A new kind of world university
free of linguistic, national, and cultural borders
(New Technologies for Sustainable Development in a Global World)
Speech by His Excellency
Academician, Professor Efim Mikhailovich Malitikov,
Chairman of the Interstate Committee of the CIS
Chairman of the Interstate Committee of the CIS on Knowledge Dissemination and Adult Education,
President of the International Association “Znanie”
at the plenary meeting of the 11th session of the General Conference of UNIDO
UNIDO General Conference 11-th session 28 November – 4 December 2005
I represent here the oldest non-governmental organization International Association (IA) “Knowledge” with consultative status of UNIDO, General Consultative Status of UN ECOSOC and consultative status with the UN Department of Public Information (DPI).
Our organization is a partner and Eastern European coordinator of the IRENE network, established by the UN for the interaction of NGOs all over the world.
For almost 60 years our organization has been engaged in education. First in the former USSR and then in the CIS and thirty other countries of the world: 4.5 million of our members have given over 25 million lectures a year. In the second half of the last century that was enough to educate a country of 300 million people. Back then, it took only thirty years for knowledge to be updated on the planet. Now it is five times faster.
Today, the lecture-and-lesson system of education and enlightenment, as a person-to-person transfer of knowledge, has become counterproductive. It does not help to narrow the digital divide because of its low productivity, dragging poor peoples into the digital abyss.
We have concluded that bridging the digital divide is only possible through the use of the latest super-modern satellite-based knowledge dissemination technologies and the latest educational systems.
Over the past 10 years huge experience and technical potential have been accumulated, new technologies have been mastered, the world’s largest satellite educational centers have been created in Moscow, Russian regions, CIS countries and a number of other countries including hard-to-reach, mountainous and far northern regions.
More than 400 cities are covered by receiving terminals for the army of millions of listeners from a single teleport in Moscow and an additional one in Cambridge.
Just one of our basic structures, the Modern Academy for the Humanities, educates 175,000 students in 68 specialties of higher and further education.
Today we have reached a new level. Together with the Space Systems Research Institute and the Russian Academy of Cosmonautics and following the conversion doctrine of military production, MA Znanie has put forward, registered and is implementing together with the English company SatEduNet the World Distance Learning University project. Its technical base provides global coverage of territories for export-import of knowledge between the leading universities of the world.
This grandiose planetary project and the international association “Znanie” is supported by an intergovernmental organization – the CIS Interstate Committee for Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education, which I also have the honor to head since 1997.
It combines the efforts of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the non-governmental organization MA “Knowledge” in Partnership 2 type according to the UN classification.
Today, in the framework of UNIDO’s technology transfer programs, we are ready to launch a partnership initiative to share the technical base and technologies of knowledge dissemination for the benefit of industrial development by member countries.
Industrial development is impossible without new modern knowledge and technologies, which must be studied, disseminated and used in practical life.
The updating of this knowledge occurs at a speed many times greater than traditional classroom-based educational technologies.
That is why we believe that it is education, but very modern education, that is the key to overcoming most of the planet’s problems.
At the heart of any country’s sustainable development is the factor of culture, which is associated with the average level of education of a critically important mass of the population.
The harbinger of the approaching crisis in any country is a lag in the knowledge system.
Every year up to 17% of the knowledge used today is updated. “Bankruptcy” in the specialty comes in 5-6 years.
Today it is not enough to be a graduate of Oxford, Cambridge or Stanford. It is not even enough to be a Nobel laureate to teach from a university department. What is needed is the talent to popularize the latest achievements of civilization in a variety of fields of knowledge.
This is the worldwide trend of a growing shortage of qualified educators. Precisely, because of this huge majority of the population of the planet does not possess modern knowledge and does not have access to it.
To use an accounting vocabulary, we can state: there is a “red balance” in the balance of the existing system of knowledge dissemination, the consequences of which will be felt already by the coming generations.
