Education: Will revolution really mean evolution? / by Daniel Ghio



Will revolution really mean evolution?

There's an education revolution happening in Gibraltar. We keep hearing those words "education revolution" ad nauseam from politicians and people on social media and it's no secret that our schools are in DIRE need of an overhaul... a revolution. Bishop Fitzgerald for example, is an embarrassment to the community because of the state of disrepair it's in and the conditions the children and teachers are enduring. Without getting involved in the whole who has/who hasn't been consulted or if the choices made are what we need... Something caught my attention recently which left me a bit bemused and sorry to disappoint, this won't have anything to do with RED VS BLUE party politics or the ZONE 2 parking.

At the Together Gibraltar Education debate (I'll link the video below if anyone is interested) last week, one of the panellists mentioned that in Gibraltar today, we're not offering COMPUTING as a subject at any level due to not having anyone available to teach it. Instead, we're still doing ICT as a subject... I finished education in Gibraltar around 2008 and I was doing ICT throughout GCSE and A-Levels and it never pushed me, inspired me or taught me anything I already didn't know. It was very basic knowledge of computers with the whole Microsoft Office package thrown in for good measure. Computing on the other hand is more geared towards Computer Science and will teach you more on how computers work, the engineering, how they process data, algorithms and will push you towards learning programming.

In 2008 the gaming industry (for example) in Gibraltar was already well established here, the tech sector in that industry is a massive pillar which holds their business together. What makes me bemused is how in the education system, in the last 10/15 years there wasn't the foresight or forward planning to say:

"Hey! This gaming industry (and the whole business industry today) has a massive computing industry wrapped around it, why don't we start offering Computing, Programming, Networks or any of the plethora subjects that our kids can learn about, study and potentially land a future job on or even start a new company?"

It's not like this whole thing of the internet, computers, servers etc... happened overnight and I'll use myself as an example... I continue to be a geek/techie at heart. Growing up, I enjoyed learning about computers, fixing them and tinkering with them, both from a hardware and software perspective and most of it, I taught myself from a young age on online forums and via trial and error. The education system in Gibraltar didn't teach me anything I didn't already know on computers. I wanted to learn the technicalities in computing growing up, I wanted to learn more about programming, web development etc... and the education system back then didn't really have the tools and resources to teach it. That was 10 years ago and that is exactly why I find it quite shocking that 10 years on, we're still in the same situation. How can we have not prepared or had the necessary tools and resources allocated to teach young students in the education system in the last 10 + years? 

Look at all the startup tech companies founded in the last 10 to 15 years, many of them, founded by young recently graduated individuals, most of them, studying such things as Computer Science from a young age, for example:

  • Facebook, founder Mark Zuckerberg - Started Facebook in his dorm room whilst studying Computer Science.
  • Instagram, founders Kevin Systrom & Mike Krieger - A programmer and Software Engineer who met whilst studying at Stanford University.
  • Snapchat, CTO and Co-Founder Bobby Murphy -  Studied Mathematical and Computational Science at Stanford.
  • Twitter, co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey - Computer programmer who came up with the idea of Twitter whilst studying at New York University.

This list can go on and I've only used examples in social media though the same can apply to the inception of many large companies in different industries out there today.

So back to education revolution... It's a subject I'm invested in because my own 7-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, will undoubtedly be affected by whatever decisions we make today so I just hope this revolution does not simply consist of shiny, new, eye candy buildings and a lick of paint or two. I sincerely hope this education revolution encompasses a wide magnifying look at our education approach and what tools, resources and subjects (is it true that hairdressing will be one of the new available courses in the new comprehensive schools? Is THAT the flagship vocational course we want to showcase as our ticket for the future?) we can provide our youth (AND TEACHERS) today, that will benefit everyone in 10 years when they have finished full time education.