SHARJAH: Day one of the International Government Communication Forum 2014 has seen most speakers talk about effecting changes to educational models to spur economic growth, but differing on the desired type.
The former president of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, said sending students abroad would help arm them with skills needed for running a diversified economy.
“China and India are leading in this aspect with the former sending 400,000 students abroad, 200,000 of them to the United States of America alone.”
He called for changing methods of education by orienting to the East. He also called for “empowering women and addressing the challenges of the youth.”
Wolfensohn said he was impressed when he read “this morning that Saudi Arabia was sending 30,000 students to the US,” something that would “help create more jobs for them back home beyond the fields of oil and gas.”
Dr Gargash said the UAE on the other hand, is equipping its personnel with new skills without necessarily sending them abroad.
“The American University of Sharjah (AUS) is leading on this front. You don’t need to send many abroad because you can equip your personnel with new skills from within the country.”
However, the former Mexican President, Felipe Calderon said, “We need to change the growth model to one which is humanly sustainable. It can be realised when the governments create equal opportunities.”
Calderon concurred with what the former President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), Mikhail Gorbachev, had advised that the model of growth that is characterised by “hyper profit and hyper consumption” is not sustainable. He also said that “we need to shift to a new paradigm model of growth, but it is not possible without changing the system that revolves around personal wishes.
“Access to education and equal opportunities are all necessary to realise economic efficiency, but economists have not made a major breakthrough on this.”
He said the transition to the new model needs to be hastened but the process itself should be gradual.
Gorbachev added that China, India and Brazil have had “tens of their nationals escape from poverty but millions still on its brink.
He gave startling statistics which showed that “85 per cent of the richest people in the world are wealthier than some 3.5 billion people, a figure half of the planet’s population.” He attributed this to, among other causes, “man-made global warming and environmental destruction.”
Gorbachev appealed to the governments to exercise global glasnost (openness) by not “concealing to their people the challenges of the C21.”