28 November, 2020

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The Future Of Education

By Kumar Rupesinghe

Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe

Dr. Kumar Rupesinghe

I would like to thank Dillini Gunesekera, the CEO of the London Business School, for inviting me to speak to you on this day when you are graduating from a one year course in business studies.

I am sure that you are anxious about your future. You have taken this course so as to be better equipped to find yourself a job and also better equipped to face the challenges that lie before you. The times that you live in are very different to the time that I was a student. During the period when I was at school I did not go for tuition and got good grades in my O. levels by working together with my friends in the last three months! It was collaborative learning.

At the age of sixteen I wanted to leave for London, as I was stultified by the environment in Sri Lanka. I was asking some big questions from my mother and my teachers, and they could not answer my questions, and thought I was a nuisance! The questions I was asking were questions such as:

  1. Is there a God/?
  2. What is truth?
  3. What is the meaning of life?
  4. Why was I born?
  5. Why are there poor and rich people?

I did not find answers in the college I went to, St. Josephs College nor from my relatives. My uncles told me that asking such questions will get you nowhere! I was advised to be a Chartered Secretary! Since I did not have answers to my questions I asked my mother who was an Air Hostess that I wished to go to London. I had got to know London from the various magazines and from the story books I read. My mother assured me that if I passed my O. Levels that I would get a free ticket to London. I passed my O. Levels with credit passes and my mother accompanied me to London.

London was an extraordinary place of discovery. I could visit museums, art galleries, book shops whilst working as a waiter in a hamburger stall. I was privileged to discover a philosophical circle called the Bridge Circle, where I was to engage in Philosophical discussions, in discussing the Greek philosophers, the Renaissance periods and Indian philosophy. Here was a place where I could find an answer to my questions which had haunted me in my childhood.

I eventfully obtained a scholarship to the London School of Economics and this was a time where there were momentous events in the world It was a period of the war by the USA against Vietnam where I took part in the anti -war movement The Great Chinese Cultural Revolutions, the age of the Flower children seeking spirituality and wisdom and great philosophical debates and struggles by the youth against the education system. It was a time of economic boom and optimism at that time.

Today, the situation is entirely different. The world economy is in permanent recession but where the hegemony of the western economic project is being challenged by the so called BRICK countries, I, e, Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. Today unemployment and under employment is a permanent feature in most countries and is the norm. In Sir Lanka only 20000 students are eligible to enter University each year but over 100000 are not able to enter the Universities although they were qualified., This condition led to three major civil wars in Sir Lanka. The 1971 insurgency ,ws largely a result of unemployment. I had the opportunity to visit the prisons and they told me that even after passing their exams at the A level that they were nobodies. In 1988, a similar uprising took place which took the lives of 60000 young people! Whilst the uprising from the North, by the Tmil Youth led by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam took over 100000. Those who took part in these rebellions wwere the brightest who felt tht they were nobodies in an inequities sysem.

Today we are uncertain if the planet will survive this century and expert forecasts suggest that our planet will blow up within 50 years. For example: the Methane from the sea shelf is melting and affecting the fauna and the flora and the fish in the sea. Methane is the deposits from the oil which flows into the sea. The Arctic is melting seriously and the water is rising which will affect our cities and our land mass. There are draughts, famines, floods, forest fires, and many other hazards affecting the planet. This is largely due to human greed and the rapacious Mafia who rob the earth of its oil and where the oil is used in such a way, in our cars, and machines to pollute the earth.

Another factor is our conventional studies and syllabus does not help us to understand the threats to the planet. They do not equip us to think outside the box, to use our creativity. As you well know our school system is like a factory system, where students have to memories to pass exams. Many of our children are compelled to go for tuition to memories for their exams. They are not taught to think out of the box.

Conventional Economics does not teach us that large sectors of our economy are controlled by the Mafia. Today, the Mafia dominates the Oil industry, the Pharmaceutical industry, the Fertilizer industry the Agro chemical industry only to name a few. Our text books are silent on this!

The Agro Chemicals that we use for our soil erode the fertility of the soil, the foods we eat contains these chemical and make us ill when the poison remains in our body We then go to our doctors to fill us with pills. As you well know amongst our school children Diabetes is on an exponential rise, and our farmers are suffering from the agro chemicclas they use, with Kidney failure and Cancer. Our health system is based on giving pills and more pills. Recently the new President of Sri Lanka started that when he was the health Minister, that the entire Ministry and its its officials were controlled and bribed by the Pharmaceutical Mafia!

