EDUCATION NEVER ENDS
E. Malitikov, Chairman of the Interstate Committee of the CIS on promoting knowledge and adult education, President of International Association “Znanie”
“… Small, in comparison with the large continental powers, the island state of Cyprus successfully demonstrates a number of effective tools of the non-productive sphere, the basis of which is a developed infrastructure and economic stability, which is expressed in almost five percent annual growth with gross product of 10 billion. At the same time, there is virtually no unemployment. Cyprus is the fifteenth highest per capita income country in the world, ahead of England, Italy, Australia, Israel and many other nations. As you can see, a liberal philosophy concerning both the business local environment and trade policy is producing excellent results.
I want to consider another instrument of the non-productive sphere, without which, according to the UN, the sustainable development of humanity on the planet is impossible. I refer to a fundamentally different, non-traditional concept of planetary education–“education never ends,” the concept of educating adults with experience, learning, and peace behind them. Adults are intermediaries – between the past, the present, and the future. As they pass away, they carry with them a whole library of acquired knowledge, unable to find common ground with the younger generation because of different starting conditions in education.
880 million totally illiterate people and 4.5 billion hopelessly behind in modern knowledge is the path to planetary tragedy. Literacy and competence must be integrated into all efforts of nations to confront the problems. From the experience of rebuilding societies devastated by conflict, the UN has learned that peace requires much more than the absence of war. The roots of conflict lie in inadequate understanding and capacity. The seeds of war mature from uneven and unequal development. Preventing hatred is in education and knowledge.
The first ingredient of political stability is an informed citizenry. The first ingredient of economic progress is a qualified worker. The first ingredient of political justice is an enlightened society.
Education is peace-building. It is also the most effective form of protection. Investing in education yields far greater returns than any other.
A global family of educated and learning adults will not make strategic, momentous mistakes.
Today the world is ruled by unconscious ignorance of people, their incompetence, so the traditional formula of society life “Education – for life” needs to be replaced by the formula “Education – through life”. And in the face of the coming third millennium, I want to urge all of you sitting here to revolutionize the traditional view of our education that is rooted among the dogmas of the expiring century.
We simply will not have a future by the methods of the expiring century. The planet has become weaker than the contradictions tearing it apart; the world speaks more firmly about the unsustainable development of life on earth.
The younger generation makes its future not on the shoulders but on the belly of its creator and no longer guarantees to its descendants the resource of habitat that it itself had the ability to consume.
The unsustainable development of humanity is a disease of civilization whose incubation period is not yet known. The UN adopted Agenda 21 and recommended looking for new ways to implement the basic principles of sustainable development. Among these principles a special place belongs to lifelong adult continuing education. Today, when knowledge on the planet is updated by 15% per year, i.e. every six years, traditional basic education does not keep up with the changes of the world. Many people, having acquired a high social position, become immediately intellectual bankrupts, only in high rank, which is very scary.
A new social problem has arisen – the underutilization by each successive generation of their resource, experience, energies, creation. Attitudes about the need to make room and, as a consequence, a complex of natural fading of a whole generation are formed. And as long as the system and technology of education lag behind the speed of knowledge renewal, the effective time of each new generation will be decreasing all the time.
Therefore, adult education, along with the economy and nation-building, is today the most important factor and one of the main arguments and tools of social development. On the historical stage in the future there will be only those countries and those peoples who will be able to provide a higher level of organization and skill in all its manifestations and will be able to transfer the economic competition of states in the sphere of science, new technologies and education. Changes on the geopolitical map have already begun.
For example, the first U.S. response to the outstanding achievements of the Soviet Union in space was not an increase in NATO allocations, but a multiple increase in funding for education and the adoption in 1958 of the National Defense Education Act. The basis was the principle of the priority of adult education and its exclusive role in ensuring the leading position of the United States in the world. From Eisenhower to Clinton, adult education was one of the top priorities in their national security policy. In a decade, U.S. spending on education, in favor of continuing education, has increased 2.5 times and is now over $500 billion, twice as much as defense spending. This is at today’s cost of the war machine. And the percentage of adults already educated and continuing education has nearly tripled in the last 20 years, from 7% to 22%.
The world has calculated and realized that it is necessary to invest in adult education about 6% of gross national product, considering the cost of adult education as an investment in the production of each enterprise. Without a competitive adult education system there can be no competitive workforce, and without it there can be no competitive economy.
The standard methods of assessing a state’s economic development tell us nothing about the state of the nation. And the conclusions of the World Bank are that in the national wealth of any country, regardless of whether it is a superpower or a small island, the production component is just over 16%. The rest, as Cypriot leaders have already said here, is human resources.
Adult education today is not an integral part of basic education, it should be the main continuous activity of the entire adult population, combined with science, production and services throughout life. And by alternating lifelong education and work, we will become effective, long-lived and happy, needed by each other, by previous and future generations and by the country, and we will return the planet slipping into the abyss to a sustainable development option.
Since the crucial decisions of the development of society are the sole prerogative of the adult population of the country and even the planet, adult education becomes a separate independent super branch in the life of human society. This most promising industry on the planet has the power to change today’s dangerous trends in the geopolitical map of the world. The main task is to form in the public consciousness the attitude to lifelong education. It is necessary to constitutionally support the equality of all types of education before the law and the right to education at any age.
Two-week refresher courses are not adult education, but a bureaucratic, ignorant eyewash.
UN in its declaration recommended to all governments to consider adult education as a priority of state policy. And a major step in creating such a system in the CIS countries was the “Agreement on Cooperation in the Sphere of Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education”, signed by the Heads of Government of the CIS in January 1997. To implement this Agreement was formed the Interstate Committee of the CIS on the dissemination of knowledge and adult education, whose main tasks are:
– Creation of national structures for adult education,
– coordination of the preparation of laws in the field of adult education in the CIS countries and constitutional changes in it,
– transformation of adult education and educational activities,
– creation of data banks for the distance form of adult education, the integration of business information space for the sustainable development of the planet.
And finally, an example, which Cyprus has almost coped with. Here they solved the issue of separation of powers and responsibilities between the systems of basic education and adult education, as well as cooperation between them. They opened the doors of schools, colleges, universities, universities as a training ground for adult education.
The task of the Committee today is to change the constitutions and laws of the CIS countries to be able to sustainably credit the continuing education of the adult population.
By solving these issues, we will also change the very paradigm that futurologists in ancient times predicted about the possibility of the end of the world…”