An overwhelming majority of young people believe that their generation should take responsibility for improving the world, according to an international survey by the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), Qatar Foundation’s global education think tank.
However, only less than half of those surveyed say they have the tools to take action.
The results of the survey released on the International Day of Education, offer a new insight into how young people perceive their education and how prepared they feel to face the future.
Dr Gregory J Moncada
The Global Education Barometer assesses how confident the world’s youth feel about their future and how well their education systems are preparing them to confront challenges. Conducted by Ipsos, the survey studied 9,509 young people aged 16-25 across 20 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe.
While the key findings will be included in work conducted by Unesco’s Futures of Education and CRI’s Learning Planet Initiatives, the initial results were revealed during the Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace conference at Unesco’s International Day of Education in Paris recently.
Elyas Felfoul, director, Policy Development and Partnerships, WISE, said during the event that entering a new decade is the perfect opportunity to assess and reinvent education systems for future success.
“We’re all well aware of the rapid changes on the horizon that will radically shift the world we live in,” he said. “How can the main institutions help create an education system that adapts to these radical changes?
“We need to create a new roadmap, to make it easier for the next generation to join this effort so that once they’re ready to lead, they’re going to feel well-equipped.”
The study showed that young people have a heightened awareness of the challenges facing the world, with 85% of those surveyed expressing fears about the state of the planet. Meanwhile, 87% of young people said it was the responsibility of their generation to make the world a better place, with poverty and social inequality, climate change and the environment, and access to employment being the most pressing issues.
But when the group surveyed was asked whether they felt ready to take action on such challenges, only half responded favourably and less than half said they truly understood major societal issues or felt ready to find solutions. Young people from Morocco, India, and China were the most actively engaged around at least one cause.
The study then assessed what role education systems play in preparing students to address global challenges. While nearly 90 percent of those surveyed said that education meant more than learning for a career and was valuable in itself, only a small minority said they looked to their schooling to make them more active and well-rounded citizens.
The young people who participated in the survey said that the most important reasons for attending school were to expand their knowledge and prepare them for the future, and to find a job and make money. Meanwhile, they placed relying on school to learn about the world around them and enable them to make a positive impact on their communities much further down the list of reasons – sixth and ninth respectively.
And while 90% of those surveyed said that understanding new technologies were important for the future, only 80% felt that they either completely or somewhat understood such technologies.
The results of the survey also revealed that even if students do not feel prepared to take on major societal changes, they are happy overall with their education. Among those who participated, 80% said they were either satisfied or somewhat satisfied with their schooling, with those from Finland, Mexico and India being the most content.
'Lecture-styled learning formats do not engage students'
Commenting on the results of the international survey on education by WISE, Dr Gregory J Moncada, director, Qatar Academy for Science and Technology, Qatar Foundation, noted that the results strongly suggest that traditional lecture-styled learning formats do not engage the students and educators underestimate their ability to contribute to real issues in their classrooms.
"Our students will soon be entering a world of work that is vastly different to previous generations, with many traditional jobs being replaced by automation and artificial intelligences. To remain relevant, students will need a different set of skills in order to do tasks that are uniquely human and that cannot be replaced by a machine,” said Moncada.
“Through Qatar Academy for Science and Technology’s award-winning curriculum, we provide our students with the knowledge, skills and thinking tools necessary to solve real challenges by giving students the time to research, explore, and build the skills needed to succeed in our fast-changing world. This approach needs to be reflected more broadly, and the skills students develop valued more highly, if we are going to truly help our students be prepared for their futures,” he added.