Modern Education System … A Glance Towards 21st Century

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The Introduction

This report, written by me, is part of a wide analysis on the twenty first century global education. It seeks to further our understanding of what has happened  to the world in both economic and social arenas and how those trends effect to the field of education. I hope the outcome of this report may benefit for many Sri Lankan students as this explains some evidence to broaden their knowledge about what these rocketed changes are and how to face them successfully.

Major trends of 21st century education

Booming popularity of the internet

The Internet has brought us a host of online education choices including everything from unscrupulous diploma mills to a myriad of so-called learning games as well as applications for nearly every subject, platform, and device. In part, higher education explores dozens of e-learning technologies (for example, electronic books, simulations, text messaging, podcasting, wikis, blogs), with new ones seeming to emerge each week. As a result of these attractive modes, this trend will continue. The Internet’s social layer is solidly in place so expect to see education delivered more broadly on the social grid.

For an instance, according to a survey conducted by a group of academic students of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in the year 1997, there were 10% of internet users in developed world. When it came to the end of the decade (2007) the number was raised to 62%. And surprisingly in 2012, the number has increased to 77%. On the other hand in the developing world, there were no users of the internet in year 1997, but gradually it increased up to 17% in 2007.Now finally, it has steadily reached to 32% at the end of 2012.

How it has revolutionary replaced the formal learning tools?

Further, the mobile technology including Wi-Fi, 3G and 4G facilities are giving learners a mobile access to all matters to meet the ever increasing demand in the field of education, even when they are travelling around the Metropolitan city areas or spending their holidays even in the countryside. As a result of these highly motivated updating and entertaining modern attitudes, the technological methods are emerging, but oppositely, traditional-supply side education, which is based on the local methodologies of the national curriculum, has been continuing to lose the demand day by day.

Assessments of the 21st century are different than the past

Most of the modern course providers demand research-based assessments to assess their students’ practical abilities rather than conducting formal examinations. So as research needs a deeper self- study to complete the assessments, even through surfing the internet, learning will be personalized more and more in the way of both portfolio content creations as well as learner-specific and contextually relevant evaluation in a more advanced perspective.

Several studies have reported cases related to the use of:

  • blogs to promote student collaboration and reflection.14
  • wikis for online student collaboration
  • podcasting is beginning to garner attention
  • discussions in the literature


A new subject in the school syllabus:

Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)

As a new subject of the school syllabus, ICT is rocketedly increasing the popularity among students not only in poor developing countries, but also in rich industrial countries as well. According to the definition, the ICT constitutes an extra ordinary resource base for the storing dissemination and sharing of information by strengthening inter cultural exchanges and democratic participation. This does offer new possibilities for providing access to education for large numbers and isolated communities with highly technological methods of visualization and simulation, and powerful means for storage of information. As the syllabus is locally created, if we invest wisely, ICT can help to preserve threatened languages (the best example is Sinhala, which is already in the endangered list) and cultural products while promoting inter-cultural learning and understanding.


Inter-cultural Education as a trend (21st century)

In every country one of the prime functions of education has been that of building a social cohesive society-one held together by shared values, purposes and activities. Until recently, most national education systems were designed to more or less impose one culture-usually that of the dominate race , class or political party or colonial power, while there has been almost as much black sliding as progress. Countries like Australia, Canada, New Zealand are beginning to understand that their diversity of culture is s treasure within and not a threat to social cohesion. This is the result of promoting a universal education system as a respond to ever increasing cultural diversity.


Internationalization of Higher Education

According to the rapid increasing globalization, which is defined as the floor of technology, economy, people, values, ideas across borders, is having a profound impact on the nature and function of higher education. On one hand it has been sharing much of the past century upper and lesser degrees which were limited for the middle class of the developed world among all other nationalities by breaking the conventional boundaries of local curriculums.

It is now accepted that, the globalization has increased the rate of internationalization in higher education. Even in traditional post secondary institutions, internationalization  initiatives include creating a more global curriculum  , fostering opportunities for students to study abroad , encouraging faculty and student exchanges, increasing international student recruitment efforts and exporting or importing programs have already established .

