ADULT EDUCATION: THE KEY TO A NEW SUCCESSFUL LIFE
Just yesterday Russia was firmly entrenched in the image of the “most educated” and the “most reading” country in the world, but today this image has lost its relevance. The literacy level of children and adults in our country is declining rapidly. But education is the only social sector, which is directly involved in the formation of the prerequisites of economic growth. We talked about the problems of adult education and ways to solve them Efim MALITIKOV, president of the International Association “Znanie”, the chairman of the Interstate Committee of the CIS on Dissemination of Knowledge and Adult Education, the patron of the Modern Humanitarian Academy.
– Efim Mikhailovich, you raise the problem of adult education at a time when experts talk about the catastrophic decline in the quality of education for children in Russian schools, colleges and universities. Maybe we should first focus on the problem of quality education for children and then we won’t have to solve the problem of their parents’ literacy?
– These are two sides of the same coin. After all, the main link in the chain of crisis phenomena and problems that we face today is the crisis of competence. The global threat of our day is the lag between the ability of people to adapt to changes in the world around them and the pace of those changes. At the time when I left school, knowledge on earth was updated once every 30 years; nowadays it is 20% updated annually. Consequently, after five years of information stagnation or non-acceptance of modern knowledge a person becomes intellectually bankrupt.
Thus, traditional basic formal education, received at the beginning of life, does not keep up with changes in the world and in principle cannot provide a person for life with knowledge, abilities, skills and qualities necessary for effective performance of social roles. And, naturally, the question arises: how can an adult obtain this updated knowledge?
– But there are professional development courses and different educational programs for this purpose. Finally, if a person is interested in gaining new knowledge, he can enroll and well i and continue his education.
– Continuing education courses in this form, as they exist now, are nothing more than bureaucratic eyewash and empty eyes. As for studying at a university, this option is not available to everyone. Not every adult has the ability to combine study and work and pay for new knowledge.
There are no schools for adults. Even if there were, these institutions will not be able to cover the entire adult population. For example, where can we find enough classrooms and classrooms for the hundreds of thousands of people who need to update their knowledge? Finally, where can we find teachers? The world already lacks them: there are about 45 million teachers, and there should be a third more. Consequently, traditional schools will not be able to make a significant and noticeable impact on the education and literacy of the population.
Teachers themselves are another problem. They are the same adults in need of new knowledge. What good would it do if a teacher were to pass on to students outdated knowledge that is laid out in outdated textbooks?
Unfortunately, knowledge is not spread evenly over the planet, and sometimes you can only get it from the hands of a unique scientist from a distant continent. But counting on a personal lesson with a carrier of knowledge is an unaffordable luxury. A lecture by a prominent contemporary professor in a forty-seat auditorium does not have the productivity that is needed today. What is needed is not a classroom, but a half-million-strong army of listeners. In short, traditional classroom-lesson education has exhausted its resources in our information age and has become counterproductive.
The current education system has fallen behind in technology and productivity, creating a digital divide and an army of billions of uneducated and uncompetitive people. It is illiteracy and the resulting lack of competitiveness that has resulted in over 2 billion people on the planet living on less than one dollar a day, and over 3 billion people living on two dollars a day.
– Yefim Mikhailovich, if you think it’s time to say goodbye to the classroom-taskwork educational system, I want to know how you can disseminate knowledge and educate adults at a level of productivity far higher than that of today?
– At one time the All-Union Society “Znanie” was a mighty organization, which held about 25 million lectures a year, and read them 4.5 million of our outstanding scientists. But even this productivity today is negligible. Thus, only a planetary mass training system with the latest global means of knowledge delivery to the consumer on the basis of modern satellite communications can cope with this problem.
Today, including the Modern Humanities Academy, educational technology, which we could only dream of before, has been perfected – distance learning. Only it allows all people, without exception, no matter where they are at the moment, to receive knowledge directly from the best professors from all over the world – from their video lectures. The video signal with high-quality educational content is transmitted either via a space teleport to a satellite, and from there to a person’s television receiver, or via the Internet to a computer. Such training is more interesting and suitable for adults, since they learn to improve their own competitiveness rather than for an A in their diary or a credit in their record book.
The Academy has its own space teleport covering more than 400 cities in 14 countries. More than 2,500 professors provide training in 68 specialties for 175,000 students. However, in order to make access to the world’s knowledge mass, adult education should become a separate independent super-industry in all countries of the world. And I must say that in many countries adult education is already becoming a new supranational industry.
– In your opinion, is Russia among those countries where adult education is given the attention it deserves?
– Alas, the situation in Russia is the worst. We shut the windows of the train going nowhere, and whistle the train whistle that we are doing well. This is not true. Russia today is a Potemkin village.
Electronic world government and the World University as a global knowledge exchange in the form of content from the best professors from the world’s famous universities, a single digital library of educational content and lectures by the world’s leading people and Nobel laureates – this is the vector for the sustainable development of the society of the future, specified in the United Nations Millennium Declaration. This is the only way to cope with the planetary and universal problems facing humanity. And Russia is obliged to take this path of development.
Besides, we all know that the governmental concept of Russia’s development till 2020 involves the change of the development scenario from the current raw material-based to the optimal, high-tech, innovative one. Alas, it is possible to modernize the economy without a massive retraining of personnel. And this must be done right now, without waiting for the crisis to end and for the situation to improve. This is the only way for Russia to become a stronger and more powerful country.