In Obama's vision 2020, one of the goals is to have an educational system that makes it extremely easy for anyone to get a University education and degree. Especially the people who couldn't afford a university education while growing up but are discouraged by the volume of course work and time required to get a degree now that they can financially afford it. They dread having to start from the scratch, put in same classes with their youngest child. Yet they would love to get a university degree.
And how is America trying to achieve this? Through competency-based education.
And here is how it works.
The current educational curriculum will be scrapped. We won't have to pass through Primary 1 to Primary 6, then JSS 1 to SS 3, and then do a regular 4 or 5 years university programme to get a BSc. The new curriculum will be skill/competence based. Every learning module will aim to teach you a specific and measurable skill. The new KG1 might be broken into 2 learning modules. One is to teach you to count from 1 to 1000. And the other is to teach you to read and write all the letters of the alphabet. No child will be mandated to spend a whole year in the KG1 class. If you achieve the learning objective (skill) in 3 months, you move to KG2 instantly. If your parents had taught you these before enrolling you in school, you'll skip KG1 altogether. And if it takes you 2 years to achieve this, you'll remain at KG1 for the entire 2 years. It's until you achieve the competency before you can more to others that depend on that particular skill.
But here's the big picture.
Last week Emeka was given a chieftaincy title at Anambra state in acknowledgement of his philanthropy and the huge employment opportunities his company is creating for youths of the state. But despite the fame and money, Emeka is not happy. He lost his parents at the age of 10 and had to stop schooling. He used to be the brightest boy in his class and enjoyed school. And though, he began living with his grandparents who couldn't afford to keep in him in school, he was always borrowing and reading the schoolbooks of his friends. His dream was to become a Doctor. But the death of his parents smashed it. And every year that passes reminds him of how impossible it is for him to go back to school and get his primary school leaving certificate, secondary school leaving certificate, scale JAMB, and do the stressful 7 years to become a doctor.
Then a miracle happens. I become the President (now you understand the miracle part; it will take a miracle for me to become a President). Then I institute the Competency-based education system. Now Emeka can realise his dream. He applies to University of Ibadan to study medicine. He is made to go through an intensive 2 days knowledge and skill test. They found out that his Use of English is good enough, his mathematics skill is good enough, his computer knowledge is good enough, his knowledge Biology is amazing perfectly and his knowledge of Physics is acceptable. They list out all the other competencies he must acquire to be considered for a spot in the University. Chief Emeka goes back home extremely happy. He hands over the day-to-day running of his company to his eldest son. Then spends the next 2 years acquiring all the requisite knowledge and skills he's deficient in.
He hires expensive personal tutors and does rigorous study. Then he goes back to University of Ibadan for another assessment. And this time, to the pleasant surprise of everyone, he meets all requirements and brilliantly too. And with that fervor, he begins his MBBS. 7 years later, he becomes Chief Dr Emeka Obi.
He is so happy he renovates Anambra state hospital with over a billion naira and begins working there as a junior doctor. He's finally living his dream.
And that's how revolutionary competency-based education is. It's like working in a bank, they don't care what your first degree is. They train you for the job and evaluate you regularly, and a Yoruba history graduate becomes a risk analysis expert. And that's what the modern world has turned to. It's no longer certificate based or years of formal school education based. It's competency-based, and recognizes skills you acquired in a non-formal education setting. It gives equal weight to same knowledge regardless of the mode of acquisition.
And that, my friend, is the future of education.