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|A surprise gift (chocolate) sent to me from Vienna as a token of appreciation.|
"A lifelong learning framework encompasses learning throughout the lifecycle, from early childhood through retirement. It encompasses formal learning (schools, training institutions, universities); nonformal learning (structured on-the-job training); and informal learning (skills learned from family members or people in the community). It allows people to access learning opportunities as they need them rather than because they have reached a certain age. (The World Bank Report, 2003).The next question is, how do we incorporate lifelong learning model into our existing educational framework? It is obvious that our educational systems can no longer emphasis task-specific skills but must focus instead on developing learners' decision-making and problem-solving skills and teaching them how to learn on their own and with others (The World Bank Report, 2003). Achieving these goals requires a fundamental change in the way learning takes place and the relationship between learner and teacher. Our graduates need to be equipped with the essential skills and competencies they need to succeed in knowledge economy era. These skills include mastery of technical, interpersonal, and methodological skills. Technical skills include literacy, foreign language, math, science, problem-solving, and analytical skills. Interpersonal skills include teamwork, leadership, and communication skills. Methodological skills include ability to learn on one's own, to pursue lifelong learning, and to cope with risk and change.
"We must produce confident students with a sense of balance and proportion. While an individual may specialize in a certain area, his or her perspective should be enriched by other experiences as well. The Ministry of Higher Education will thus introduce a holistic programme that will cut across all disciplines and focus on communication and entrepreneurial skills. The programme, which is intended to build a balanced perspective in all students, will expose them to subjects beyond their area of specialisation. For example, students reading for degrees in the sciences such as medicine, engineering and chemistry will be exposed to courses covering literature and philosophy. Likewise, students in the humanities will be exposed to the rudiments of science and technology, and certainly, ICT."Reading through the whole document giving me the impression that our educational reform is very much in line with the lifelong learning model proposed in the World Bank Report. In fact, lifelong learning was specifically mentioned (National Higher Education Action Plan [2007-2010], page 39) and has been identified as one of the Critical Agenda Projects (CAP). Other CAPs directly related to teaching and learning are "Teaching and Learning" and "E-learning". I want to be optimistic about the successful implementation of the Action Plan but having seen the detail of how the various CAPs are being managed and executed...I have my doubt. But again, I always believe that we don't really have to wait for the policy or strategic plan to come in place. The initiative can be taken by parties at different levels -- institution, faculty/department, and individual (educators).
"Dynamic and relevant curriculum and pedagogy are needed to ensure the health and strength of an institution. Inter-disciplinary approaches to the design of higher education curricula will build and stimulate creativity, innovation, leadership and entrepreneurship. Curricula must also equip undergraduates with appropriate skills to enable them to compete in an ever-changing market. Curricula must be reviewed, and courses that are no longer relevant must be removed. Peer review and industry collaboration must be enhanced in curricula development and evaluation".