Children nowadays are forced to navigate a world increasingly uncertain — a post-pandemic world of climate change, automation, and rapid digitization. With the dynamic interplay between the pandemic, pre-existing inequities, and rapid technological change of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, returning to the status quo runs the risk of not only undermining the global economic recovery but also holding back the potential of an entire generation. To enable children to thrive, a priority must be placed upon the creation of learning systems conducive to fostering the skills that children, families, communities, and societies are truly in need, of both today and future.

And this is World Economic Forum’s vision for a future-proof Education 4.0 — a reflection of the LEGO Foundation’s ambition to reimagine education powered by innovative teaching methods so that children emerge equipped with skills, like critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, and collaboration. This is advantageous not only for children themselves but also for the economy, as demonstrated by the Forum’s most recent report titled the Economic Case for Education 4.0; It found that a worldwide improvement in students’ problem-solving capacity to the average level of today’s top ten scoring countries could boost the global economy by an additional $2.54 trillion.

In a forthcoming white paper, the LEGO Foundation has conducted its comprehensive review to determine how to make Education 4.0 a reality. And there is consistent evidence that links Playful Learning to the development of children’s holistic skills has been discovered; Play is the most natural way for children to not only learn to read and write, but also develop — physically, socially, cognitively, creatively, and emotionally. Yet, this is not consistently reflected in — much less translated into — education systems; And to change the systems to more accurately reflect this relationship between learning and play, it takes a mental shift and collaboration from parents, teachers, and policymakers, for the benefit of children and by extension societies.

Children who enjoy learning, as suggested by the Foundation, may potentially grow into adults who are better equipped to adapt to the changing workforce needs of dynamic economies. Vital to unlocking these skills, therefore, is investing in the workforce and encouraging teachers to teach in new ways using innovative teaching methods — methods that not only foster motivation, engagement, voice, and agency but also ensure children maintain their curiosity and enthusiasm for learning.

Fortunately, there is no need to reinvent the “wheel” as learning through play has been proven to be effective in other countries. Furthermore, as part of the global post-pandemic recovery, there is currently a unique window to identify opportunities for strategic investment to transform learning and reimagine education. It necessitates investment in the upskilling and innovative pedagogical development of the teaching workforce, as well as in the adoption of new assessment mechanisms and learning technologies.

To harness these opportunities to reimagine what learning can and should look like in the present and the future, systems should be inclusive, concentrate on the range of skills required, and leverage technological and pedagogical innovation to prioritize learners. Meanwhile, policymakers should make dedicated, visible public commitments to supporting the transformation of education and deliberately encouraging skills, as well as to a playful approach to education. All stakeholders — from governments and non-governmental agencies to businesses, investors, educators, parents, and caregivers, as well as learners themselves — have a part to play in supporting the growing movement to make Education 4.0 a reality so universal.