Renginiai ir įvykiai

2013-12-11 17:24:00

MRU Garbės daktaro PUA prezidento prof. dr. D. A. Razak kalba


Mykolo Roomerio universiteto Garbės daktaro, Pasaulio universitetų asociacijos prezidento profesoriaus Dzulkifli Abdul Razak kalba MRU Senato posėdyje, gruodžio 5 d. jam iškilmingai įteikus Garbės daktaro regalijas.

  • The Rector of Mykolas Romeris University,
  • Chairman and members of the Senate,
  • Vice-Rectors and Chancellor

· Deans, professors, colleagues, ladies and gentlemen.

Greetings of Peace and a very good afternoon.

1. I would like first of all to express my heartfelt thanks for being given such trust and honour to be conferred the Doctor Honoris Causa from your esteemed University. I am humbled by the recognition given by Mykolas Romeris University (MRU) Senate for the little that I have done in developing independent and democratic higher education, fostering internationalisation and strengthening humanistic culture and freedom supported by mutual university cooperation. I am indebted to the Rector Professor Alvydas Pumputis for his confidence in me to initiate the nomination for this conferment. Profesor Pumputis was an active Board member of the International Association of Universities, when I had the pleasure to know him better as a very dedicated and committed academic and higher education (HE) leader with immense contributions to higher education.

2. I am just too grateful to be included among the list of the recipients of the MRU’s Honorary Doctorates, and especially my fellow presidents of the IAU before me. I am even more honoured when the Rector and Senate has graciously given me an alternative date to be present today since I am not able to make it on an earlier date suggested last month since I have committed to an event on the same date. For this inconvenience I extend my apologies.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

3. Education in general, and higher education in particular, is at a very exciting journey ahead as we approach the year 2014 and 2015. The former marks the end of the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (UNDESD), while the latter the duration for Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and also the Education For All (EFA).

4. The International Association of Universities, committed to HE and its advancement, is very much involved in all these agenda as they indeed are instrumental in developing independent and democratic higher education and fostering internationalisation by strengthening humanistic culture and freedom supported by mutual university cooperation. This also helps to reinforce IAU’s mission of “building a strong higher education community worldwide.” More so because the IAU, being a UNESCO partner organisation since its creation in 1950 with its Secretariat based at UNESCO Paris headquarters, has been advocating the same by offering global fora for leaders and scholars of higher education aligned to its mission.

5. In each of these agenda the issues of access, equity and quality are not only very relevant but also closely intertwined. In fact they are at the very heart of the successful implementation of each of the agenda. Hence, collectively the successful outcomes of the ESD, MDGs and EFA provide a powerful impetus forward for higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world, especially so when the impact significantly closes the gaps and divides in many HE settings be it nationally, regionally or internationally. The situation is more critical today where disparities are ever widening throughout the world due to various reasons not least the weakening of financial structures that support the expanding HE sector.

6. Since 2008 in July, the IAU has formally advocated and promoted the issues of access, equity and quality by issuing the IAU Policy Statement on Equitable Access, Success and Quality in Higher Education at its 13th General Conference. The IAU Policy Statement contains recommendations for both higher education institutions and for Governments and focuses on a number of aspects including:

· to improve access with success to higher education to all without discrimination;

· to widen participation by equity groups;

· to promote seamless linkages and pathways between higher education and other forms of education and training, and

· to advance the need for a transparent qualifications framework.

7. Through the statement IAU reaffirms its belief that a well-educated citizenry is the foundation of social equity, cohesion and successful participation in the global knowledge economy. It is not surprising therefore that most countries, including Lithuania I am sure, have set goals to increase the share of the population with higher education and/or broaden access to higher education for individuals who are under-represented because of socio-economic status, race, ethnicity, religion, age, gender, [dis]ability or location.

8. As a general rule, countries with low rates of participation in higher education seek to expand access by increasing the number of opportunities available while those countries that have already achieved a significant level of participation in higher education tend to focus on broadening access so as to include more individuals from under-represented groups. While there are many reasons why some countries choose to focus on one aspect rather than the other, over time, however, paying attention to both is becoming important for all.

9. IAU, as a global association of universities, is committed to promoting the twin goals of equitable access to, and successful participation in higher education for all members of society. The IAU believes that equitable access to quality learning contributes significantly to the development of national human resources, promotes social justice and cohesion, enhances personal development, employability and, in general, facilitates sustainable development. It therefore calls for all stakeholder groups, especially governments and higher education institutions, to act on the promise and potential of these principles and recommendations. Only robust and collective action, based on ongoing research, data analysis and the systematic monitoring of progress, will help achieve these goals.

