2003 Ed. by T. Varis, T. Utsumi, and W. R. Klemm
University of Tampere, Hameenlinna, Finland
Peace is the most important word as always. Globalization is the word to achieve peace.
History shows that literacy, education and local understanding are keys to sustainable development. In Finland, a very poor country in the 19th century, not even independent, great thinkers like Snellman, Lonnrot, Runeberg and Topelius understood that only through education and culture can a nation, especially a small nation, prosper. This led to a fantastic ("finntastic") development.
The Finns without any natural resources, except our forests and our brains, managed to achieve and keep our independence and develop a modern competitive industry leading to a society second to none.
If there is one thing the world should learn from the Finnish experience, it is the Snellman doctrine: Education. Today there is no Global University System. Tomorrow there will be one. The technology is there. The political will is mostly there.
The biggest problem is the situation in the LDCs, the least developed countries. How can we solve this problem? Although the overall situation is dominated by the market forces, - that is OK - we have also to show some solidarity.
Africa is a special case. Why is this continent so dark? Why is the gap between Africa and the rest of the world constantly widening? Why is business not considering Africa to be part of the market? Why is Africa "hopeless" in the case of AIDS?
There are many reasons for this misery. There are historical reasons, especially colonialism and artificial and wrong borders leading to internal and external wars. There are African reasons, both physical - climate and mental - bad leadership. Not one of the 53 independent African nations can be used as a really good example - as a prospering modern democratic state. And there are global reasons. There are more attractive markets elsewhere in the developing world, in Asia as well as in Latin America. In the globalization debate, Africa is often totally forgotten. This is wrong!
My modest solution to these problems is education, literacy including Internet literacy and more. This of course has to be a long-term project, but in the long term no real progress can be found without culture and understanding through education again including Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs).
In the developing countries this is also in general a gender issue. Women are the focal points in the households and families everywhere. If they are illiterate, they have very few tools in order to help the next generations to improve their lives, to lift themselves up from the misery. The gap only widens.
Some years ago I visited Indonesia. The conference concluded that the main problem for this great country is poor education, in particular lack of teachers. The situation is the same in many other developing countries. Teachers are not paid well enough, and teaching is not considered to be a good career.
Basic education is key, but higher education and research are also important.
On the basis of the above, my appeal to everybody is: please try to have a global vision, i.e., look at the globe as a whole, as a real global market. We are neighbours all over the world. And please never forget to invest in education.
Author Biographical Sketch
Pekka Tarjanne, Ph.D.
Global University System (GUS)
Secretariat, Room DC1-1454
One UN Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
Fax: (212) 963-1712
E-mail: email@example.com and
Director-General of Post Telecommunications in Finland in 1977-89. Since 1989 as Secretary-General of International Telecommunications Union (ITU), he has made a significant contribution to the development of the global telecommunications. Executive Coordinator, United Nations Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) Task Force in 2001-2002.
Pekka Tarjanne has also distinguished himself in research work and teaching at universities. After obtaining a Ph.D. from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1962, he engaged in research work and teaching in Denmark, the US and Finland.
His achievements include a notable political career through which he has also influenced the telecommunications industry. He was President of the Finnish Liberal Party in 1968-78, a Member of Parliament in 1970-77 and Minister of Transport and Communications in 1972-75, serving also as Minister responsible for Nordic cooperation.