The Educational Expressway

December 28, 2016

For anyone living in Mumbai, the last two months have seen a major overhaul of roads. Each and every road across the city has been dug up, thankfully work has been visibly moving on a fast pace and one can hope to have visibly cleared up better and smoother roads come June, when the monsoon season traditionally begins.

Another thing starts in June, every year around the 1st week and 2nd week, children from across the country will be resuming school after a long month break of vacation. However unfortunately unlike the roads there is no visible upheaval in the school infrastructure.

While the new schools which are coming up have huge resources at their backing & are equipped with modern rooms and facilities, huge air conditioned lobbies and multiple security layers while the the old & some of them centuries old existing schools are having facilities and infrastructure which have been prevalent since the past couple of decades or so. There is still a glaring hole in terms of providing facilities and infrastructure which will stimulate the children’s practical learning skills and life skills which are more and beyond the curriculum.

While to be fair to them, schools have embraced newer teaching aids like smart boards and the odd computer labs, we have yet to see schools create infrastructure which are more cutting edge and relevant in terms of exposing to the children to technologies and skills of the next century.

Simple machines, Robotics, Apps, Drones, Engineering tools, Nano tech, Scratch programming, 3d printing labs etc the list can go on and on. These are the skills which we need to expose the children to prepare them for the future. These are skills which the children will need to be adept at to face the ever changing world of education and technology. A study says that 1 in 8 jobs in 2020 will require engineering skills or engineering background. We must face the reality of the tectonic shift in change in requirement of skills, knowledge and the challenges that these children will face when they step out in the global world.

We must prepare the road so that each and every child and not only an elite few, get a fair opportunity to being exposed to this emerging trends at an earlier age and this can seep into his or her mind during their schooling years.

For all the comparision of making Mumbai to Shanghai, One of my partners has visited schools in China and he was amazed at the infrastructure they have committed to these kind of new themes. Rooms and resources dedicated to S.T.E.M and other emerging technologies etc which would put any one of our engineering colleges to shame, maybe even the top dogs themselves. They have realized and have committed in creating the infrastructure for more developmental work, from a nation of copy cats they will become a nation of innovators and developers.

China is not alone, Finland, which is supposed to have the best educational policy in the world has moved to a theme based learning from a subject based learning.

To create the next Google, Apple and Amazon, we must create Tinker Labs, S.T.E.M Labs and Technology Museums in all schools so that children can get exposed, play, understand and appreciate these technologies and developments without fear. They can experiment and the schools can be an early incubator of ideas.

Educators and concerned authorities must understand the urgency and importance of this idea and must facilitate the creation of this infrastructure.

To end, it would be appropriate to put a quote from Dr. Seuss “ How did it get so late so soon ? its night before its afternoon. December is her before its June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon.” We must wake up before it gets late too soon.

– Kaushal Chheda, Partner, iRobokid.

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