2003 Ed. by T. Varis, T. Utsumi, and W. R. Klemm
University of Tampere, Hämeenlinna, Finland
PEACE THROUGH GLOBAL E-LEARNING *
Foundation for Culture of Peace and
Former Director General of UNESCO
* This greeting is based on a transcript on Video Intervention, Opening Ceremony, at the "Global Lecture Hall (GLH)" at Ohio University (25 October 1995), and at the workshop on "Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning" at the University of Tampere, Finland (9 to 13 August 1999).
On behalf of UNESCO, I wish to say something on the theme - Technology and Distance Education: Sharing Experiences around the World - since I believe that educational development through the sharing of knowledge to be one of the keys to a more equitable and peaceful world.
Distance education has progressed a great deal in recent years, and UNESCO can claim to have made some contribution to this process. As the UN specialized agency responsible for international cooperation in education, communication, science and culture, it is particularly well placed to play a role in this area, where inputs from a variety of disciplines are required.
The "new media" have demonstrated their potential to contribute to effective learning. But it has become clear that their effective use is crucially dependent on good instructional design. Experience has also shown that imagination and political will are essential if inertia is to be overcome and educational alternatives are to be properly exploited. This is why one of the aims of UNESCO's "Learning Without Frontiers" programme is to change the policy environment so that the technology of the classroom is no longer seen as the only option available to educational planners.
We need to explore all possible means to reach out to the massive numbers of people around the globe who are deprived of opportunities to learn. There are still almost one billion illiterate people in the world. One hundred thirty million children of primary-school age do not attend school. The demand for learning opportunities is constantly rising, but the cost of delivering education by conventional means makes it impossible for many countries to satisfy the growing demand.
The largest proportion of the un-reached live in parts of the world that are difficult to reach by any means - conventional or modern. To solve problems in these areas, we need solutions that are both affordable and accessible. If appropriate measures are not taken, there is a risk that the developing global information infrastructure will bypass the 600,000 villages without electricity and simply widen the knowledge gap still further. While it is important to explore the potential benefits to education of the emerging information superhighways, we must also think about creating the infrastructure that reaches out to remote communities, which have so far had little contact with modern technology. As we move rapidly into the information age, old divisions between the haves and the have-nots are being replaced by new ones - between those who are and are not connected. The challenge is not simply to find suitable hardware solutions, but also to prepare communities to become technologically literate. Alternative energy technologies, such as solar-powered communication devices, have an important role to play here.
The search for media solutions to educational problems must not be dissociated from the learning context itself. What is required is the creation of examples of good educational practice, using the technological solutions in question. This is what impresses policy-makers and decision-makers. It is also important to show that significant cost savings will result from such applications.
Together with the International Telecommunications Union, UNESCO is currently involved in developing technologies within relevant educational contexts. For example, we are currently setting up a pilot project on the Educational Application of Interactive Television for implementation in South Africa. Partnerships among countries are important for the dissemination of innovative approaches. They allow countries to learn from each other, to collaborate on developments and to create unprecedented economies of scale for applications such as satellite communication. This is the rationale behind UNESCO's involvement in the Joint Initiative on Distance Education of the Nine High-Population Countries. Like the Interactive TV project, this nine-country initiative is part of UNESCO's "Learning Without Frontiers" programme. The participating countries - Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, Brazil and Mexico - make up half the world's population and include almost three quarters of its illiterate people. By cooperating, these countries have created an excellent environment for new technological applications to achieve global impact.
Finally, one of the most important features of emerging technologies is their potential to make the learning environment more interactive and flexible. Dialogue is one of the most powerful stimuli for the development of the mind. It is probably the main area in which traditional distance education has been found wanting. Thanks to recent technological developments, we are finally capable of making a real breakthrough in this area and of creating an effective global learning environment to which everyone will have access, anywhere, at any time, at any age, in any circumstance.
Lifelong learning for all - this is the goal. We are delighted to be associated with partners such as the Consortium for the Advancement of Affordable Distance Education (CAADE) and the Global University in promoting our shared objective.
