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As governments globally embrace the fourth industrial revolution, changes have also been welcomed by global schools to educate students and bring them up to speed on careers and future growth prospects

Most people associate learning with formal education at school, college and university. We are told from an early age that we should get a good education.

Generally speaking, it is true that qualifications acquired through a formal education are important. Education maximises our potential to land a lucrative job and furthers career growth. However, schooling is only one type of learning. There are other opportunities to enhance knowledge and develop essential life skills.

With the advent of the 4th Industrial Revolution, corporate leaders aren’t the only ones who need to adjust to the new world. Educators, schools, government officials and parents must rethink education and how to prepare the next generation to take advantage of the plethora of opportunities and the disruption caused by technological change.

“At BEAM Creative Science Schools, we regard lifelong learning as a form of self-initiated education with a primary focus on personal development,” says Shadi Hassan, General Manager, BEAM. “As knowledge can be acquired and skill sets developed anywhere – lifelong learning is about creating and maintaining a positive attitude to learning both for personal and professional development. Employers today look for transferable skills that ensure our graduates are eager to learn and develop. We make sure that there are strong and transparent incentives to invest in our students’ lifelong learning.”

Education has evolved based on the needs of society. In a digital world, employees need a global mindset. Learning new technological skills is essential for digital transformation, but it is not enough. Employees must be motivated to use their skills to create new opportunities. How can schools and educators adapt learning to take this into account?

“We focus on change as a digital mindset where attitudes and behaviour ensure that learners and future employers view Robotics, Social Media, AI, Algorithms, and Data Clear Pathways for career progression,” says Hassan. “At BEAM’s Creative Science Schools, we develop learners’ potentials by allowing them to practise their inquisitiveness, and higher order thinking skills.”

The 4th Industrial Revolution features smart technologies, including artificial intelligence, big data, augmented reality, blockchain, Internet of Things, and automation. For our children to be prepared to engage in a world alongside smart machines, they will need to be educated differently than in the past.

“ASD’s very mission is ‘to challenge and inspire each student to become a passionate learner prepared to adapt and contribute in a rapidly changing world’,” says Craig Tredenick, Director of Admissions and Advancement, American School of Dubai. “A few years ago, members of ASD’s student body, faculty, staff, administration, parent community and alumni group came together to develop our Student Profile. This profile highlights the skills and dispositions that we believe are necessary for each student to leave ASD with in order to be prepared for their futures.”

Pranjala Dutta, Principal, Sabari Indian School, explains that a school should prepare students for new challenges. “Technologies are disrupting every industry across the world at unprecedented speed,” says Dutta. “For our children to be prepared to engage in a world alongside smart machines, they will need to be educated differently than in the past.”

At Sabari Indian School the curriculum offers a range of programmes such as financial literacy, AI with ICT, STREAM, Art & Design/Graphics, and so on. “We provide our students opportunities to participate in a host of activities that enrich the learning experiences, develop talents, and learn new skills at every step,” says Dutta. “The workplace of the future will require attributes such as creativity, curiosity, and design-thinking.”

According to Karen McCord, Executive Principal, Australian International School Dubai, the very nature of the curriculum at AIS is underpinned by the premise that the world our children will go into will be very different from the one they are in right now.

“Focusing on being problem solvers and communicative and collaborative agents of their own learning allows our children to thrive in change,” says McCord.

Even though machines are mastering many tasks typically performed by humans, people are still more adept at creative endeavours, imagination, critical thinking, social interaction, and physical dexterity. The educational system of the future needs to develop abilities in humans so they can partner with machines rather than compete with them.

“It is critical for schools to recognise the opportunities that exist in the relationship between humans and machines and to focus on identifying the emerging trends and technologies that we can incorporate into our educational experience,” says Tredenick.

“Through such experiences, our students will develop their understanding of what machines are capable and the skills that they must develop to work in partnership. Ultimately, students must have an appreciation for what impact machines and artificial intelligence have now and can have in the future.”