Sowing seeds for tomorrow: Global Institute for Lifelong Empowerment (GILE)
The Hungarian Academy of Sciences hosted the 20th World Science Forum (Forum), under the theme “Science, Ethics and Responsibility”. As part of this prestigious scientific conference, Global Institute for Lifelong Empowerment (GILE) hosted an official event that sent out a strong wake-up call on the future of education. The session entailed a series of insightful talks and presentations by various keynote speakers, from both academia and industry. It highlighted the important need for more multi-stakeholder engagement to discuss the future of education, specifically what needs to be done to galvanise educators, policy-makers, students and socio-civic groups into action, so that the education system as a whole can remain relevant and fit-for-purpose in our Digital Age.
Albert Einstein once said that education is what remains after one has forgotten everything what one has learned in school. However, before we can move ahead to implement measures to ensure that our education system is meaningful and relevant, it seems that we first need to collectively agree on the answers to some basic questions. For example, who is actually responsible for an individual’s education and for the education system as a whole? And can we say that all stakeholders have a moral obligation to ensure that our education systems add value?
It is for this reason that GILE focussed their efforts to conceptualise ‘responsibility’ and ‘ethics’ in education during their session. It was largely attended by a select group of (mainly) PhD and master’s students, representing eleven (11) Hungarian universities and twenty-five (25) countries. After several engaging discussions and though-provoking workshops, the session seemed to indicate that there is in fact an urgent need for a paradigm shift when it comes to matters that concern the future of education.
There are some traditional ways of educating students that are no longer as effective today and as a result, we must transform the system, such as how we deliver knowledge and how we assess students, for example, in order to meet the needs of societies. Cathy Davidson, a well-known professor and educational innovator, said that “if we are not adding something that only great teachers can add, we should be replaced by a computer screen”. We know that in the future it will be relatively less about your memorised knowledge and rather more about how you apply it (i.e. critical thinking).
The Digital Age is already upon us and we require a lot more tangible action to appropriately position ourselves for a future career with meaning. We all have a role to play when it comes to ensuring responsible education. It is important that our learning environments remain supportive, personalised and fit-for-purpose, in order to maintain their overall relevance and value.
Put differently, education should no longer be about going to separate classes, memorising information and writing tests at the end. Employers and students alike need skills and competencies, not only knowledge. It is more important to teach pupils and students critical thinking, to encourage creativity and to react to change much better - these are the navigation tools that will allow them to find their own way in a “VUCA” world that is increasingly Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. If we are going to obtain these navigation tools, then we need innovative learning environments – innovations such as cyber technology, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality etc. These innovations will force the education system to evolve or even revolutionise. They will bring both opportunities and challenges, and they will also force us to reflect more deeply about ethics and morals in this regard.
GILE aims to be an interactive hub that connects, educates and empowers all generations. There appears to be unnecessary delays when it comes to updating education policies or implementing meaningful reforms. There also seems to be a needless lag in respect of upskilling teachers and implementing measures to ensure that learning environments are innovative and are digitalised. That said, it is clearly evident that we have arrived at a cross-road, and we have to decide whether we want to put an emphasis on teaching or on learning. This is essentially where GILE comes in – to stimulate strategic thinking on the future of education and to get stakeholders to do more in this regard.
With an eye to the future, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences already ceremoniously handed over the Forum to South Africa, the country that will host the event in December 2021. It is inspiring to know that the Forum will finally take place on the African continent for the very first time. It is GILE’s intention to not only participate at that Forum and build on their previous successes, they also plan to help conceptualise and implement measures to further popularise science among the younger generation, and to make the Forum more accessible to talented young scientists. Innovation is indeed everywhere, and it is important that we work towards establishing more cross border collaborations with various scientific institutions.
This article was written by Dr. Judit Beke and Craig Johnson (Co-Founders of GILE).