Re-engineering The Education System to Fit The 21st Century.

Last week, a friend sent me a link that was subtly hinting on the fact that QC and QA will finally disappear from industry. That was a red light confirming my thoughts of ages. It may not happen tomorrow but it may happen in the future. Again it may not phase out the field completely, but a huge junk may be taken over by machines as it has already began.

Warren G. Bennis, a professor of Business Administration at University of Southern California and a once advisor to Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy remarked;

“The factory of the future will have only two employees, a man and a dog. The man will be there to feed the dog. The dog will be there to keep the man from touching the equipment.” This may not be far from becoming true.

Most of the modern businesses are being built in away such that they can be systems dependent and not people dependent. It simply means that it is very possible for most businesses nowadays to operate minus the people.

The increased development in the technology sector has brought about a paradigm shift in how things are done. From the huge computers to the laptops and palm tops, there have been a great change in terms of skills and knowledge. In manufacturing, the people have been gradually eliminated and automation together with robotic systems have taken over the production floor. This calls for a re-fashioning of ourselves to perfectly match the market demands and needs.

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This century calls for adaptive education; one that solves challenges. Photo Courtesy of Raban Haaijik

In the early 1900’s, it was unheard of for a robot to be given citizenship. In the 21st century, it has happened before our very eyes. Back in the days, fields such as information technology were not there. Programmers, web designers, computer engineers were very uncommon. Pursuing an education in those fields was like digging a grave. The people were uncertain of the computer and internet sustainability.

Buying and selling was a physical thing as opposed to a virtual thing. People interacted on a one on one basis, something that is being replaced with social media. Marketing was done by use of physical sales people and perhaps radio. People did the actual packaging and labelling and so people went to school to learn how to manage the people, how to label and package and the like.

Education then, was taught in accordance to the practices of that time. A lot has changed and so is the need for us to changes the education system to match the current needs. To remain relevant in today’s market, one has to sniff opportunities and project what the future will look like. They can then align themselves to match that future.

What to teach and learn in the current age.

In my view, the Kenyan education system should ensure that our engineering students learn more of the mechanical systems for manufacturing, assembling and repairing robotic systems. It has always been said that one market disruption brings about a whole lot of opportunities. Programmers have a new line of sojourning; programming the most precise, automated machines and robots.

The business school should start teaching students to be job makers instead of job seekers. Their job creation however should be in the emerging areas. They should centre themselves around big data and analytics, robotics, e-commerce, automation, cyber security, cloud computing, virtual reality and augmentation.

Entrepreneurship in the area of agricultural technology should be taught. Agriculture driven by technology, innovation and powered by data scientists should drive the sustainability goal dealing with feeding the masses. Food is a basic need and should remain so. With the rapid growth in population, we need modern farmers to feed all these people.

The market of the future of course will be virtual. Sales and marketing schools should be teaching the people about online marketing, statistical modelling of consumer trends, 24-hour clock online customer care system and biggest of all e-commerce. Buying and selling todays happens virtually and it is expected to become huge going forward.

Research and development specialists should start to look seriously at ways of improving life. They should also consider improving the manufacturing practices in automated systems. For instance they should create robots that repair other robots so that humans can only repair the master robot.  We look forward to travelling to mars and even Jupiter and do mining there or even live there. We expect to use systems and machines that can sustain even accidents. A tall order? Somebody is trying somewhere.

Intelligence should be transferable courtesy of the Biotechnologists. Could it be that we have not explored DNA to the best of our ability. We need to encourage creativity in our education systems. In encouraging it, we enable creativity in the arts section that requires real skills and on the other hand we encourage innovation and invention in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.)

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This century needs out of  the box thinking.

So how do we ensure we achieve this? We begin to wire an all-round thinking in our young children by beginning to focus on specific areas which the child shows preference. Over time, they will become aptly interested and super focused. Once the mind is really focused, it only gets limited by circumstances and not other people’s choices or even environment.

After all, the new education system is indeed very well suited to achieve all those if the intentions creating it are kept. That will not be enough though, we will need an enabling systems and environments. Well-equipped labs and up to date revised instruction manuals. The trainers should also be competent and inspiring enough to spark the greatest ability in the students.

The instructors on the other hand should be well cared for. They should be paid adequately and in the right rates. Parents should also begin to observe the preference of the children and give them all the necessary support towards the areas they show passion in.

As we re-engineer the system, I hope we will train doctors that we will trust to engineers we can trust to build the electric train to computer scientists who will build the super computer right here in Kenya. I look forward to the time I will enter into partnership with the next Kenyan made Bill Gates or even Jeff Bezos. It will be a grand fulfillment of a dream. Let us re-engineer our education system to revolutionize the country and continent.

I look forward to such a time. I too have a dream.


Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege

Geoffrey Ndege is the Editor and topical contributor for the Daily Focus. He writes in the areas of Science, Manufacturing, Technology, Innovation, Governance, Management and International Emerging Issues. For featuring, promotions or support, reach out to us at
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