HAIYA BOKHARI - In the last few decades humanity has taken incredible strides. With the progression of modern day technology and its rapid evolution, the world as we know it is in constant flux. What might have been the ground reality yesterday is no longer applicable today; the ebb and flow of change sweeps the canvas clean each morning. Ideals and skills that were prized above all even a decade ago in schooling are now considered dated methodologies and can no longer equip children to deal with the beast our world is transforming into. With the status quo updating as quickly as tweets, there is no way forward except through dialogue.

The world is no longer our playground. We are not the generation of tomorrow; that title belongs to the mass of children currently enrolled in school, those whose future we can’t forecast but can definitely help shape. While we can’t see what the future holds for the next generation, we can prepare them for it by understanding the demands of our own time better. This is why programs like Beaconhouse’s School of Tomorrow are vital, not just for parents but for society in general.

What is the School of Tomorrow (SOT) series? An initiative of the Beaconhouse Group’s corporate social responsibility, the SOT model which started in 2000, initially focused on internally improving schooling methods and in 2015 has evolved to including and analyzing how a host of extraneous factors such as literature, art, culture, the global security situation and geopolitical realities affect both the student population as well as the educators in today’s rapidly evolving world.

While the SOT was originally planned to span 3 cities; Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad, currently only Karachi is hosting with Lahore and Islamabad scheduled for 2016, which will make SOT the largest non-profit cultural and educational festival in Pakistan. It is also the first of its kind that is open to the general public and caters to every age group with entertainment thrown in for good measure.

Karachi’s SOT will be held for 2 days at the Beach Luxury Hotel on 28th and 29th November. Entry is free of cost and will have panel discussions, keynote talks, short film screenings by children across Pakistan as well as workshops and talks from noted experts. Special guests and panellists featured include Dr. Pervez Hoodhboy, RafayAlam, Jibran Nasir, Carl Rogers, David Cole who will be speaking on a diverse array of subjects ranging from Educating for Peace: Schooling in an Age of Conflict, keeping your child digitally safe and art as a medium of teaching across systems.

The belief that SOT has an integral part to play in shaping how the schooling system functions in Pakistan is buttressed by some of the themes it aims to introduce to mainstream dialogue. These themes include the importance and value of how geopolitics affects a child who is now more of a global citizen than the product of one country, the trials of parenting in the digital age as well cultural appropriation through entertainment. It addresses pop culture phenomena such as dubbed cartoons that are now ever popular with children, irrelevant of their social standing, gender, racial or religious denomination. The affect that global issues tend to impress on our children’s psyche is an oft overlooked topic in current debate. SOT aims to address this through an in depth look at how security issues the world over shape our perspective and even to some degree influence our national identity and how Pakistan fits into the international picture.

SOT aims to celebrate Beaconhouse’s commitment to giving back in over 40 years of operations and to apply the lessons learnt in that period to further grow, evolve and improve Pakistan’s educational climate. To that effect, SOT is initiating necessary dialogue that will be beneficial not only to the students that are our responsibility but to their parents as well who are often unheeded in the fast paced world of today. Those who want to learn more about the festival can visit schooloftomorrow.beaconhouse.net.