Ten years ago the World Bank came up with a formula: industry represents no more than 16% of the potential of modern civilization. The main part is the human resource.
The great scientist Vernadsky said: “Humanity is a completely unique variety of earthly resources, possessing a very specific nature of energy replenishment – through knowledge!”
Many in the world put their trust in the Internet. However.
The poorest billion people on Earth live where the Internet is too expensive (e.g., in Africa) or simply cannot be arranged because of the landscape and harsh natural conditions.
Today billions of people do not have access to modern education. Billions of people cannot compete, cannot have jobs, cannot adequately participate in scientific and technological progress and cultural life. And so, poverty and destitution accompany their lives.
This is where the drug mafia, criminal structures, criminal clans and terrorism draw their reserves from…
But humanity already has at its disposal the real global potential of satellite communication, which, when used en masse, is a hundred times cheaper than cable Internet.
It is important to state: the need to manage global processes has gained critical mass. The critical mass must be managed. Globalization inevitably leads to the elimination of borders and the formation of a prototype of global electronic government. All components of modern civilization – knowledge, information and people – must continuously move and interact in the world according to the principle of communicating vessels.
Most importantly: knowledge must be distributed evenly over the planet. Figuratively speaking, knowledge must be “spread over the planet like butter on bread.
We need to free our minds from worldview stereotypes and standard arguments.
It is important to overcome the mental ego of educators-educators who pass off their compilations as “my knowledge,” “my lecture,” “my course,” “my content.” What they miss is that their lectures and content exist for a knowledge-hungry humanity.
The current situation leads to a situation where there is knowledge, but it is not distributed; there are excellent popularizers, but they are opposed by trivial compilers.
Knowledge is the energy medium of civilization, which is “spilled” among the many universities, educational and scientific centers.
We need a common center for the distribution of knowledge – the World University, but not in name, but in essence. It should become an accumulator of global scientific potential, of information about the teaching corps of the whole world. Through it, it should be possible to optimize the potential of the geniuses of knowledge popularization without loss to the global audience of listeners.
The World University, as a virtual concept, should denote a world center “that is present everywhere. Through it, the best programs and the most talented teachers in the world become available to all.
A repository of the best content, created by popular educators from various countries, will open before you. Knowledge can be taken at will and talent.
And, mind you – I take, I choose, not I am given! What emerges is a “natural selection” of courses, programs, and teachers based on a specific request.
Global action in education is needed because the problems themselves are global in nature and origin.
Priorities for teaching are replaced by priorities for learning, with an undeniably important role for teachers, but very highly qualified and up-to-date knowledge. Such teachers are needed by a global audience and care must be taken to technically increase their global productivity.
This is where space communications is indispensable. Modern universities and centers of learning must build and possess their own space teleporters to exchange mutually accepted best content.
We need an export-import of knowledge through a single distribution teleport.
One thing is clear – the classroom-lesson system, as the ideology and basic technology of education, is dead. Counting on a personal conversation with the author of the course is an increasingly inadmissible luxury.
Today, there are new and effective means of satisfying the need for millions of people to obtain knowledge “firsthand” and of the best quality. My associates and I work 365 days a year to meet this demand.
This will catch up with the accelerating flow of new knowledge and harmonize the needs of Sustainable Development with human resources.
The role of education in the sustainable development of humankind has not been sufficiently appreciated and has not been reviewed for decades. And here it is appropriate to recall the words of Harvard University President Derek Wok: “If you think education is too expensive, try ignorance.
The traditional education system is based on the formula: “Education for Life,” which was enough when knowledge was renewed every 30 years. Time has demanded a different formula: “Education through life.”
This should become a priority of state policy, an integral part of laws and constitutions, and then a mental attitude of human civilization. It is necessary to introduce this formula in all the efforts of states to confront the existing problems.
We are ready for large-scale cooperation with UNIDO on technology transfer programs for industrial development.
Thank you for your attention.