If one could recall the words of Alvin Toffler who said ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn”, the same concept could be applied to the emerging scenario of the schools of the future (especially in the post-COVID-19 scenario) and one could say “the schools to un-school and reschool”. Though such an expression appears a little articulated, one cannot refuse to position it in the emerging scenario.
What is the current scenario?
1. The covid-19 has dislodged several of the practices of yester years in school operations, content delivery, pedagogical methods and inter-personal relationships.
2. The Covid-19 has impacted the mindset of all stakeholders with regard to the feasibility of some of the existing practices and raised doubts and questions.
3. The impact on financial security for the ongoing years has raised doubts about growth, development and sustenance.
4. The cost involved in the enhanced versions of curricular and pedagogical deliveries demands a lot of advocacies among parents and other stakeholders.
5. Management of human resources and academic resources has created newer challenges and has called for review of trust systems, better accountabilities and transparent procedures.
6. The intermediary shift to technological deliveries of curriculum and pedagogy enabling ‘Blended Learning’ approaches has been received with mixed responses, with its latent strengths and limitations.
7. Parental responses to changed paradigms leaving learners to a self-learning models has met with some predictable reactions as they still believe in traditional packages promoting rote-learning with a package of achievable high scores.
8. Learners have not yet been able to understand the idea of ‘freedom to learn’ with measurable discipline in learning practices alongside responsibilities and accountabilities.
9. While there is an increased focus on “competency-based learning” and ‘skill-based learning’ they continue to remain mirages, with parents unable to get over their addiction to engaging competitions from the formative years to their wards.
10. The fear of the future capsuled in a sense of insecurity forces the social mindset to move ahead with caution and assurance.
What is the likely future scenario?
1. Schools may not be able to continue the same models for the future and have to plant seeds of change.
2. The idea of change in concepts, practices and procedures have to be largely localized, geographically and culturally contextual.
3. The process of change needs to encompass the entire universe of school thought structure.
4. A series of advocacy methods needs to be put in place to prepare all the stakeholders to understand, appreciate and part of the culture of change.
5. Technology integration has to be holistic, ongoing and purposeful. Initial investments in technology should not be viewed with suspicion or hesitation.
6. The continuous exposure to the pace of change in technology has to be an on-going process for school faculty, with artificial intelligence, augmented reality with decreasing interface between human intelligence and machine intelligence.
7. The focus is largely likely to be on learning, with a declining focus on the existing models of assessment. The interventional models of school assessment on continuous and ongoing patterns would replace existing terminal modes of assessment.
8. There is likely to be a higher cost on quality of human investments in school systems both on a regular basis as well as contractual basis.
9. Schools might be required to address multipolar inputs for providing content with support to differenced learning strategies closer to consumer needs.
10. The schools would be required to demonstrate higher accountability in their delivery models which will have to include holistic learning needs taking cognizance of mental and emotional health of the learners.
11. School logistics and legal procedures have to be strengthened on a more pragmatic manner which is feasible, communicative and legally valid.
12. Technological and vigilance infrastructures for better security systems both on the physical infrastructure and intellectual infrastructure have to be put in place.
13. Schools would need more accessible medical support systems alongside sound counselling systems which are socially acceptable.
14. The rules and regulations of the governing agencies are likely to undergo sea-change with more compelling indicators for compliance.
15. The financial infantries of schools are likely to come under closer scrutiny forcing better discipline restricting laisse-faire approaches to finance management.
16. Emerging researches on brain sciences, neuro-cognitive modeling exercises and automated communication practices would call for changed mindset in the teaching community.
17. Periodic quality assessment of the teachers would keep them on their toes to ensure their sustenance in jobs and relevance to the profession.
18. “Freedom to learn” and “freedom of learning” is likely to being in more legal interventions in favour of the learners both on empathetic considerations as well as for individual growth triggered by quality achievements.
All the above indicators and a few more, do indicate that the concept of schools will undergo a metamorphosis in the coming years, with informal and formal learning systems seeking meeting points, harmony, synergy and performance analysis.
Education systems need to be ready to respond to these emerging challenges with adequate pre-planning rather than to wait and react on a later date. With all these challenges, one must remember the saying of Victor Hugo "He who opens a school door, closes a prison"