Colleagues, ladies and gentlemen,

10. Access and participation in higher education are essential for the empowerment of all, especially those often marginalised. Taking this in the context of 2014, IAU is very conscious on the need for a change in order to improve equitable access and participation by supporting and mainstreaming ESD, where UNESCO is the lead agency. Indeed, IAU has been actively promoting the role of education in the follow-up to the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in June 2012, and even support the launch of the People’s Sustainability Treaty on Higher Education at the same event. All these emerge out of a need to rethink higher education and its role in a transition towards a more sustainable society. It is at a time when there is mounting concern for the future of people and planet and to seek fresh opportunities to act through commitments such as the newly formulated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The ultimate aim is to pave the way for a new consolidated platform for cooperation beyond the Rio+20 event as a vital part of cross-cultural dialogue and development to build collaborative and inclusive links and ownership.

11. While we need to do so in earnest before the conclusion of the UNDESD at the end of next year, at the same time we must also focus on the setting of the SDGs as part of the post-2015 agenda and define the next steps forward. The Open Working Group on the SDGs of July 2013 highlights education as “absolutely central to any sustainable development agenda”.

12. In this regard, I am heartened to know that Lithuania has recently applied to be part of the network of the United Nations Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) on Education for Sustainable Development which involves partnerships between HE institutions in this country and the various concerned stakeholders. In this way I am very certain the Mykolas Romeris University with its strong history of social engagement and humanitarian orientation is poised to further contribute to the success to ESD global agenda.

13. That however is not all. Looking ahead as the 2015 target year for the EFA targets and the MDGs draws near, there are other equally challenging roles that need to be contemplated in view of the several inter-linked processes that have been launched at shaping the post-2015 development agenda. Not only the vision, shape and scope of the post-2015 education agenda need to be put in place to further develop an independent and democratic higher education as well strengthening humanistic culture, dignity and freedom, equally vital is to crystalise the post-2015 development agenda through a “bottom up” discourse at various levels with civil society and other key stakeholders alike, including leaders in HEIs and its community.

14. In general, the Global Thematic Consultation on Education in the Post-2015 Development Agenda has proposed “Equitable, Quality Education and Lifelong Learning for All” as the overarching goal for education, emphasising yet again similar issues of concern. In addition, it recommended developing specific goals, indicators and targets around a number of priority areas.

15. Toward this end, IAU took an active part in the recently-ended 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference, making a statement during the General Plenary Debate on 9th November; and presenting the work and activities of the Association to General Conference delegates. More specifically IAU urged UNESCO to strengthen its focus on higher education as an integral part of the overall education system. IAU expressed regrets UNESCO’s reduction in emphasis and available resources to address issues of higher education, particularly as these are central, complex and evolving very rapidly. A stronger focus on higher education and research is necessary if we regard education as a continuum, as IAU does, where subsectors are closely interconnected and must work together.

16. At the same time, IAU also exerted its position in promoting equitable and sustainable development through knowledge creation and innovation as part social and economic responsibility, and advocating for a holistic approach to education. This is in addition to promoting intercultural dialogue, protection of cultural heritage and other UNESCO priorities, or in other words the global challenges facing humanity! In short, the Association has consistently promoted the same universal and enduring values and principles as UNESCO, while celebrating the diversity of higher education institutions worldwide.

17. It is therefore heartening to note that the Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Lithuania, Mr Algirdas Butkevicius, in the Leaders’ Forum of the 37th session of the UNESCO General Conference stressed that the post-2015 agenda must provide for synergies between science, policy and society. Drawing on its multidisciplinary mandate, UNESCO should thus foster sustainable development by creating or reinforcing bridges across its different fields of competence, including the linkages between culture [including humanities] and science.

18. In similar vein, I am particularly pleased to note from your 2010-2020 Strategic Plan the aspiration of MRU to implement it in a sustainable environment based on qualities of goodness, national identity, tolerance, clearness, and wisdom as well as not limited to the European system, but taking into account the global academic system too. It is worthwhile highlighting that although the number of people with a higher education (university and non-university) in Lithuania (2007-2009) has been constantly growing, however, based on the number of Lithuanians studying at the universities per 10,000 residents; it still lags behind many developed economics. In a manner of speaking, the issues of equitable access and participation are still of some relevance in this case. This needs to be balanced with the declining demographic situation in Lithuania and the shrinking numbers of the students accessible for HE (2005-2009).

19. When all said and done, given MRU’s vision of “an innovative, modern member of the global university network helping to foster recognised top professionals in the world, civic-minded responsible personalities, fostering academic, business and cultural values,” I am convinced that MRU is able to leverage the many advantages it has as listed in the Strategic Plan to chart new and innovative solutions ahead especially under the leadership of Professor Pumputis and his team with the strong support of the University’s Senate. This is even more so when factored in the passion to develop a thorough personality in individuals based human values, civil responsibility and maturity. No doubt Mykolas Romeris University will continue to be a valued member of IAU community in the journey to build a strong higher education community worldwide, one that is more inclusive, sustainable and equitable not just for today but well into the 21st century and beyond.

20. On that optimistic note, let me wish you well and once again deeply thank you for your kind gesture and generous hospitality in making this occasion a very memorable one for my wife and I.

Thank you very much.