skill themselves.
International curriculums are rapidly gaining popularity due to the diversity they offer. Education is no longer limited to any nation in this digital age as the corporate world, where the students will ultimately land, has already eradicated all international boundaries. Companies are now multinational, and they seek candidates who possess cross-cultural skills and can fit into any location. Implementing an international curriculum can help to bridge this gap.
The traditional core curriculum in Indian K-12 education has primarily consisted of Mathematics, Literature, English, Social Sciences, and Physical and Biological sciences. Schools in India have been slow to integrate international perspectives into these areas of study.
In today’s increasingly interconnected world, it is imperative that schools in India incorporate global and international studies into curriculum instruction. The challenges that we face in the world today ranging from global poverty and climate change to financial systems and conflict resolution-require globally minded solutions. The need to provide Indian students with the knowledge and skills to effectively function in a global and complex world has never been more apparent yet support for developing and integrating a curriculum with a global dimension has lagged dangerously behind.
Incorporating the International curriculum into the Indian education system could help integrate international perspectives into the classroom. The goal of the education system India should be to prepare students to function in a global world by making sure they are globally literate. In addition to making sure our students are competitive for employment opportunities in the international marketplace, a global education curriculum will also help create a more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. The international curriculum could help Indian students to become knowledgeable not only in their own country and culture but also the nations and cultures of the rest of the world.
The ability to speak more than one language is another skill crucial in the global marketplace and schools following the international curriculum focuses extensively on this. Hand in glove with language acquisition is development of the cultural competence needed to thrive in an interconnected world. This provides the basis for student understanding of how they are connected to the rest of the world. Furthermore, it provides them with the knowledge to effectively respond to global issues, problems, and challenges.
International education, particularly in a global economy, is a very important part of a 21st century education. In the world that we live in, no one is an island to themselves, so we need to expose students to the world out there. There are opportunities to learn from all different parts of the world. And now more than ever, isolationists are not who we want to be. We live in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent world. Forecasters predict that the expanding number of global interdependencies could become one of the most disruptive forces in the coming decade.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting children no longer need the 3Rs, or STEM classes, or technical training for a vocational path. We’re simply saying that those things alone aren’t enough. We’re also saying the 4Cs aren’t enough just on their own. A 21st century education needs to be more than any one or two of these things.
If we want every student to thrive, we must foster deeper learning through the purposeful integration of rigorous academic content with experiences that intentionally cultivate the skills, mindsets, and literacies needed for students to become lifelong learners and contributors in our ever-changing world.
As the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) changes the world paradigm, more Ministry of Educations are recognizing that global competency is essential for student success and that it is critical for them to have the knowledge, skills, competencies mindsets, and values to thrive in and shape their world. It is incumbent to teach students about the beauty and complexity of other countries and cultures, including the history, literature, art, music, economics, and religious and social dynamics of different countries and regions.
And this is something that an International curriculum like international baccalaureate (IB) and Cambridge are poised to do. The future k-12 education for students in India sounds promising with the new National Education Policy 2020 and the government supporting international curriculum like IB in India.