In my two earlier articles, it was my pleasure and honor in sharing knowledge with the esteemed readers of the Global New Light of Myanmar with the themes (a) Nation Building through Normative Concept; and (b) Nation Building reflects different things to different people.
A few of my friends suggested I write about some countries in our own region that Myanmar could emulate either part, ingredient or component for easy reading as most of us are in fledgling status in the context of nation building. The suggested notion is quite acceptable to me to write on the countries in our region or elsewhere across the globe.
Although my background was in Myanmar Foreign Service, I am interested in sharing of knowledge on education that is critical to nation building.
What is Education?
Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, but learners may also educate themselves.
Education can take place in formal or informal settings and any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts may be considered educational. The methodology of teaching is called pedagogy or a study of teaching methods.
Is Education different from schooling?
Mark K. Smith is a researcher and educator based in London at Developing Learning. Smith explores the meaning of education and suggests it is a process of inviting truth and possibility. It can be defined as the wise, hopeful and respectful cultivation of learning undertaken in the belief that all should have the chance to share in life.
Education is commonly and formally divided into stages such as preschool or kindergarten, primary school, secondary school. Higher education, also called tertiary, third stage, or postsecondary education, is the non-compulsory educational level that follows the completion of a school such as a high school or secondary school.
Tertiary education is normally taken to include undergraduate and postgraduate education, as well as vocational education and training. Colleges and universities mainly provide tertiary education.
Collectively, these are sometimes known as tertiary institutions. Individuals who complete tertiary education generally receive certificates, diplomas, or academic degrees and then college, community college, university or apprenticeship.
A right to education has been recognized by some governments, including at the global level: Article 13 of the United Nations’ 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes a universal right to education. In most regions education is compulsory up to a certain age.
Formal education occurs in a structured environment whose explicit purpose is teaching students. Usually, formal education takes place in a school environment with classrooms of multiple students learning together with a trained, certified teacher of the subject. Most school systems are designed around a set of values or ideals that govern all educational choices in that system. Such choices include curriculum, physical classroom design, student-teacher interactions, and methods of assessment, class size, educational activities, and more.
Education is normally means the acquiring of knowledge as well as the skills that are well accepted by a given society. The education status may differ from one country from another. On the other hand, the nation-building is the implementation of processes that are pushed ahead or geared towards composing the various institutions of the country. The main aim is to reflect the wishes, needs and aspirations of the wider society.
Since education is the pathway to any nation-building endeavor, it provides and brings in the good things as follows.
Firstly, education creates an enlightened society. This is crucial prerequisite to nation-building, because the more a people become enlightened they more they would refrain from doing wrong things. They will never endanger the nation-building efforts.
The educated elites and citizens will always tend to responsive and responsible general public. In other words, it means that they obey state laws, bye-laws, rules and regulations. Without this characteristic, no nation-building efforts will be set into motion and a smooth sail.
Secondly, nation-building requires a “meritocratic system” with a view to make the all the institutions more effective. Only in this kind of environment and better education system, the country will have the best human resources that are competent enough to carry out day to day affairs of the state.
Most states collapsed as a result of low level of education because the human resource is so weak. It means the incapacity of filling qualified students at the state institutions. However, by elevating the level of education, the nation-building task could be improved.
Thirdly, the nation-building requires a democratic society that allows the contribution of all people in the country — rich or poor. With proper education, there will always be an increase in democratic participation. All inclusive participation will in turn enhance nation-building initiatives in a better perspective. We can trust and count in the citizens’ participation in the nation-building.
On the fourth aspect of nation-building and education, the schooling stands out as very crucial in the formation of cross-cutting cleavages. In other words, division between people or groups could be narrowed down and forge them to come together. Such trend could embraces diversity among the nationals. Therefore, accepting differences is very important in nation-building. Until or unless we reconcile and accept our differences and come together, progress in nation-building will not move ahead. With good education, the fear of such stagnation could be set aside.
As the fifth point, education creates a large middle-class such as doctors, engineers, scientists, professionals, technicians, teachers, normal business people, traders, etc. This class is very important to nation building because they provide the necessary expertise that needed in a nation-building.
