TEACHERS' LEARNING IN A CHANGING WORLD

 A Report of the SEAMEC Thematic Symposium
of the 31st Conference of the Southeast Asian
Ministers of Education Council (SEAMEC)

Chiang Rai, Thailand
6 January 1996

 Table of Contents

Proceedings
Introduction
Lead Paper Presentation
Discussion of the Paper
     Malaysia
     Brunei Darussalam
     Philippines
     France
     Indonesia
Summary
Annex I List of Participants
Annex II Lead Paper by H.E. Sukavich Rangsitpol Minister of Education, Thailand
Annex III Response of Prof. Dr.-Ing Wardiman Djojonegoro, Minister of Education and Culture, Indonesia

Proceedings of the Fourth SEAMEO Thematic Symposium on Teachersí Learning in a Changing World

INTRODUCTION

The Fourth SEAMEO Thematic Symposium on "Teachersí Learning in a Changing World" was organized by the Ministry of Education, Thailand in collaboration with the SEAMEO Secretariat (SEAMES), as part of the 31st SEAMEC Conference on 6 January, 1996 in Chiang Rai, Thailand. The symposium was attended by delegates representing nine (9) SEAMEO Member Countries, four (4) Associate Member Countries, international organizations and agencies, donor countries and SEAMEO Units (the list of participants of the Symposium is appended as Annex I).
The symposium was chaired by H E Dr Ricardo T Gloria, Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports, Philippines.

LEAD PAPER PRESENTATION

The lead paper entitled "Teachersí Learning in a Changing World" was presented by the newly elected President of the SEAMEO Council for 1996 H E Mr Sukavich Rangsitpol, Minister of Education of Thailand.
By recalling unsuccessful reforms in the past, the Minister accentuated the focal point to be addressed in the symposium. Whereas previous efforts overlooked teaching and learning discussions as a priority, the challenge now is to respond more strongly on the teachersí need to be trained on how children learn. Emphasis should be given towards coaching and facilitating techniques where teachers are appraised on the individual learnerís stand across the learning continuum. In a changing world, this is the task at hand if we aim to instill the necessary inductive thinking skills in every learner. To do so, it is imperative for teachers to practice inductive thinking themselves. The Minister enumerated the following learning tasks a teacher must undergo in the process:

1. Collecting data
2. Classifying data
3. Establishing relationship
4. Conceptualizing relationship
5. Creating alternatives
6. Assessing alternatives
7. Testing the selected alternative
8. Restoring the workable alternative as knowledge

An urgent call was made for teachers to review their roles and their professional practice. Teachers as learners should treat each new group of students as yet to be explored. He or she ought to identify their strengths and weaknesses before teaching can proceed accordingly. Teaching knowledge increases by collecting proven teaching methods for the new group of students and each individual case. It is imperative for teachers to share this knowledge with colleagues in order to collaborate more effectively with the administration. Where teachers are learners, the following evidences may be checked in assessing their professional practice:

                    1. More experiential, inductive hands-on learning;
                    2. More active learning
                    3. More responsibility transferred to students
                    4. More emphasis on high-order thinking
                    5. More choices for students
                    6. More cooperative, collaborative activities
                    7. More responsive teaching in heterogeneously grouped classrooms
                    8. More reflective sessions
                    9. More varied and cooperative roles for teachers, parents and administrators
                  10. More qualitative-anecdotal observation in studentsí assessment
                  11. More enacting and modelling of democratic practices
                  12. More interdisciplinary learning
                  13. More challenging goals of learning

These features indicate that learning is more child-centered, more experiential, more reflective, more authentic, more holistic, more constructive, more cognitive, more democratic, and more challenging. With these, education becomes more developmental.
The Minister highlighted the need to encourage reflective teachers who are responsible in developing learnersí self-esteem. It is most desirable that every learner realize his or optimum capability in physical, intellectual, social, moral and emotional developments. In fostering a sense of success, teachers have to be responsive by encouraging and negotiating with the individual learner to set an appropriate learning task, through his or her knowledge of the learnerís capability and constraints. The reflective teacher constructs his or her knowledge through data collection and classification, creating a relationship among data and making a generalization on the obtained relationship with new situations for validation.

