TABLE OF CONTENT
Futuristic Views and Perspectives
"Doom and Gloom" Future Perspectives
Agricultural production and food security:
Rising sea levels and exposure to climate disasters:
New Disease and Human Health:
The World Population:
Issue of Poverty:
Depletion of Resources:
Other Depletions on Planet Earth:
World Conflicts and Terrorism:
Positive, Visionary, and Evolutionary Futurists Perspective
Hope of Biotechnology(BT):
Human Genome Technology:
Global Warming, Energy Crisis & Technology
Changing Global Economic Order
Education for the Future
Policy of Curriculum and Subject Matter
What should be the curriculum content in our schools?
Teacher as Facilitator ofLearning:
Policy towards New Methods of Learning:
Delineating an Educational Policy Framework for the Developing Nations in Meeting the Emerging Global Challenges by Year 2050
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. We are faced now with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history there is such a thing as being too late…We may cry out desperately for time to pause in her passage, but time is deaf to every plea and rushes on. Over the bleached bones and jumbled residues of numerous civilizations are written the pathetic words: Too late.” ‘Where do we go from here: chaos or community’ Martin Luther King Jr.
Philosophies, theories and practices need to be re-examined from time to time to delineate a policy framework that suits the contemporary world. The usual practice in education is to frame a policy in today’s context and not in a futuristic context. This practice has always caused education to be outdated when it comes to meeting future demands. If educators agree that formal schooling is to prepare the current generation of children to lead their lives as effective, efficient, satisfied and dignified citizens in the emerging world ahead of them, then there is very little argument for any one to oppose the re-examination of the philosophies, theories and the practices of today to make education futuristic. The shaping of the future generation rests in the hands of the present adult population and not in the hands of the children because the young child has no say on what s/he has to study at school. In this context there is a larger responsibility in the hands of the adults to identify what kind of education will be better for their children in order to enable them to meet the future challenges.
If not all adults, at least the educated adults are much more aware of today’s demands, and yet even they are not necessarily aware of the emerging future.
Educational reforms have always been a controversial subject particularly in the developing countries because education has to face ‘the inherent duality’ in education. On the one hand, framing education policy is aimed at preserving a nation’s history, culture, heritage and belief systems. On the other hand it has to accommodate change to bring about the future generation in-line with the emerging world. These two functions respectively are better known as ‘conservation’ and ‘development’. There is very little opposition to ‘conservation’ because the older generations, fathers/mothers and grand-fathers/grand-mothers always – are the policy makers, and they believe that the education that they received was more discipline oriented,moreknowledgebased,produced dignified gentlemen etc. Particularly in the developing countries where extended family culture predominates,the grand father’s generation plays even abigger role than the parent generation. Therefore,‘conservation’ is easy to achieve in framing of education policy than accommodating ‘development’ or ‘change’. Further more,it is less costly to frame a curriculum for the past and the present than for the future. It is easy to find teachers to teach the subjects like history,culture etc. All these factors facilitate conservation.Such facility naturally is not readily available to support‘change’.
In the past the controversy of‘conservation’as opposed to‘change’did not matter much because socioeconomic change was taking place at a very slow pace. AlvinToffler(1970)2 in his ‘FutureShock’ indicates that“if the last 50,000years of man’s existence were divided into lifetimes....There have been about 800such lifetimes’-(generations).‘Of this650generations lived in caves....Only during the last seventy five lifetimes(4650years)has it been possible to communicate effectively from one lifetime to another- as writing made it possible to do. Only in the last sixlifetimes masses of men have been able to see a printed word. Only in the last four has it been possible to measure time with any precision. Only in the last two has anyone anywhere used an electric motor.And the overwhelming majority of all the material goods we use in daily life today have been developed within the present, the 800th, lifetime.”When anyone of us takes this historical perspective of human development and achievements into consideration, it is not difficult for us to understand two things: One, it is easily understood why‘conservation’could always win in the‘duality-struggle’.The other is to realize that in the‘changing-times’of human kind, time has come to accommodate‘change’over‘conservation’because the 800th lifetime is not only passing by in speed but also asToffler says ‘it marks a sharpbreakwith all past human experiencebecause man’s relationship to resources has reversed itself.Within a single life time, agriculture, the original basis of civilization, has lost its dominance in nation after nation.’- (Toffler 1970, P22).
