At a time when youth unemployment in the country is increasing by the year, looking at the future of education is more than just significant because talking about the future of education is looking at the future of the nation.
If as education officials maintain that the education system that we adopted decades ago has outlived its utility and should be dispensed with, it is about time we looked at a kind of education system that will serve us well for decades to come. An education system must be able to respond to the needs of the changing times.
The education ministry has already moved on, cautiously, with small changes in the system, one at a time. For example, World History for Classes XI and XII has gone textbook-less. At the heart of the idea is to encourage teachers and students to be inquisitive learners. Feedback from schools has been encouraging. The ministry is also working on making Bhutanese education system more inclusive. Because we cannot change the education system overnight, these small interventions are significant.
While we as parents, educators and policymakers debate about educating for a different future, what is important is that we do not lose sight of the many problems that our young people are confronting today. The increasing joblessness among the young, which is a result of skills mismatch, has to be addressed before the problem becomes explosive.
The problem of joblessness, of course, cannot be addressed with change in the education system alone. If job creation itself is low, no matter what kind of education system we adopt, unemployment among the young will be there. The current national youth unemployment rate of 13.2 percent is staggering. And it is estimated that close to 20,000 jobseekers will enter the labour market annually.
As well as we try to increase employability among the young through myriad interventions, the government must look at sustainable job creation in the country. Playing with figures to fit in our needs will not help. We have got to own our shortcomings and have the courage to address them all. Looking at a responsive education system is just a beginning.