The ground realities behind the phrase ’learning’ in Pakistan is most similar to the young man at the local car workshop, who grasps the expertise to point out the problem with the car engine. Even though he was never been able to afford his school fee still manages to deliver more level of understanding to the automobile as compared to the owner of the car. This dichotomy is multifaceted due to non-existent podium of opportunities where he is able to outshine his skills, non-operational governmental policies and an undefined methodology of education. Thus, the word education must be redefined in order to improvise the concept of 21st century education.

Certainly, the recent pandemic has manifested the concept of interdependence and how state institutions are largely dependent on skilled labour for smooth running. And how every individual is a contributory factor for the elevation of the system. Therefore, the end product must prove to be expedient rather than taking the form of brim-full impractical encyclopaedias. Long have gone those days where rote learning individuals would be able to take top positions in the government and private sectors. The future jobs now demand a league of labour that has skills and innovation in them. Although this can only be made possible if we start thinking on lines of revolutionising our education policies. First of all, amendments must be made in terms of modernizing the methodology, structure and content in schools and universities. Secondly, it is important to change the belief system in terms of ‘acceptance to evolving times’.

The real purpose of 21st century education is motivated by the belief that teaching the students most relevant, useful in demand and universally applicable skills should be prioritized in schools and universities. However, due to globalization, information and knowledge are increasing at such an astronomical rate that no one can master all the information about one subject. What proven true today could be false tomorrow and jobs that students get after they graduate may not yet exist. For this reason students need to be taught how to use and process information in the most effective manner. They need to learn adaptable skills they can apply in all areas of life. Emphasis needs be placed on understanding the concepts and on applying critical thinking to real-life based scenarios. Ability to collaborate and work in teams must be instilled as well as the use of technology, ability to conduct research and chance to learn about career opportunities. Also civic, ethical and social justice, literacy as well as humanitarianism must be part of compulsory learning skills.

A country like Pakistan with such a strong culture and belief system also needs to have an insight on learning ‘life skills’ which could form the foundation for the promotion of mental well-being, and healthy interaction and behaviour. Effective acquisition and application of life skills can influence the way we feel about ourselves and others, and equally will influence the way we make decisions and impact others.

The smart phones penetration rate in Pakistan in 2020 is more than 51 percent. Still the concept of promoting ‘educational technology and online learning’ has never been taken into thoughtful consideration. Learning how to use search engines and how to review information for credibility as well as being aware of internet safety skills is highly imperative.

Undoubtedly, Pakistan faces significant education challenges and one of them is being unable to deliver qualitative education. This could be due to lack of facilities to advance the quality of education being provided or financial inefficiency of educational budget. However, the government could sow the seeds by provision of at least free WIFI access across the country. The policy makers can focus on adoption of such education reforms that have an equity focus from the beginning. Article 25 (A) categorically stresses the need for equal opportunity. However it is not possible to accomplish this if the private sector educational institutes are trying to sail the 21st century boat while the public sector institutes have not even learnt the basics of sailing. The geographic diversity, cultural and social variations can be disintegrated by shaping a uniformed education system by adoption of advance common standards of curriculum.

The 21st century education is not a short term agenda with the goal to streamline the provision of education at primary and secondary school level. It is an identified plan to potential contribution in economic growth with major focus on increase in number of skilled workers, improvement in professional development and to unleash creativity and innovation amongst Pakistan’s 200 million human capital. To move forward in education requires the national and provincial governments to coordinate and collaborate on instilling the prerogatives of skills based learning and goal oriented mechanism. Hence, we need to realise that new social contract is different, as only people who have knowledge and skills to negotiate constant change and reinvent themselves for new situations will only succeed.