How Can Learning Contribute to Development?
University of Guyana, The Dennis Irvine Lecture, 27 February 2007, How Can Learning Contribute to Development? Sir John Daniel, Commonwealth of Learning // Six years ago, when my predecessor and friend Professor Raj Dhanarajan gave this lecture he chose as his topic Combating Poverty through Adult Education. I shall be returning to some of the themes that Raj explored and have taken as my title: How Can Learning Contribute to Development? I shall begin by dwelling on the notion of development. We use the word liberally every day, but what do we mean by it? How do we break this broad concept down into some goals that we can pursue in a systematic way? // Looking at such goals I shall argue that achieving them - and I mean achieving all of the development goals and not just those directly related to education - depends fundamentally on mass learning. This conclusion presents a problem, because current methods of teaching and learning in face-to-face groups cannot address the scale of the challenge. What has happened in other areas of life when old methods cannot respond to contemporary demands? The answer is technology. // Whether it is in transport, food production, power generation, communications or consumer goods, technology has created revolutions that have provided mass access to goods and services of high quality and relatively low cost. Many of you are carrying a good symbol of that technological revolution in your handbags or pockets this evening - a cell phone. You have others in your homes and your work places. // Can we create a similar revolution by applying technology to learning and so respond to the challenges of development? The evidence suggests that we can. The Commonwealth of Learning has been engaged in that revolution for nearly twenty years. I shall share some of that experience and tell you how we propose to continue that work in the Commonwealth and in Guyana in the coming years.