Education best way to face challenges of modern world
James Kont

The most effective way to prepare our people to face the challenges of the modern world is through education, said His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam in a titah at the first closed session of the Asia Cooperative Dialogue (ACD) Summit at the Bayan Palace in Kuwait.

His Majesty pointed out how important education is for our youths as they are the generation that stand to inherit Asia's potential, as well as confront the challenges ahead.

"At the basic level, it calls for continual assessment of our school curriculum so that it is directed at future needs and demands," His Majesty said.

His Majesty firstly recalled the proposal 10 years ago from the then Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra of the Kingdom of Thailand, which stirred the leaders' imaginations and led to the convening of the first meeting of the ACD.

The time was very exciting then and people referred to it as the beginning of the "Asian Century". They were conscious of Asia's rich history and the strength of its ancient empires with immense resources, both material and human as the region grew from strength to strength. And they placed great hopes on the enormous potential of the continent, His Majesty said.

At the same time, His Majesty stated that they are aware of the reality of the challenges confronting the modern world, from economic crises, food security to pandemic diseases, to mention a few. In doing so, they rightly identified a gap between potential and reality.

And whilst the leaders had hoped that the gap would be narrowed, over the last 10 years, His Majesty stated, it has grown in many ways. "Social norms of tolerance and respect among nations are frequently and severely tested. Cultural values that shape our different societies are similarly at risk. International finance has become so complex that even experts are unable to agree about how best it should operate.

"Neighbours across our continent are often uncomfortable with each other. Security, as it is understood and desired by most people, is often fragile," said his Majesty.

In other words, His Majesty stated, that the challenge we still face is to overcome the disparity between what we aspire to achieve and what reality imposes on us.

His Majesty continued to say that as rightly stated 10 years ago, the task of achieving our aspirations cannot be realised solely through official mechanisms and formal cooperation. Much can also be achieved through constructive dialogue. Dialogue leads to understanding and understanding leads to respect for a common purpose.

"At a broader level, education involves increasing opportunities for our young people to interact with our partners throughout Asia," said His Majesty and added that this is where the ACD can play a unique and invaluable role. The first summit provides a welcome opportunity to coordinate all the thoughts and ideas expressed over the past decade.

His Majesty highlighted that the dialogue allows leaders to listen to each other's views on the complexities of global finance and economics; on the priorities in social development; and on all the many challenging aspects of today's security. "As a result, it enables us to share ideas and develop a common understanding as well as learn from each other's experiences," His Majesty added.

In that spirit, His Majesty ended his titah by stating that the leaders look forward to strengthening the dialogue under its new chairman, the Republic of Tajikistan, and thanked the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand for its continued hard work as ACD coordinator and the people of the State of Kuwait for their very kind welcome.

His Majesty also welcomed Afghanistan as the newest member of ACD.

Earlier, His Majesty attended the opening session of the ACD.

On arrival at the Al-Tahrir Conference Building, Bayan Palace, His Majesty was greeted by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Amir of the State of Kuwait.

His Majesty consented to join other ACD leaders for a group photo.

The opening session began with a welcoming address by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmed Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, followed by a speech by Yingluck Sinawatra, the Prime Minister of Thailand as the General Coordinator of ACD. Several other speeches by representatives from other international and regional organisations ensued.

Accompanying His Majesty at the opening session and first closed session were Pehin Orang Kaya Laila Setia Dato Seri Setia Awang Haji Abdul Rahman bin Haji Ibrahim, Minister of Finance II at the Prime Minister's Office and Pehin Orang Kaya Pekerma Dewa Dato Seri Setia Lim Jock Seng, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade II. - Borneo Bulletin (17 October 2012)