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The more important ‘loss’ or ‘deficit!’

May 13,2023 - Last updated at May 13,2023

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about the "educational loss", or deficit, that is linked to the COVID-19 pandemic as the primary, if not the sole, cause.

This pandemic, the argument goes, deprived many students, if not all of them, of learning opportunities that were estimated, according to official statements, to be more than half of what should have been achieved if the pandemic hadn't occurred and disrupted the educational process in various ways.

If these percentages, based on a scientific assessment of the situation, are accurate, they are truly significant and indicate the existence of a fundamental educational loss that is not only concerning but also worrisome.

Discussing the loss, as seen from this specific angle, is important in order to diagnose the problem and compensate students for what they have missed in terms of learning opportunities.

However, there is another type of “educational loss”, or deficit, that is rarely discussed in these terms, i.e. as a “loss", though many people mention it in other contexts and in different terms.

By the “loss” or “deficit”, at this level, we mean what students miss or lose under the current "normal" situation due to the many shortcomings and embedded flaws in our education system itself.

It is widely known that our school education system, despite some reforms here and there, some of which are effective while others are merely peripheral or cosmetic, remains a traditional system overall that does not adequately keep up with emerging developments.

It primarily focuses on basic and lower skills, most of which fall at the bottom level of Bloom's taxonomy.

And most of these skills are no longer useful in our contemporary context, especially when considering the skills required in the Fourth Industrial Revolution era, and now the dawning artificial-intelligence revolution.

Our system still neglects or does not give sufficient emphasis to the “higher” and more relevant skills demanded in the job market and in life.

These skills include critical thinking, analytical thinking, creative and innovative thinking, entrepreneurship, communication and design skills, cultural and personal skills, and others.

 Instead, the focus is on outdated or less important skills, with memorisation and recall being at the top of the list.

There are reputable studies and reliable indicators, both official and unofficial, that explicitly indicate this deficiency or flaw in our system. However, we have not taken sufficient steps toward remedying what amounts to a chronic malady yet.

It is important to keep in mind that no one hires graduates simply because they have more information than others. All information is available at the click of a button, and there is no need to cram it into a person's head.

People are employed based on the practical skills possessed by the job applicant, and among the most important of these skills are the ones mentioned above.

Therefore, as long as our school-education system does not succeed, first and foremost, in equipping individuals with the required higher-level and relevant skills, and secondly, exploring and tapping into individuals' great capabilities, potentials, and talents, which are not less than the abilities, potentials, and talents of their counterparts in developed countries; then, in our belief, this is the real “loss” or “deficit” that we should be talking about today and developing effective plans to address.

 It is not just the loss of information and basic skills during the pandemic that should concern us.

We do not underestimate the importance of the “loss” or “deficit” that occurred during the pandemic, as mentioned earlier. However, the “loss” or “deficit” that should worry us more, energise our efforts, and mobilise our resources is the one resulting from the shortcomings inherent in our educational system itself, which we, directly and indirectly, have been talking about for decades without taking effective action until now.

The loss or deficit at this latter level is the more substantial one, in our opinion.

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