Saturday, June 7, 2014

Creating A Learning Society

1. Preamble

A Learning Society is generally considered to be the basis from which Lifelong Learning can take place. From a Theoretical standpoint, not only does the Learning Society provide the Framework in which Lifelong Learning is allowed to flourish but that in fact both elements mutually support each other. That is, a Learning Society gives rise to the capacity for Lifelong Learning but Lifelong Learning allows through Socialization, for Individuals to contribute back to the Learning abilities of broader Society in the form of Wisdom.

This Paper highlights the Link between Development Health, Fiscal Health, Learning Health and Wealth of Communities from Neighborhoods to National to Continents to the Whole World and the Central Role of the Concept of Learning Society in Establishing and Sustaining this Link.

2. Concept

The Concept of Learning Society applies to both Developed Countries and Developing Countries. The Concept of Learning Society expands the Scope of education to allow for more powerful educational learning and entrepreneurial learning inside and outside of Traditional Institutions.

If the Concept of Learning Society is genuinely implemented on both Developed and Developing Countries sides, it could help to improve National and Global Development Cooperation, Justice and Environmental Sustainability. It could also help to reduce and ultimately Eliminate Global Terror Threats.

3. The Role of Universities / Tertiary Institutions

The University / Tertiary Institution’s role in Society is precisely to Learn and Understand itself and its environment….. The more it addresses the concerns of Society in its research and the more it widens access to all Members of Society to benefit from the fruits of the Research, the more it supports a genuine Learning Society.

4. Globalized Economy

The Learning Society is a requirement, if Local Governments, States, Countries at National level and Sub- Regions and Regions at the International level are to remain Competitive within an increasingly Globalized Economy. It may be sought after as a means of improving individual and communal well being. There is out there a real Society in which Knowledge Resources are unequally distributed to a degree that is not only inimical to the fulfillment of individual capabilities and freedoms but arguably, detrimental to the collective survival and development of Human Society. If this real Society is to be replaced with a New Society where Globalization and Governance work for the World’s Poor, then Learning Society needs to be Designed and Delivered as a requirement to effectively tackle real and complex World Political, Economic, Social, Security, Cultural and Religions problems on the ground on both Developed and Developing Countries sides.

5. Strengths and Weaknesses

The Strength of the idea of Learning Society as a Concept is that in Linking Learning explicitly to the idea of a Future Society, it provides the basis of a critique of the minimal Learning Demands of much Work and other Activities in our present day Society, not excluding the Sector Specializing in Education. Its Weakness is that so far the criteria for critique remain very general and therefore, like many terms of contemporary educational discourse such as Partnership and Collaboration, it can take a variety of contradictory meanings.
6. Shifting Focus

There is a need for all relevant Sub-national, National and International Development Cooperation Stakeholders in the Economy of each Community from Neighborhood to Global levels, on both Developed and Developing Countries sides to JOINTLY shift focus away from Talking and Thinking about Learning Society and JOINTLY shift focus towards ACTION and RESULTS in the Design and Delivery of Learning Society that help achieve increasing convergence between National and Global Development Cooperation Goals and Targets Intention and Reality in the Community. To achieve this it is necessary to overhaul current Education Systems in each Community in each Developed and Developing Country in our World today until Stage of Effective Learning Society is reached. It is pertinent to note that all Societies need to be characterized by Learning or else they will Die!

It is necessary to Deepen our Theorization of the relationship between Education and Economic Life: to appreciate developments in our Theorization of Learning and to draw upon understandings of Human Beings as Active and Cooperative Agents, if focus is to shift away from Talking and Thinking about Learning Society and shift towards ACTION and RESULTS in the Design and Delivery of Learning Society that help achieve increasing convergence between National and Global Development Cooperation Goals and Targets Intention and Reality in the Community. 

7. Organizing Principles

The Organizing Principles for the New Education System expected to emerge from the overhaul of the current Education System could be Organizing Principles of Husen’s Learning Society Vision (1994) which are:-
1.     Education is a Lifelong Process.
2.     Education will not have any fixed points of entry and cut off exits. It will become a more continuous process within formal education and in its role within other functions of life.
3.     Education will take on a more informal character as it becomes accessible to more and more individuals. In addition to Learning Centers, Facilities will be provided for Learning at Home and at the Workplace including Operating Field, for example by the provision of Computer Terminals, Hand Held Computers or Smart Phones.
4.     Formal Education will become more meaningful and relevant in its application.
5.     To an ever increasing extent, the New Education System will become dependent on large supporting Organizations or supporting Systems… to produce teaching aids, systems of information processing and multi-media instruction materials.