It is in this context;Iselected this topic because‘change’demands firstlyan understanding of change in a futuristic manner;secondlyto identifyhowchange can be introduced, and thirdly where to find the necessaryresources to introduce change.These threequestions are very pertinentpolicyquestions.The framing ofpolicyalso demands noveltyin thinking and there is so much opposition to such changes in the developing countries largelydue to the same historical reasons, the values inculcated in adults belongs to the totalpast, thepast800th lifetimes.Also, due to socialist values those inculcated during theColdWarperiod of the800th lifetime are also not facilitating change. If not all, most of the developing nations have been influenced by socialist thinking.There is no doubt that socialist thinking did so much good to the developing nations in terms of respect for humanity, equality and equity and the world benefited much from that ideology. However, in the changing times, at the stage of human history i.e. the 800th lifetime, human kind is faced with a host of new challenges and this demands new directions. Socialism is replaced by democracy. Planned economies are replaced by market mechanisms. Public ownership is shifted to private ownership. Equality is protected by international human rights. Seniority based regimentation is replaced with ability based movements;forced-choice is replaced by freedom to choose. Nationalism is replaced by internationalism. One can keep adding to this list. Change is visible in all domains. Everyone is facing it;and everyone is affected by it.
An innovative policy framework that enables the children of today to live in dignity is much needed. Although there is controversy on the‘changing times’, yet there is clear direction to frame policies to ensure the dignity of children of the developing nations in the emerging world.
Re-examination of foundations of education is much needed for us to provide direction for future education.The14th– 20th century mission and vision of education was religious education, with a little more tilting towards nature in the later part of the19th century, (Encarta Encyclopedia). Education was for the clergy and the children of the elite. We should not forget that the popular education, education for the common man and particularly for women, is a subject of the 800th lifetime–(last65yrs), and was not so before. However, the policies and the modality of education, the formal schools and universities those well suited for the elites, were simply adopted as the model for the new consumer, the commoner, without giving much thought to the expectations of the new consumer. More than the modality, the white collar academic curriculum was of little use to the children of the poor.
The misfit of the formal education model for the children of the less affluent perpetuates the social class disparity–(Sedere2000).This is why today our universities are in chaos because the institutions still offer academic education for the new consumers. It’s a misfit.That’s why most of the children in the developing countries either drop out or fail in school education.The system is a misfit.The foundations of education need to change. At least, it must change at this breaking point of humanity.
This paper makes an attempt to understand the emerging future to understand policy towards the change in content of curriculum. This attempts to direct policy towards methods of learning and managing knowledge.This attempts to show policydirections for changing relations of resources for change.
FedericoMayor, DG/UNESCO, (1999) stated that “When we lookto the future we confront many uncertainties about the world our children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren will live in. But we can be certain of at least one thing:if we want this earth to provide for the needs of its inhabitants, human society must undergo a transformation. The world of tomorrow must be fundamentally different from the world weknow as we step into the 2lst century and the new millennium.We must strive to build a “sustainable future.” Democracy, equity, socialjustice, peace and harmony with our natural environment should be the watchwords of this world to come.We must make sure to place the notion of “durability” at the base of our way of living, of governing our nations and communities, of interacting on a global scale.Education, in the broadest sense of the term, plays a preponderant role. In this development aimed at fundamental changes in our ways of living and behaving.Education is the “force for the future” because it is one of the most powerful instruments of change.One of the greatest problems we face is how to adjust our way of thinking to meet the challenge of an increasingly complex, rapidly changing, unpredictable world.We must rethinkour way of organizingknowledge. This means breaking down the traditional barriers between disciplines and conceiving new ways to reconnect that which has been torn apart.We have to redesign our educational policies and programs.And as we put these reforms into effect we have tokeep our sights on the long term and honor our tremendous responsibility for future generations.”-(FedericoMayor, DG/UNESCO, 1999).
TheWorld DevelopmentReport of 2006 also addresses the issue of ‘Development andNext Generation’- (TheWorld Bank (2007)3.This shows the growing concern of the global communityof the future generation of theworld and examination of the educationpolicies for the future is a sensible thing to do.
FuturisticViews and Perspectives
We have to attempt to understandwhat theworldwould be in2030or2050to frame futuristic educationpolicies.There iswide a range of views andperspectives frompeoplewho have come from a very wide range of different disciplines and backgrounds and interests.These futurists are of two types, and it is important to understand both in framingpolicies.
