BUILDING A FOUNDATION OF OPEN EDUCATION ON AN INTELLECTUAL ECOLOGICAL-ECONOMY

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Intro: Proceedings of the National Workshop on “A System of Open education in the context of educational autonomy and international integration” with the article of Professor, Academician (Prof. Aca.) Cao Van Phuong on “Building the foundation for open education: open to study, open to learn, to become responsible citizens in the open world”. The professor’s article has made many new points on building an open education on the Philosophy, Objectives, Content, and Methods which come from the perspective of an eco-economy, all of which are issues of great social concern. To better understand these issues, Journalist (NB) Doan Xuan Truong, for the Journal of Education and Social Affairs had an interview with Prof. Cao Van Phuong. Below is the content of the discussion which the Editorial Board would like to introduce to readers.

NB. Doan Xuan Truong: Let me express my sincere appreciation, Professor Cao, for accepting today’s invitation. In your article published in the Proceedings of the National Conference “An Open education system in the context of university autonomy and international integration” by the Vietnam Association of Universities and Colleges; The Central Propaganda Department, the Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Youth and Children of the National Assembly, the Ministry of Education and Training, jointly organized in Hanoi on May 16, 2018, you brought up some points and concepts about education and the eco-economic relationship with open education. Can you say more about these concepts?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: The Creator created people and living things and gave them equal rights to exist and develop. Therefore, building an eco-economy in which people are the center, is concurrently the goal, the content, and the motivation for creative labor for which humanity strives.

🔸Ecological economy is an economy organized and operated based on the view of optimizing the socio-economic relations with the ecological environment; which is achieving high socio-economic efficiency without harming the ecological environment.
🔸In order to do that, everyone must study regularly to improve one’s: Spirituality, mental strength, physical strength and financial resources thereby fulfilling responsibilities and obligations assigned them by society. People are not only responsible for themselves, their families and the social community, but also for nature and protecting the ecological environment. This is the moral quality that everyone must perfect.

🔸Today information technology and communication technology penetrate every corner of life. Therefore, education is understood as “The multi-dimensional impact of an information environment on people, helping them to perfect methods of gathering information, processing information, and using information to solve life’s problems”. Teaching is helping others and being helped in perfecting these methods of gathering information, processing information, and using information to solve daily problems of life.
🔸Learning is perfecting methods of gathering information, processing information, and using information to solve life’s problems and so become responsible citizens.

NB. Doan Xuan Truong: Professor, why must we build an open education, and what is the difference between traditional education and open education?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: Mankind faces both natural and man-made disasters. Every year, hundreds of millions of hectares of forest are destroyed, millions of cubic meters of toxic waste are discharged into rivers and seas and put into the atmosphere, millions of cubic meters of minerals are excavated from the earth. Changes in the earth’s mass occur, resulting in displacement of the earth’s axis of rotation due to the interaction of forces between the planets and the earth, causing climate change, thus the earth’s temperature rises, and sea levels continue to rise causing an increase in the gradual submergence of Continents.

🔸The struggle for power and gain, religious and ethnic conflict, religious and political strife all lead to the ongoing wars of destruction. Mankind exists in an information environment that is polluted by abused communication and information technology.

🔸Therefore, in order to survive, everyone must learn regularly, perfect the method of gathering information, processing information, and using information to make appropriate and timely decisions to solve the problems raised by daily life.

🔸In order to tame, adapt and prevent both natural and man-made disasters, all people and every nation must unite, join and conquer, adapt, prevent and repel the disasters. This unity can only succeed through joint efforts to build an open education on this frame of reference: Education is of all people, from all people, and for all people, all people are entitled to equal opportunity to receive the fruits of education and are equally obliged to contribute to and build on the development of education.

🔸So, open education is an education that meets the needs of regular learning, lifelong learning for everyone, learning at any time, learning anywhere, not necessarily going to school.

🔸The difference between traditional and open education is: Open education trains according to the learning needs of the society, meets the labor market, is not tied to the policy, and is organized with flexibility, the study schedule is selected by the learner, the training scale is not limited, the class is organized flexibly, and is close to the learner; learners may study, teach and work at the same time, they do not necessarily have to focus on classroom attendance; learners assess themselves and society judges them through the results of their creative labor.

