Brian Cowen, former Prime Minister of Ireland, warned in a keynote speech in the Global HR Forum on November 2, "If the education system keeps relying on rote learning, our future generations would degenerate into a situation where they won't even be able to make a living." "An education reform focusing on creativity is a must, not an option," he stressed.
At the Global HR Forum 2016 held at the Grand InterContinental Parnas in Seoul's Gangnam, sponsored jointly by the Ministry of Education, the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training, and the Korea Economic Daily, the former Irish prime minister took the podium as the first keynote speaker with a title "Leadership for the Future." He said, "Ireland and South Korea are similar in that the two countries grew fast based on exports despite under condition of scarce resources."
Mr. Cowen continued that for small countries like Ireland and Korea to survive in the 21st century they must bet everything on education. By taking the fourth industrial revolution as an example, he explained, "Today's young men and women will experience at least six sea changes in their career for the rest of their life. For this reason, it is imperative for the educational system to train the youths to be responsive to technological change. To do so, government policy must be flexible enough."
He also expressed concerns about the fast-rising aging trend in Korea by saying, "One of the changes 21st century leaders must pay attention is demographic trend. Fortunately in that department, Ireland is blessed with a large number of highly educated young people even though most European nations are experiencing a reduction in the number of youths.