In his synthesis report of the new Sustainable Development Goals entitled "The Road to Dignity by 2030" the Secretary General of the UN, Mr. Ban Ki Moon, tried to reduce the complexity of 17 goals and 169 targets to 6 essential elements: Dignity, People, Planet, Partnerships, Justice and Prosperity. Reviewing his grouping at the website of the Guardian I noticed education to be grouped with health and hunger under the subheading people. Though this seems to be a logical choice, I would like to challenge it here.
The first reason for doing so is to be found in the report itself that combines explicit reference to 'a moment of enormous sicentific promise' with an 'age of gnawing deprivation' in one sentence under teh heading dignity (p17). This illustrates that achievements in science and education can be contrasted with aggravating poverty.This makes the case convincingly to include education in the equation when it comes to dignity.
For many years education took its place amongst the Basic Services programs of donor agencies and NGOs active in development cooperation. Something for which the State as duty bearer was to be kept accountable. To view access to education as a baic human right has long been heralded. Billions went into the Education for All agenda and much as been achieved. The report on the achievement of this agenda against the Millenium Development Goals that was published by UNESCO last week showed good progress in access. However, at the same time it shows limited progress in terms of profitability and increased access to jobs and markets. After all, education alone is not enough to earn a living. In his video message Mr. Ban Ki Moon welcomed the report but urged governments to 1) prioritize the quality of education and 2) value its contribution to global citizenship. The latter also points to a direction where education serves a political agenda. It allows people to take their place in the universe by understanding what is happening around them. It should allow for exchange about core values, intrinsic motivations and maximising creativity. In a taylorian world-view education is to make people ready for the labor market. To 'fit in' and take their rightful place as a loan slave walking the road that others created. And for many students the expectation of income may still be the major driver for achieving educational results.
In a post-modern world-view this concept gradually gives way to a much more self-edifying concept of discovery of skills and talents, squaring them with passions and interests resulting in not only paying jobs but also fulfilling jobs that help people discover who they already are. All in all, in a post-modern world view, education helps developing professional skills while unpacking a personal idenity that will use these skills for personal ambitions. Education therefore is much more an issue of human dignity than of a basic necessity to survive. In fact some of the most successful entrepreneurs failed in education, which obstructed their creativity rather than promoting it. Hence my plea to elevate education from a basic need that the State has to provide to a matter of dignity which the State needs to protect. The honor and dignity of individual talents are at stake. If that is going to color class-room settings a massive transformation of education may be expected and no longer Ban Ki Moon has to worry about the quality of education against an external standard. Assessment regimes will be completely altered and tailored to a performance appraisal of teachers and students in their ability to maximally use each others talents and experiences for tackling the worlds most pressing problems, identifying local solutions. Possibly this could be target number 170.
"We live in a world of plenty, and at a moment of enormous scientific promise. And yet, for hundreds and hundreds of millions across the globe, this is also an age of gnawing deprivation"
My name is Reinier van Hoffen.
Click here for a summary.
Also find the text of a lecture Dr. Achterhuis held at the 2012 Bilderberg conference.