|Popularization of Science and Technology - What Informal and Non-formal Education Can Do? (Faculty of Education,University of Hong Kong - UNESCO, 1989, 210 p.)|
|Papers presented at the Conference:|
Popularisation of science and technology is an important task for the society depends, how we judge and understand science and technology, either as the tool of human development or as a dominant factor of the human life. This basic precondition reflects itself on our education system in all three areas of education policy: in the formal education, in the nonformal and informal education. Therefore the introduction and popularisation of science and technology is not a neutral process, it is a very hot political issue. Personally, I see this question through the eyes of a worker educator, who dedicated his whole working life to workers and adult education. Therefore the introduction and popularisation of science and technology in the formal and nonformal education system demand an overall consensus amongst the economic pressure groups of our societies. Because of this precondition the rate of adaption and change of educational structures in societies is rather slow. We have to be aware that structures, especially in the formal sector, are on the whole not able to cope immediatly with the progress of technology and science.
In the nonformal sector the rate of innovations is relatively higher, because nonformal education has not so tight structures as the formal education system.
The existing gap and the growing knowledge in science and technology is one of the fundamental problems of our societies, especially of the underdeveloped regions on our earth. It is a fact, that the breakthrough of the so-called key technologies has totally changed our leisure and working life.
Popularisation of science and technology could help to bridge the growing gap between the progress of science and technology and the needs of societies. In the process, we observe a steadily rising demand for higher qualified and skilled people, who are able to operate and manage new technologies and science.
Especially the developing countries suffering under illiteracy and therefore on a great waste of human talents and abilities. The popularisation of science and technology must therefore have differentiated character in the developing countries than in developed countries. For these problems a separate item on the agenda of this conference would be necessary.
Science and technology - A challenge for education
We are observing the global breakthrough of the so called key technologies, which are the driving force behind change. Our historical experience shows, that if technology and science are changing, also the instruments of society to control and to manage technological and scientific development must change. The important key technologies, who are the driving forces amongst others, are as follows: microelectronics, electronic, media, satellite technology, bio and gentechnology.
All these key technologies are changing and revolutionizing our society and are influencing our educational, social and cultural structures in a very serious way.
Especially the microelectronics, the computers, the electronic communication and the satellite technology has developed consequences for our leisure and working life.
Three tendencies are challenging us in a serious way:
1. The typical process character of new technologies, which demands extensive integration, flexibility and adaptation from our education system.
2. The system character of work and production. The new technologies and the increasing application of science do not change individual working places alone; they are changing the total system.
3. By application of new technologies and science, we are able to use them in a universal way, in all areas of production, in communication, in services, in agriculture, in the development of science anal technology itself, anal even in our daily life.
These three tendencies demand a radical new approach in formal and nonformal education. The informal education is especially affected by means of new communications (electronic media). The new approach means a new type of learning and the application of interdisciplinary thinking and learning to control and to work with the new process and system character in work and leisure.
We need a breakdown of the faculty system and interdisciplinary thinking in all areas in education of society. Therefore we need, for example school students with a sound polytechnic knowledge. We are needing doctors with technical and sociological knowledge, we need engineers with knowledge on medicine and human relations, we need lawyers with knowledge on human, economic and technical management, we need economists with a sound knowledge on human resources and we need teachers, who are motivating and not demotivating for life long learning.
The new Learning
Traditional learning was the key of success of our past. Traditional learning was directed to get or to teach defined issue, methods and rules to manage situations, which repeatly took place for centuries. This learning guaranteed the survival of the existing systems and our way of life.
This traditional learning was basically interrupted by unforeseen shocks with all their social and cultural consequences. Learning by shocks and events like Chernobyl, environment hazards, hunger in the third world and other catastrophes are far too dangerous for us in our time and could lead in chaotic situations with the danger of a total collapse of our societies.
At present in spite of billions of investments in education, we have to admit that we know very little about other people s technological, science, social, cultural and religious situations and development, their human values, beliefs and their religious and cultural practices.
In spite of undoubtably better, higher and far more widespread education, hate and racial discrimination is not decreasing, it is increasing. We have to take in account that our education system worldwide has more or less failed, a possible global on fundamental questions is far. A head inspite we are dealing with global technology and science.
What do we need?
We need urgently a way out of this human dilemma.
We need innovative learning processes, which integrate anticipative and participative learning. Participation means more discussion, more orientation and learning in alternatives.
Participation means also dialogs, communication and co-operation. Popularization of science and technology in formal, non-formal and informal education will be a helpless beginning, if we are not able to change and adapt the learning processes for the youth and adults.
Popularization of new technologies - An Austrian case shady
Austria is a small, but-highly industrialised country. It was heavily destroyed after Second World War and has now reached roughly the seventh place in the social and industrial ladder of Europe.