8. Development Health

Early Child Development (ECD) and Human Development (HD) are closely linked. Early Child Development refers to the combination of physical, mental, and social development in the early years of life—those dimensions that are commonly addressed by integrated programs of ECD. These programs include interventions to improve the nutrition, health, cognitive development, and social interaction of children in the early years (Myers 1992; Young 1997).

Human Development refers to similar dimensions—education, health (including nutrition), social development, and growth—but at the scale of a nation. The multidimensional framework for HD used in this Paper is a variant of one first proposed by the United Nations Development Program in 1990. (In)equality is included in the discussion, but an even broader concept of HD would include additional dimensions such as Human Rights (Sen 1999).

Human Development, broadly defined, is the overarching objective of most Sub-national, National, International and Multilateral Development Programs. Because HD is so closely linked to ECD, investing in ECD is the natural starting point for these programs and for the public policy that frames these programs. Four critical “pathways” link ECD to HD. The first pathway runs through education.

Interventions during the early years of a child have multiple benefits for subsequent investments in the child’s education, ranging from on-time enrollment in elementary school to an increased probability of progressing to higher levels of education. The second pathway is through health. Like education, investments in health are an investment in human capital and have long-term benefits. The third pathway links the notion of improved social behavior (as a result of being enrolled in an ECD program) with the formation of social capital. This linkage is more speculative, but is suggested by some interesting research results. In the fourth pathway, ECD is linked to HD by the potential of ECD programs to address inequality in society. And, ultimately, education, health, social capital, and equality are linked to economic growth and, hence, to HD.

Development Health is essentially about promoting and protecting ECD and HD Policy, Program, Project Interventions in a Community from Neighborhood to Global levels. Just as Blood Pressure Measures the Heart Health, Rights Pressure can Measure the Development Health. . Too High Rights Pressure or Too Low Rights Pressure is each Unhealthy. Rights Pressure within a Certain Band is Healthy.

9. Fiscal Health

This section is written using example from US. The points made apply to Local Government, State Government and National Government in other Developed Countries and Developing Countries.

Although the Great Recession has come and gone, Local Governments, States and Nations continue to face the repercussions of this recent economic downturn. Multiple outlets that review Local Governments, States and Nations finances point to continued difficulties ahead; Local Governments, States and Nations tax revenues are still recovering from the recession, tax systems are not structured to collect on services or e-commerce, and there are projected reductions in Federal spending on State priorities such as education and infrastructure.  In the US Fiscal simulations by the Government Accountability Office suggest that despite States’ recent gains in tax revenues and pension assets, the long-term outlook for States’ fiscal condition is negative (GAO 2013). These simulations predict that States will have yearly difficulties balancing revenues and expenditures due, in part, to rising health care costs and the cost of funding state and local pensions.

The ongoing challenges to US State Governments’ abilities to meet their financial and service obligations underscore the need for a reliable and straightforward method to compare States’ finances. Methods to compare States’ finances, such as credit ratings, already exist; however, there is still a need for transparent and nuanced measures. Without such methods of comparison, those inside and outside State Government are left to wonder about the emerging trends in State finances and how States compare to each other. Recent public administration research suggests that using financial data from Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs) produced by Local and State governments is a viable way to compare States’ Fiscal Conditions.

A definition of Fiscal Condition needs to be broad enough to capture its different dimensions: liquidity, budgetary balance, reliance on debt to finance current and long-term expenditures, and ability to pay for essential services. Otherwise, comparisons across time and between governments will be difficult. Fiscal condition describes a government’s ability to meet its financial and service obligations. If a State is able to meet these obligations, it is in good fiscal condition; if not, it may experience fiscal stress. In general, fiscal condition can include the following elements: the balance between State revenues and expenditures as measured by State surpluses or deficits, tax and spending levels, and debt levels Financial obligations include paying state employees’ salaries and interest on outstanding debt and funding pensions. Service obligations include providing sufficient funds for education and health care.

The components of fiscal condition are similar, and in some cases identical, to those used to describe financial condition. Many scholars and practitioners draw on the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) model to explain the components of fiscal and financial condition.  This model divides financial condition into four types of solvency: cash, budget, long-run, and service-level.

