Reinvent education to address 21st Century issues

Wednesday, December 16th, 2020 00:00 |
Digital world. Photo/Courtesy

Covid-19 has necessitated drastic changes in the education system with most programmes, including holding graduation virtually.

This has a bearing on the development of Human capital necessary in addressing global challenges in the 21st century.

Paradoxically, the education ministry seems to have consented to the demand from Universities’ student fees.

This coupled with reduction of amount of Higher Education Loans Board offers to needy students, will exacerbate education inequality.

It is unfortunate that due to the pandemic, substantial school time has been lost, with many learning institutions losing huge amounts of capital and income.

Yet, this must be a reminder to build a better and resilient education system and structures that encourage continuous learning even during adversity.

  Among critical factors is investing in Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure and building digital skills among citizens.  

The government must incentivise higher education institutions to build their capacity and skills to develop essential ICT inputs such as software infrastructure to aid establishment of a strong digital education foundation.

This could be achieved through establishing specialised clusters among universities akin to the consortium of universities set up to oversee development of gadgets for schools laptop project.

To ensure universal access to digital infrastructure nationally, the education ministry must require that part of government capitation be used in establishment and development of digital infrastructure in government schools.

The national government must impress upon Parliament to allocate part of their National Government Constituency Development Fund to establish digital centres in polytechnics within their jurisdiction.

In addition, The ICT ministry, county governments and other stakeholders should invest in building digital parks in wards.

However, digital skills require a certain degree of knowledge if they are to be used properly.

It will be impossible for anyone without reading skills to master digital technologies.

With the Competence Based Curriculum, however, students will be required to hone digital skills in school.

But it is the prerogative of parents and guardians to ensure children under their care take up basic education and digital skills development.

Consequently, on education system tackling national challenges, President Uhuru Kenyatta’s 2020 Jamhuri speech cited food security as the foundation for economic growth.

However, the reality is that agriculture productivity, continues dwindling due to disarticulation between policy and research.

The sector never attracts young people which therefore denies the country important human resources to increase productivity, this portending future tragedy as population increase and urbanisation expands.

As agriculture sector becomes knowledge intensive, the role of agricultural research institutions is mandatory. 

There should be concerted effort to enhance partnership between government and universities with more funding availed to undertake intensive research to inform better policies.

The government must require all its programmes and projects be informed by rigorous scientific research, a role that must be undertaken by research institutions and universities with commensurate funding. This will add impetus to developmental research.

Universities on their part must rethink their education models. With learning shifting to virtual as it has been during Covid-19, they need to structure studies to enhance solution-seeking to national challenges, and base academic assignment on practical community needs.

There is also need to increase motivation among students by engaging them in designing programmes, which should have a real impact on society.

As a responsibility, students must be required to undertake community service through volunteerism.

If education transformation is to be realised, resource mismanagement within learning institutions must be stopped.

Any resources diverted from any institution contributes to failure of the education system. [email protected]

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