Reform To Reflect The Needs of The 21st Century Learner

| Updated Feb 22, 2018 at 8:43am




Issues raised in the State of the Nation Address by the President concerned all Ghanaians but one that was of particular interest to educators is the announcement that curricular in schools are undergoing reforms to deal with the weakness in the education system. Over the years, the education system has experienced crisis, more children are in school, but do not achieve the minimum reading skills and most graduates from the tertiary institutions are lacking the skills needed by employers. The explosion of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the need for the country to develop people with global competence are signals that the weaknesses in the education system have widened. The current education system is rooted in models that were successful only in the past and cannot be applicable in today’s society. To quote Dr. Deirdre Butler of Dublin City University, Ireland "the society that education served years back is different from today’s society."

The world is changing at a very fast pace, presenting also with it complex challenges that need solutions and the schools must rise up by giving students tasks that require them to solve global problems. The existing curricula – which focuses on knowledge production and mastery of content, cannot have a place in today’s world. The news by the President on an ongoing reform in the curricula to address the weaknesses and for that matter the educational crisis facing the country is welcoming, but must be done to reflect the 21st century skills needed globally. In doing so, the emphasis on knowing the information must shift to how students’ access, interpret, analyze, and evaluate information. And at the heart of this is the use of digital tools to advance teaching and learning. The reform must prioritize producing digital literate graduates. We are advancing into a world that will witness all routine jobs automated. The reform must ask one big question: “How are we preparing our students for the future?” The problems facing the country are not the ones that the students can find solutions for from their textbooks. They need digital skills to be able to search for information and find new ways of doing things in order to be part of the solutions to the problems we face. The reform also needs to take a second look at standardize test in the schools. Assessment must be done to measure the child’s ways of thinking, creativity and innovation, collaboration, decision making, problem solving and communication; which are essential skills needed by the child to function in the 4th Industrial Revolution.

The world is not waiting for us; we need the curricula reform to meet the changing demands of the world. Besides, the curricula must emphasize the development of global competence. As highlighted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), through its Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), the schools must be able to help students to examine contemporary issues of local, global, and intercultural significance and live in multicultural societies. This calls for the students examining the world beyond their immediate environment and “take action for collective well-being and sustainable development both locally and globally. The children cannot be part of changing a world that they know nothing about. The Citizenship Education subject should be restructured to deliberately make provision for them to be knowledgeable about the world. It must also offer them the opportunity to be both local and global citizens. This reform is an opportunity for the country to address the crisis in the education system and it must be done having in mind the needs of the 21st century learner.

By: Divine K. Kpe (Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator and Multi-Award Winning Educator)