This is the reason why emphasis has been laid on education because an educated society is always a strong society. It is the society that is set for development.
We have already arrived at 21st century, and it is necessary that all developing countries must equip themselves with e-government or electronic government system in the nation-building.
E-government (short for electronic government, also known as e-gov, Internet government, digital government, online government, connected government) consists of the digital interactions between a citizen and their government (C2G), between governments and government agencies (G2G), between government and citizens (G2C), between government and employees (G2E), and between government and businesses/commerce (G2B).
The focus should be on:
The use of information and communication technologies, and particularly the Internet, as a tool to achieve better government.
The use of information and communication technologies in all facets of the operations of a government organization.
The continuous optimization of service delivery, constituency participation and governance by transforming internal and external relationships through technology, the Internet and new media.
Open education and electronic technology
In 2012, the modern use of electronic educational technology (also called e-learning) had grown at 14 times the rate of traditional learning. Open education is fast growing to become the dominant form of education, for many reasons such as its efficiency and results compared to traditional methods. Cost of education has been an issue throughout history and a major political issue in most countries today.
Online courses often can be more expensive than face-to-face classes. Out of 182 colleges surveyed in 2009 nearly half said tuition for online courses was higher than for campus based ones. Many large university institutions are now starting to offer free or almost free full courses such as Harvard, MIT and Berkeley teaming up to form EdX, which offers free online courses or classes. Other universities offering open education are Stanford, Princeton, Duke, Johns Hopkins, Edinburgh, U. Penn, U. Michigan, U. Virginia, U. Washington, and Caltech. It has been called the biggest change in the way we learn since the printing press. Despite favorable studies on effectiveness, many people may still desire to choose traditional campus education for social and cultural reasons.
The conventional merit-system degree is currently not as common in open education as it is in campus universities, although some open universities do already offer conventional degrees such as the Open University in the United Kingdom.
Presently, many of the major open education sources offer their own form of certificate. Due to the popularity of open education, these new kind of academic certificates are gaining more respect and equal “academic value” to traditional degrees. Many open universities are working to have the ability to offer students standardized testing and traditional degrees and credentials.
A culture is beginning to form around distance learning for people who are looking to social connections enjoyed on traditional campuses. For example, students may create study groups, meet ups and movements such as UnCollege. The word Uncollege provides students ready to be independent learners such as down the home-schooling route do so as a purely academic choice.
An integral approach to education automatically supports ongoing growth of learners and teachers over the entire span of development. Every parent is first a teacher; therefore, character education essentially begins at home.
According to Mahatma Gandhi, “Knowledge without character is a powerful evil.” Character is based on human values. It is powerful tool that influences society. Integral parenting addresses the body, mind, soul and spirit of every child. It also moulds the child’s character for long term growth and development.
Character building is further enhanced from knowledge gained from Schools, Colleges, Universities and other centers of learning like Polytechnics, Teachers Training Institutes and other Private Educational Providers.
Since 1909, the ratio of children in the developing world attending school has increased. Before then, a small minority of boys attended school. By the start of the 21st century, the majority of all children in most regions of the world attended school.
Universal Primary Education is one of the eight international Millennium Development Goals, towards which progress has been made in the past decade, though barriers still remain. Securing charitable funding from prospective donors is one particularly persistent problem. Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute have indicated that the main obstacles to funding for education include conflicting donor priorities, immature aid architecture, and a lack of evidence and advocacy for the issue.
Additionally, Transparency International has identified corruption in the education sector as a major stumbling block to achieving Universal Primary Education in Africa. Furthermore, demand in the developing world for improved educational access is not as high as foreigners have expected.
Today, we are living in the world which encompasses knowledge. Education is crucial. It is not machines, land, and capital. It is human brain. Brain is the most important asset to any family, community and nation.
We have to form good education and develop it for socio-economic development. The quality of education means growth and development for intellectual, emotional, spiritual, and social. Research and creativity and innovation are very important for the future development. We could achieve this only through education, and build the nation in accordance with the desire, wishes and aspiration of the entire population including the national brethrens.