PRINCE EL HASSAN WARNS OF THE COMMODIFICATION OF HIGHER EDUCATION
autor: Majlis El Hassan
published on : 25/05/2009
Majlis El Hassan
Amman – Majlis El-Hassan
HRH Prince El Hassan bin Talal of Jordan said that “Critical thinking is that astute cognitive presence in which the learner brings the sum of his / her intellectual faculties to bear on the given object of enquiry, in a delicate process of constructionist discourse.”
In his closing keynote address at the UNESCO Forum on Higher Education in the Europe Region, in Bucharest last Saturday (May, 23, 2009), HRH clarified that “today, the majority of education systems both in the West and elsewhere, teach their pupils to rely on the brain’s taxon memory system which is activated by repetition. Even in the so termed ‘advanced countries’ where universities pay lip service to critical thinking, the reality as it pertains on the ground is oftentimes very different.”
“While some educational jurisdictions have made some strides in moving away from the Holy Grail of the examination (at least theoretically and rhetorically), it is still a pertinent reality that ‘grades’ attained in the artificial and synthetic environment of the examination room – an environment that will never again be replicated in the student’s ‘real’ world, are in many cases the single most decisive factor in determining admission at institutions of pedigree, and in most cases, determining the annotation that accompanies the ensuing qualification,” the Prince said.
Thus, Rote learning, for Prince El Hassan is “brain antagonistic, and brain antagonistic pedagogies inhibit real experiential learning.”
“Universities are at their best when they ingrain in their students’ minds the need to seek clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, logic, significance and above all, empathy – the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and see the world through their eyes. Inculcating these characteristics in students will ensure the cultivation of minds that can probe and analyze, create solutions to problems, and expand boundaries of knowledge further and further,” HRH added.
Prince El Hassan warned of the commodification of higher education which is “a worldwide phenomenon with many universities increasingly becoming assembly lines (…) Public universities are in many places being ‘privatized’ in the sense that they are increasingly responsible for raising their own funds. Students are increasingly seen as ‘customers’ (…) The privatization of education risks turning the scholar into a commodity, and thought into a production line.”
HRH called on higher education institutions to engage in a collective and meaningful conversation to enhance the trajectory of higher education for the sake of future end-users.
While in Bucharest, Prince El Hassan met with Professor Ionel Haiduc, President of Romanian National Academy and His Beatitude Dr. Daniel Ciobotea, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Both meetings stressed the need for more cooperation between Europe and West Asia-North Africa region (WANA) on human issues.
Prince El Hassan also addressed the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Energy and Environment, in Vienna, Austria (May 18, 2009).
HRH called for the establishment of an “EU – WANA Water and Energy Community”, a supra-national non-partisan body – an institutional framework providing new incentives for the management and protection of common resources.
Prince El Hassan stressed the need for solidarity with the poor through establishing a Cohesion Fund. “The world’s poor have a legitimate right to and need for increased energy services that are affordable, healthier, more reliable and more sustainable. We can no longer view the world’s poor as collateral damage and externalities falling beyond the bounds of our own harmonious social systems. We must ensure that the most marginalized and vulnerable of our population are involved as stakeholders in their own development,” HRH said.
HRH also called for a “Regional Security Organisation (RSO) that adheres to the ‘new security thinking’ – It would be the mandate of this organisation to create a conference on trans-border security and cooperation, as well as to develop ‘smart power’ trans-border security and stability agreements.”
On their visit to Vienna, TRH Prince El Hassan and Princess Sarvath were received by Austrian President Heinz Fischer and Austrian National Council President Barbara Prammer.
In addition, the Prince attended a meeting of the Austrian Chapter of the Club of Rome, and addressed the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue.
(Amman 25 May 2009)
Press Secretary of HRH Prince El Hassan Bin Talal