The Learning Challenge in the 21st Century

Truth matters, and the norms associated with a democratic society, such as the common good, responsibility, ethics, and civic engagement, are under attack with the emergence of the post-truth society. There are concerns worldwide that public education is failing us on pushing back on disinformation. And, in most countries, education systems are not providing workers with the skills necessary to compete in today’s job markets. The growing mismatch between demand and supply of skills holds back economic growth and undermines opportunity. At same time, the financial returns to schooling are high in most countries. Schooling remains a good economic and social investment, and there are record numbers of children in school today. The skills that matter in the coming technological revolution are likely the same as what is needed in a media environment of disinformation. More and better education and noncognitive skills will not only prepare students for the future world of work, they will also prepare them to navigate the increasingly complex post-truth society. They will also allow young people to gain trust. In other words, better education is democratizing, to the extent that it promotes truth, values, and civic engagement.

Education 4.0?

We have all heard of Industry 4.0 or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, popularized by the World Economic Forum. Industry 1.0 refers to the first industrial revolution. Industry 2.0 is the second industrial revolution (1870 – 1914). The third industrial revolution occurred in the late 20th century, also known as the digital revolution. Industry 4.0 is the next stage, comprising the link between cyber and human systems.

It is useful to contrast that to what is happening in education. If Education 1.0 is the traditional schoolhouse, with a teacher and students, then we might think of 2.0 as the education system with collaboration, more use of technology, and the teacher as facilitator. Education 3.0 might be the world of connected learning, personalized instruction, and open access. Then Education 4.0 is a system of lifelong learning driven by autonomy and purpose; that is, just in time learning, ubiquitous, and available to all.



ImageHarry Anthony Patrinos from the World Bank speaks about ‘The Learning Challenge in the 21st Century’ on Day 2 (11 October 2019) of the Understanding the Post-truth Society Conference in Valletta, Malta (