It was a fruitful 2 days last December 8 & 9, 2015 as educators, education advocates and student delegates from ASEAN nations took part in the 14th International Conference themed “A Better Future for Every Learner in Southeast Asia”, at Seameo Innotech Regional Centre in Quezon City.
The facilitators opened the circle and generated agenda. Delegates were asked to propose a topic or issue. These topics were discussed during the conversation sessions. Below are some examples of the topics and/or issues that were raised during the open circle:
• Encourage every single one to speak up globally
• The improvement of English learning and teaching in ASEAN countries and beyond
• Improvement of Science Education
• Self reflection for learners
• Educational Apathy in the Grassroots level
• Poverty and discrimination in Education
• How do we ensure potential on every child in realized and no child is left behind?
• Poverty and discrimination in education
• Opportunity for Learning
• Youth ASEAN Integration
• Creating Connection
• To share knowledge base and make ASEAN people to understand what SEAMEO is doing and how can we share benefits together
• Quality Education for all starts with Great Leaders
• Improving Leadership Skills
• People power in Education Reform: Strengthening people’s participation in the Local School Board
• Building Self-Confidence in the 21st Century (Is Education Enough?)
• And others.
Participants had the free will to choose their preferred topic and join the corresponding circle. Discussions continued until the morning session of Day 2.
On the next day, our very own Ms. Abigail Colladilla and Ms. Gina Jusay of SFI Career Center (a subsidiary of the SFI Group of Companies) also proposed and convened the topic “Building Self-Confidence in the 21st Century (Is Education Enough?)”. It was an effective discussion about the importance of the student’s social skills, exposure to physical activities such as sports and the arts, understanding the learner’s strengths or where the students are good at aside from their academic achievements, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, Importance of caring teachers, support from family, friends and environment as well as Career Guidance. The circle has been well-represented by educators, education advocates and some students from the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Timor Leste, Indonesia and others.
In the afternoon of Day 2, the participants voted on what they believed were the major issues in education and thus the various topics were trimmed down to the 7 top issues in education.
The top 7 issues with the most number of votes was again convened and discussed by the interested participants. I joined the ASEAN Youth Integration wherein proposals on Policies and Advocacy, Education System (both formal and non-formal) and Socio-Cultural Diversion were discussed.
The “7 Major drafted Agenda” were presented to Secretary Armin Luistro of the Department of Education and other ASEAN Ministers of Education. The circle was ended with speeches from the officials.
It would come as no surprise if some of us think “How is this relevant to us? Why are we so passionate on being education advocates?”
The answer to that is simple: We are a workforce consultancy firm and we cannot deny the fact that the workforce comes from the education sector. Indeed, our business is directly affected by the quality of the workforce produced by that sector. Therefore, it is a privilege to be part of this International Conference.
We, at the SFI Group of Companies, as we aim to be relevant in the coming ASEAN Integration, are one with the DOLE’s Project JobsFit 2020 vision in resolving the 3 Major issues identified:
1. Lack of experienced and highly skilled workers
2. School curriculum is not responsive to industry needs
3. Poor dissemination of Labor Market Information (LMI).
One of the things I took home personally is that perhaps there is still a long journey ahead and there may still be a lot of issues pertaining to education that still need to be re-thought and resolved, but knowing that there is a community of advocates that are willing to take part on this journey is comforting beyond any challenge that comes.
It is not yet the end, but only the beginning of something big, not only for our beloved Philippines, but for the ASEAN nations. One thing I realized from this conference is that time will come that we can proudly say “I am a Filipino” and “I AM ASEAN!”