What Will Education Look Like in The World After the Pandemic?

"Education is a way to free the mind and body of the individual to be what he wants and to have peace in himself". Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education and Culture of the Republic of Indonesia

An online conference organized by the Yidan Prize Foundation and the Center for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS)The topic discussed was the way of education in the world after the pandemic caused by the Coronavirus with an emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.

The Association "Živojin Mišić" was among the many participants around the world, as a national partner of the Yidan Prize Foundation since the end of 2018.

At the very beginning of the conference, the participants were addressed by Dr. Charles Chen, founder of the Yidan Prize Foundation, who opened the event by saying that even in the situation of the Coronavirus pandemic, learning cannot and must not stop. In addition, he emphasized that we should reflect what kind of education we want for our children tomorrow and for the generations to come.

The focus of this conference was on the exchange of experiences, views and ideas of experts and practitioners from universities, governmental and non-governmental sectors, foundations and philanthropic associations. Thanks to the different participants of the conference, we were able to get a picture of education from different perspectives.

Some of the panelists on systemic challenges and solutions in the pandemic were Professor Emeritus Kai Ming Cheng from the University of Hong Kong, Dankert Vedeler, President of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and former Assistant Director General in the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research, and Li-Kai Chen, Chief Responsible of Global Education McKinsey & Company.

Together, they stated that although there was a trend of increased investment in education before the Coronavirus pandemic, there are still 70 million primary school students in the world who do not have access to educational institutions and 340 million non-school children, including high school students.

 Dissatisfied with the state of education in the world, panelists saw the pandemic as one of the opportunities for education systems around the world to improve their fundamental elements on which they rest. In their opinion, some of the elements that need to change are the way of understanding the child's development, then understanding the use of digital technologies in education, but also formal changes such as shortening summer vacation because they believe that a long pause in learning creates more disadvantages than positive effects, which is currently the case with pandemic learning.

Besides them, one of the speakers on overcoming the challenges in education was Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education and Culture in the Republic of Indonesia, who spoke about education as a "tool" for overcoming inequalities in society, preventing economic crises and climate change. He also pointed out that the Coronavirus pandemic has a negative effect on all partakers in education, and that distance learning cannot be a better method of teaching than teaching that takes place in normal conditions with peers and teachers.

Together with the founder of the Center for Asian Philanthropy and Society (CAPS), Dr. Ruth Shapiro, on the topic of digital technologies in education Nadiem stated that from his previous experience as Minister of Digital Technology, he sees it as an advantage and not a disadvantage for the education system. In his address, he cited the example that they managed to collect statistics on students and teachers during a pandemic across their country, even though they are a highly decentralized system. He also sees the advantage of technology in the easier training of teachers through various digital platforms, as well as in the ability to more easily adapt the content of the curriculum to the needs and possibilities of different schools and students.  

The closing speech of the conference was given by representatives of NGOs and philanthropic organizations whose panelists were Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham organization from India, Dr. Milwida Guevara, CEO of Synergy Foundation from the Philippines and Chen Shujun President and Chief Executive Officer of Online Education in China. During their presentation, they introduced the steps they have taken in working with students and schools in order to maintain learning during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Chen Shujun pointed out that the role of his online education department in China had a lot of difficult moments because they have not faced this situation so far. In his address, he stated that they provided online materials, but that due to the large number of students attending the lessons at the same time, they had the biggest problem with the IT sector and the servers on which the lessons were posted.

During the pandemic, NGOs and philanthropic organizations in the Philippines and India provided support to the government sector in conducting and maintaining online teaching. Through various activities related to providing support to teachers in the use of digital technologies, they helped to create content and exercises for all subjects and ages of children. In addition, thanks to them numerous interactive seminars were held in which the main participants were parents and students so that they could respect their perspective and make online teaching a more pleasant experience for everyone.

By participating in this conference, we had the opportunity to hear different opinions and ideas of educational actors around the world and thus be part of world educational policy.

We thank the Yidan Prize Foundation for the invitation to participate in this conference.

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