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December 14, 2018

How to look at art: What future-ready education needs

Young people
Young people

Although the way we work is rapidly changing, education remained static and inadequate for the new labour markets. In this context, the 2017 World Economic Forum identified three major trends.

First, globalisation and technology bring new forms of work skills. About a third of the skill sets required today will be wholly new in three years by 2020.

Second, education does not keep pace with these shifts. Most education systems today are based on models put in place over a century ago. 

Attempts at reforming it have been insufficient. The gap between education and the demands of modern life grows. Studies suggest that 65 per cent of children entering primary school today will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, increasing unemployment.

Third, some outdated ‘traditions’ and inertia of institutions create roadblocks for developing the world’s talent.



Reform on education is long overdue. Leaders should tackle it to ensure people fulfil their potential. To do this, they should answer the question: ‘What are the key features of a future-ready education?’

‘Realising Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution’ report of the 2017 World Economic Forum attempts to define the future-ready education, or curricula that imparts diverse knowledge and skills. 

Relying on just one skill or expertise will not sustain careers in future; ‘jobs for life’ are obsolete.



To get the modern curricula right, it is important to understand what to teach and how to teach it. 

Regarding ‘what to teach’, there is a growing consensus that forward-looking curricula must focus on ensuring the breadth and depth of subject knowledge, and creativity. 

Regarding ‘how to teach it’ there is consensus that curricula must be adapted on a rolling basis, and developed collaboratively with input from businesses.

The curricula should also expose students to the workplace to enable them ‘learn how to learn’ through experience as well as instruction, and take responsibility for updating their skills throughout their lifetime.

Strengthening science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teaching is NOT a silver bullet for mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as some mistakenly assume. 

The problem is, these subjects currently are often taught in a way that reinforces a disconnect between sciences and the arts and focuses on theory over experimentation. 

What is important to realise is that even within the STEM-specific fields, employability will depend on strong creative and critical thinking skills.

And finally, the future-ready education demands new teachers. It should re-imagine what and who a teacher is.


Alla Tkachuk is creativity and innovation specialist, the founder of the MASK School for Creativity and Innovation in Kenya, and the creativity competition for youth, MASK Prize [email protected]


Twitter: @MASKcharity.

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