This trend has already created a great cultural awareness in many developing countries who believe that this trend of exporting brains can ultimately result in the removal of the best and brightest local students from their owner futures. As states by UNESCO, Cross border Higher Education encompasses a wide range of modalities from face to face instructions to distance learning. Student mobility has increased significantly over the past two decades. According to an example taken from a survey, four million students were studied abroad in 2004, a threefold increase over the number in 1980. African students are proportionately representing as the most mobile with every 1 in 10 students are studying abroad (2010) and our central Asian students are next in line. When considering the flying destinations of these student visa applicants, Australia can be considered as one of the primary destination for international students in OECD members countries.


Open Universities are now going global

Within the Open University movement, internationalization has manifested itself through direct distance delivery partnership arrangements and the open of branch campus operations .Most post-secondary institution believe that a cross- border experience is valuable to students in this globalized world.

A survey on this trend conducted by the International Association of Universities in 2005, Identified a majority of respondents considered internationalization as a gift which is extremely important to share international knowledge and intercultural skills among university students, faculty and staff members as the greatest benefit. They ranked commercialization and commoditization of higher education in a context of eroding national boundaries, as the key point.

Techniques use in modern education


As we all know, the history of world education is dominated by a teacher centered education system and most of the methods were rote learning theories passed down from a generation to another. When we compare that system that was based on the limited resources consisted by book as the main learning tool, today’s education approach is ultimately advanced than that period. Now we use the internet as our main source of information of study which has stored the data in Terra Bites (One Terra Bite of information is roughly equivalent to the amount on text printed on 40.25 million sheets of paper).So without a doubt we can identify the data in the Web is bigger than all the written materials of the human history. So the above example is given as a comparison between the global technology based education vs. conventional formal education.

Whether the system is modern or ultra modern, the global approaches should also be regulated with similar evaluation methods. Furthermore, the assessment criteria should fulfill with critical and creative thinking, hands-on performances, interactive labs, data analysis, and scientific simulations. According to many online teachers, those common academic activities are highly important in online learning environments.

Technology has played and continues to play an important role in the development and expansion of modern education. Accordingly, many universities have reported an increase in the use of modern tools. Over the past decade, countless efforts have sought to integrate emerging learning technologies into the teaching and learning process in higher education.


A summary of top ten global trends of education .

  • A global, knowledge –based society:

Ubiquitous and ever opening access to information creates a need for skilled workers who can transform information to meaningful, new knowledge. As a result of this demand, other than the Academic Institutions, we can see a great trend and a boom on Vocational Training Institutes sponsored or handling by both Government and the Private Sector.


  • The innovation is emerging:

Successful members of society will create innovative and contextually relevant applications for new society. Rather than seeing inventers as in the past, now we see the developments of those inventions under the well known, super model brand names of multinational companies. As a result, many parents encourage their children, or even the young by themselves select the course requested by those companies instead of going towards their inborn or generation talents.

As a good example, we can take Sri Lankan Advanced Level Examination in 2012 that represented 65% of students in Commerce scheme and further when the results released,  there were 6450 exam passers of commerce with three A(Excellent) grades out of the total number of 8660 three A achievers in all subjects.


  • Jobs are moving to developing areas:

Western companies have already learned that it makes sense to move industrial jobs off show .Today many companies are beginning to move creatively by offering  jobs to a market with lower labor cost .Specially they select the Asian Pacific Indian region and of course China which have represented a higher Literacy and a Numeracy, even though with  the highest unemployment rates. In this way the so called Western companies are able to find the required number of knowledgeable blue collars very easily for a minimum cost.


  • Personal success will require novelty at the individual level:

Standardization and centralization at the work place will give way to individualization and decentralization .Employees will be viewed and rewarded for their creative inputs as individual, not for the roles they could play as productive automatons. This creates a great gap between experienced based matured workers and newly arrived academic supervisors. And by seeking promotions, some matured workers are entering to the academic life again by considering it as a must to win their career rights of life.


