n my blog of April 2008 entitled "Knowledge: the new wealth that will replace oil," I mentioned how a country, Qatar, wanted to switch its economy from being oil based to knowledge based. This is also the country that created an Education City from sand dunes, made up of universities, companies, and institutions that work in training. It recently hosted the third annual WISE conference (World Innovation Summit for Education). For more information, see the full report in the November 8 edition of Les Echos. As the OECD points out in their report, adult education is crucial in the fight against social exclusion, poverty, and unemployment. It can also be used to overcome the challenges of economic competitiveness. This idea is echoed in the introduction of the summit given by the Emir of Qatar: "Investing in education, whatever the cost, is the most rewarding choice to be made in terms of human development and economic progress."
The willingness and commitment that goes with this statement is impressive, coming from a country that doesn’t have such a rich university or cultural history as ours. The Education City outside Doha will host many prestigious foreign universities, including HEC, as well as corporate research centers. It will become unique in the world for knowledge acquisition and experience sharing.
During the forum, three major trends for the upcoming years in education and training were discussed. The first trend is the increase in use of IT tools, such as e-learning, in the learning process. I’ve personally noticed this trend in my work at Demos, with the increase in requests for e-learning after our seminar "E-Learning: seven good reasons to start". Next comes the idea of the holistic approach in the learning process: traditionally intelligence was thought as coming from the brain. Now we must also take into account all the different parts of both the physical and psychological personality of the learner. The last trend concerns the decrease in the state’s monopoly on education. Financing education by the state is too costly as we have moved from an idea of training for a few people to training for everyone. Additionally, scientific research and teaching is no longer reserved for the public sector. It is now open to the business world. That is why educational projects can involve a larger variety of key players, mixing public and private partnerships across borders. Education and training are becoming major international causes. François Taddei, Inserm Research Director at the University of Paris Descartes, calls for the installation of an education G8 summit "to ensure that education is really suited to the twenty-first century on an international level. "
These three trends (ICT development, the holistic approach in the learning process, and an international public/private coordination of education) demonstrate that education and training have become instruments that transcend governments to be at the service of the planet, ensuring economic development and social peace.