NB.Đoàn Xuân TrườngProfessor, as for building an open education based on the perspective of an intellectual eco-economy, can you elaborate more on the characteristics of an eco-economy and knowledge-based economy which should be given attention when developing training programs and objectives of an open education?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: An ecological economy is an economy organized and operated based on the concept of optimizing socio-economic relations with the ecological environment to achieve high socio-economic efficiency without harm to the ecological environment.  In order to build such an eco-economy, indispensable knowledge and artificial knowledge are based on information technology.   An Intellectual Ecological economy has these basic characteristics:

▪️ The transformation of the economic structure in each country and the world to suit ecological regions on the basis of technological innovation, labor productivity improvement and product quality improvement;

▪️ Research and creating new technologies to increase labor productivity is an important production type in the intellectual eco-economy;

▪️ Liberalization and democratization of socio-economic activities within the framework of the law in the direction of globalization as a trend that every country integrated into the open world must follow;

▪️ The cooperation for competition – competition for cooperation is drastically applied across the globe, causing a virtual economy to appear on the basis of information technology, the Internet.

▪️ The intercultural screening leads to new cultures – an internet culture adapting to the requirements of socio-economic development with the condition of new automation production;

▪️ The appearance of a new working class with high intelligence, high gray matter and skill.  Intellectual property rights are considered fundamental rights in the knowledge economy.  Awareness of power changes, and a structure of new power appears – Intellectual power.

▪️ Social ethical standards are concretized in accordance with the open economy.   In the open world, the true value of every human being is assessed through the results of creative and effective labor, and the performance of civic responsibility (responsibility to oneself, family, community, and nature) no longer stops at the national level – but becomes global ethics.

▪️ Religious philosophy and political opinions will be rubbed out and become adjusted to the new worldview of people in an open information environment, ever – advancing the educational level.

▪️ The concept of territory and sovereignty over national boundaries will be adjusted and may be lost.  The existence of people groups in the open world will continue with preservation and development of the national and ethnic cultures, especially the language of their people.

▪️ The potential of each nation in the intellectual economy depends not only on natural resources but also primarily on the quality of human standards, which is contained by the capacity to create innovative technologies, labor productivity, increasing labor efficiency, and product quality, depending on the ethical qualities, responsibility, educational and cultural level of the majority of the people.

🔸Today, mankind realizes they were created by the Creator, giving all mankind equal rights to exist and develop.  Therefore, people must take full responsibility and accept the obligation not only for themselves, their families, social communities, but also, more so for nature, to protect their living environment and the survival of all.

NB.Đoàn Xuân Trường: In the characteristics of the open -intellectual economy, you mentioned, Professor, the moral standard of the individual  is assessed through the results of their creative labor, effective labor and the implementation of the citizens’ responsibilities (Responsibility for themselves, Responsibility for family, Responsibility for society, Responsibility for nature). Throughout your many articles, the issue of civic responsibility (Responsibility for oneself, Responsibility for family, Responsibility for the community, Responsibility for nature) is always mentioned as a regular concern for education, professor, can you tell us more?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: Mankind faces disasters of both natural and man-made causes. Every year hundreds of millions of hectares of forest are destroyed, millions of cubic meters of minerals are excavated, garbage and toxic substances flood the planet, continents are being gradually submerged due to climate change and a rising sea ​​level.

🔸Achievements of communication technology, along with the abuse of information technology and the whole information environment, bring complication to our society, we suffer chaos and human disasters mostly due to human lack of understanding and responsibility.

🔸The intellectual economy is built on the 4.0 revolution, freedom and democracy being the basic characteristics.  This is why education must take on the obligation to train responsible people.  Freedom and democracy must go hand in hand in order for the world to develop stably; on the contrary, the flip-side would be global chaos.

🔸The sense of responsibility must be included in the training for all people from preschool and kindergarten levels, and must be regarded as the common moral quality of mankind regardless of country, religion, or political party.   Love for the country, love for the people, love for humanity … all must start with taking responsibility for oneself, responsibility for family, responsibility for society and responsibility for nature.

NB.Đoàn Xuân Trường:

As the pioneer of the self-sufficient, open model at Can Tho University, Ho Chi Minh City Open Semi- Public University model (Ho Chi Minh City), Binh Duong University, Song Be Open University Campus , The branch of Binh Duong University – Ca Mau, all of which do not use State budgeting, you have  contributed positively to the renovation of the country’s education.

