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Brunei urged to invest in education for economic growth

September 16, 2013
- File Photo
- File Photo

BRUNEI-MUARA: Brunei has phenomenal wealth that can be converted into long term potential growth in economy, therefore, education plays a big role in order to become innovative and more efficient.

This was said by Professor Dennis Encarnation, Harvard University during an exclusive interview with The Brunei Times, yesterday.

The Brunei Darussalam-Eria-Harvard Symposium was held at the Chancellor Hall, Universiti Brunei Darussalam which was a collaboration with Economic Research Institute for Asean and East Asia and Harvard University.

"It is impossible to predict (the long term results of investing in manpower and education), but without education you know that you will not be in a position to exploit opportunities in the future. You have the financial resources to make the investments today in order to have more diversified economy in the future," he said.

A domestic system of innovation builds on the local educational system, which needs to be responsive to the dynamics of global competition.

The challenge with education is that it is a long term investment. The results will only be visible in the medium-to-long term which will see requisite skills for the economy in the future, said Encarnation.

He also said that it is important to put on some "big bets" on what the country thinks the future will look like, which can be based on the past industries.

"Those past industries such as environmental history or oil and gas industry, those might help you think of the future. You are likely to have those industries still striving few years from now," he said

He agrees that people's choices with regards to what interests them shouldn't be denied but believes that among those choices, there need to be an immediate impact on the economy.

Talking about innovation, he said that innovation cannot possibly be achieved without high level of educated manpower. Innovation today can be produced either through productivity or processes or through new products and services and all that requires an educated workforce, he said.

"I don't think that there is any economy in Asean that can say they have surplus of skills. Most economies seem to believe, and most employers will tell you, that they have a hard time finding all they need locally," he said.

Encarnation founded the Centre for Business and Government (now housed in the John F Kennedy School of Government)'s first Asia program, and taught an award-winning course on globalisation to hundreds of graduate students from Harvard, MIT and elsewhere.

– By arrangement with the ANN/The Brunei Times –