I returned to Yogyakarta after ten years – last time was the occasion of ASPBAE’s 40th anniversary. Nani Z was the host then as well. We then celebrated 40 years with pride and satisfaction. We felt good about a regional network that had survived the shifting nature of the global forces for so long.
In returning to Yogyakarta yesterday to participate in ASPBAE’s 50th anniversary Festival of Learning, I am intrigued by the theme being woven—“daring to persist”. The fact that ASPBAE continues is an indicator of persistence indeed; its focus on basic and adult education continues; it has reinforced the perspective of ‘life-long and life-wide learning for ALL’. Its emphasis on ‘learning beyond borders’ is more than a tagline; the festival unfolding here in Yogyakarta is a manifestation of that principle. I continue to resonate with ASPBAE 2014.
However, I am a bit nervous about ‘daring’; in the world of today, daring may also imply foolhardiness? Daring is gambling, excessive mindless risk-taking? Why? Because the world has changed considerably over the past decade since we last met in Yogyakarta in 2004. The financial crisis of 2008 has made many national governments go bankrupt; unemployment of the youth is driving them crazy. The rise of Asian economies is unprecedented; China is the second largest economy now, and India the third largest; sustaining and triggering economic growth is at the centre of the agenda of national leaders in Asia-pacific. The Brisbane G20 declaration has committed to further growth just a few days ago.
Driving this growth-mania is demand for infrastructure, employment and wealth; inequality in wealth is to be tolerated in the future (perhaps celebrated?); certain ecological considerations have to be cleverly ignored; and what did you say about ‘human rights’?? The aspirations of a large segment of people in Asia-pacific are fuelling the national governments’ drives towards this mindless growth.
We are daring indeed; many more bikes and cars are on the streets of Yogyakarta today than ten years ago; many more young people speak the global computer language –English; new hotels and tour operators seem to be thriving in the tourist boom; this is new Yogyakarta. To engage with hundred other fellow practitioners from the region in conversations around basic and adult education in this new era is daring indeed!
Daring we must, because we face an uncertain world.
Daring we shall because we harness the solidarity and social capital that ASPBAE has accumulated over five decades!
Rajesh Tandon – ASPBAE President (1991-2000)
Founder-President, PRIA, India
18 November 2014