The Journal of Education and Society, with Professor Cao’s consent, has introduced the contents of the two books, memoirs of yours, Professor, “Such an Open University as This” and “Journey to Open Education” introduced by Literature Publishing House in 2010 and 2015, which have been well received by readers.  In particular, on May 15, 2018, Dr. Nguyen Van Long, former Director of Ca Mau Department of Education and Training, studied the transformation from the autobiography and transposed it into a narrative entitled: “The Creator’s Footprint on the Journey to Open Education” introduced by Literature Publishing House.   Can you tell readers more about the above books?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong:  In fact, education is of all people, from all people, and for all people, everyone has an equal right to enjoy the fruits of education and is obliged to contribute, build and develop education.  Education changes the fate of people, even the one who is poor can become a director, become a successful businessman, become a leader, become a responsible citizen. Therefore, society is interested in education issues, especially open education for the community in the context where production has shifted from mechanization to automation, the intellectual economy plays an increasingly leading role, therefore, open education is always a point of interest to the Party and the State.

🔸On January 21, 1946, 15 days after the first General Election Day (January 6, 1946) of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, in the National Rescue Newspaper No. 147, as a response to journalists, President Ho Chi Minh wrote: … “I have only one ultimate desire: to make our country completely independent, our people completely free, all our people have food and clothing, and everyone educated” …

🔸For “everyone to be educated” is the open intent of education, the open policy of education, of the Party and President Ho Chi Minh. In the depths of his subconscious mind, he pointed out to us that to have food, clothing, freedom and independence, people must be educated.  Thus, learning is a necessary condition for people to have food, clothing, and freedom to contribute to the country’s independence.  And Ho Chi Minh himself showed us how to build open education through the path of educational socialization.

🔸In the National Rescue newspaper No. 58, on October 4, 1945, he pointed out: “Let the rich open classes in their private homes to teach illiterate people, mine planters, factories open classes for tenants and employees”, to overcome the shortage of teachers someone said, “Let the literate, teach the illiterate, each neighborhood should send a few people to school, to learn for a few days, return to teach for a few days,  and when the words run out, go back to study more; in this way teach while learning along the way”.

🔸Learning is for understanding, for working, for enrichment, for people to fulfill their responsibilities and obligations (Ho Chi Minh’s speech at the Preliminary Conference on Review of Popular Education for the first 6 months of the year 1956, on July 17, 1956, in Hanoi).

🔸The jobs I and my colleagues at the higher education institutions have directly lead and pioneered: Department of Mechanical Engineering, the self-sufficient system of the Can Tho Open University from 1976-1990; HCMC  Open Semi-Public University (1990-2001); Binh Duong University (2001 to present) … in order to contribute to the transformation of structured and administrative education into open education so as to meet the learning needs of the majority of the people in difficult circumstances throughout the country.  There is no clear law to implement open policies in education. I am very happy that in recent years, in particular, on November 4, 2013, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Session XI, issued Resolution No. 29 on: “Comprehensive radical reform of Education and Training” to transform closed, administrative education into open education.  However, where open education is concerned, there are still many barriers that start with social awareness.  I hope the media agencies take an active part in the journey to open education.

🔸Through two books “There is such an Open University as This” and “Journey to open education” introduced by Literature Publishing House in 2010 and 2015, readers understand somewhat about how to teach.  During the transition period, the country moved from a planning economy, to administrative and subsidized economy, and then to a market economy, through which readers also discovered that the basic foundations for building a modern model of Open learning is:

▪️ Converting training programs of the traditional annual system to credit system training programs.  According to this training model, the training programs are modularized, compressing a specific amount of knowledge into modules, they can connect to become training programs leading to a degree, or a combination with other modules to lead to other industry training programs.  The transformation of the annual training model to the credit system aims to build a higher education institution into “Supermarkets of Knowledge” in which “Merchandise” is volumes of knowledge and customers are learners.  Learners have the right to choose modules of knowledge, proactively planning their own learning.   If the learner only learns to gain knowledge for work, he/she is not required to pass all levels.  Enrollment depends on the capacity of the school and there are many intake periods throughout the year as enrollment is very convenient.   Learners can repeat classes to get credits, standardized credits can be kept at the testing center, learners can use satisfactory credits to combine into a degree if conditions are clearly met and enforced as prescribed for the desired degree.

▪️ Building an Open Learning Resource Center: In order to meet the demand of providing learning materials to meet the needs of regular learning, learning anywhere, and learning at any time, the school has invested in building a Learning Resource Center.

▪️ Building an Evaluation Center: Training programs are built from test banks attached in the form of multiple choice and essay.  Learners can self-assess their academic ability through exam banks.

