Mission Critical: A shift in relevant skills for tomorrow’s world

Omar Farooqui
Omar Farooqui - Special to Al Arabiya English
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Is the future of education in the cusp of change? Or has it changed already?

The knowledge that our children acquire in schools today [after paying hefty sums], will be irrelevant in just a few years. Scary, right?

A World Economic Forum report says that over 60 percent schoolchildren entering primary education today will be doing jobs that have not yet been created.

With each passing day, exponential evolution of technology enables humans to be disruptive. And this disruption will continue to impact the very fabric of our society. There is also a possibility of this even going a notch higher.

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Artificial intelligence, quantum computing, 5G gigabit connection, autonomous cars, daily drone flights, XR mixed reality, Sophia (Hanson), global human connectivity, medical nanobots, are the faces of this change. Yet they are all sign of things to come.

Smart cities (such as NEOM in Saudi Arabia) are furthering this process. The list is getting longer, subjects are getting broader and we aren’t even close to achieving its potential.

Everything we use in our daily lives today are bound by a common link. From Facebook on smartphones to TV on computers – every gadget exists because of the art of coding.

Yes, I deliberately call it the “art” of coding and not the science of it. They may have come to us via science, but there is art involved in their learning and training.

Michael Sayman built his first app at age 13 and was hired by Facebook at 17. Today he is a 21-year-old millionaire.

Tanmay Bakshi was hired by Google last year when he was still less than 15 years. He is an IBM Watson programmer.

They may be unique prodigies today but in this rapidly developing tomorrow’s world, this is bound to become “new normal”.

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For educators, such as myself, it is Mission Critical to make these tools available to children and prepare them for the future. We need to teach kids, starting from today, subjects that are relevant, practical, and also unique in practice.

We need to introduce technology, all over the schools – public or private, all around the world and make it an essential part of the core curriculum.

In the world of Google search, where all theories across traditional [school] subjects are freely available, we need to rethink why we force our children to study subjects, which are not of interest to them.

And to top it all, judge their capabilities with century-old examination system, in order to fulfill a societal tick box to go to the next step. Such unnatural stress has eventually increased depression among children today.

The voice that I am trying to raise is that relevance of knowledge is supremely important while providing education to the children.

We need to empower children with technology skills from the age of fout all the way to 16.

We need to tell them, instead of playing a game why not develop one? Instead of only playing Minecraft, why not use Minecraft as part of programming using Java?

Instead of just wearing a smart watch how about making your own smartwatch? Tools such as web development using Android or iOS?

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Saudi women team of Turjuman, which won the first Hajj hackathon, is a case in point as far as innovation in education is concerned.

They invented an app, which crosses the language barrier for millions of pilgrims from all over the world. How great and how relevant is that? Do we teach such skills at primary schools? Why not? Why don’t we teach social app development?

Time has come for schools to teach technology to children so that they think logically. This will eventually make them creative enough to solve problems facing them.

Is that not more relevant and required in the education system today for the adults of tomorrow?
Omar Farooqui is the Founder & Chief Innovation Officer of Coded Minds, which is an alternative education company with a bias towards technology. He tweets @OmarFarooqui @Coded_Minds.

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