The idea of development varies from one country to the other and its definition is based on corporate, groups and individual's needs and goals. Development exists as a human, business, and economic development or as a whole community development. Development can be defined as a continuous inclining process that contains innovation as its core element. Throughout history, innovation was always there to assist the stability and solidity of any development process.
Innovation can be defined as transforming an existing idea into a creative product, service and process that generates change and fulfills desired needs. In the 21st century economy, innovation is strongly related to entrepreneurship. Unlike business owners, entrepreneurs are becoming the backbone of a community who creates innovative goods, encourage R&D and sustain the knowledge-based economy. Entrepreneurship is indeed strengthening nowadays economies but the main question is: will entrepreneurial innovation continue on carrying the burden of sustaining the economy?
Innovation will always exist within communities because it is the engine that drives the development process. But, there is always a saturation point to every process and communities will either choose to sustain their customized process of development or find a new development route.
The new type of innovation that communities will depend on besides the entrepreneurial innovation is Education Innovation.
Education Innovation and Sustainable Economic Development:
Natural resources are becoming insufficient to sustain the economic development while human resources are increasing. Therefore, it's an opportunity for communities to start focusing on developing the human talent as a way to contribute to the growth of the economy.
As mentioned above, innovation is the main pillar of any development process. Therefore, an effective innovation depends on a strong human intellectual capital and talents that are nurtured and fostered in the education level.
The latest economic structure that was introduced to the world is the knowledge-based economy. According to the World Bank, a knowledge-based economy depends on four pillars; they are Education and Training, Information Infrastructure, Economic Incentive and Institutional Regime, and Innovation Systems. The World Bank defines the Education and Training pillar as the means to increase the number of educated and skilled people who will share, create and use knowledge.
The main question here; do the terms 'educated' and 'skilled people' refer to degree holder individuals who have the abilities to perform well in their field of work? or do the terms refer to people who will contribute to the economic development process through innovation in education and knowledge?
Education innovation must be taken beyond developing the education system. It must be cultivated and shaped for a university student level. University students from different education levels must be heavily involved in the process of utilizing knowledge in their field of study to innovate for a better sustainable economic development.
In order to contribute to the first pillar (Education and Training) and the fourth pillar (Innovation System) of the knowledge-based economy, university students must have a strong knowledge on the innovation models and their impact on the economic/social development.
Transferring innovation models methods, community development practices and strategic planning knowledge to university students will unleash a generation of think tanks and a culture of innovation within a community. This will indeed sustain a knowledge-based economy and increase the capacity of innovation in the whole economy.
Education innovation and Sustainable Economic Development are inseparable. There should be a system and a suitable environment for university students beyond classrooms and traditional teaching methods for creating new knowledge and engaging their talents and innovative thinking in the process of sustaining the economic development that will lead to an innovative community with think tanks individuals. Therefore, university students are the 21st century human capital.
Abdul Rahman Badwan
Creativity and Innovation in Knowledge Advisor
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