The Discussion Thus Far - Week 1 Summary

Thanks so much to everyone who has posted thus far. Some fantastic points and questions have been raised and I do hope that this week will see more of you responding to posts made by colleagues :wink: Below is a summary of the discussion and based on this summary new questions have been posted for this week.

Have a great week,

Barry.

QU for Week 1: What are the strengths and limitations of the current education system?

Strengths:

The system of education is equipping students with some of the 21st century skills. The integration of technology in learning is a move in the right direction.

Challenges:

Aligning of curricula with market requirements:

  • The current education system needs to reform in line with market requirements. There is a need to include and integrate entrepreneurship education into the curriculum starting from schools to post graduation.
  • The curriculum in most educational systems are a misfit of what organisations, industries etc require. The development of curriculum, therefore, should be a collaboration between educational systems and the labour market. Courses studied should be so developed that will enable graduates fit in easily to the needs of the labour market.
  • The relevance of the curriculum to a host nation’s context is not currently top of the agenda.
  • When a student attends a learning institution they are essentially investing in so many ways such as time investment, financial investment and even human investment and therefore expect a positive output or outcome in form of either to be employed or self-employed based on the skills acquired and the availability of opportunities. The education system needs to acknowledge and respond to this.

Financial constraints:

In the poorest countries’ education is unattainable for many people due to a lack of financial resources. This needs to be addressed as education should be open and accessible to all. Perhaps education should be made accessible on the basis of IQ, performance and interest rather than on an ability to pay.

Entrepreneurship and risk:

The education system highlights entrepreneurship but the challenge is that people are still holding on to the employer-employee mentality. A paradigm shift is needed in the way people perceive education. Yet In Sri Lanka for example experience indicates that students (who tend to be older at the Open Univeristy) tend to demonstrate a low appetite for risk - a critical factor necessary for the entrepreneurial mindset.

Towards an ‘entrepreneurial education’:

  • With a view to increasing employability education systems need to give due or more attention to entrepreneurial education both by ensuring that learning in vocational and ‘artisanal’/technical institutions is very attractive and by making the more popular grammar schools and traditional colleges more practical and supporting them to offer entrepreneurial studies.
  • Students tend not to appreciate the importance and applicability of employability skills they are developing along the way e.g. communication, group-working and collaboration skills?

A workforce fit for purpose:

  • There is some evidence to suggest that teachers who are not re-trained in line with new innovations and technologies in their areas of expertise teach to their students only what they know. When eventually these students graduate, they become unemployable as they cannot meet the demands of employers.
  • The quality of teacher education programmes is a critical factor that tends to be overlooked. Courses and resources should be relevant and updated to address the knowledge gap from classrooms to communities.

Time management:

Time management amongst many students appears to be poor with focus being placed on achieving the qualification rather than engaging fully with the process of learning.

Soft loans for the encouragement of entrepreneurial activity:

Soft loan for starting small-scale businesses should be attached to those interested in entrepreneurial studies to make it more attractive. Such loans would require governments to adopt methods of distribution e.g. through commercial / industry / central banks, NGOs etc. Systems and processes for monitoring and repayment would also need to be agreed.

Funding and infrastructure shortfalls:

  • Funding and infrastructure is limited when wanting to explore and exploit opportunities linked to OER and ODL.
  • Involving wider stakeholder groups in the design and development of curricula is important. However, it cannot be seen as a good thing when quality assurance mechanisms are either absent or weak.

Amazing summary. Really rich food for deeper thoughts this week and beyond.

Thanks Chris - I look forward to reading more of your contributions.