What are the views of the Fortune 500 companies. They also have problems with our modern education system. They complain that the graduates that they recruit are not fit for their companies. They complain that the student does think out of the box, that they lack creativity and lack problem solving skills.

The revolution sweeping global education

As a Professor at Yale, Bill Deresiewicz saw something that troubled him deeply. His students, some of the nation’s brightest minds, were adrift when it came to the big questions: how to think critically and creatively, and how to find a sense of purpose. He takes a sharp look at the high-pressure conveyor belt that begins with parents and counselors who demand perfect grades and culminates in the skewed applications . Deresiewicz saw firsthand as a member of Yale’s admissions committee. As schools shift focus from the humanities to “practical” subjects like economics and computer science, students are losing the ability to think in innovative ways. Deresiewicz explains how College should be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success, so they can forge their own path. He addresses parents, students, educators, and anyone who’s interested in the direction of American society, featuring quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and clearly not presenting solutions.

However, the current system of public education is being dramatically disrupted by new technologies, new insights into optimal learning methods and debilitating impact of escalating student debt. Additionally, emerging management and leadership jobs are demanding a whole new kind of worker. Projections indicate that nearly 40% of the brick and mortar schools will no longer exist by 2020!

Harvard business school professor Clayton Christianson stated recently in a Congressional testimony: “the current system will not exist in ten years.” the college and the university will come to your home.

The IBM studies in 2010 and 2012 interviewed 1700 CO’s os and 3,600 students in 60 countries. The conclusion:

The critical need now is not for industrial workers but for creative leaders able to think outside the very system that produced them. Why? Because the world has entered the era of hyper complexity and current forms of education are not preparing young people for the world that is coming.

Topping the list of what global CO’s and and students are looking for as they face the future are

  • creative thinking,
  • the capacity to collaborate,
  • the capacity to communicate effectively,
  • The capacity to be open, flexible and empathetic, and express global perspectives 

The Ubiquity University:

Here I quote from the Ubiquity University website.

Let me now introduce you to a new type of education of which I am closely associated with. Ubiquity was conceived to be disruptive. The company has cracked key codes in the following educational domains

  • Ubiquity’s curriculum is designed to enhance collaborative creativity, emotional intelligence, innovative entrepreneurship, and personal leadership – the very qualities that both global corporations and young people demand, and to do so at globally affordable tuition.
  • Ubiquity University opens its doors to student enrollment at a time of extraordinary challenge and opportunity.

“No sector operates more inefficiently than education,” stated Forbs in a cover story on November 11, 2012, and “a new breed of disruptors is going to fix It.” the article predicted that disruptive education is the key to educational renewal. Ubiquity was conceived to be disruptive. Conventional schools impart knowledge and train students in analytical thinking. Creativity, not simply knowledge, is the key to the jobs of the future. Collaboration, not simply competitiveness, is emerging as critical to success.

Ubiquity intends to provide innovative content by blending learning with innovation, enabling students to gain core competencies for future employment and to develop the creative, collaborative and critical thinking capacities necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Method: conventional education relies on lectures and memorization. Ubiquity’s learning system involves a specially designed website and technology platform through which the student engages in academic studies, personal development exercises, real life missions that provide fully immersive learning and enable students to interact creatively with their peers worldwide.

Design. Conventional schools train for degrees. Ubiquity will be completely modular, enabling students to obtain everything from a B.A to a PhD as well as ‘Nana degrees,’ certificates, and badges for lifelong learners.

Ubiquity concentrates on what the emerging generation of students actually need, for whom digital technology is the new Normand directly relevant learning the emerging demands.

Cost: worldwide student costs and tuition for higher education are dramatically escalating, taking education out of the reach of millions of perfectly qualified students each year. Ubiquity is globally affordable, offering a $12,000 be and a $12,000 moa. Low cost. No debt. Globally.

Global context: students are grouped in “pods “designed to create global classrooms in which they will interact with peers from around the world. They will learn their lessons, engage in personal development, and participate in real life missions with other students supported by trained teacher assistants and a coaching and mentoring program. By the time they graduate, they will have developed a global network of their peers, all engaged in collaborative creativity on projects of common concern. Country partners around the world enhance pacity.this capacity.

