Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta UN. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta UN. Mostrar todas las entradas

Futures of Education: Imagination and aspiration

Arjun Appadurai, Keynote speech at UNESCO, Paris, 25 sep. 2019, (1:02:13)

The Futures of Education
Learning to become

A global initiative to reimagine how knowledge and learning
can shape the future of humanity and the planet.

We all have seen that in the world that is emerging our biggest challenges have no national boundaries. So, global thinking is the need of the moment in such areas as big data, climate, security, disease, migration, and arms control, to name some of the most visible ones.

In our current moment we need to recognize the importance of youth, both demographically and politically. We also need to recognize the rise of populism and of political extremism that are now caring in far too many parts of the world. Inequality remains persistent and pervasive around the world. Advances in machine learning, artificial intelligence or biotechnology rise profound questions about what it means, and will mean in the future, to be human.

The benefits of technological advances and innovation are not being shared around the planet in a just manner and as the Secretary General of the United Nations and others have powerfully argued here and elsewhere the environmental and climate crisis are not just academic discussions for future sustainability but are life and death survival issues today.

Education is indeed a vital resource in addressing all of these challenges and many others. And the broad goals of the UN and UNESCO converge on a vision that brings together democracy and development. But much thinking on development in the 21st century has not been driven by democratic goals. It has been based on the idea that knowledge, expertise and goal-setting have to be transferred from a small group of technocrats to a large group of recipients who lack the capacity to design their own futures.

In recent times, this idea of expert-driven development has been challenged by ideas of participatory planning, local knowledge resources, and decentralized decision-making but as far as education is concerned there is still an emphasis on marketable skills rather than on imagination and anticipation.

For the majority of the world's population and especially those in the poorer regions and countries in the world the biggest obstacle to achieving development is the weak recognition of their capacity to define their own futures and to imagine the good lives in their own terms. This capacity to aspire is poorly developed. 

When vulnerable communities imagine their own futures they bring together their capacity to anticipate and their capacity to aspire. Nor human being, nor human community lacks these capacities but poverty, insecurity and institutionalized marginalization have not let them build these capacities. So, vital tasks for educators of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors will be to build the capacity of the young, the poor and the marginal to imagine, to anticipate and to aspire.

There are many ways that these capacities could be built. Many of you are pursuing them as policy- makers, activists or teachers. I want to add my own thoughts here in order to stir the pot and enrich the mix of possibilities for our collaborative visions.

In my view, the most important and most scarce resource we can provide as educators is the capacity to generate new knowledge. We generally think of the generation of new knowledge as a monopoly of universities and as the capacity of the postgraduate scholars and faculty among them. These are the people we usually refer to as researchers, discoverers of new knowledge.

We see research as a difficult, esoteric and elite practice which requieres years of primary, secondary and tertiary education, but I believe that we need to recognize the right to research as a human and a universal right. Any literate adult should have the right and the means to produce new knowledge and to do so in a careful, systematic and thorough manner. 

Why is it important to democratize the capacity to conduct research and produce new knowledge locally, without depending on the sphere of formal postgraduate education training alone? The answer is: the world’s problems may be planetary but the ways in which they are fed specific cities, regions and countries is intensely local.

Democratizing the capacity to conduct research and to produce new knowledge requieres a great deal of support from traditional funders, scholars, scientists and planners. It indeed cannot be done by marginal populations on their own but it is a vital capacity to develop among the younger citizens of the world for they are in the eye of the storm and they are the firtst to face the world's global problems, so we must empower them to be the first to generate solutions.

It is an honour to be part of this new initiative on the Futures of Education. I challenge us all to think deeply on the challenges and opportunities that we see now and on the horizon. And I invite us all to think about how we can enable people to aspire in their own terms, how to enable people to build their own capacities, to imagine, to aspire, to act, anticipate, advocate, and intervene. Surely this is how we shape these many futures.


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