Education Systems – The Nuclear Life Bomb

The writer, Abdulhussein Tejani (Dubai, UAE) is a Change Architect in Leadership and HR and has been involved in many capacities in the community and through pro bono work with youths.

The abject failure to address an issue on par with the climate change crisis stands to be catastrophic. The abysmal state of our higher educational institutions! In my eyes, it is this very issue that has led us to the crisis on the climate front. How does one equate to the severity of the climate crisis when everything within the educational system gears a student towards winning at all costs, instant gratification, quick results over long term sustainability leading to a society where less than one percent of the population controls 80% of the world’s wealth?

Our inability to adequately prepare our students for the future stems from:

  • Our insistence on sticking to a tried and tested method of education that has its roots stemming from the Industrial revolution. Regurgitation as opposed to mastering learning agility and conquering adaptability. We are preparing students for jobs that are yet to be conceptualized for problems we are not even aware are problems yet.
  • The commercialization of education which has become the biggest abyss between the those that have and those that cannot have. Thus, creating a society that requires in the future a very highly capable workforce force exasperating an even dire situation.
  • The bodies that oversee the supposed quality and testing of the curriculum have far outlived their usefulness in not understanding the relevance of the future. This has led to curriculums changing at a rate when technology and the pace of change negates what one learns in one’s first year of study by the third year. All this evolving from the need to test and identify winners and losers.
  • Our need for uniformity over the years has led to the education system becoming a factory of students with robotic tendencies as well as an element of indoctrination of what constitutes right and wrong based on hidden agendas of an elite few.
  • The technologization of education, whilst important, has robbed and will rob future generations of the ability to interact with human beings thus dehumanizing the process. This coupled with the power of social media is creating a cadre of a future workforce that is devoid of social skills and more importantly empathy.

This list can probably go on for a few more pages but I hope you are starting to see the absurdity of either not adapting fast enough or worse still embracing change too fast to the detriment of the future of mankind.
The impact of this broken system is probably felt the largest by the corporate world. The World Economic Forum suggests that 34% of the students feel that the institutions are not adequately preparing them for success in the job market. Can you imagine what this percentage will be if corporations were asked about the state of readiness of these graduates?

So, what should corporations do to address this? Forcing the institutions to change is probably a long-term strategic approach.

  • In the short-term, I feel that organizations need to start moving away from just an IQ based hiring process and move towards a more Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Resilience (RQ) based need approach. Eventually they will have to even stop looking at hiring graduates as a minimum base approach.
  • There is a key shift that organizations will have to make that is strategic in nature. Whilst a lot of organizations claim to be learning organizations, it will have to be more pronounced and built in to the culture. This will require organizations to invest heavily into helping their people continuously learn and evolve to keep being relevant and hire people who are also continuously hungry to enhance their abilities to continuously add value.
  • If this were to bear fruit, then organizations will have to invest heavily into ensuring that their people leaders and trainers are also identified and readied on the basis of being great coaches and mentors over and above their job experience.
  • The next stage will require a more comprehensive yearlong induction that will cover soft skills as a start for at least 6 months and then move onto the technical and operational aspects of the organization. This caters towards a workforce that may be technologically sound but will need to enhance their Emotional Intelligence to counter the dehumanization aspect. This will be a key requisite until the educational institutions get their act together.

The one seismic shift that needs to have happened a while back but is not too late is the building of a solid foundation between the private and public sector. These efforts need to be coupled with the governments who have to work hand in hand with key players in education and the policy makers to make this a holistic effort.

This will ideally lead to a recognition that whilst we do need the service and manufacturing industry to flourish, it cannot be done at the cost of compromising our thirst for destroying nature to have a short-term gain and leave a legacy of destruction for future generations.

The role that Higher Education plays cannot be underplayed anymore. It has the ability to break down social, racial, economic and geographical divides. This requires something I personally feel the world is devoid of in abundance.

Great Leaders!

Invest in Leadership. As Thick Nhat Hanh aptly said, “Enlightenment is when a wave realizes it is the ocean.” We are all in this together as we are the Waves! Let us make this Our Problem and address this collectively. You and I can make a difference.

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