I. “Doom and Gloom" Futurists:They tend to focus on current real world problems, without easy solutions.They discuss issues such as terrorism, nuclear danger, the continuing population explosion, world hunger, depletion of fossil fuels and other nonrenewable resources, global warming and environmental etc.They project these trends into the future, showing that if current trends continue the future will be much worse than the present-(Linda Groff & Paul Smoker,2006)4.
II. “Positive,Visionary, and Evolutionary Futurists”:They focus more on positively imaging the more desirable futures that we would like to create;articulating the positive values that we would like a future world to be based on;focusing on technological, societal, and human potentials;tracking groups that are actually trying to create such preferable futures in the world today;and generally empowering people to see that we always have choices-(Linda Groff & Paul Smoker,2006)5.
It is not a matter of knowing who is correct or who is wrong, but understanding what is likely to happen? Policy makers should understand the likelihood of the predictions and projection in a rational manner to identify the best course of action to follow as developing nations in educating our children to ensure their well being in the emerging world.
"Doom and Gloom" Future Perspectives
Let’s understand the gloomy side of the future world.This is more important than the understanding the bright side of the world because it is the darker side of the life that we need to address to ensure that these are rightly handled through education to ensure a brighter world for the children.
The gloomiest predict the future world will be more chaotic, scary and problematic.The world resources will be depleted - no water to drink, no gasoline to run motor vehicles, not enough food to eat, etc.The world conflicts will continue and a war torn world will be left behind. Disparities will be widened, and space to live will shrink with global warming. Even if this gloomy perspective is a realistic one, we as adults have to educate and prepare our children to face the emerging gloomy world and manage it in the best possible manner to overcome these constraints.The observations of the gloomiest are true, and it is important to understand them. Yet, these situations could be managed in many other ways if the human resource is prepared to face it.This is where education is the most powerful tool to address it andprepare the801st generation to manage their lifetime efficiently.
The Human Development Report (2007/2008 UNDP), just released, is titled ‘Fighting Climate Change’ and the report defines the human development challenge of the 21st Century. The report indicates that the failure to respond to these challenges will stall and then reverse international efforts to reduce poverty. The poorest countries and most vulnerable citizens will suffer the earliest and most damaging setbacks, even though they have contributed least to the problem. Looking to the future, no country—however wealthy or powerful—will be immune to the impact of global warming.
The Human Development Report 2007/2008 shows that climate change is not just a future scenario. Increased exposure to droughts, floods and storms is already destroying opportunity and reinforcing inequality. Meanwhile, there is now overwhelming scientific evidence that the world is moving towards the point at which irreversible ecological catastrophe becomes unavoidable. Business-as-usual climate change points in a clear direction: unprecedented reversal in human development in our lifetime, and acute risks for our children and their grandchildren - (UNDP HDR 2007/08).6
The report identifies five key transmission mechanisms through which climate change could stall and then reverse human development. If climate change continues in the same way, there will be new issues that the world community will have to address. These issues combined with growing population and disparity in distribution of incomes could bring about more stress, particularly on the marginal poor.
- Agricultural Production andFoodScarcity,
- Water stress and water insecurity,
- Rising sea levels and exposure to climate disasters,
- Ecosystems and biodiversity, and
- Human health.
Agricultural production and food security:
IFPRI (2002),statesthat thestory of food securityin the 21stcenturyislikelytobecloselylinkedtothestory ofwater security. In thecomingdecadesthe world's farmerswill needto produce enoughfoodto feedmanymillionsmorepeople,yet there are virtuallyno untapped,cost-effectivesources ofwater forthem to drawon asthey face this challenge. Moreover,farmerswillface heavy competitionforthiswater from households, industries, andenvironmentalists. Irrigatedagricultural landincreased five timesin the lastcenturyand covers over250 million hectaresandtakes80%- 86% ofthe global water resources. Irrigation ensures food security. By2050 globalpopulation willreach7.9 billion andwith 58% ofthem living inurban areas, thedemand for cerealsalone willrise globallyby over50%and 65%in thedevelopingcountries. It isestimatedthaton a globalscale there are about 20–30 million hectares ofirrigatedlands severelyaffectedby salinity. An additional60–80 million hectaresare affectedto some extent bywaterlogging and salinity(FAO 1996, IFPRI 2002).
