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How a 'do-it-yourself mindset' is transforming global education

What worked in the past, may not be suitable for this century, a global survey on education found.
What worked in the past, may not be suitable for this century, a global survey on education found.
Image: 123rf.com/ PaylessImages

A massive global transformation in education is under way as learners around the world take control of their education through a “do-it-yourself” mindset, bolstering their formal education with a mix of self-teaching, short courses and online learning.

These are among the key findings of the Global Learner Survey, which captured the opinions of more than 11,000 people, across 19 countries, on the topics of primary, secondary and higher education, careers and the future of work, and technology.

The recently released survey, which included SA, was conducted by learning company Pearson.

Participants were between 16 and 70 years old.    

“People are layering on to their traditional education by mixing and matching what works and what they can afford to get trained up for the new economy. Globally, 81% of people say that learning will become more self-service, with 88% of South Africans strongly agreeing with this statement,” said the company in a statement.

The findings reflect a global transformation in education, driven by a changing economic landscape and the new talent economy. 

Academic director at the Pearson Institute of Higher Learning, Dr Nhlanhla Thwala, said the research clearly indicated that “DIY learning” was the future. 

 “Access to online learning, free online resources, short courses and certifications, as opposed to declining trust in traditional education institutions, means that people believe that DIY learning is the future,” said Thwala.  

Another key finding revealed by the study, among SA respondents, was that local educational institutions had been failing the current generation entering the workplace.  

Only 32% of participants felt the country’s education system worked well for the current generation. “In terms of whether the country’s primary/secondary education system compares favourably to that of other countries, only 28% felt that this was the case, while only 42% felt that SA’s higher education system compares well to other countries,” said the organisation.

South Africans also expressed confidence in digital and virtual learning, which they said could enhance the learning experience and increase accessibility to learning.

“South Africans are leading the way in this area, with 91% seeing the opportunity for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other innovations to make learning more engaging, followed by China (89%), and the US, UK and Europe.”

Most participants across the world accused traditional educational institutions of failing to provide working adults with the skills they needed for the future of their working lives.

Participants agreed that people needed to keep learning throughout their careers to stay up-to-date.

This view was prevalent in China (96%) and SA (94%), followed by 87% of Americans, who embraced lifelong learning.

Thwala said the findings were a clear indication that education providers might have to reinvent learning to suit the needs of the century. 

“The findings show that learners are thinking beyond the traditional notions of learning, signalling a massive opportunity for education providers to reinvent learning to meet the needs of a new economy,” he added.

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