Developing twenty-first century competencies takes more than just hardware – building teacher capacity is a must: THF Policy Forum

Developing twenty-first century competencies takes more than just hardware – building teacher capacity is a must: THF Policy Forum
Two-day policy forum on educational ICT also discussed need for quality partnerships guided by strong vision from countries for successful integration of technology into education in Southeast Asia

Panellists and speakers from THF Policy Forum Day 2 (8 Nov) 

Singapore, 08 November 2016 – Developing sustainable and scalable national programmes integrating ICT into education means more than just having more computers in classrooms. It must be driven by a strong vision from governments with the support of key sectors and industry partners and the underlying understanding that technology is not innovation in itself but rather a tool that can facilitate innovative student learning. This was the overall argument educational ICT experts emphasised at The HEAD Foundation (THF) Policy Forum: ICT in Asian Education on 7-8 November.
Key representatives from UNESCO Bangkok, Southeast Asian Minister of Education Organization (SEAMEO), Microsoft and other notable academics and non-academics in the field from countries like Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines gathered for the two-day forum to take stock, and to identify solutions and projects addressing challenges and opportunities for ICT in education.
With 137 million jobs in Southeast Asia at risk of being lost to automation in twenty years, the education sector must consider how they can help students develop twenty-first century competencies and be future-ready. According to the panel speakers, a crucial component of holistically developing educational ICT programmes is training and empowering teachers to not only use technology but to think outside the box in how they can use such tools to improve the quality of learning.
Singapore’s TPACK initiative for example is focused on quality learning and teaching through the productive use of ICT. The programme enables teachers to design learning experiences and environments with the goal of developing students into future-ready and responsible digital learners. Malaysia’s video-based BLOSSOMS project also encourages teachers to develop content and activities with the support of videos that can be made easily available to other schools through a website.
A closer look at specific national ICT implementation experiences of different countries and the different unique challenges they faced illustrated where the countries are in terms of integrating ICT in education. Vietnam for example has invested a lot on hardware but human resource training in the country is still considered weak in quantity and quality. Indonesia has also implemented a number of initiatives such as the One School One Computer Laboratory (OSOL) and has drawn up an ICT blue print but still faces the challenge of a lack in content given the many languages in the country. Through sharing these unique experiences and ideas panellists aim to explore ways to sustain and scale up initiatives that work for their countries.
“Moving forward, I hope we can improve the sharing and collaboration among ASEAN countries not just in the ministerial level but at the grassroots as well,” said Professor Lim Cher Peng, Professor of Curriculum and Innovations at The Education University of Hong Kong and key note speaker at the forum. “We can further look into exploring how governments, international organisations and donor communities could support the scaling up of ICT in education prototypes.”

“General consensus is that while enrolment has gone up, the quality of student learning leaves much to be desired,” said Professor S. Gopinathan, Academic Director at THF. “This forum drawing together experts and practitioners from the region aims to examine the potential of ICT to reach marginalised populations and to improve learning outcomes for all in education.”

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