I wish to express my warm thanks to the Ansted University Board of Governors for the decision to confer an honorary doctoral degree on a poet of social concerns at your 2002 convocation. Unfortunately I am not able to attend this convocation to receive this great honor personally. I appreciate that the invitation has been extended to the 2003 convocation to be held in London, England.
I would like to share my deep admiration for the educational institutions that work to make the world a better place to live. Realization of this dream has become easier because geographical barriers have been conquered through the means of communication. The internet has removed geographical barriers further, reducing the world to the size of a village. The pulse of change is beating everywhere in this village, even in the hearts and minds of the people. Humans are not at ease with themselves nor with the world around them.
This unrest is universal, because the mansion of modern education is built on the ground that is open to the wild winds that adversely affect relationships with neighbours, with other provinces and with other countries. Present day education prepares students to make money in a suffocating world of competition that leads them to an island of false security. This education is based on the principle of winning fights. Our best scientists have been trained to destroy the global village in one way or another in order to win wars, even nuclear wars. The universities have built the pyramids of knowledge on the ground of greed and survival of the fittest. This type of knowledge has poisoned the environment with jealousy, hatred and hunger for power. Its fruits are visible in the form of restlessness and the armament of nations.
This restlessness is caused by science that has given a power to humans that they do not know how to handle. The main problem is how to deal with the risk of self-destruction and how to secure a lasting peace. The education that was acceptable for ages is not capable of solving this problem. Rather, it has produced serious problems for the survival of everyone on individual, collective and planetary levels. Scientists believe that they can change the world for the better. They have been proven wrong. Achievements cannot change the world; rather, only humans can do it. Therefore, the globe needs the institutions that can make humans aware of this fact to pave the way for a saner village. The needs of the new world order will be met by a system of education that would emphasize global awareness and the extinction of borders to make defence budgets unnecessary. This would result in the saving of billions of dollars to use for the irrigation of deserts and to improve the quality of life. A new approach to education will broaden the responsibilities of students to the international level.
Formal established teaching professions have failed to prepare students for the nuclear age because human history never had the problems that exist now. It is for the first time that humans have become capable of exterminating themselves with their own genocidal technology. This situation is one of the greatest absurdities.
Education for the global village or world citizenship does not mean the disappearance of national languages and cultures. Education should be started at an early age to ensure safety to future. It must begin at home by parents. Peace education should play the same part and with the same force that was played by the educational system after the invention of the printing press.
It is important that every city school board, university, small town volunteer organization, and international group work for a better world. Formal education ought to be challenged to include also peace projects in the courses at school, college and university levels. Even the teachers themselves should be convinced of the new approaches to education.
I believe the purpose of education should be to learn and to teach to resolve conflicts through democratic and legal system. The Preamble to the Constitution of UNESCO says that since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defence of peace must be constructed. There are several ways to deal with this issue. One major way is educational. Cultural exchange is also an educational way. The global village needs institutions and committed souls to achieve this desirable goal through the peaceful means of education. Internationalism in universities is largely a result of evolution. Internet has removed geographical boundaries. Several institutions, including the Ansted University, are making the best possible use of this technology. The new millennium needs educational institutions that are of multicultural nature- that have no boundaries and that turn the globe safe for diversity. Such institutions reduce the phobia of the unknown and foster tolerance that is the bedrock for peace. What we need in these seats of learning is the teaching of understanding and harmony. The old system of education based on competition should be replaced with courses on cooperation, a sane use of natural resources, social justice and tolerance.
The world is going through a social revolution. Geographically, technologically and more or less economically the world is a single unit. This change is happening so fast that humans have not been able to adjust their traditions, institutions and attitudes. Our loyalties are still tribal even after the evolution of years. All men and women are human by birth and therefore they belong to the nation of humans first. In order to build this nation of humans, the world needs the help of education. To prepare the world for a safe and enjoyable future the global village needs cooperation from everywhere, including intellectuals.
For the realization of a future that is free from war and fear, the global village needs also those universities which are not simply buildings, but associations of people, working within and without for the welfare of citizens. In such institutions, students should be prepared to use their skills for the betterment of life. The focal point of these universities should be to pave a way for the emergence of a new civilization for harmony and tolerance among individuals, ethnic groups, religions, and nations. This tolerance and harmony are essential because many world problems, including the problems of war, human rights, terrorism and ecology, are global in nature. The prime function, as it was in the beginning, should be to teach humans to think constantly and reexamine the facts to achieve wisdom.
The situation of today expects the seats of learning to have teachers as well as students from all over the world to be in a proper atmosphere to learn and teach about other cultures. Their campuses should be for humankind and their students communists as well as noncommunists, rich and poor, from all creeds, colours and nationalities. Their students may be scattered throughout the globe without forcing them to travel to a particular nation. In 1920 the poet Robindera Nath Tagore, a Nobel Laureate, formed an international institution in Shantiniketan, India, with more or less the same philosophy in mind. Tagore was able to provide almost a similar atmosphere in that era when the means of communication were not so well-developed as they are today.
Global security has become more important today than the individual security of a nation. Greed, aggression and destruction are the symptoms of putting the parts before the whole. The world has to think in terms of the whole, not the parts. Education involves the whole person. The pursuit of truth can never be complete without the moral and spiritual pursuits which modern universities lack. There are dangers when students are trained as intellectual beings without morality.Universities must be internationalized to shape the holistic character of peace.
During the earlier years of my life, I tried to catch the essence of these and other social concerns in the net of my poetry which I loved to share with my mother. After she left, I began sharing my poetry of social concerns with the citizens of the global village, building bridges with my books. The Ansted University is doing its part in its own way to make the world a better place to live. It is pleasing to note that under the directions of Dr. Roger Haw, the campus of the Ansted University has been stretched to cover several nations. Students of the Ansted University are from various parts of the globe and from various walks of life. The Ansted University has given a new meaning and dimension to education. These adorable achievements are the outcome of the combined efforts of the members of different faculties, the Board of Governors and the International Board of Advisory Council, under the able guidance of Dr. Haw.
The long constant struggle of Dr. Roger Haw for a university with a new concept of education for a new age and from a new direction deserves to be admired. The Ansted University has a team of capable teachers from all over the globe. The Ansted University has become a United Nations of educators. For this noble achievement, I congratulate Dr. Roger Haw, president of the Ansted University who is its founding member.
Finally, I thank the Ansted University once again for the offer of this honor of a doctoral degree,
Dr. Stephen Gill