In raising these points, the Minister posed the following premises for discussion:

               i)    the direction of management reform towards the discussed features of teaching/learning process
              ii)    identifying other reforming the educational system using teachersí learning as a focal point and methods of teachersí learning
             iii)    the role of SEAMES in coordinating with Centre/Coordinators to support teachersí learning programmes

In consonance with the theme of the symposium, the Minister cited reforms addressing areas of concern in the educational system of Thailand. With only less than 1% of 40,000 schools in the country meeting the standard of quality education, institutional and teaching reforms were significantly marked. Decentralizing curriculum development was highlighted based on the studentsí need to acquire relevant knowledge and skills to enhance their performance in their particular environment or locality. Likewise, he emphasized the thrust towards developing a regulatory procedure in reviewing and amending policy changes at the provincial level to meet the objectives of quality education.

The Minister then identified components he deemed essential in developing educational systems. He underscored the role of the headmaster or principal and stressed the need to sustain an environment that is conducive to learning. Equally important are the number of schools with adequate educational and recreational facilities to support an increasing student population. In the area of science education, the Minister added that provisions for basic equipment and ample teaching instruments be supported by teachers who are proficient in transferring technical knowledge. To augment Thailandís present situation, the Minister mentioned the installation of 10,000 satellite units using distance learning modes in response to the current shortage of teachers. He concluded by encouraging communities to cooperate and share responsibilities in funding and managing local school programmes.

Finally, Mr. Sukavich proposed that SEAMEC endorse the strategies of teacher improvement and educational reforms for SEAMEO countries to adopt according to their particular needs and conditions.

(The lead paper is appended as Annex II)

DISCUSSION OF THE PAPER

Following the keynote speech, the Chairman, Philippine Secretary of Education, Culture and Sports Ricardo T Gloria, congratulated and thanked the SEAMEC President for his enlightening presentation of a timely subject matter. In the Philippines, he remarked, the main focus of efforts in educational reform is to upgrade the quality of teaching and learning while increasing access and promoting equity in basic education. He further defined teachers to include not only those who teach and train but also those who provide management and supervisory services in education training. In the context of SEAMEOís mandate, the term must also include those who are able to influence human development, thus improving the quality of life through various SEAMEO programmes. Before soliciting further comments, the Chairman reiterated the issues raised by the keynote speaker and added the following for discussion:

               i)   What programmes/projects may be designed to develop the kind of teachers envisioned in the paper?
              ii)    What pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes should be recommended for training institution and how will these be supported to achieve its goals?

Malaysia

The SEAMEC president was commended for touching on common concerns. In this regard, H E Dato Sri Mohd Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, Director of General Education, Malaysia, identified the need to work closely with political leaders to ensure that sufficient funds are allocated to upgrade the school system and provide for the well-being of teachers, noting that well-compensated teachers are more productive.

In meeting the challenges of the 21st century, Malaysia plans to develop a quality work force and to maximize the benefits gained from distance education. He then proposed that SEAMEO organize a meeting to consider strategies for attracting only the best in the teaching profession.

Brunei Darussalam

H E Datu Haji Ahmad Haji Jumat, Minister of Education, Brunei Darussalam expounded that evidently, education is a complex problem where money alone is not enough to untangle its intricacies. Although Brunei Darussalam has not experienced budgetary deficits in education for the last 30 years, they subscribe to the view that education should be a priority of the government. However, politicians need to understand the implications of reform from the standpoint of both the teachers and the students. The Minister emphasized that since the classroom is where teaching and learning take place, any desired change should be an interactive process. Education is labor-intensive where 60-70% of the budget is spent on the teaching work force. Therefore, he pointed, there should be proportionate spending between the learners and the teachers. Students per se are complex in nature. Their requirements and that of the classroom environment are equally important.

