The future starts now

According to a recent Unesco survey, Hongkongers believe flexibility and responsiveness are more important than digital skills to thrive in the future.

Respondents also reported creativity and innovation, collaboration and critical thinking as essential.

Responding to Unesco’s global initiative, the Futures of Education survey was conducted by the Glocal Peace Centre under the Unesco Hong Kong Association in May, with the aim of showing how Hongkongers think Industry 4.0 will change the education landscape.

Respondents ranked teaching and learning, connection to external learning resources and knowledge production as the top three areas that will be most affected by technological advancements in Industry 4.0.

“The thoughtful use of technology will enable educators to overcome many deficiencies in a system that is largely inherited from the Third Industrial Revolution,” said Eugene Fong, partnership engagement chair of the Peace Centre.

“However, past emphases on standardization, efficiency and conformity are becoming irrelevant for the increasingly complex and ambiguous world now and in the future.”

The online questionnaire, which formed the basis for deliberation at Unesco HKA’s first Futures of Education forum, surveyed over 540 respondents aged 16 and above and included students, parents, policymakers, and stakeholders from Hong Kong’s education, business and technology sectors.

Taking place on June 20, the Futures of Education – For Industry 4.0 and Beyond online forum aimed to facilitate discussion and debate.

Key speaker Anthony Cheung Bing-leung said: “The pedagogy of the past cannot equip students with the skills and competencies to face and adapt to the fast-changing world.”

He added that information is power, and those with more information have more power than others.

“The question we must ask, then, is whether we have all tried hard enough to achieve a better balance for our children and theirs,” Cheung said.

Dennis Shi, the CEO of Mojodomo, shared his view that “multiskills are needed to be innovative,” while Tommie Lo, founder and CEO of Preface, suggested a “scalable education system to move from standardized education to a personalized one.”

The survey also found that social cohesion and atmosphere, relationships with the world and protecting the environment were considered the top three issues Hong Kong’s education needs to tackle for 2050.

Other areas that ranked highly include sustainable employment, scientific innovation, health care, and the legal system.

The survey also found that building peace, promoting health and wellbeing, and continuous learning are considered the top three goals of education worldwide in 2050.

Samuel Leong, vice-president of Unesco HKA and cofounder of the Peace Centre, said at the end of the forum: “It is important for us to leverage human uniqueness – not only the knowledge and skills but also attitudes and values, to guide our responsible and ethical actions.”

“Technologies enhance lifestyles and wellbeing and can be deployed for a sustainable education ecosystem,” he said

“We should work together for the future of education and to enable our children and citizens to adapt and strive, whatever the future holds.”

(This article was published at The Standard on July 7, 2020: Education: The future starts now )

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