Venguswamy Ramaswamy discusses how TCS iON is preparing the ‘gems of tomorrow’ as ‘nation builders of the future’ by equipping students with skills beyond just academics.
In this 21st century, students are expected to constantly prove their mettle by navigating through more skills, capabilities and competition. Much of what students typically learn in schools today will no longer be relevant by the time they graduate from college. A recent Oxford University study found that 47 percent of today’s jobs will be eliminated over the next 20 years! Now consider this — most schools across our country are still largely focused on rote learning with very little input on the additional skills required to survive in this increasingly complex, competitive and rapidly changing world. The future is beyond academics just as careers are beyond the conventional ones.
SKILLS FOR THE FUTURE
In a society where routine jobs are getting increasingly automated, the best way to prepare for the future is to develop the ability to continuously learn, adapt and be flexible. Educators, academic researchers and policymakers agree that for today’s learners, 21st century skills such as creativity, curiosity, perseverance, adaptability, critical thinking, effective communication, collaboration and lifelong learning are more important than ever before.
With a vision to help schools and students across the country gain a strong understanding of these much-acclaimed 21st century skills, TCS iON has created IntelliGem — a first-of-its-kind meta-academic platform set in a unique contest mode. The goal of this national-level contest is to ignite a spark among educators and young minds and push the boundaries of growth beyond the school curriculum.
EQUIPPING STUDENTS FOR THE DIGITAL AGE
The topics covered in the IntelliGem contest are financial literacy, communication skills, creativity and innovation, global citizenship and universal values. These have been carefully chosen to give the necessary exposure to students during their formative (school) years. The jobs of the future will depend on human collaboration to design work for machines. Value is moving from cognitive skills to social skills. In the past, schoolwork was assessed on individual accomplishment. Today, teamwork and collaboration have become an important key to success.
A century ago, most scientific research was written by single authors; by the 1950s, it changed to co-authorship as the norm. Today, an average paper has four times as many authors as it did a century ago. Also, academic research is far more interdisciplinary, and is often conducted across greater physical distances than it was in the past. To co-ordinate all that activity and keep everyone focused on delivering a specific, high-quality experience, communication must be clear and coherent. Skills in collaboration will increasingly give a competitive advantage.
Routine jobs are the ones that are being replaced by automation. However, jobs requiring skills such as creativity, innovation, compassion and empathy are those, which are unlikely to be taken over by machines. The absence of empathy makes it difficult for machines to do what humans have excelled in — designing products or processes that will maximise utility for humans. Thus, design and creative skills are likely to be in high demand for decades to come.
INTELLIGEM PAVING THE PATH
Students from grades 5 to 9 from all over India can participate in TCS iON IntelliGem, which is conducted every year. In its second edition, which is underway, students from 100+ towns across the country are competing. Structured as a four-round contest moving from digital, phygital, to face-to-face rounds, IntelliGem is unique in every way — be it in using the patented TCS iON PAPERTM device to completely remove the need for printed paper or in providing digital learning content free of cost. The Teachers Network in the TCS iON Digital Hub platform significantly enhances ease of access for both students and teachers to learn and upgrade their skills, and thus keep up with the values of respecting the efforts of all the young student finalists and not just the winner and runners-up as it usually happens at contests with similar formats.
With initiatives like IntelliGem, TCS iON is well positioned to become a strong partner for the school education ecosystem.