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Education needs to make a better connection with the demands of the 21st century.  International agreement has been reached on the development of skills on which education must focus. These are called 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking, problem solving skills, communication, collaboration, digital literacy, social and cultural skills and self-regulation.

There has been a great deal of research into and discussion about education. In the last few years, there was growing consensus that the traditional and knowledge-based form of education was insufficient to prepare learners for the increasingly complex society in the 21st century.

This has to do with a changing society: ICT has become very important, organizations need to be more flexible and they are asking for more flexible employees, knowledge outdates much faster, and also traditional jobs are replaced by jobs as yet unknown. This means that we do not know exactly what we are educating learners for. All of this requires a broader way of education and people’s willingness to lifelong learning. Research focuses on re-designing education to make a better connection with the demands of the 21st century. In the meantime, international agreement has been reached on the development of skills on which education must focus. These are called 21st century skills: creativity, critical thinking, problem solving skills, communication, collaboration, digital literacy, social and cultural skills and self-regulation.

In recent years, many schools have tried to introduce 21st century skills into traditional education practice. This proved to be complex, because of insufficient innovation capacity of the schools. Schools  need to change their way of education and this affect the whole education structure: not only does learning take place in school, but also outside school. Subjects are not only taught independently of each other, but are integrated into each other within a project. In addition, it is important to involve the school community more in learning. Parents, policy makers, as well as local organizations can use their many years of knowledge, experience and own network to further improve education and ensure that current learners can become responsible citizens of the 21st century. In order to achieve all of this, it is important that the innovative capacity of the schools will be increased. The Open Schools for Open Societies project aims to achieve this through the implementation of an ‘open school’ approach at primary and secondary schools in Europe. An open school imports external ideas that challenge internal views and beliefs and schools use these insights to innovate education.

This ‘open school’ approach asks for closer collaboration between a school and its community in different fields. Organizations can contribute to learner projects, but they can also support the school by increasing their innovation capacity. To find out more about Open Schools for Open Societies and become part of this project, contact the participating schools or the National Coordinator

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