Globalization of Cooperative Education: Adoption of Borderless Systems


The great advances in science and technology during the last decades of the 20th century especially in the fields of transportation technology, telecommunication and information technology and computation, have shrunk the Earth and blurred political and geographical boundaries between nations. The Earth has become one global community. Globalization has evolved as a very strong force of change that allowed a freer flow of capital, resources, labor, products, and services as well as information and knowledge. Globalization has impacted on every aspect of human life and environment on even developing countries.

Globalization has fostered a very fast rate of change to which humans must adapt and develop strategies for adoption of changes in order to survive and prosper in this new global society. In this new learning and knowledge-based society, citizens must have global skills and competencies as well as universal ethos and value systems that would be required to meet the challenges of the globalized 21st century. To acquire such flexibility in adopting to change, the education must be a continuing one and must be available anywhere and anytime and on any subject needed by the individual. Hence, the new system of education must be lifelong and borderless.

Universities and other traditional institutions of education must therefore also change and adopt to new conditions and societal needs. They will no longer have the monopoly of producing and transmitting information and knowledge. Some industries can also become providers and source of information and knowledge. Students can access information independently through Internet anytime and anywhere. Thus, to be able to be competitive, universities must be able to take advantage of all modern technologies in providing new learning systems and environment. Learning must be both "real" and "virtual" and hence borderless.

More than ever, the learners must be exposed to the actual world of work both locally and internationally. Cooperative education or work integrated education is therefore most relevant and needed in the new schemes of education for the 21st century. Cooperative education must also be globalized so that experiences from different countries can be available to students either by real experience or virtually. New and stronger paradigms of collaboration between the three pillars of cooperative education–the education institutions, the industries and private sectors as well as the government–must therefore be promoted to further enhance cooperative education in the globalized society.

Before the 1997 Asian economic crisis, there were great hopes and predictions of the Asia-Pacific region being the center for economic growth and development in the 21st Century. The economic crisis has taught the Asian countries among others, of the need for trained manpower who can handle the socio-economic and political uncertainties as well as the scientific and technological advances. Thus, more than ever, high quality on the job training in industries and private sectors in all fields is much needed of students. Close linkages between universities, industries/private sectors and governments in training the needed manpower for the development of the Asia-Pacific region is one possible strategy for still attaining the dream of a prosperous Asia-Pacific region.

Unfortunately, there is still great inequality in the availability of and accessibility to new technologies between the North and South and within the population among countries of the South. It is therefore through stronger and broader networking and cooperation between the three pillars of cooperative education–the universities, industries and governments–that this goal could be achieved. The network must develop appropriate systems of governance, sharing of knowledge and resources as well as stable means of financing the cooperative educational activities. This should narrow the gap between the North and South and promote global sustainable development to better global environment.

Thus, with globalization of cooperative education, WACE leadership, more than ever, must be strengthened. Equally important is a more integrated activity of the various national and regional cooperative education associations. With the leadership of WACE, new paradigms of cooperation using information and communication technologies could be developed for a more integrated and sustainable way of collaboration rather than just the annual or biennial meetings. Common innovative projects answering societal needs must be initiated under a restructured or reengineered organization and system of governance and financial scheme.

It is hoped that this 12th WACE Conference could address most of the above mentioned issues and challenges and that concrete actions could be taken by WACE and its members to achieve a more efficient and effective global cooperative education.



WACE 2001 , 12 th World Conference on Cooperative Education , Suranaree University of Technology