|Education Spurs Hope, Requires Generosity
This Statement on Globalization and Education was produced by the
joint workshop on the same subject of 16-17 November 2005, which was held
at Casina Pio IV. On the basis of a text by Prof. Léna, Prof. Malinvaud
and the Bishop-Chancellor Sánchez, and in response to proposals made by
the President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS), Prof. Cabibbo,
Prof. Battro, Prof. Gardner, Prof. Hide, Prof. Llach, Prot. Mittelstrass,
Prof. Ramirez, Prof. Ryan and Prof. Suárez Orozco, followed by a
discussion between Prof. Léna, Prof. Malinvaud and the Chancellor, this
document was formally approved by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and
the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
A human community that always thinks anew the goals of education
possesses a healthy circulation of ideas and energies for the good of its
members. Each veneration should reconsider how to pass on its culture to
its successors, for it is through education that man becomes fully who he
is, aware, free and responsible, a citizen of the world. To think about
education is to think about future generations and thus is rooted in hope
and requires generosity.
Globalization properly managed may provide a chance for education and
peace, bringing human beings closer to one another and fostering the
sharing of common values.
As in all human matters, education first and foremost must have an idea
of what a human being is, because men and women are those who are educated
and those who educate. Thus, education must answer a key question, namely:
what do we know today about men and women?
The workshop sought to examine what an educational project could be in
an increasingly globalized world. This project must be based on our
current bio-anthropological knowledge of men and women, in dialogue with
the sciences, within the context of the diversity and interdependence of
cultures and the universality of religious, anthropological and ethical
values, which increasingly intersect with communication and information
technology, as well as with new patterns of international migration.
The right to education
In our globalized world, the problem of justice is central: namely,
that all men and women, wherever they are and whatever their condition of
life, should have the right to, and the possibility of a good education
and general access to culture. This means a goal of basic education
— up to nine years — for all, then
secondary and higher education on the basis of abilities and resources.
Clearly, the globalized world also implies an improvement in education
not only for the inhabitants of the developing world but also for the
developed one. For all people today there is a tremendous wealth of
knowledge which is unparalleled in history and which should be made
available through new and suitable processes of synthesis and
transmission. Everyone has the right to an education that sees the
environment as a home, so as to prevent it from becoming harmful to health
The workshop reached the following conclusions:
1. Despite the many declarations and Statements of objectives
enunciated by the United Nations and other agencies, and despite
significant efforts in some countries, education remains extraordinarily
uneven within the world population, although the resources needed to
improve this situation do not seem to be out of reach.
A special cause for concern over the last decade has been the
divergence and growing inequality, which is concomitant with globalization
and related to policies in education, between developed or emerging
countries and stagnating ones, the latter being caught in a poverty trap.
2. Given the growing importance of education, now more important than
ever before in human history, of equal cause for concern is the wide and
frequently increasing quality gap between schools attended by the poor and
schools attended by those who are not poor. This happens in such a way
that differentiated or segregated educational pathways often emerge.
Most alarming is the fact that worldwide nearly 200 million children
and young people who should be receiving basic education are not enrolled
in school at all.
3. Today, in the face of globalization, global migrations, the
explosion of knowledge and the concomitant emergence of a
knowledge-intensive economy, and above all the compelling obligation to
fight poverty by all means throughout the world, education may require
serious re-thinking. The adverse consequences of inadequate education
policies for poor people are amplified by globalization.
4. Globalization has provoked an unprecedented increase in migrant
populations, either within host countries or within large countries.
Today, international migrations are an integral part of global
Migrations can be an extremely positive factor in mutual understanding
and the mixing of cultures. Education plays an important role in the
integration of the children of immigrants worldwide.
While some children of immigrant families do better at school than the
children of indigenous families, others seem to be marked out early on for
social rejection and the experience of problems. Reducing the fracture
with native cultures and languages, and helping to maintain family
stability, are among some of the paths by which to achieve improvements in
5. Education should aim at the full development of the human person,
the promotion of the meaning of human dignity and the strengthening of
respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It should enable all
persons to participate effectively in the human family and should advance
understanding, friendship and cooperation between all peoples, ethnic
groups and religious communities.
