Educational leaders around the globe are being challenged by the fast-paced changes occurring across all markets and sectors. Increased internationalisation and globalisation call for innovative solutions requiring a plethora of critical and creative thinking skills.

In terms of world history, we have reached an inflection point for global education. Prior to the first Industrial Revolution, there was little requirement for higher education. With an average life expectancy of just 30 and the majority of people living in rural areas, survival rather than advancement was the main goal.

The idea that education should form a vital aspect of each child’s upbringing did not gain traction until around the mid-19th century. You can find out more about the impact of the first Industrial Revolution on childhood education in the embedded PDF.

Today, with a life expectancy more than double that of the year 1800 and increased demand for children and adults to be prepared for the demands of the new, industrialised societies we live in, higher education is more of a priority than ever before.

Domen Zavrl has a keen interest in learning society and the challenges currently faced by the global education industry.

Digital Transformation

One of the key areas of transformation taking place in education is in terms of digitalisation. In recent years, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a shift in the way education was delivered to millions of children worldwide. Lockdowns and social distancing resulted in education being delivered remotely online to children everywhere, with such periods lasting anywhere from a few weeks to several months at a time.

While there are still barriers to online access in some areas of the world, the pandemic ushered in an era of increased digitalisation in education, work and social activity. Even as the pandemic slows, the shift to an increasingly digital world continues. More employers and employees have realised the benefits of being able to work from home, whether that’s full-time or on a hybrid basis. In early 2022, data collected in the Opinions and Lifestyle Survey by the UK Government suggested more than 80% of workers intended to continue working from home for at least part of their working week.

The embedded infographic looks at some statistics for global mobile connectivity.

Digital Upskilling

Working from home is not the only disruption that has occurred across the work environment in recent years. The introduction and implementation of a variety of new technologies across multiple industries has resulted in a need for workers to be more tech-savvy. Our future workers therefore need to have more digital skills than ever before to navigate the challenges this will bring. Integrating digital upskilling into the education sector is a necessity as we move forward. The workers of tomorrow will be required to have digital expertise for almost any career choice, the foundations for which need to be set in schools.

The Changing Social Landscape

Sustainable Development Goal Four (SDG4) from the United Nations states a need to promote lifelong learning opportunities for everyone and ensure access to quality, equitable and inclusive education. The global social landscape is changing rapidly and there is more need than ever before for everyone to have access to education. Educators are therefore having to adapt their approach to create more inclusive learning programmes that incorporate multicultural dimensions and help to mitigate sociocultural and socioeconomic gaps among students.

The short video attachment looks at what is meant by the digital divide.