  • Technology changes human relations: 

Advances in technology allow people to interact in new ways that were previously obscured by geographical, economic or social boundaries. When we analyze one by one; as a result of the development of air and land travelling, the gap between the urban and rural life styles are minimizing day by day. Secondly, rather than seeking the job security and permanency, the modern youth is temporary changing their career path one after another by seeking a never achievable best job with a never satisfying economic goals in life. According to my view, media is partially responsible for these chases and fantasies. Finally, the patriotic racism will come to a dead end and inter-community relationships will develop.


  • Jobs that exist today will not necessarily exist when today’s students finish school:

Why do we insist on preparing students for jobs that existence before they were born instead of for jobs that will exist when they finish school? This is a realistic and a heated discussion as we all have to come to a solution for the sake of next generation.

Essentially, this should be questioned by the governments, especially in third world countries like Sri Lanka. The never changing attitudes of conventional educational directors and the parents who chase their children towards nonrealistic, outdated degrees conducted by never internationally recognized provincial universities are increasing the stress of youth when they are facing to the interviews and seeking career after completing formal education.

One of the main organization who introduces and promotes the Global Education

United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization(UNESCO)

UNESCO and its partners, mainly UNICEF have worked by developing and assisting 180 countries around the world  by assessing their progress towards basic education for all (ESA) since 1990.

UNESCO 2010 showed that, most of developing countries are making a steady progress towards the goals of universal primary educational and reducing adult illiteracy, and despite their limited resources, countries like Bangladesh have made surprisingly good progress during the past two decades (1990 – 2010).

As a new trend, they recommend new subjects like ICT to the 3rd and 4th world countries because they believe that, the education as the key to alleviate poverty.


Global Education System is NOT 100% pure and democratic


As the world has already over-consumerized, globalization is the media of creating a person more and more materialistic. As a result of this influence, human dreams are becoming simpler like having the latest mobile phone is the ultimate dream of life. So, the purpose of the modern education is also created to fulfill the marketing demands set by globalization in a deeper way. That’s why, the social evils are increasing day by day , cause the technology never targets a spiritual society like religions. Finally, the negative influence of the system can return to the creators onwards.

The evidence suggests that even in rich countries, increases in income inequality are associated with increases in education and social inequality. For example, not only does the UK have one of the largest income gaps among OECT countries, it also has the highest proportion (19.4%) of young people 16 to 19 years who are neither attending schools nor employees.


Sometimes the modern international degrees offered by distance Universities are not recognized or even they are not applicable to the local environment needs. In addition to that, as most awarding bodies are privately governed, the trust-ability of those institutes are questionable.

A Monopoly

The price of some popular software are unbearable to the developed world. The knowledge is not equally dividing  as the system has copy right and patent laws. As an example,currently, 60% of internet hosts and 83% of the usage of the net are in the USA, and only 11% is outside first and second world countries.


As an ongoing process, educational goods and services are being rapidly privatized. As an example in North America, their second largest accounting is for the education and training industry with nearly 12% of GDP. Further, in 1997 the UK exported over hundred and forty million dollars worthy text books. World-wide the market for educational software now stands at an over four billion dollars.

There has also been a significant growth in the shadow education system- the world of private tutory. For example more than the half of the students in secondary school receive tutoring in countries like Japan, Mauritius and Republic of Korea.

If current global trends continue, commercial activity in educational goods and services can be expected to grow substentually and education itself will become more globalized.

Standards for educational performance are becoming international as we have seen from OECD’s educational at a glance.


My Opinion

To wind up my assessment, I prefer to stand in the side of modern education system. Whether it has some loop holes, it’s extremely advanced than most of the National Curriculums. Further I believe our Sri Lankan education system should definitely be changed according to the global perspectives. It would give more options to the hard working individuals to guarantee their future rather than unconsciously suicide after seeing their conventional result sheets.