The unified learning information environment
Efim Malitikov, Professor, Chairman of the Interstate Committee of the CIS on Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education, established by the decision of the Council of Heads of Governments of the CIS on January 17, 1997.
Our non-governmental organization (NGO) International Association ZNANE is one of the oldest in the UN system. It is almost the same age as the UN.
The International Association (IA) ZNANIE was founded in 1991, as a result of the transformation of the All-Union Association ZNANIE, founded in 1947. The Association is a non-political public organization that unites in its ranks the informational and educational NGOs of the CIS and Baltic countries, as well as some European, American and Asian countries. AI “Znanie” is a member of the European Association and the International Council for Adult Education, has general consultative status in the UN Economic and Social Council. Throughout its history, it has been engaged in educating society, disseminating scientific, political, legal, environmental and economic knowledge for one-sixth of the planet (the territory of the former Soviet Union).
To implement the tasks and opportunities integrated by the UN into Sustainable Development, we use our half-century of experience, state-of-the-art technical, scientific and educational facilities, as well as our own state-of-the-art space telecommunications.
The Interstate Committee for the dissemination of knowledge and adult education was established in January 1997 by a decision of the Council of Heads of Government of the Commonwealth of Independent States to coordinate action to promote knowledge and consolidate the creative and scientific potential in addressing social and economic problems.
Consultations were held with other NGOs in Eastern Europe, government officials and UN representatives to prepare these recommendations.
In January 2002 representatives of these groups met in Moscow to discuss the results of the consultations and the theme “Access to Education and Equal Opportunities – Realizing International Development Goals”.
Challenges for Education
In the budgetary and constitutional space, in the modern structure of society and time management, the life of the average Russian runs through three historically established phases:
• Quick studying, as in sprint running, to receive a worthy place in society,
• Extended work (better to say service), similar to climbing the Everest, to live in dignity,
• and, as a rule, short, but indefinite retirement to get off the track in dignity.
Today, when it is still a dream for most people to complete all those items in dignity, those will not make our life qualitative, effective, long and happy.
The major problems of education in the first place include:
A gigantic number of totally illiterate people;
A gigantic number of people lagging behind modern knowledge;
Processes of globalization;
The rapid growth of the volume of knowledge;
Reduction in the number of teachers.
Today there are 880 million completely illiterate people in the world and 4.5 billion who are lagging behind on attaining modern knowledge.
They – especially the former category – are the planet’s most dangerous ballast, with unpredictable ecological, geopolitical and demographic consequences.
This category, of course, also includes suiside bombers of the latest nightmarish terrorist acts known to the world, who believe in a reward for their actions after death.
Illiterate and destitute people become easy prey for the leaders of terrorism and the drug business, leading to devastating consequences for all.
Education and retraining for good deeds of these people, updating their destructive mentality is the task of the entire world community.
All adults living on Earth, regardless of age, need continuous lifelong education and retraining.
However, this postulate is not yet the mental attitude of most people on Earth and even of the leaders of states. For the same reason it is not yet included in the priorities of state policy of world governments.
At the same time, “the winds are changing the road signs. And so globalization requires new technologies for the retraining and retraining of specialists in the ever-emerging types of industries and other branches of human existence.
The negative effects of globalization appear precisely where politicians ignore the manifestation of unprofessionalism on the road to the future.
By creating today, the present generation no longer guarantees for its descendants the habitat resource it was able to consume itself.
The unsustainable development of humanity is a disease of civilization, the incubation period of which is still unknown…
In seeking a cure for the world community, the United Nations has adopted “Agenda 21” as a priority. The UN recommended that governments, national and international nongovernmental organizations seek new ways of partnering state and social structures, the media, business and industry, educators, scientists, and young people to implement the basic principles of sustainable development.
Among these principles, a special place is given to the lifelong education of adults.
The concept of education in the world has undergone very significant changes in recent years. Previously, education was strictly tied to the possibilities of the state budget, which formed the basis of the constitutional responsibility of the state to its people for their education.
At the beginning of the century knowledge renewal was taking place every 20-30 years and the society, represented by one generation, did not feel so sharply the lack of modern knowledge, maintaining a conservative system of education.
