Education researchers aim at international equity and harmony

Published 26 November 2009

powerAn international conference at the University of New England this week is examining ways of making education more equitable – locally, nationally, and globally.

The opening keynote address at the 37th Annual Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Comparative and International Education Society (ANZCIES) was given yesterday by Professor Colin Power, who was Deputy Director-General of UNESCO from 1989 to 2000. Professor Power (pictured here) was instrumental in establishing the UN’s Millennium Development Goals, and he reported to the conference on progress towards those goals.

The 80 delegates to the conference, which is running from Wednesday 25 to Friday 27 November, include invited guests from Denmark, Tonga, Fiji, China and New Zealand, and postgraduate students from more than 15 countries.

Professor Power observed that gaps in income levels and educational opportunities were widening both between and within countries – including Australia. “No national government is interested in looking at global issues, so we need international organisations – such as ANZCIES – to do so,” said the convener of the conference (and outgoing President of ANZCIES), UNE Senior Lecturer Dr Brian Denman.

The theme for ANZCIES 2009 is “Entering the Age of an Educational Renaissance: unity of purpose or further discord?” It is addressing questions such as: Is education perceived as a tool for peace? Can we use education to expand our imagination to explore new ways of thinking for collective action? What can we do to view education as a whole – from early-childhood, primary and secondary to tertiary education and life-long learning? How can the world foster greater cooperation to offset fear of collapse, apathy, and complacency? Dr Denman said that the five keynote presentations addressed such questions from global, regional, national and local perspectives.

Professor Phillip Jones from the University of Sydney gave a keynote address yesterday on “Education and the construction of world order” and, in their address today, Brigadier Iain Spence and Colonel Bill Monfries (Headquarters Forces Command, Australian Army) looked at the changing role of the Army in the 21st century, when soldiers have to combine full-scale military operations with peacekeeping and social reconstruction activities.

Tomorrow’s keynote talks will be by Professor Michael Williams from the University of Queensland, who will discuss the state of Aboriginal education, and Dr Christine Fox, Secretary-General of the World Council of Comparative Education Societies, who will discuss the role of ANZCIES in making an impact on education policy and practice within the Asia-Pacific region.

ANZCIES is one of 40 comparative education societies throughout the world.

THE PHOTOGRAPH of Professor Colin Power displayed here expands to include Dr Brian Denman.