Education skills for success in the knowledge economy

One needs holistic growth, not just academic

In Summary

• Schools should focus on not only academic growth but also global competencies

Students in class
Students in class
Image: FILE

When considering the quality of a child’s education, one of the chief motivating factors when choosing schools remains the likelihood that a specific school will allow a child to perform at the highest possible level.

However, parents should not only evaluate the school’s academic track record but also its commitment to instilling and developing crucial transferrable skills, which will help students to become empowered and self-actualised in future, education experts say.

“In the knowledge economy, success in education and life requires substantially more than just academic performance,” says Jenny Coetzee, managing director at Crawford International School Kenya, a brand of Africa’s largest private education provider, ADvTECH.

She says schools must also strategically be focused on students’ holistic development, their personal growth and the degree to which they harness their personal strengths and unique talents, on top of ensuring they perform optimally in their exams.

“It is imperative that schools focus not only on academic development but also on global competencies, mastery of which is non-negotiable for future success.”

Global competencies required on top of academic achievement include thinking, research, communication, social, and self-management skills.

“Each of these key areas should be developed throughout a child’s educational journey to progressively develop students’ abilities, enabling and empowering them throughout their educational journey,” Jenny says.

“These skills should also not be viewed as an addition to the academic curriculum but instead be included holistically in all aspects on a child’s educational path.”

Angelica Ouya, education director at the Makini Group of Schools, sister school of Crawford, says the already hugely competitive jobs marketplace is set to become even more so in future. Developing global competencies of students positions them more strongly in the jobs marketplace as employers seek out can-do problem solvers.

“By also focusing on core global competencies and the development of transferrable skills, young people are being empowered to live up to their unique potential and enter adult life armed with the abilities they will need to conquer life’s challenges,” she says.

“We can’t know what the world will look like in five, seven, or 12 years’ time, when today’s students finish school. However, what we can do is to equip them to the greatest degree possible with the skills they will need to efficiently navigate any environment and challenges that will come their way.”

Considering an uncertain future, skills like resilience, empathy, critical thinking and problem-solving are crucial components of a holistic education, Ouya says.

It is, therefore, imperative for all role-players in a child’s education – schools, teachers, parents and communities – to embrace the need to move forward in the way education is viewed, rather than remain fixed in the old-fashioned paradigm of assessment and reporting as the only measure of a student’s success. Performing well academically remains essential, in terms of accessing scarce study and employment opportunities locally and globally.

“Academic success on its own is, however, no longer sufficient to position one successfully for an uncertain future. A holistic education today requires much more than excellent test and exam performances, it also requires preparing children for the future demands that are not yet understood today.”

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