Today knowledge on the planet is renewed with 15% annual increase, i.e. every 6 years.
Unfortunately, however, the traditional basic education existing in most countries, due to its inertia, does not keep up with changes in the world.
As a consequence, young people who get higher education by the age of 22-23 are holders of already outdated knowledge.
They usually spend the next 5-6 years on their career, and depending on their talent and determination, they reach a certain place in society, and some of them reach the top managerial positions.
During career “rage”, many people spend all the energy in this direction and, reaching a high social standing, it is frequent that they are still pseudo-specialists who do not have modern knowledge, and often just intellectual bankrupts in a high rank.
The new generation, in its turn, will also suffer from the imperfection of the educational system and will be pushed to the sidelines even faster by the next generation of young people, who are saddled with more modern technologies and approaches to solving applied, financial, economic, scientific and technical problems.
Choosing how to solve the problems of education
Traditional technology of education on the planet – direct person-to-person knowledge transfer – becomes less and less effective from year to year and hinders social development.
This happens because the speed of knowledge renewal each year is outstripping the classical contact method of its transfer from teacher to student.
At the beginning of the last century the working knowledge on the planet was renewed in thirty years. And a person had enough of it from the student’s bench to retirement.
Now knowledge on Earth is renewed by 15 percent a year. After 6 years of interruption in education and retraining, society gets an intellectually bankrupt, unfit for work on a modern level. This marginalizes and destroys the constitutional commitments and promises of states.
Only modern space telecommunications and distance learning and retraining technologies will catch up with the accelerating flow of knowledge renewal and bring the needs of Sustainability into harmony with human resources.
Only in this way will the entrepreneurs of developing countries, important participants in the world integration strategy, overcome the problems of entering the world market.
Only in this way will development become a sustainable global process, eradicating the marginalization of society, poverty and poverty.
Calculations show that for sustainable development, the world, represented by any state, must allocate 6 percent of the gross national product to education and training, allocating in each area the corresponding shares of its budget and treating the cost of this as an investment in each enterprise.
Without a competitive training and retraining system, there can be no competitive labor force, and without the latter there can be no competitive economy.
The conclusion of the long-term researches of the World Bank is the fact: “The industrial component in the national wealth of any country, even if not comparable, – the superpower USA and a small island country Madagascar – makes an equally small amount, not more than 16 percent. The rest and the main part are human resources.
It is necessary to ensure in the public consciousness a change of attitude: “Education for life” to the attitude: “Education through life!”
The credibility of the UN can make this postulate a public policy priority for its members. Only then will literacy and competence be integrated into states’ efforts to confront the challenges of sustainable development.
The first ingredient of any evolving social process is a skilled professional. An educated and knowledgeable person is not inherently hateful.
Investing in education, training, and retraining yields a far greater return for humanity than any other investment.
The level of an individual’s independent access to information and education, in a wide and selective range of his abilities and needs, determines fatefully today the duration and quality of life of man and humanity as a whole.
This cannot be achieved by the traditional classical educational technologies of the past two millennia of history.
The critical mass of universal knowledge is outliving classrooms. And for adults, very busy in the structures of society, classroom learning and the comfort of direct communication with the teacher, is a luxury for modern social life. Added to this is the growing shortage of teachers with sufficient contemporary knowledge under the traditional system of professional development. We need to get accustomed to virtual interactions between professionals, teachers, and students, and to new technological possibilities of knowledge extraction.
We need to learn to implement even international projects through the virtual space, which makes them many times cheaper and more effective.
Mankind has already repeatedly passed the frontier from animal transport to automobiles, airplanes, and spaceships. It will come to interstellar and intergalactic daily life and interactions. It is also moving from a material view of the world to an informational view.
Right in front of the eyes of our contemporaries, as in a fantasy novel, postal technology was changing: the letter carrier was replaced by fax, e-mail, mobile and satellite phone, videoconferencing became the norm.
Photography is gradually being replaced by digital photography, and the film industry is becoming a television industry, moving from traditional film studios to modern telecenters. Media outlets and publishers are beginning to teleport, and traditional libraries are turning into virtual electronic bases.
