Slovakia is a small country. It cannot afford to be uneducated. Still, the country has been sinking in the PISA rankings that measure “smartness” by comparing results of educational systems. Many small countries rank ahead of Slovakia.
Countries such as Singapore, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Estonia, Finland, Slovenia, or Switzerland all make the PISA Top 20. We don´t.
We Are in This Together
Being a small country, Slovakia´s vital interest lies in catching up with global trends in education and changing its educational system as soon as possible. Schools have to start equipping our children with serviceable skills and knowledge.
Easier said than done, of course. In a world shifting with the ever-increasing pace of change, today´s vocations of the likes of web designer or data analyst were unheard of just a few years ago. And we can´t even imagine the professions that will be commonplace in a couple years´ time.
Last March, the Entrepreneurs´ Association of Slovakia cooked up the second edition of a conference on entrepreneurial education with a new main theme: Skills for an Uncertain Future – Don´t Prepare Graduates for the World We Live in But for a World of the Future. The event saw representatives of both the private sector and the teaching community discussing this important topic.
We cannot leave schools fend for themselves in this precarious situation. We need to put our heads together. All of us. From teachers, school directors, parents, through school operators, villages, towns, cities, municipalities, all the way to entrepreneurs, businesses and their representative organisations.
Only through intensified communication between all interested parties will we be able to help schools better prepare our children for an uncertain future.
What to Teach, and How?
Finding the answer to this question in this ever-changing world rests on three central pillars: knowledge, skills, and character. Our schools need radical and fast improvement in passing on key knowledge from technical and natural sciences, and maths.
The innovative method of teaching maths developed by professor Hejný is already being applied by hundreds of Czech schools. Despite Mr Hejný´s Slovak origins, his methods are much less known in his home country.
Another important facet currently lacking in Slovak elementary and high schools is skills development. Key skills are better known as the “4Cs”: critical thinking, creativity, communication, and collaboration. As founders of the Slovak Business Agency we initiated concrete steps to design the methodology of supporting and improving the teaching of these skills.
But what´s most important for any employer is character. Employers are looking for traits and capacities such as continual learning, endurance, strenuousness, and stress resistance.
The point of education should be reaching every child´s inner potential. The job of the school is to find it and support its flourishment. This will in turn help businesses, but they must first help schools.
Yes, Slovakia is small. But it can also be smart.