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Future Proofing Education

07 July 2020

By

Amanda Kee

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Co-Author: Olivia Wang

4 min read

The cancellation of classes because of the pandemic has placed the urgency of education innovations in sharper focus. Clearly, no society can afford leaving an entire generation of students unprepared for the future. Yet, even before Covid-19, education systems were in dire need of reform to prepare the youth for the 21st century, which many experts say will be shaped by the Fourth Industrial Revolution in a world that is already becoming more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

The recent AVPN virtual conference devoted two discussion sessions on education: one on how to scale excellence in education and the other on the future skilling of the youth in Asia. Held from 8 – 12 June, the virtual conference attracted close to 7,500 delegates from more than 100 countries, consisting of philanthropists, impact investors, foundation heads, corporate executives, multilateral organization representatives, all looking to enhance their impact in Asia through collaboration and partnerships. In the three sessions focused on education, three key insights were surfaced.

1. The future requires flexibility, adaptability and a growth mindset.

The reality is that “over 60% of the world’s youth live in Asia Pacific, yet the region’s youth unemployment rate is approximately 10.5%, more than double the unemployment rate of the total working age population,” said Liza Green, Head of Corporate Citizenship and Foundations Asia Pacific, Credit Suisse. Equipping the youth with relevant, employable skills has been one of the biggest challenges facing Asia. However, we are living in a time where jobs in the next decade or two are not known to us yet. As such, flexibility and adaptability are valuable skills that will be needed.

Related to these skills is the importance of a growth mindset, where students believe their abilities can be continuously developed beyond and outside of school, as opposed to a fixed mindset where one’s abilities are seen as static. As Dr. Andreas Schleicher of OECD put it, “Literacy is no longer about extracting pre-fabricated information; it’s about constructing knowledge – it’s a very different skill set.”. To achieve this, the youth will have to embrace life-long learning.

The private sector can further enhance these skills by exposing students early on to the world of work, even while studying. Young people without early exposure to the world of professionals tend to grapple with a mismatch of expectations. As such, it is crucial to involve the private sector to forge connections between education institutions and the work place.

2. Investing in evidence-based education reform.

We need to invest  in impact assessment tools to know whether an education reform is really delivering a positive change. In 2019, Co-Impact, a global philanthropic collaborative, committed US$80 million to Pratham and MIT’s Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) to develop evidence-backed, lifelong learning approaches for learners in Africa. Similarly, Indonesian philanthropic organisations, Tanoto Foundation and Djarum Foundation, collaborated to launch a project that aims to assess different pilot programs on school leadership development models implemented in Indonesia.

Admittedly, impact assessment programs can be very expensive to develop. For this reason, while education reforms and changes in curriculum have been introduced in Asia, little is known about the progress and real changes they have achieved. This is where philanthropic money can come in: philanthropists through their family foundations or even corporate foundations can devote grant funding for the development of impact measurement tools, without which decision makers are made to commit to a direction without evidence.

3. Partnerships and Collaboration will be key

One concrete positive consequence of the pandemic has been an increase in public-private partnerships, especially around education. More so than ever before, there is a new openness to listening and knowledge-sharing across industries and sectors. To leverage on this openness to collaborate, Dr. J. Satrijo Tanudjojo, CEO Global of Tanoto Foundation, recommends that organizations must look for partners on the basis of complementary expertise, aligned vision, trust and mutual respect.

Now is the time to further collaborations. The pandemic affords us an opportunity to reset our lives, our societies and our economies to a direction that adheres to long-termism and sustainability. More particularly, it is a time for education to reimagine itself. As Naina Subberwal Batra, CEO and Chairperson of AVPN, had addressed the delegation, “While no one would have chosen the circumstances which had brought us to this moment in history, let us look at this global crisis as an opportunity for expanding the tent, reaching out across the silos that have separated us and working together with renewed purpose to create systemic change and build the tomorrow that humanity deserves.”

 

 

References

A. Environmental Stewardship
To protect the environment, we organize programmes like mangrove nursery and Reforestation, Coastal and River Clean-Up, Community Based Environmental Solid Waste Management, Environmental IEC Campaign and Eco-Academy

B. Food Security and Sustainable Livelihood
To ensure a sustainable livelihood for the community, eco-tourism include Buhatan River Cruise Visitor Center Buhatan River Mangrove Boardwalk are run by the community. Others include Organic Vegetable and Root crops Farming, Vegetable and Root crops Chips and by-products Processing and establishing a Zero waste store.

C. Empowered Communities
To empower the community, we provide product and Agri-Enterprise Development Training, Immersion and Learnings Exchange Program, Earth Warrior Training and Community Based Social Entrepreneurship Training

Author

Amanda Kee

Amanda is the Products Manager of the Capital Mobilisation team at AVPN. She supports funders in deploying their capital more effectively into enterprises and not-for-profit organisations. Previously, Amanda was the Content Marketing Manager at AVPN. As scriptwriter, Amanda positioned her CEO as a thought leader in her speaking engagements and opinion editorials. She also led the creation of diverse video, podcast, and blog series to advocate for funders’ key social issues. The AVPN blog also increased its readership by more than 50% within a year under her content curation efforts. Amanda is an English Literature graduate at the National University of Singapore and University Scholars’ Programme. She is also the author of local children’s book: The Runaway Who Became President, published in 2016. In her spare time, Amanda provides pro-bono digital marketing support to her community preschool, while creating pottery pieces at the beautiful Potter’s Guilt in Chinatown.

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