Each type of solvency measures a different dimension of fiscal condition. Cash solvency concerns a government’s liquidity and its ability to pay its bills on time. Cash solvency has a short time frame—30 to 60 days—and reflects the liquidity of a state government and the effectiveness of its cash management system. Budget solvency concerns a government’s ability to meet the current year spending obligations without causing a deficit. This type of solvency has a mid-range time frame, often one fiscal year, and may reflect the fiscal institutions within a state. For example, states with stricter balanced budget requirements may be more adept at balancing their budgets and achieving better budget solvency. Long-run solvency is a government’s ability to pay for all its costs, including those that may occur only every few years or many years into the future. While cash and budget solvency look at short-term financial, management, long-run solvency looks at a government’s management of longer-term obligations, such as meeting pension obligations to current and future retirees. Service-level solvency is a government’s ability to provide and pay for the level and quality of services required to meet a community’s general health and welfare needs. Service-level solvency is determined by a number of factors, both current and future. For example, the size of a State’s revenue base and its political leaders’ willingness to collect revenues can impact service-level solvency. Related to the level and quality of services, a state’s current and future decisions about which basic services to provide will impact service-level solvency. Similarly to long-run solvency, service-level solvency depends on both current and future decisions and fiscal environments.

Even with a definition of fiscal condition, determining the appropriate way to measure it is difficult. The drive to measure fiscal condition arose in the 1970s after several municipalities faced bankruptcy and other fiscal problems. Public administration researchers quickly realized that measuring this concept was challenging, as it was poorly defined and difficult to measure directly. Measurement methods depended on data availability, researcher’s preferences, and the unit of analysis. As a result, despite 30 years of research at the local level and nearly as many at the state level, there is no single accepted measure of fiscal condition.

Measures of fiscal condition often focus on one dimension. For example, using the year-end unreserved budget balance as a measure of fiscal condition is common. This measure provides a sense of a State’s budget solvency, but not its cash, long-run, or service-level solvency. The tendency to focus on one dimension of fiscal condition, often budgetary solvency, leads to multiple measures of fiscal condition, none of which provides a comprehensive understanding of a state’s fiscal condition.

Using the four types of solvency allows us to measure each dimension of fiscal condition. Given the definition of State fiscal condition as a government’s ability to meet its financial and service obligations, budget, cash, and long-run solvency allow us to measure a government’s ability to meet its short-, medium-, and long-term financial obligations while service-level solvency provides a measure of a government’s ability to meet its service obligations. Short-term and medium-term financial obligations, for example, can include accounts payable such as state employee wages or contracts. Long-term financial obligations include pensions and capital asset replacement. Service obligations can include public safety services and education. Financial indicators are increasingly being used to measure state and local fiscal conditions. When taken from state and local CAFRs, financial indicators use audited financial data that allow researchers to analyze the condition of an entire government. There are many different possible financial indicators, and they can be combined in multiple ways. This Model uses 11 financial indicators to measure cash, budget, long-run, and service-level solvencies at the State level.

Fiscal Health is essentially about promoting and protecting Fiscal Condition and Financial Condition Policy, Program, Project Interventions in a Community from Neighborhood to Global levels. Just as Blood Pressure Measures the Heart Health, Service Pressure can Measure the Fiscal Health. . Too High Service Pressure or Too Low Service Pressure is each Unhealthy. Service Pressure within a Certain Band is Healthy.

10. Learning Health

Lifelong Education and Lifelong Entrepreneurial Education are closely linked. We have in other Sections of this Paper discussed both Lifelong Education and Lifelong Entrepreneurial Education.

Learning Health is essentially about promoting and protecting Lifelong Education and Lifelong Entrepreneurial Education Policy, Program, Project Interventions in a Community from Neighborhood to Global levels. Just as Blood Pressure Measures the Heart Health, Results Pressure can Measure the Learning Health. Too High Results Pressure or Too Low Results Pressure is each Unhealthy. Results Pressure within a Certain Band is Healthy.

11. Example of Child Development Learning Society Network

In Societies with pronounced Social and Economic Disparities, well being is lower than in Societies where differences are less pronounced. This is true across the Social Spectrum and across many Indices including literacy, numeracy and aggression. Although we are Learning more about the Core Dynamics of Human Development (i.e. what is required in order for a Child to acquire the physical, emotional and cognitive tools to make a good life), this information is not readily accessible to or accessed by those who most need it. By Facilitating the Developmental Health of all Children, we can enfranchise diverse participation in a knowledge economy, thereby not only enhancing individual opportunities but also increasing available Social Capital and National Competitive Advantage.