Note by T. Utsumi:
This greeting was originally given at the "Global Lecture Hall (GLH)" videoconferencing held by GLOSAS/USA at the Ohio University in October 25, 1995. It was on the occasion of the VIth International Conference on Distance Education: "Technology and Distance Education: Sharing Experiences around the World," in San Jose, Costa Rica. The theme of the GLH was "Affordable and Accessible Global Electronic Distance Education" and its signal was sent to Central and South America, to Scandinavia and Japan using several INTELSAT channels and via Internet. The Consortium for the Advancement of Affordable Distance Education (CAADE) mentioned in this greeting has evolved into the Global University System which was initiated at the workshop on "Emerging Global Electronic Distance Learning" that was held at the University of Tampere, Finland, in August 9 to 13, 1999, where this greeting was also presented (http://www.uta.fi/~titava/EGEDL/).
Author Biographical Sketch
Federico Mayor, Ph.D.
Foundation for Culture of Peace
Global University System
calle Velazquez, 14 - 3o derecha
Tel: +34 91 426 15 55
Fax: +34 91 431 63 87
Federico Mayor Zaragoza was born in Barcelona in 1934. Holding a Doctorate in Pharmacy from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid (1958), in 1963 he became professor of biochemistry in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Granada, and in 1968 he was elected Rector of that university, a post he held until 1972. The following year he was appointed professor in biochemistry at the Universidad Autónoma in Madrid.
Co-founder in 1974 of the Severo Ochoa Centre of Molecular Biology at the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid and the High Council for Scientific Research, among other political posts Professor Mayor has held those of Undersecretary of Education and Science in the Spanish government (1974-75), Deputy in the Spanish Parliament (1977-78), Advisor to the President of the Government (1977-78), Minister of Education and Science (1981-82) and Deputy in the European Parliament (1987). In 1978 he became the Vice-Director General of UNESCO, and in 1987 he was elected Director General of that organisation, being re-elected for a second mandate in 1993. After having decided not to present himself for a third term, in 1999 he returned to Spain to create the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, serving as its President.
During his twelve years as head of UNESCO (1987-1999) Professor Mayor Zaragoza gave new life to the Organization's mission to "build a bastion of peace in the minds of all people," putting the institution at the service of peace, tolerance, human rights and peaceful coexistence, working within the scope of its powers and remaining faithful to its original goals. Under Professor Mayor's guidance, UNESCO created the Culture of Peace Programme, whose objectives revolve around four principal themes: education for peace; human rights and democracy; the fight against isolation and poverty; the defence of cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue; and conflict prevention and the consolidation of peace.
Within the framework of this strategy, numerous international meetings and conferences have been on subjects such as education in non-violence, the eradication of discrimination and the promotion of pluralism and international cooperation. The result of these meetings was a significant number of Declarations - some thirty in all - that express a will to promote education, science, culture, research and teaching, as well as justice and the "moral and intellectual solidarity" to which the Constitution of UNESCO refers. On 13 September 1999, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration and Programme of Action on a Culture of Peace, which embodies Professor Mayor Zaragoza's greatest aspirations from both a conceptual and practical standpoint.
Through the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, created in Madrid in March, 2000 under the sponsorship of the Department of Education of the Autonomous Community of Madrid, Professor Mayor continues the task commenced as Director General of UNESCO of promoting the transition from a culture of violence and force to a culture of peace and tolerance in all walks of life. Each year the Foundation offers an annual Course on a Culture of Peace in collaboration with the Juan Carlos I University of Madrid, with educational content concerning the origin of conflicts, democracy, and human rights. And in December, 2000 the Foundation organised an International Conference attended by major figures in the struggle for justice, freedom and peace. At the end of the conference, the Declaration of Madrid was adopted unanimously.
In addition to numerous scientific publications, Professor Federico Mayor has published four books of poetry, A contraviento (1985), Aguafuertes (1991), El fuego y la esperanza (1996) y Terral (1997) and various collections of essays: Un mundo nuevo (in English, The World Ahead: Our Future in the Making) (1999), Los nudos gordianos (1999) Mañana siempre es tarde (1987), La nueva página (1994), Memoria del futuro (1994), La paix demain? (1995), Science and Power (1995) and UNESCO: un idéal en action (1996).