Education should also transmit knowledge, higher-order cognitive skills
and the interpersonal sensibility required to help boys, girls, men and
women to become fully themselves and to interact with others. It should
develop their ability to observe, to reason, to synthesize and create
ethical values, and to develop a sense of justice, respect, tolerance and
compassion for others. It should emphasize the responsibility of people to
protect the environment for the benefit of present and future generations,
preventing pollution and ecological deterioration and promoting
conservation and sustainable development.
In its transmission of knowledge and its fostering of creativity,
education should convey the deep lessons of the past and communicate the
opportunities and risks that will be faced by humanity in the future.
6. In particular in the context of globalization, respect for cultural
diversity and the preservation of the elements of cultural identity are
essential in the educational process.
New generations have to understand in a clear way their own culture in
relation to other cultures it order to develop self-awareness when racing
cultural changes and to promote peaceful understanding and tolerance,
thereby identifying and encouraging true human values within an
7. At the same time, education should aim to establish that common
sense of humanity which is essential for the maintenance of peace. This
could be achieved by drawing on the universally of ethical principles and
norms, which are, for instance, expressed in the concepts of human rights
and the dignity of the person, as well as on the universality of
knowledge, wisdom and science.
It is thus also necessary to offer at some points in the educational
process the new image of the universe that the scientific community has
proposed of the cosmos, the earth, life and the emergence of humans and
8. The relativist and nihilists tendencies of some modern movements,
which Benedict XVI and his Predecessors have criticised with increasing
force, have been matched by a welcome and progressive return of ethical,
philosophical and religious questions.
The "wonder" that stimulated the origin of science and the path taken
by science has not diminished but increased with the new discoveries in
the physical and life sciences. This "new world", which has been
increasingly investigated by man, has given rise to even greater amazement
at the universe that could open up a new positive horizon of meaning by
which to understand the mystery of Creation.
In this way, as a result of science, religion and philosophy have
returned to the fore, as is demonstrated by the increasing attention paid
to their recognized roles in their quest for truth. From this springs the
need to take into account sciences, social sciences, philosophy and
religion, and their correlative interdisciplinary dialogue, in
establishing a sound anthropological basis as the pre-condition of
9. Education begins in the maternal womb and at birth. Mothers, fathers
and families in their primary educational role need help to understand —
in the new global context — the importance of this early stage in life,
and should be prepared to act accordingly.
One of the critical paths to a higher quality of education at the
school level is the increased participation of families and local
communities in the governance of their educational projects.
10. Human development depends upon multiple parameters such as
education, health and cultural visions of the family and of the respective
roles of men and women in human society. Yet, it can be asserted that
education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically
insufficient in some parts of the world.
The "classic" basic skills expected of primary education — reading,
writing and arithmetic — are no longer sufficient in a globalized world.
They need to be supplemented by skills leading towards such objectives as
the improvement, the protection or the preservation of work abilities, the
cultural and linguistic heritage, ethical values, social cohesion and the
environment. In the future, this classic triad may expand into a new
objective: "reading, writing, mathematics, reasoning, synthesising".
11. Teaching requires on the part of teachers a high level of knowledge
so that students, who learn through the process of instruction, may
achieve a standard of education that they would not obtain on their own.
Their role as agents of education has to be recognized and supported by
every possible means: for example, continuous coaching by those who have a
more direct access to knowledge (especially trained scholars and
scientists), the updating of professional training, suitable salaries and
the availability of information technology.
In order to facilitate a successful educational process, and so as to
provide every member of society and communities themselves with that level
of knowledge and learning which is a primary factor in conferring autonomy
and encouraging cooperation, it is important to aim for high standards of
quality within the teaching profession, especially at the level of higher
education. This is also required so that, given that the expertise of
every teacher is limited, what a student does not learn from one teacher
he or she may learn from another, and so that teachers may learn from each
other within a context of synergy. To support and promote this dual
process, which is at the origin of schools, universities and other
educational institutions, suitable national, international and private
resources must be made available to them so that, throughout the world,
they can carry out their tasks in an effective way.
12. Communication and information technology (IT) offers extraordinary
opportunities for the renewal of education because of its capacity to
connect people, its ability to promote the accessibility of remote areas,
its decreasing costs and the potential volume of the information it can
convey. It will thus be possible to reduce the costs of education for each
child, even in poor areas.
However, IT tools do not necessarily achieve education on their own.
They need to be accompanied by a conceptual vision in order to promote
dialogue, the active participation of teachers, the organization of
knowledge and an awareness of the importance of values.