The opening plenary on Funding of Education was a mixed bag. The Director-General of UNESCO yammered about education as the cure for all ills and berated the private sector for not paying their fare share. A World Bank economist offered pie-in-the-sky plans for funding, e.g. pay for performance. Too bad we’d be waiting a quarter century to assess that performance. The head of an NGO in Pakistan that has built 660 schools serving 92,000 students solicited funding from the Pakistani diaspora and high-net worth individuals. “Look at their happy faces.”
“Why are employers not stepping up?” Well, there’s an iffy value proposition. The payoff takes longer than the lifespan of a typical corporation. I recalled the Jesse Helms line: “Don’t tax me; don’t tax thee; tax that fellow behind the tree.” Why were there no representative from the private sector on the panel?
I met up with Donald Clark, one of my favorite people. In a session yesterday he asked advocates of forward-looking schools whether they considered faith-based education forward-looking or backward? (Islamic studies are a mainstay in this neck of the woods.) No one had a viable answer. In response to the claim that reforming school is a marathon, not a sprint, Donald said he thought it was a treadmill.
A session on Open Educational Models was superb. We’ve come far from Lord Crowther’s founding of the Open University in UK. (Open to people, to places, to methods, and to ideas.) The focus has shifted from the “New Learner” to the digital native to the Ultimate Learner.
#1 driver of self-directed learning is personal development. At Indira Gandhi Open University, students learn for free and can buy the related credentials for a fee. IGOU is democratizing education by putting it on the student’s doorstep. 500 million people are learning new skills.