This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

November 6, 2002

Valuing Education

Education is the most important work for us to do in this generation. Unfortunately, there is too much evidence that the vital mission of educating children and preparing them for their future is severely lacking. Lest you believe this statement is another diatribe about low paid teachers (we've seen increasing media reports and commentaries in several countries recently), the problem goes much deeper that this oft-repeated complaint.

Global education is woefully ineffective in its capacity to fulfill its mission with currently available resources. Today's leaders will become even more entangled in this issue as they realize that tomorrow's leaders, tomorrow's workforce, tomorrow's citizens need help now to prepare to lead the world that will be their home in the future. Education will receive serious and substantial attention in the very near future as the media illuminates current conditions. Emerging workforce shortages will energize demands for improved education and training.

In developed countries, teachers are challenged by inadequate pay, serious deficiencies in books and other learning materials, insufficient time to cover all the material that must be taught, and a frustrating scarcity of competent colleagues. And we haven't even addressed the dramatic need for improved technology in academic environments.

Let's turn our attention from "developed countries." In this context, we must look at what is happening-or not happening-in underdeveloped or developing countries. While we bemoan the insufficient preparation of children who already have all sorts of benefits, we are increasingly conscious of the plight of younger generations growing up in countries plagued by poverty, famine, disease, and conflict.

The unanswered questions are who will provide the impetus, the leadership, and the resources---financial, academic, administrative, social, and technological. For many peoples, an upgrade in education will influence major lifestyle and societal changes. The United Nations, though concerned, lacks resources and clout. Perhaps the call will be heard by philanthropists from the United States, Japan, and other countries.

There is justification for day-long, year-round schooling in industrialized nations as well as for education-deprived countries around the world. The need is real. Education is poised for major change.

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