Thursday, June 3, 2010

What does this mean?

It really marvels me when dedication for work becomes the pleasure to make an impact. My good friend William Effah Owusu gladly welcomed the responsibility as an opportunity to teach Seidi D/A Junior High School and make an impact with his profession as a teacher. Trust me; very few city residents would accept this task.  Seidi is rural community located within the suburb of Ashanti region of Ghana with population less than 1000 and maize farming as their main profession. They don’t have flowing tap water but recently got connected to the electric grid through cash contributions by school teachers in the village.

William now lives in Seidi but occasionally comes home (to Kumasi city) and gets the chance to check his emails. It was a delight to reconnect with William on Facebook to share his experiences.

According to William, very few students are able to graduate to the Senior High School at Seidi, let alone obtain a University degree. Not because the students are not intelligent but the school lacks the basic educational resources to equip the students development. Profession of parents is automatically inherited by their children in Seidi. Students need to be continuously persuaded and motivated to attend school each day. Some students even prefer to assist their parents on the farm in the morning and join the class in the afternoon.

Even though Information Communication Technology is part of their curriculum, William says “the mention of it in class seems like one of the planets somewhere on the solar system”. The only computer which William helped to purchase is now the school’s computer lab. Seems like the pace of the 21st Century change differs globally and what does this mean for education?

Research has disclosed that the top 10 in-demand jobs for 2010 did not exist in 2004. The amount of new ‘technical information’ is doubling every 2 years. So for students starting a 4-year technical related degree, this means that half of what they learn in their first year of study will be outdated by their third year of study. And what does this mean?

Of course, this brings a lot more questions in mind after thinking of how the world was when we were kids and what the world has become today.  All boiling down to where exactly is the world heading – or – what would the future of the kids of today be? The information age brought more knowledge workers due to the demand for their services. Obviously, we are preparing students for jobs that do not exist today, in order to solve problems that we do not even know exist yet. 

The invention of IPv6 (Internet Protocol version 6) has led to the increase of internet devices from PCs to mobile phones, TVs, watches and counting. What does this mean? To share with you some interesting facts....

Google says over 31 billion searches are done on its servers every month. In 2006 the number was 2.7 billion. To whom were these questions addressed before Google? Wikipedia was launched in 2001 and now features over 13 million articles in more than 200 languages.

Studies show the number of unique visitors on Facebook, Youtube, and Myspace every month collectively exceed 250 million. But none of these sites existed 6 years ago. We’re living in exponential times indeed.

How are you using social networking sites?

Social media is not a fad, it’s a fundamental shift in the way we communicate, connect and relate to each other in the 21st Century. Interestingly, the virtual world created by the internet is also presenting a virtual culture. A typical example is the language widely adapted online with numerous abbreviations especially on chat sessions to express our mood. For example, “l8r” for “later”, “g2g” for “got to go”, “brb” for “be right back”, “lol” for “laughing out loud” etc. Anyway, how many of us honestly were actually laughing out loud before typing “lol”? – Well, I wouldn’t be surprise to see these chat expressions appear soon in dictionaries if it hasn’t yet. What does this mean?

Everyone should have a passing interest in technological development as eventually they may change everyone’s life for the better. The 21st Century Skills brings the skill set needed to continuously prepare workers and students to survive today’s challenges and enjoy tomorrow’s opportunities. What does this mean?

It means that education is no longer a pathway to opportunities but a prerequisite for success in the 21st Century. I share with President Obama that in the 21st Century, “…a nation most valuable currency is the knowledge and skills of its people”. And like Sarah Brown Wessling (2010 National Teacher of the year, USA) said, “we need 21st Century teachers not just adults teaching in the 21st Century” to prepare our students for the future.

© Harry Tetteh