▪️ Building distance learning programs: The school has organized the implementation of distance-based training programs, with the open concept that non-face-to-face education between learners and teachers takes place through many technical levels:

▫️▫️ Learning through books and documents with periodic instructions in areas where classes are organized (Forms of distance training);

▫️▫️ Training via phone;

▫️▫️ Training via radio;

▫️▫️ Training via radio – television;

▫️▫️ Online training via the computer network;

▫️▫️ Training via video-conferencing;

▫️▫️ Depending on specific conditions, it is possible to combine technical levels of training.

▪️ Actively research and develop training programs and objectives according to social needs.  Ho Chi Minh City Open Semi-Public University has paved the way for meeting the unprecedented social needs issued by the Ministry through the new majors of studies: Southeast Asia Studies, Farming, Women’s Studies, Business Administration and Journalism.  Today most of the schools have Business Administration, but in the 90s, this was a sensitive training major, with many different ideas.  Thanks to the insight of the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Training at that time, we have prepared resources to participate in a market economy.  In addition, all the training programs of HCMC Open Semi-Public University at that time, apart from specialized subjects, were required to include the following training programs: 12 English credits, 12 credits of specialized IT and 12 credits of Management.  The teachers at the school often said: “This is the 3B formula” (which I knew meant: English, Informatics, Administration).   These were subjects to help learners to have a chance at self-starting a business or getting a job easily.

▪️ In order to prepare the formation of an open education system, in the 90s of the twentieth century, the school focused on building infrastructure and technical facilities such as investing in computer systems for the school, and supporting investment, equipping computers for centers in localities such as An Giang Continuing Education Center, Vinh Long Economic and Technical Center, Phu Yen Open Training Center, etc.   The school has a contract with Taiwan Broadcasting in An Giang, Kien Giang, Ca Mau, Ben Tre, and the Voice of the People in Ho Chi Minh City for broadcasting training programs, creating a connection to expand the educational network to reach all learners.

NB.Đoàn Xuân Trường: The achievements of Ho Chi Minh City Open Semi-Public University, especially in the years 1990-1995, have been reflected in part by many comrades leading the Party and State, and on newspapers and radio stations. The model has many breakthrough new ideas which need to be summarized, contributing to perfecting the program of building an open education.  Can you summarize them for us?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: Open education is an interest of many countries, for different reasons and under different circumstances.   Each state/ country chooses an investment technology level to implement open policy.  Since the 1980s, there have been correspondence classes organized by Isaas Pitman in shorthand training. In 1919, in Canada, Vancouver founded the School for Secondary Education. In 1922, New Zealand built the Ham Thuan Training Center.   In 1927, for the first time on the BBC, distance learning programs were broadcast for people with learning needs.   In 1939, IOWA University – USA organized distance learning via telephone.

🔸 In Vietnam, during the 1960s, correspondence training classes were held in many places in the North.   In the South, many schools practiced free enrollment. After the liberation in 1978, Can Tho University established an extended in-service training program, that, especially since the 1990s, in the spirit of innovation of the Resolution of the 6th Party Congress, has become the Education Sector pilot for construction of Open Training Institutes in two big cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.   In December 1990, it was decided to establish an Open Training Institute in Ho Chi Minh City with two experiments: Experiment to build an open training model and test to build a self-governing university without using the state budget.   After 3 years of testing, on July 26, 1993, the Prime Minister issued Decision No. 389 / TTg allowing the opening of Ho Chi Minh City Open Semi-Public University, which is an open university with a training scale of nearly 40,000 (forty thousand) students, leaving many ideas that are very much needed for learning from our experience.

🔸The success of the HCM City Open Public University model was derived from the wisdom of the leadership of the Ministry of Education and Training at that time. Although there were no clear laws and regulations, the Ministry leaders agreed to allow the Open Training Institute to exercise autonomy, though this was only a written promise.  After 25 years, our State officially allowed many universities to be autonomous through the Government’s Resolution No. 77 / NQ-CP of October 24, 2014, on piloting the renewal of operation mechanisms for educational institutions and public higher education.   Thus, Open Education and university autonomy were successfully implemented initially 25 years ago, although there are many limitations. It is necessary to learn from past experiences, studying the successes and limitations, in order to build and develop.   The issue to consider is “Who is the host? Who uses the research results?”

NB.Đoàn Xuân Trường: Professor, you are a person dedicated to the cause of education in this country.  Many of your articles are published in domestic and foreign magazines and conferences, especially “Journey to open education”, in which we read about more than 40 years of organizing and building higher education institutions through self-improvement, advocacy, not using the state budget, and striving for an open education with the philosophy: Open to learn – Learn to open, to become responsible citizens in the open world.   Professor can you talk to readers of the Journal of Education and Society about the idea of ​​”Building open education from the perspective of an eco-intelligent economy”, introduced through the article published in the Proceedings of Last National Conference, May 16, 2018, on “Open educational system in the context of educational autonomy and international integration”?

