Wed, Jan 09, 2013 - Page 8 News List

Education must find its direction

By Ian Inkster 音雅恩

This reduces the educational sectors economic contribution and producing a generation of disgruntled graduates working below par and not reaching their own expectations.

Third, such considerations ignore the value of higher education and that happiness and creativity in employment yields good citizens and better family environments than an inducement of lifestyles that are not conducive to social efficiency.

All democratic nations at present are administered, guided, and interconnected by graduates who studied subjects outside the narrow practical training that Ma appears to be promoting.

In particular, successful societies can boast large numbers of creative teachers who imbue their students with direct notions of civil society, good behavior, but and notions of critical prowess and personal fulfillment that are often the genesis of new knowledge and technical applications.

For democratic systems as a whole, technological creativity is no more a result of specific training than is artistic creativity.

Finally, history shows that the most highly productive economies are ones that encourage freedom in educational choice, encourage good teachers in energetic settings, promote innovation across educational disciplines and produce graduates that find employment in fast-growing cultural industries such as the media, tourism and all forms of gainful interaction with foreign nations, from fine arts to new designs for information technologies.

All of this promotes economic growth and efficiency as well as less measurable social outcomes.

Much can be attributed to accountants, urban planners, architects, small businesses, fine artists, historians, curators and archivists, who give vibrance to our busy urban world, which would be lost in their absence.

Nations whose governments have attempted to force narrow-gate education upon youth have generally been failing systems, or on the brink of catastrophe. They have rarely been democratic: For example, the fascist nations of the early 20th century.

Japan, which after the great early debates on liberal education led by thinkers like Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901) also chose to combine a narrow-gate system of education, militarism and imperialism from the 1890s.

Such nations were good at military and technical education, but hopeless at civil organization, ultimately failing.

So too in Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) China, where disobedient students were imprisoned and professors purged in the name of ideologies spurred by the need for technological and military modernization.

Except for laying down basic infrastructures, every aspect of that Mao program failed, and China still struggles to free itself from this legacy in the name of economic liberalism and modernization.

The present Islamic upsurge, and the reasons for the limited outcome of the Arab Spring, are surely linked to the insistence of many Islamic leaders that religious doctrine must be the basis of educational systems, excluding any other ideas or ideologies.

This does not lead to healthy democracy.

There are one or two worrying elements in the political timing and context of Ma’s speech.

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