On the eve of
the new millenium, with the world's population eclipsing 6 billion, a renewed
international effort focusing on the importance of education assumes paramount
importance as a means of empowering the world's poor.
What 20th century event had the most significant impact on your profession or field of study?
From the perspective of my profession, the events which are most significant are:
1. the moves by Deng Xiaoping in China in 1978 to introduce and implement the Open Door Policy and reform efforts to introduce a watershed of evolutionary changes in the way China operates, opening up to the outside world, following the 27-year rule of Mae Tse-Tung. That paved the way for a China that is more stable, more open, and more engaged in the world. And the importance of a stable China here in Asia cannot be overestimated.
2. the Plaza Accords of 1985, when the G-5 countries met in Paris to discuss ways in which to introduce reform and deregulation in the Japanese economy with the primary goal of strengthening the Japanese yen. At that time the yen was about 245 yen to the U.S. dollar. The G-5's moves ushered in a landmark change in Japan with iimpact on Southeast Asia, and particularly for me, given my involvement in the development of the economies of the Phillipines, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia.
The moves from the G-5 had a profound impact on the rapid pace of industrial development throughout Southeast Asia. They were the catalyst that released tremendous amounts of foreign direct investment on the part of Japanese corporations totalling $10-12 billion annually from 1988 to 1990 that was earmarked for various companies in Asia. This had a profound impact on the rapid industrialization process in Southeast Asia, and the world has never experienced this scale of industrialization in just 10-15 years, going from what was largely an agrarian based economies to one dominated by the industrial sector.
What's the most meaningful lesson you've taken from your vocation or avocation?
Education is the only true means to bring about change for the better and to empower the world's poor.
Many of the children of the urban poor in Asia, as a result of the economic crises here, had to drop out of school. For them, the doors of opportunity are closed—that's the real heart of the tragedy of the Asian crisis.
On the eve of the new millenium, with the world's population eclipsing 6 billion, a renewed international effort focusing on the importance of education assumes paramount importance as a means of empowering the world's poor. Access to education is imperative if solutions to the numerous challenges facing the poor are to be found in the next millenium.