Many countries vow to reform their education. They said education is very important to advancement of their countries. I am not doubting it, but rather what kind of education is desired?

In the past, what we most concern is language (read, write), arithmetic (count), ethics (moral), history (unfortunately often used as nation building, not genuine understanding of the construction of history discourses) and basic sciences. These are still fundamental, especially for less developed countries, where literacy rate is still low and high gender inequality to receive education. The importance of education to these countries cannot be more overstated.

But for the more advanced countries, the focus is no longer quantity (literacy rate), but quality. What kind of education best prepare young generation for their future? Beyond the basic literacy, now there are many ‘adjectival’ educations – peace education, gender education, inclusive education, multicultural education, human rights education, HIV and AIDS education, global education, consumer education, holistic education, citizenship education, health education and development education (get to know them from this review paper). The essence of these education, in my opinion, can be grouped into three main themes plus their specialized knowledge:

  1. Ethics – care about other! Seeing connections and interdependencies is important part of its shaping.
  2. Critical thinking – improve quality of individual reasoning ability, how to evaluate the arguments. Learning to better understand complexity is part of it.
  3. Learning in participatory decision-making processes – envisioning shared future, group model building to create a shared understanding of problem and potential solutions and reach consensus on policy change, debate.

The success of education reform requires commitment of teachers, government (provide the resources, not just lip service), support of the parents and society. All these stakeholders need to participate in creating shared vision, understanding the problem and how to reform. Otherwise no commitment in implementation and nothing will change.