Pro. Aca. Cao Van Phuong: The Creator created people and living things, which have equal rights to exist and develop sustainably.  Therefore, building an eco-economy, in which people are the center, is concurrently the goal, the content, and the motivation for creative labor for which humanity strives.  However, in the course of development, human beings accidentally or intentionally invade and destroy the living environment of all living things and of themselves. Today, humans realize that they are facing unpredictable disasters caused by natures and the lack of responsibility of man.   Therefore, in order to adapt, tame and prevent disasters, everyone and every nation must work together to build an eco-economy on the basis of the 4.0 revolution by way of exploitation of artificial intelligence.   That joint effort can only be successful on the basis of building an open education, globalizing education and helping all of mankind to perfect their Spirituality, mental strength, physical strength and financial resources so that they can fulfill their responsibilities: responsibilities not only for themselves, for their family, for society, but also to fulfill the responsibility for nature and the social obligations entrusted to them.   That sense of responsibility must be taught from early childhood, in preschool and kindergarten classes, preparing them for what they need to participate in building an eco-economy and carrying out civic responsibility.

🔸Therefore, in order to accomplish this, it is necessary to be aware of the true nature and position of education from the approach, viewpoint, goals, content, and methods appropriate to the new conditions. The world has moved from a closed world to an open one, mechanical production has shifted to automation based on information technology and artificial intelligence.   Social morality must be assessed through the degree to which one fulfills their responsibility not only for oneself, for family, for society, but rather in taking responsibility for nature.

🔸The open world needs a new generation of responsible and capable partners, committed to the survival and sustainable development of the world, people responsible for leading, managing, and building a stable open world, building an eco-economy, of which people are the center.

🔸Responsibility must be considered the core moral standard that is expected of everyone, and must be trained right from childhood.  The open world is a free, democratic world. Freedom and democracy must go hand in hand, otherwise the world will become chaotic and people will no longer be central.

🔸In order to successfully implement Resolution 29: “Comprehensive radical renovation of education and training” of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Session XI, the State needs to perfect and amend the Law of Education accordingly.   The law must build on the view: Education is of all people, from all people, and for all people; everyone has an equal right to enjoy the fruits of an education; Give autonomy to educational institutions; Focus on investing in technical infrastructure, information technology, building Learning Resource Centers; Studying and planning eco-economic zones with the three pillars: Economics – Education – Science and Technology. Especially note that the educational method must be renewed.

🔸To learn effectively, learn regularly, learn anywhere, learn anytime, learning must be done through the method of “Co-learning”:

▪️ Learn from family, parents, siblings;

▪️ Learn with teachers and friends at school;

▪️ Learn from the social community, with people around you;

▪️ Learning through documents, books, newspapers, radio, television, via the internet;

▪️ Learn from yourself;

▪️ Learn in groups;

🇸 🇦 🇺 🇦The method of “Co-learning” is based on the 4-word “SAUA” principle : Study – Ask – Understand – Act!:

🔹 Study is about learning to know how to learn;

🔹 Learning is about knowing how to ask (to gather information, process information, use information);

🔹 Ask to learn;

🔹 Ask to understand;

🔹 Understanding must understand correctly (through information processing);

🔹 Understanding correctly produces right actions;

🔹 Right action taken is effective;

🔹 Effective action creates new spiritual or material products that meet the needs of life for ourselves, family, and society, enabling us to have the conditions to protect nature and achieve the responsibilities and obligations that society delegates.

💎“Study – Ask – Understand – Act!” is the foundation for each person to take responsibility for themselves, responsibility for family, responsibility for society, and responsibility for nature.

💎The “Co-learning” method is not only a positive educational method, but it is also the foundation for building an open education, creating a learning society, and helping people to perfect their spirituality, mental strength, physical strength and financial resources.  The method of “Co-learning” and the sense of responsibility must be implemented right from the preschool and kindergarten levels, helping people to improve their autonomy, independent and creative thinking while becoming responsible citizens.

💎It is important for leaders of all levels, educational institutions and media agencies to work together to make society aware of the role and position of open education.

NB.Đoàn Xuân Trường: Sincerely, thank you, Professor.  I wish you good health, and continued contribution to the building up of an open education.

Journal of Education and Social Affairs No. 87 (148) June 2018

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