The inertia of a backward mentality has always been a brake on the transition. We have to free ourselves from our old ideas, as a newborn baby leaves its mother’s cozy womb. The attitudes of last century man to the sufficiency of old, long-standing knowledge do not meet the requirements of time and the interests of Sustainable Development.
From Concept to Practice
How does our non-governmental organization, the International Association ZNANE, implement its General Consultative Status in ECOS?
The answer is this:
We simultaneously train 141,000 people in 68 disciplines at our main non-state educational center, the Modern Continuing Education University.
This is seven times more than the education giant in Russia – Lomonosov Moscow State University. M.V. Lomonosov Moscow State University.
Satellite communications link these remote regions and enable communication between them. Educational technologies created for the 21st century give confidence that students in the separated regions will not be forgotten and will also have the opportunity to develop.
Znanie/MHU has branches in the Republic of Chechnya, where hundreds of young people are being trained to build a civilized future.
Any of the 370 educational centers of Znaia/SGU has access to an electronic library, which is automatically updated.
Under an agreement with the Cambridge University Continuing Education Council, students can study English and European Union Law in their native language.
One of Knowledge/SHU’s partners is UNIDO, which has extensive experience in developing local programs that can be put in place with the help of Knowledge/SHU educational technology.
Knowledge/SHU has its own studios and operators who prepare educational support materials such as video and audio tapes and computer tutors.
We are a full-scale Web – organization and provide distribution of knowledge and training of adults, as the major factor of social development in the basis of Sustainable Development of mankind, according to Chapter 36 of Agenda-21 of the UN.
We are ready to realize any commission of the UN on training and retraining of personnel for any country and industry on the UN Programmes or our own through our satellite telecommunication channels.
We are ready, on behalf of the UN, to organize our Centers and Branches in any point of the globe, in hot spots of the planet, in prisons and hard-to-reach and dangerous for the living teacher corners of people.
One of the new important tasks in the name of humanity we have set to help the educational system in Afghanistan. We hope to receive the support and blessing of this initiative at UN ECOSOC.
– Use the high authority of the UN and its resolutions to change the world’s social philosophy and set new formulas for success through lifelong learning and make it a major public policy priority for its members.
– To facilitate the transition of educational technologies from conservative traditional forms of knowledge dissemination to the widespread use of the latest achievements of scientific and technological progress and remote space telecommunications.
– To encourage the development of the UN-HOPE-IREN Informal Regional Network and the inclusion of NGOs in the dialogue with world governments.
– Promote (or mandate) the promotion of the newest space education technologies available in the NGO members of the UN CONGOIREN Network to the developing states and hot spots of the planet.
– Promote the introduction of the definition of ADULT EDUCATION into the world’s glossary as an independent self-sufficient non-budgetary branch of the planetary world order and support on the political level the creation of state interstate and public management bodies for this most important branch for the future of the planet and the Sustainable Development of Humanity.
– Promote the development of intergovernmental relations on the dissemination of knowledge and adult education for all sectors including culture and health using the experience and structure of the Committee by creating similar structures.
– Support and disseminate the existing experience of intergovernmental relations and cooperation in the field of dissemination of knowledge and adult education, together with leading NGOs with UN status.
– Endorse the experience and initiatives of the International Association “Znanie” to work together in the Interstate Committee for the dissemination of knowledge and adult education.
– To recommend to the UN member states to support initiatives of creation of national, state and intergovernmental structures together with NGOs with UN status using experience of NGO “Knowledge” and the CIS Interstate Committee on Extension of Knowledge and Adult Education.
– Aiming at the UN NGOs to combine efforts with governmental bodies to disseminate knowledge and adult education in the areas of health, education, culture, economy, ecology, law and social problems in the interest of sustainable development.
– Encourage relevant national and state bodies to join the existing structures and activities of the Interstate Committee for the dissemination of knowledge and adult education by joining the Agreement on Cooperation.
– To actively use the potential of NGOs to implement the goals and objectives of the UN, the Millennium and Sustainable Development.