Southeast Asian countries say pandemic hastens tech adoption in region

MANILA, June 3 – Some educational leaders in the Southeast Asian (SEA) countries on Tuesday believe that COVID-19 pandemic forced the sector across the region to accelerate the adoption of new educational technologies, despite the challenges of many developing countries in terms of internet connectivity, and advancement.

This was emphasized during the SEA sub-region webinar forum made by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Jakarta, Indonesia headquarters, presenting all best educational, adaptive practices and approaches of each country, embracing in advance the challenges made by industrial revolution 4.0.

Fast-track education innovations and approaches are now being considered to be implemented, as Ihwan Syahril, Director-General of teachers and education personnel, Ministry of Education and Culture in Indonesia explained how they prepared before the COVID-19 outbreak. He said “they have started their educational reform at the end of last year, in order to answer the call of the era, in response to transforming the education system.”

Syahril is pushing for an educational curriculum that is more personalized and student-centered, using “teaching-and-learning from home strategy,” without using normal graded assessments. He said they will “encourage teachers to provide feedback to students.”

The virus also allowed the education sector to embrace the challenge on interconnectivity, automation, machine learning, and real-time data. Malaysian Director-General of Education Habibah Abdul Rahim said that they ensure all students have access to education using multiple platforms at home.

She also explained there are many factors that impede the learning via multiple platforms especially the ownership of gadgets and Internet connectivity. Preparation, digital divide, and teaching means for students with disability are some issues that would allow each teacher to become more creative and innovative.

Fear for the safety of the children is the utmost concern that is why physical, face-to-face education will not be implemented in many countries this school year until further notice.

“The Philippines will use blended learning, using printed or digital modules delivered to the home by students, or pick up by parents at designated places with coordinated schedule,” Nepomuceno Malaluan, undersecretary of the Department of Education in the Philippines said.

The country will also use online learning resources using “DepEd commons”, and now preparing for broadcast-based distance learning systems using television and radio for remote are.

Internet in many developing countries is still an issue, that is why Brunei Darussalam collaborated with national telecommunications agencies for Internet accessibility of all learners.

Marina Chek Bujang, Director General for Education said they would use e-learning despite issues on readiness.

Shahbaz Khan, director, and representative of UNESCO Jakarta said that despite the socio-economic differences of students, education ministries should reach all learners “so no one will be left behind.”

UNESCO said that almost all countries are now forced to do all of these and adapting to new approaches and technologies.

The regional forum aimed to compile all ideas in the education sector, in response to the continuity of learning on basic education amid the virus. Being adaptive to different alternative learning delivery modalities will ensure the synchronized quality of education in Southeast Asia, even without using traditional face-to-face education.

On Monday, the Philippines has already started its enrolment on primary and secondary education without face-to-face registration rule. The classes were moved to August. (STANLEY BUENAFE GAJETE)

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