20 October, 2008

Today's six-year-olds reach Y12 in 2020...

In 1996, internet access was restricted and novel in global terms, today it is wireless and approaching potential ubiquity. So much has changed in technology in the last 12 years, how can we know what will 2020 look like? In education, how do we prepare children for a world we cannot predict? What should education be when information is just a few clicks away?

Here are some things we do know about the school leavers of 2020:
  • They will be competing for jobs on a global market.
  • They will be working with as yet undeveloped computational devices, many in still to be imagined industries, in digitally connected communities.
  • They will need 21st century skills to succeed: information literacy; critical thinking; innovation; creativity; open-ended problem solving; technological fluency...
In 2008 the people of the Pacific are facing challenges from poverty, climate change, globalization, natural and human-made disasters, rapid population growth and increasing rates of urbanizationi. These forces are impacting the natural environment, traditional cultures and practices, food security, local markets and livelihoods, communities and families.

Countries that fail to equip their children to meet present and future challenges will be at an even greater disadvantage when the not-so-distant future arrives. They will hand the baton to a new generation less able to support and raise their own families, and thus more vulnerable social disintegration. As adults, they will risk being left behind, a legacy they will pass on to their own children.

However we have options. We can choose the future. We can help the children of the Pacific secure their future livelihoods. We can give a child a laptop today which can extend her education, broaden her knowledge, expand her skills, and unlock her creative potential. We can provide a laptop to every child to help them make own extraordinary contributions to our complex and increasingly interconnected world. In many Pacific societies this means being better able contribute to the communal well-being of the family, the clan and the group.

It is up to today's leaders to ensure that this aspiration becomes reality. In this context laptops are not the answer but instead they pose a question: Do the children of 2008 in the Pacific deserve an education that will equip them for 2020? At a time when Australia, for example, is rolling out its Digital Education Revolution, delivering one laptop per senior child, the question for Pacific leaders is not whether laptops for children are appropriate, but whether they are going to be early or late in supplying them.

Under the auspices of the Pacific Plan, the Secretariat of the Pacific Community is working with countries and donor partners to deliver One Laptop per Pacific Child.

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