Speak Up in a #play2learn Twitter Chat on Aug. 26

Photo courtesy of Tanoker - Ledokombo, a learning project in Indonesia that offers lessons in reading, writing, and mathematics, as well as sports, cooking, dancing, art, and music at the request of children.

India is set to become the youngest country in the world by 2020. Many people, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believe that a young workforce will drive and implement innovation across the subcontinent.

But others, like Vishal Talreja*, co-founder of the skills-building organization Dream a Dream, know that before a “digitial India” delivers education to rural villages via broadband, big challenges in the learning sector must first be tackled. The majority of young people from vulnerable backgrounds never see higher education. And 25 percent of teachers fail to show up to schol every day, explain Sharath Jeevan and James Townsend in Stanford Social Innovation Review: "You’ll often find those who do show up reading the newspaper or chatting in the staff room rather than teaching -- let alone teaching high-quality lessons."

But there are solutions, including those that redefine the role of the classroom, and the thinkers in that learning space.

“The complexity that my parents grew up with is much lesser than what I grew up with and the world I live in. The complexity that the children that we work with will face in this world is going to be much, much larger than what I faced,” Talreja said.

“One of the most important skills that we believe children need is the ability to respond -- and the ability to respond with empathy. That's one of the reasons why we choose life skills: creative thinking, critical thinking, ability to manage conflict, ability to overcome difficulties and solve problems, ability to work with one another, ability to take initiative.”

Talreja’s philosophy is shared by other innovator-educators, including Padmanabha Rao, founder of the Rishi Valley Institute for Educational Resources (RIVER), where children explore and learn at their own pace in multi-grade classrooms, and Kabir Vajpeyi*, who opened the Vinyas Centre for Architectural Research and Design to turn stale classroom settings into vibrant shared learning spaces for children.

India’s leaders aren’t the only ones to recognize the need to re-imagine learning.

China will be home to nearly 1.4 billion people by 2020 and, as pointed out by the Brookings Institute, its aging population and shrinking labor force will “require education reforms to boost productivity,” even as higher-education enrollments have tripled.

"Education must face modernization, the world, and the future,” said China's Deputy Director General of Basic Education Wang Dinghua in 2010. "We need to shift from a nation with large human resources to a nation with strong human resources.”

SPEAK UP!

Join us to discuss how the world’s youngest country in a few years, India, and its neighbors in Asia and Oceania, will be teaching its thinkers and problem solvers to lead in an ever-changing world. Join a discussion about how projects that are exploring new learning processes -- especially those with a focus on play and whole-child development, like Indonesia’s Tanoker project, which uses music as a teaching tool (see photo above) -- can make Asia’s great potential for social and economic transformation into a reality.

And be sure to let us know about some of your favorite learning innovations, and the education entrepreneurs behind them.

Join us between 3- 5 p.m. Indian Standard Time on August 26 for a Twitter chat, moderated by @changemakers, to share your thoughts, ask burning questions, and hear insights from leading innovators in learning.

To participate, simply log-in to Twitter at 3 p.m. (10:30 a.m. BST / 5:30 a.m. EDT), search the hashtag #play2learn, and be sure to include it in your tweets so that your contributions show up in the chat stream.

*Kabir Vajpeyi, Kiran Bir Sethia, and Vishal Talreja are Ashoka Fellows in education.