Knowledge City, a college based on Sri Lanka, in partnership with the London Business School and other colleges around Sri Lanka will be promoting the Ubiquity University in the coming months and years.

I look forward to a conversation with you all.

FINALY

Let me now share some thoughts from my own experience which may help you to charter your life journey.

  1. Life is a continues learning experience. We are permanent students. It is only then that we retain our curiosity and our wonderment of the universe.
  1. Always be curious, be open to new ideas. Remember that we only use 5 % of our brain. The brain is an extraordinary living organism which replicates the universe and it is problem solving instrument. It has the power of 1000 computers or more. It is hungry for challenges . we have to learn to use its potential
  2. Learn to think and feel with your heart. This is called emotional intelligence. Learn how to activate your heart chakra.
  3. Always remember that you are a Spiritual Being in a human body. If you wish to be connected to the universe and divine energy then learn to meditate, do yoga, and seek wisdom.
  4. Always think of how to contribute towards the good of the Universe not only take from it. How to be of service to humanity.
  5. Be always open to new thoughts and ideas, and search for knowledge and wisdom.
  6. Learn to think out of the box. There are many tools which are available to us. Such as Mind Mapping, Checklist Management, SWOT analysis to many instruments which would help us.
  7. Learn to dream and expand your vision. Learn to dream but also how to realize your dream. There are methods and tools to do this.

Thank You,

*Speech on the passing out convention of grduate students and their parents – London School of Business Studies – 3/15/2015

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Latest comments

  • 4
    0

    Teacher appointment became Polished since late 1960s. I was a victim of such phenomenon I would say. Now the schools are heavily politicized. The teachers have to act against honesty for their promotions. set wrong example for students and they dogmatised believe wrongs are rights so on. They try to the wrong what they taught right and they practise and execute that in the global village. Sri Lanka can prosper and become experts in the world.

  • 3
    0

    Dear Kumar,
    Your thoughts are/were possible because you are English literate.
    Education in English is denied to majority of children in Sri Lanka.

    All parents yearn for English education for their children but this is denied to the majority of them, by the short sighted planners who are influenced by political and religious thinking.
    Please write to them.

    Much time and energy is spent on teaching and learning religion.
    What is your opinion?

  • 0
    1

    Good to hear KR is still learning, and hope [Edited out]

  • 2
    1

    Hello Kumar,
    A timely advice to students, graduates and educators. If you wish to understand the status of education in the Northern Province you may read it at:

    http://www.edudept.np.gov.lk

    ethir

  • 6
    0

    Dr.Rupasnghe,

    A wonderful article, focussed on the current crisis confronting so-called cram shop education and shedding light on how to meet the societal needs of the future. It has helped me concentrate my thoughts on the subject too.

    Thank you very much. Thank you, CT, for bringing this article to our attention.

    Dr. Rajasingham Naredran

  • 0
    0

    Lucky guy was very politically ambitious and a socialist to the core in the 1970s. [Edited out]

  • 0
    1

    Dr.Kumar Rupa….time to time you writes very useful thoughts but we just refer our 30 years history backwards from this point,we were not active focused in educational growth than learning cum buying hi-tec weapons of mass destruction…..let’s forget as a person higher standard English literate what have you done to you country other than running lucrative NGO called Foundation for Co-Existence does it still exist at present ? [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    Dr.Rupasinghe
    Thank you for this article.
    As another commentator has said elsewhere in this forum, it is the benefit of English education you had which has enabled you to approach the issues that have to be tackled in the field of education in this 21st century we are in.
    You are correct in listing the four important items which globally engage students now a days.
    I do not think in SL this aspect of modern education is given any importance by educationists let alone students.It is high time they did.
    Neither Bill Gates or the late Steve Job went to universities, they dropped out and did their own thing.

  • 1
    0

    People in the administrative service should be proficient in minimum three languages. Ans know how to write a formal letter.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Kumar,

    Wondeful learning experience of you.

    However being a Sri lankans we all utterly failed to have decent education for 3/4 of our citizens with at least advance level pass grade. More over our academics play huge political game within academic domain and does not have any competency to support in building a national policy in toward higher education.

    On the other hand politicians too take the academics as their advisers and assistant and those academics siting at ministries and academic institutions have a cold war for nothing.

    On the other hand journalist of today too do not have an objective take and fail to have a coverage to raise this issue among politicized academic institutions and academics who work for politicians as well as academic institutions.

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