TRADITIONAL pedagogies, abhorrence to innovation and obsolete curriculum obstruct schools and universities from meeting the industry’s demands.

The first and the second industrial revolutions in Britain, continental Europe, North America, and Japan triggered mass production in the industry requiring the standardised model of direct learning widely used in mainstream education today.

The uniform talent produced was utilised to fill process-based early manufacturing jobs where innovations, critical thinking and creativity were not prioritised.

This learning mode practised in Pakistan’s educational system does not prepare students for the real world problems. Hence, they lack the training required to capture a market share of e-commerce and the IT industry in the future, something Pakistan is aiming for with its 5G technology.

Despite having a degree, many people underperform and fail to impress potential employers. Either their degrees are not relevant to the job market or they have not acquired the right skillset during their school years. Government jobs remain the only option where performance is not the discriminating criteria for progress. These graduates of process-based learning prove to be the worst for jobs requiring out-of-the-box thinking like teaching and policymaking.

During a regular class, the teacher arrives at a particular answer using formulas, equations and fundamentals. Students’ role is limited to memorising and imitating the same method for solving other similar problems. Whatever learning happens is accidental. Generally, grades are what matter the most, not the skills.

In the past, many international technological and automobile giants have turned down their plans of setting up manufacturing plants in Pakistan because of the lack of required talent. Instead, they opted for India and Bangladesh where the educational institutes produce graduates meeting the industry’s demands.

To foster creative thinking, the way forward needs a two-fold strategy: the shift from the ‘process-based learning’ to ‘problem-based learning’ and the stakeholders’ concurrent objectives: schools, students and the industry.

Educational institutions should focus on the individual learning traits of the students. Adaptive learning technology should be incorporated to analyse each student’s skills and develop personalised learning pathways.

They must produce graduates who can fulfil the demands of the industry currently and in the future. Schools need to be proactive as they prepare students for jobs that do not even exist at the moment. Education policymaking should be more than political point-scoring and needs to be visionary, unlike the past.

Muhammad Ali
Texas, USA

Published in Dawn, January 18th, 2021

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