Over 60 percent of the world food production is by green water and almost 80 percent of the agricultural land is in use by rain fed production systems. 800 million people do not have access to sufficient food and feeding a world population of 9 billion by the year 2050 is a long-term challenge which implies enormous increased pressure on the world’s finite water resources - ZEF- Obuobie, Gachanja & Dörr (2005)7.
Climate change will affect rainfall, temperature and water availability for agriculture in vulnerable areas. For example, drought affected areas in sub- Saharan Africa could expand by 60–90 million hectares, with dry land zones suffering losses of US$26 billion by 2060 (2003 prices), a figure in excess of bilateral aid to the region in 2005. Other developing regions—including Latin America and South Asia—will also experience losses in agricultural production, undermining efforts to cut rural poverty. The additional number affected by malnutrition could rise to 600 million by 2080. This means the world will be short of food and the poor are the ones who will be more affected (UNDP 2007)8.
If this gloomy picture of food security is true, how would our children live in 2050? Should education address this issue?
Water stress and water insecurity: Many countries in the African and Asia- Pacific regions are entering the era of severe water shortage and even heading towards water stress. Therefore, water planners, managers, users and policy makers have faced many challenges and the biggest challenge for governments and communities is managing the freshwater resources in an integrated manner addressing the social, economic and environmental dimensions of water issues including assessment of availability, its spatial and temporal variations, quality and quantity assessment of water demand by various user/sectors (agriculture, domestic and industrial sectors) with special attention to the ecosystem and environmental concerns, access to participation of local communities in management of freshwater resources etc.(UNEP 2006)9
Changed run-off patterns and glacial melt will add to ecological stress, compromising flows of water for irrigation and human settlements in the process. An additional 1.8 billion people could be living in a water scarce environment by 2080. Central Asia, Northern China and the northern part of South Asia face immense vulnerabilities associated with the retreat of glaciers—at a rate of 10–15 meters a year in the Himalayas. Seven of Asia’s great river systems will experience an increase in flows over the short term, followed by a decline as glaciers melt. The Andean region also faces imminent water security threats with the collapse of tropical glaciers. Several countries in already highly water-stressed regions such as the Middle East could experience deep losses in water availability - (UNDP 2007).
Rising sea levels and exposure to climate disasters:
Sea levels could rise rapidly with accelerated ice sheet disintegration. Global temperature increases of 3–4°C could result in 330 million people being permanently or temporarily displaced through flooding. Over 70 million people in Bangladesh, 6 million in Lower Egypt and 22 million in Vietnam could be affected. Small island states in the Caribbean and Pacific could suffer catastrophic damage. Warming seas will also fuel more intense tropical storms. With over 344 million people currently exposed to tropical cyclones, more intensive storms could have devastating consequences for a large group of countries. The 1 billion people currently living in urban slums on fragile hillsides or flood-prone river banks face acute vulnerabilities – UNDP 2007.
Ecosystems and biodiversity: Climatechange isalreadytransformingecological systems. Around one-half oftheworld’s coral reef systems havesuffered ‘bleaching’asaresultof warming seas. Increasingacidityin theoceansisanother long-term threat tomarine ecosystems. Ice-basedecologies have also suffered devastating climatechange impacts,especiallyin theArctic region. Whilesome animaland plantspecies willadapt, formany speciesthepaceof climatechange istoo rapid:climatesystemsare movingmorerapidlythan they canfollow. With 3°C of warming, 20–30 percentof land species could face extinction– (UNDP 2007).
"Living Planet Report 2006," released in October 2006 by the global conservation group and the Global Footprint Network, says that by 2050 humanity will demand twice as much as the planet can supply. The changing state of global biodiversity and the pressures of human consumption on natural resources is major concern for all.
2 Alvin Toffler (first published 1970), ‘The 800th Lifetime’, in Future Shock, Pan Books,
3 The World Bank (2007): Development and the Next Generation, The World Development Report 2007
6 UNDP (2007), Human Development Report 2007/2008,
7 ZEF (2005) , Emmanuel Obuobie, Paul Mwangi Gachanja & Andrea Cristina Dörr, The Role ofGreen Waterin Food Trade
8 UNDP (2007), Human Development Report 2007/2008