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Is Education ready for the 5th industrial revolution?

Our world has evolved along the four industrial revolutions. In a very clear way, the main goal of this upcoming new industrial revolution is to include the missing piece: humanity. Regardless of the strengths of the last four, it is now time for the fifth one to be the answer to the weaknesses the others left. Esben H. Østergaard, founder of Universal Robotics, asserted that: “This desire for mass personalization forms the psychological and cultural driver behind Industry 5.0, which involves using technology to return value added by humans to manufacturing”. Education is one of the most important parts of one’s life. However, the evolution of our educational systems does not seem to follow the same pace as the progression of technology. Given that, is education really preparing students for the current society of constant high-tech evolution?

Truth is with the 5th industrial revolution on the horizon our classrooms look the same as they did during the 1st industrial revolution. Of course, there are some noticeable changes, especially in the current pandemic context in which education became highly dependent on online schooling. Notwithstanding, the use of technology is not as big in schools as the ancient ways of: table, book and pen. So, isit not time to shift the educational system globally? The conversation regarding this matter has sparked interest globally in the recent years. However, many of the projects developed by now fit into the “Education 4.0”, in other words, education in the context of Industry 4.0, and not of the incoming fifth revolution.

In a World Economic Forum study regarding Education 4.0, we are given a framework of key contents (global citizenship skills, innovation and creativity skills, technology skills, interpersonal skills) and key experiences (personalized and self-paced learning, accessible and inclusive learning, problem-based and collaborative learning, lifelong and student-driven learning) to make education 4.0 possible.

Nonetheless, some countries and institutions have focused on working towards Education 5.0. For instance, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education, Science and Technology Development in Zimbabwe has embraced Education 5.0. Given that, it now expects that education not only impliesteaching, researching and community serving but also innovating and industrializing the country. To achieve such goal, two of their essential changes are: 1. implementing a job-creator (JCR) mindset so the state university identifies and explores economic opportunities in their host communities; 2. working in the industry solutions provider (ISP) mode, this way the university is the one to reach out to industries in their host communities, identify their problems and find virtuoussolutions.

However, Japan seems to be the only country working on getting completely ready for the upcoming industrial revolution by planning their concept of Society 5.0. The main changes they await are in areas like healthcare, mobility, infrastructure and fintech. In what comes to education Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japan’s education minister, declared that “In the era of Google, people no longer need to memorize every single fact. Many tasks today are best carried out by computers. Therefore, the emphasis must be on human skills such as communication, leadership and endurance, as well as curiosity, comprehension and reading skills.” Hayashi also says that some important key shifts would be allowing grade progression to be more flexible as well as requiring a more cross-disciplinary approach and improving liberal arts education.

In brief, the shift from our current methods of education to ones ready to adapt the students to the upcoming changes caused by the 5th industrial revolution keeps getting more crucial as time flies by yet seems far to come to reality. Although we cannot deny that the need for educational evolution is global, we cannot also face it as one single machine that evolves equally everywhere. Nevertheless, it is also obvious that such could only happen if every country in the world had the same tools to work with as, for example, Japan but, unfortunately, reality is not this utopic. Considering that, we still have a long path to walk for the sake of attaining this goal on a global scale.


Este texto faz parte de uma série de textos de opinião de alunos do ensino secundário e superior sobre a sua visão do ensino e da educação.

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