Establishing a Child Development Learning Society Network, working to constructively engage widespread participation of all relevant Stakeholders in a Virtual Dialogue to support optimal Developmental Outcomes for all Children is an example of Learning Society in operation.
Although Modern Societies have an enormous capacity for wealth generation, there are many signs that our Children and Youth are at increasing Risk of alienation, apathy, rebellion, delinquency and violence. And although families with young children are the most vulnerable and economically poor families are at the highest risk, the changes are so widespread that negative consequences are occurring even for those who are secure economically. We are living in an era of accelerating pressures and uncertainties, in a time of escalating change and rapidly increasing divergence between those who have the competencies to participate in the emerging knowledge economy and those who do not. We are learning more and more about Core Dynamics of Human Development (i.e. what is required in order for a child to acquire the physical, emotional and cognitive tools to make a good life). This information, however, is not readily accessible to or accessed by those who most need it.

Frontline Practitioners working with children and their families, legislators and parents of high risk children are far too busy coping with their daily responsibilities and are without the necessary scientific training to make sense of the growing body of research as it is published. Additionally, the knowledge is generated in bits and pieces by Scientists working in their own fields. The complex inter-relationships among Scientific Findings are rarely understood in any Contextually Complex and Practical way, by the Scientists themselves, Practicing Professionals or by the Public. This is a TASK Learning Society is Better Equipped to TACKLE Successfully and on Sustainable Basis because it is one of the Multiple Big Challenges that need to be tackled and overcome, if Learning Society is to Deliver Sustainable Benefits in ways that help Solve real and complex National and International Development Cooperation problems including Global Terrorism facing Developed Countries, Developing Countries and International Institutions.

If we do not look after the Development Health of our Children and Youth, we will Sacrifice the Economic Wealth of our Communities / Nations. This is even more crucial with our shift to Knowledge Based Economies and paradoxically, potentially aided by this Knowledge because we can now collect and evaluate the Status of our Children more accurately than ever. This can set the Stage for a Learning Society in which we must provide the incentives not just for Economic Activity but for Healthy Human Development. These incentives will need to Drive Healthier Developments as Powerfully as Profits Drive Economic Activity.

12. Multiple Big Challenges

To effectively tackle and overcome all identified Multiple Big Challenges in the Design and Delivery of Learning Society that Works, all relevant stakeholders in the specific Community – Neighbourhood to Global, need to Jointly recognize:-
1.     Citizens and Residents in each Community irrespective of age, class, gender, education, race / tribe, religion, political or any other interest need to be Organized, Oriented and Disciplined to be the Moving Force Driving TRANSFORMATION to Learning Society.
2.     Theoretical Framework for Learning Society that works as well as its complimentary Practice Framework need to be developed.
3.     Leaders in each relevant stakeholder Group need to be silent and listen, if their Group i to participate actively in (1) and (2).
4.     Consultants in every aspect of Learning Society Policy, Program, Project Interventions need to Design and Deliver Innovative and Creative Solutions that Inspire Stakeholder Groups in (1) – (3) to participate Actively in Activities within Learning Society that works.
5.     Existing Institutions in the Community, including Institutions in the current Education System need to be Re-established to Effectively Support Learning Society that Works.
6.     New Institutions in the Community, including New Regulatory Institutions need to be Established to Effectively Support Learning Society that Works.
7.     New CSOs’ Network Partnerships, New Stakeholders Coalitions and New Service Providers Consortium Partnerships need to be Established to Effectively Support Learning Society that Works.
13. Conclusion

We have demonstrated the Link between Development Health, Fiscal Health, Learning Health, Learning Society and Wealth of Communities / Nations. That is the more Institutions embrace the Concept of Learning Organization and the more Governments embrace the Concept of Learning Society, the Wealthier and Healthier will be the Citizens and Nations as Successful and Sustainable Solutions are increasingly found to real and complex World Political, Economic, Terrorism etc problems on the ground, with full implementation of these solutions as well as effective monitoring and evaluation of this implementation.  However, if Stakeholders in world Economy continue pursuing current priorities and keep facing current Direction, the probability is HIGH that current World Political, Economic, Terrorism etc problems will worsen, with ultimate catastrophic consequences for all Citizens in both Rich and Poor Countries.

Each Success Story implementing Concept of Learning Society energizes for tackling the next problem to achieve the next success Story and so on until Dream of World without Hunger and Poverty by 2025 and 2030 become reality and on due date. We have all it takes to ACHIEVE SUCCESS. Let the ACTION to Actualize New National and International Development Cooperation Vision Begin to the Glory of God and the Benefit of Humanity….

If you are interested in helping to tackle the Multiple Big Challenges and help Create Learning Society that Works or require some clarification or additional information, please send email to:-

Lanre Rotimi
International Society for Poverty Elimination, ISPE /
Economic Alliance Group