The world has turned into a global village in more ways than we can imagine. Beside industry and business, educational competency is envisioned at the village (global) level as well.
Let’s start with a brief description of competency. It’s a standard set by a professional body against which the achievement of a child is judged. Take reading for example. Previously, each school had the liberty to decide how much a child should be able to read at the end of an academic year. Over time this standard was set by the educational department of a country. But as the means of communication improved and the trade policies liberated, each country was forced to improve the skills of its workforce, just to remain competitive in the world.
There’s only one way to improve the quality of workforce by improving the standard of education. And to do that we need to have the educational standards first. From mathematics to information technology, what students will be able to do at the end of an academic year have to be elaborate in tangible terms.
This is not an easy task. Two things have to be kept in mind when doing this exercise. You need to know: (i). What will be the needs of the world economy twenty years from now?
(ii). How much a child can acquire at a certain age level.
Knowing the future helps to identify the skills required for the next generation. That helps in preparing them for the coming challenges. Without knowing the demands of the future, the whole educational process can turn into an exercise in futile. Huge amount of resources may be wasted without making a significant change in children. There can be a mass of freshly graduates without knowing what to do, in case the competencies are not defined for them before hand in a very professional manner.
That’s the macro level of the designing of the competency standards. Next you start from future and go backwards all the way to preprimary classes, breaking up of the end targets at micro level. Big targets are broken down into smaller competencies for class, turning the whole learning process into even sized stairs.
This has to be done correctly by ensuring the selection of appropriate competencies for each age group. Not giving children sufficient amount of learning at a certain level can make them fall behind. The end target won’t be achieved if that happens. It can go the other way as well. You can frustrate a child by selecting an over challenging competency.
Once again, let’s take reading as an example: you can’t expect 5 year old children to read a 100 words essay fluently. But then the same children have to be provided with the right exposure to reading: a right exposure of reading that can enable them to read an essay when the time comes. In order to head towards the development of the reading competency of five year old children, where they can read and comprehend a 100 words essay, we have to develop the basic reading competency at this level.
To understand the scale of the effort that goes into the development of competency standards, think of:
(i). All the subjects that students have to study.
(ii). All the competencies that fall under each subject, then realize.
(iii). The break-up of multiple competencies of each subject into many more age appropriate ‘mini’ ….competencies.
You can well imagine that the total number of competencies goes well into hundreds, once experts get done with this activity.
And did we mention the cross curriculum integration of competencies? That’s where you try to develop a certain competency through various subjects. Creative writing is one such competency. It is a language competency that is also developed through social studies, science, and information technology. Making presentations is another one of those competencies that can be seen in language, science as well as social studies sections.
Now if you think you had enough competencies then wait, there’s more to come. The only development of competencies is the requirement set in the older version of the international competency standards. The revised versions call for the enhancement of thinking skills as well. That makes competency development more meaningful and effective for children. Thinking skills help children in making a better use of the competencies acquired.
The whole activity of competency development, starting from future need analysis to setting age appropriate competencies, is a tremendous activity requiring expertise in multiple disciplines. It can’t be done by a private organization rest alone by an individual. This type of work is better done at state level. Even at that level only a few countries have the capability to take up this task.