Besides a well developed parliamentary system, the social-economic partners of Austria (Trade Union and Employers Associations) has contributed a lot to the Austrian economic, social and educational development. They are permanently involved in all major economic, social and educational discussions and decisions.
Popularization of science and technology outside of the working world is not very difficult, because commercial interest has made computer games, electronic and video technology to an everyday instrument, for instance, the home computers are at present a dominant factor of our leisure time.
In industry, in production and services as well as in the formal and nonformal education the introduction of computers was more complicated. Traditional behaviour and structures were endangered and challenged by new technology and science.
Many workers lost their jobs and qualifications. In the formal and nonformal education system new technologies were for years not seriously discussed. An Overall campaign for new technologies at schools, universities, as well as in the non-formal education system was urgently needed.
Attitude of workers organisations towards new technologies in formal education
The approach of workers organisations vis-a-vis technologies is rather simple. It founded its expression in a simple sentence: we are for the introduction of new technologies and science in all areas of education, but under negotiated conditions. This basic position was also accepted by the social partners in Austria.
By consensus the Austria ministry of education and science was asked to introduce new technologies in the formal education system following pre-conditions where for this step necessary on education.
A commission to reform the formal education system decided, together with the minister of education that within the curricula a subject preparation for the world of working has to be introduced.
Secondly factory visits and an extensive professional orientation has been introduced in the curricula.
A concensus between employers and trade organisations to support the ministry to install computers and other technologies was negotiated and agreed.
A computer center in a teacher training college was built up for the study of all computer system available on the market. The next step was an extensive training of teacher in this area. We know that teacher has only little knowledge in science and technology and their practical applications. At last 20% of teaching was dedicated to discuss the social and economic consequences of new technologies and science.
For this demand trade unions and employers organisations prepared materials, videos and other written material for schools and universities. In addition they nominated their own experts for discussions and lectures on school university level and in the broad area of nonformal education.
The trade unions of Austria offered a large scale of teacher training seminars at their own cost. The trade unions trained in these programs in the last year more than 1000 teachers in Austria.
New technologies are now accepted part of the formal education and workers organisations are pressing permanently for a test installation of new technologies in secondary and especially in apprentice schools. The universities are inviting trade unions and employers organisations to participate in seminars for technology orientation.
The non formal education
The formal and nonformal education system has to be linked in popularization of science and technology. It is a fact that all what we miss in the formal education, we have to educate in the non-formal area with heavy investment. We know that the formal education system will never meet the requirement of changing technology and science.
Therefore adult and workers education gets more and more important. The demand of long life education reflects also in the rapid change of science and technology and their application. In Austria there are different programs of adult and workers education in operation. Mainly they are qualification programs for retraining and further training.
The financial burden for these education and training programs which include also elements of workers education are partly borne by private institution, the employers organisations and trade unions running big professional training centers for adults.
These institutions are mainly financed by active manpower policy funds of the state budget or by other subsidies. These institutions are equipped with all modern machinery and technologies and co-operates very strongly with universities and other educational bodies. The main contents of these training courses are mainly qualification seminars, which are planned together with job demands of the economy. The courses, where education and training are combined with job creation, are coming more and more in the forefront, because training and education isolated from job creation and development could be a great failure. The demand for high qualifications is a strong issue for popularising schemes of new technologies and science.
The growing informal education
The informal education structures are growing because of new electronic media, which are offering science and technology programs.
An interesting feature is the growing interest of the population on science and technology programs in radio and television. In Austria the social partner, started so-called combined media programs, on science and technology questions. They consisted of 10-12 minutes TV-programs, printed material to these TV-programs and organized study circles, which were organized by adult and workers education associations.
Similar programs were also distributed in the radio system. For such a development it is important that adult and workers education associations have access to the electronic media and a certain influence on their program.
A great extent of informal education programs take place in the cultural field, whereby animation and participating by doing things is the general line of educating people. Informal education provides normally programs which offering the chance to activate people in the educational and cultural field.
Finally may I underline that popularizing of technology and science has the following preconditions:
1. The status and financing of education especially nonformal in society has to be improved.
2. Technology and science in informal and nonformal education have to be adapted to the economic and social demands and needs of the society. The education system has to orient itself not purely on economic interests, but also on the social and cultural consequences of our technological environment:
3. Popularization of science and technology means also to challenge educational structures, learning processes and the development of interdisciplinary thinking and approaches.
4. Innovative learning is needed instead of pure traditional learning.
5. Participation and anticipation in learning processes.
6. Teacher training has to be radically improved and changed.
7. Popularization of new technologies and science must be developed in an atmosphere of political concensus to safeguard a balance economic and social interest in society.