As the city cools off amidst a string of showers, so does the fervour that characterised this year’s Quest2Learn Summit. Weeks of relentless work had culminated in a two-day conference, inadvertently setting the standard for discourse around the future of work and learning.
In a freewheeling chat at the Bangalore International Centre, Aakash Sethi – CEO of Quest Alliance – sinks into a chair, ready to organize his thoughts and reflect on the days that passed by and what it means for the ecosystem. Excerpts:
We have just concluded the fourth edition of Quest2Learn Annual Summit. How have the conversations progressed year after year?
When we first started off, we began exploring the idea of the education-skills divide — how lack of quality education is affecting the problem around the skills development area. We kept this conversation going throughout the first year and reached the idea of anytime-anywhere-anyone learning. Up until then, the focal point was primarily systems change and systems thinking, which meant that we were channelising a lot of our energies on schools and training institutes.
However, to effect any change in those, one needs to first think of the world around the learner – comprising their family and friends – and understand that learning does not happen in a classroom alone. It develops in informal spaces as well, and we delved into that in the second edition of Q2L.
“This is not the kind of problem that will be solved in this generation. But instead of getting overwhelmed by its scale, we should borrow inspiration from practitioners in this space who are trying their best to solve these problems.”
The third one was a deep dive into how we look at the future of work and learning. We spoke a lot about what it takes to build trainers’ capacities to become 21st century educators; to be able to create those kinds of classrooms and learning experiences that prepares learners for a future that is unknown, yet exciting.
Continuing in the same vein, but with a dedicated focus on women and girls, we have tried to take this conversation a notch higher by taking a look at what it means to have an ‘inclusive’ future – one that does not leave behind 50% of the population. Additionally, we have examined aspects of STEM through the lens of what the future of jobs may look like. So this year, we have attempted to understand gender dimension, as well as the role of technology in creating a more inclusive learning experience.
Topic for last year was Future of Work & Learning, and it’s a running theme this year as well. Why did we feel the need to continue that discourse?
One summit is not enough to get our heads around these conversations. Moreover, some questions were left unanswered last year. For instance, this year we deeply explored the role of digital platforms in the new economy and examined the issues and challenges digital platforms are facing today. So, the conversation was not complete in the first one, and so we took it forward, in the hope that we complete it this time.
Do you see Quest Alliance is playing the role of an ecosystem builder. If so, why?
Q2L is a great space to talk about the tensions that exist between different stakeholders in the ecosystem. It is important to engage in those tensions because they lead to a certain kind of reflection. We have created a space for different stakeholders to be present and reflect on issues that affect them collectively. The conversations that come from such meetings lead to an imagination of what the future holds and what kind of realities and solutions emerge based on that. It is important to take all our stakeholders through that critical process of reflection, because that in turn creates much-needed solutions.
“We need to ask ourselves – are we really putting our heads together as a community to work on a problem? Or are we doing it in our own spaces?”
So in that context, Quest is playing a key role is creating a space where those critical conversations are happening and where solutions are emerging. In that sense, we are contributing to this ecosystem, giving an outlet for our partners to find newer perspectives and possibly, partners.