Lifelong Learning and Institutions of Higher Education (Part II); EDUCATORS SPEAK

Manila Bulletin, April 5, 2003 | Go to article overview

Lifelong Learning and Institutions of Higher Education (Part II); EDUCATORS SPEAK


Byline: Dr. Dolores Baja-Lasan

IN the United Kingdom in 1997 the Dearing report published in 1997 noted, inter alia, that the role of Universities and colleges is seen embedded in a world of compulsory education, of professional and vocational learning throughout life and of the use of educational resources for personal development; in other words of a learning society and that the challenges to universities is to bring about the desired convergence between traditional higher education and the world of lifelong learning. (David Watson and Richard Taylor, 1997) Both Watson and Taylor are members of the Universities Association for Continuing Education (UACE) and have been at the forefront most consistently advocating that Universities adapt fully to a lifelong learning agenda.

In 1998, the Japanese Ministry of Culture and Education, declared in its White Paper on Culture and Education, that the basic goal of Japan's educational reform for the 21st century should be to put in place a society of lifelong learning. This was deemed as a strategy to maintain Japan's role in the world economy.

In 1999, in another part of the world on the occasion of the Third National Working Conference on Education, Chinese President Jiang Zeming declared that lifelong learning is an inevitable trend of modern society and that non-recurring schooling can no longer fulfil people's needs for new knowledge and that "we should progressively establish an educational system which can benefit lifelong learning."

In the Philippines, various educational commissions have recognized the importance of adult education as a necessary component of the educational system, and some universities have taken initiatives towards lifelong learning, e.g. the LEARN program (Lifelong Educational Activity Refresher Network) of The Philippine Women's University System.

At the threshold of the 21st century, a great number of countries and institutions of higher learning therein have begun to take steps towards lifelong learning as a response to the emerging needs of a globalized society. There has been a growing recognition of the fact that one of the distinct features of a "knowledge economy" is the continuous enrichment of knowledge by every individual in any given society.

The Essence of Lifelong Learning:

Events towards the close off the 20th century and the onset of the 21st starkly point to the need for lifelong learning. Various aspects of its essence have been variably encapsulated in what countries and institutions have termed adult education, extension services, in-service training, continuing education and in the seemingly more sophisticated idea of recurrent education.

There is an acute need to capture the dimensions of lifelong learning into a concept which would take in the cultural milieu in which it exists; the educational priorities of a given country; the objectives of educational stakeholders: students, parents, government and private institutions of higher learning, the employers and the economic market in general, and the role ascribed to education by the broadest spectrum of national and global stakeholders.

Lifelong learning connotes learning at all stages of life regardless of age, nationality, economic circumstances and culture in general. It assumes both an acceptance and the capacity to learn progressively throughout life from all the realities of living and let live. Traditional learning has terminal points; lifelong learning is continuous and re-current. There is still no alternative to lifelong learning values being infused in institutions of basic and higher learning to create and promote a societal culture to open learning for everyone everywhere.

In the words of Xu Xiaoshou of the Institute of Higher Education of Zheijiang University in the People's Republic of China, lifelong learning puts emphasis on learners' initiative, activity and creativity in their studies. …

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