OPINION | The Need for Education to be Designed around Active Citizenship
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OPINION | The Need for Education to be Designed around Active Citizenship

By Dr. Geetika Saluja

OPINION | The Need for Education to be Designed around Active Citizenship

Image Attribute:  Fanny Schertzer used under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

The need for building a smarter and sustainable world is pressing and urgent. Students of today are the future of tomorrow and therefore need to be informed and educated with tools to tackle the challenges we will face while transforming our city into smart cities.

In the twenty – first century, mastery of the basic skills of reading, writing, and math is no longer enough.  Work, learning, and citizenship in the twenty-first century demands that we all know how to think – to reason, analyze, weigh evidence, solve problems and to communicate effectively. They are no longer the skills that only the elite in a society must master; they are essential survival skills for all of us.

It seems that the longer our children are in school, the lesser curious they become. Even the best of our schools were never designed to teach all students how to think, to finding solutions to social, economic and environmental challenges. A few learned such skills in school more by accident than by design.

In the world of changing technology and lifestyle, there is a need to design curriculum with all three Ps: P(people)–P(Planet)-P(Profit). For the most part, teachers haven’t been trained or curriculum designed around students gaining tools and strategies to help them make necessary changes to tackle pressing sustainability issues in their own spaces.

In today’s scenario, the method of imparting education needs a review with a focus on collaborative, cooperative and active participation, wherein students are directed implicitly in taking initiatives leading to understanding their role and contribution in transforming their own cities, to be smart and sustainable ones. Students understand various local, global perspectives and solutions which exist around the world and take informed decisions.

A true democracy is one wherein citizens, along with the elected government, can participate directly in the process of decision making. For this, the future voters of our city i.e our students in the age group of  12 to 15 years, should be given practical experience of planning a city they want to live in, keeping into context how urban planners plan a city around Social infrastructure, Economy and livelihood, Cultural infrastructure, Networked infrastructure, Housing for all, Environment and, landscape.

They should participate in understanding the government, especially city governance and urban democracy, and draw a relation between urbanization and sustainability, as well its intra-generational, inter-generational implications

Through this, we can be assured that citizens of smart city will be able to draw link between sustainable development and social justice, understand liveability, and inculcate a good civic sense. Our education system will then play an instrumental role in transforming today’s knowledge accumulator and processors to tomorrow’s knowledge creators and designers.

About the Author:

Dr. Geetika Saluja is a distinguished academic consultant with Ph.D. in Education, and Cooperative Learning from Calorx Teachers' University and currently working as Head, Centre For Excellence at Varmora Granito Pvt Ltd.

AIDN0030120170044 / INDRASTRA / ISSN 2381-3652