At this point, the keynote speaker acknowledged the responses from Malaysia and Brunei Darussalam. He added that the result of the symposium could be the basis of follow-up actions in SEAMEO and that desired reforms could only succeed with the full support of teachers, parents and the community. As this may take time to accomplish, the SEAMEC President, urged that actions be initiated accordingly.

 Philippines

Part of organizational restructuring in the Philippines include the creation of a Commission on Higher Education which is responsible for overseeing the quality and performance of 1,200 institutions of higher learning in the country, 1,000 of which belong to the private sector, all with varying standards from outstanding to so-called "diploma mills". The strategy is to identify 8 clusters of "centres of excellence" or teacher training institutions which will be given ample support and advise by panels of experts according to discipline. The teacher education panel will look into facilities, accessibility and balance of study areas eg, business, technology and science.

The Philippines rely on SEAMEOís assistance and cooperation in rendering its graduate programme offering competitive in the world. Nevertheless, the country look forward to a better educational system in the next 10 years.

 France

Franceís main concerns by way of educational reforms include: strengthening teachersí abilities to cope with the demands of the 21st century; developing teachersí communication skills and use of new technologies for communication and knowledge transfer; and preparing them for entry into the service. Teaching method kits are currently being developed via distance learning modes. In this regard, France is willing to discuss possible collaboration with SEAMEO on Distance Education.

 Indonesia

The Minister of Education and Culture of Indonesia, H E Professor Dr -Ing Wardiman Djojonegoro reaffirmed the key role of teachers and proceeded to discuss issues germane to them in a dynamic environment.

In order to participate fully in a changing world, he emphasized the need to link and match with the changing world. In which case, an output orientation education is essential. What should children get out of education? What should be their competencies? What must they be capable of in order to effectively transit into the world of work? These questions have nothing to do with how children learn but what they learn. The Minister cited examples of developed countries going through similar discussions such as the Mayer Report from Australia and the US SCANS report. He encouraged the delegates to embark on similar efforts to reorient education and thus reorient the education of teachers. Accordingly, such change brings into focus the need to greatly improve the ability to assess education achievement. In due course, the Minister stressed that the real challenge is to maximize the amount of freedom, initiative and teacher responsibility which will enable them to deal with change, while maintaining a national curriculum.

(The response of H E Professor Dr -Ing Wardiman Djojonegoro is attached as Annex III)

The keynote speaker, H E Mr Sukavich Rangsitpol took note of the responses of the delegation from the Philippines, France and Indonesia, and enjoined SEAMES to consider a plan of action based on the deliberations of this symposium.

In response, the Chairman called on the centres to initiate appropriate actions. He reaffirmed the value of the symposium which provided various insights on how to upgrade the quality of education by devoting attention to helping teachers in a rapidly changing world. In closing, he thanked the SEAMEC president for an extremely stimulating paper and all those who contributed to the spirited discussion of the symposium.

SUMMARY OF THE MAIN POINTS OF THE SYMPOSIUM

The lead paper highlighted the need to develop teachersí learning as a crucial foundation for successful educational reforms. In a changing world, it is necessary for teachers to undergo the necessary inductive thinking process if they aim to instill the corresponding inductive thinking skills in every learner. The paper enumerated the required learning tasks for teachers and listed possible measures in evaluating its practice.

The goal is to respond more strongly on the teachersí need to be trained on how children learn. Emphasis should be given to encourage coaching and facilitating techniques where teachers are appraised on the individual learnerís stand across the learning continuum. To support this, the following premises were raised for deliberation:

               i)     teaching/learning process
               ii)    reforming the educational system using teachersí learning as a focal point and identifying other methods of teachersí learning
               iii)   the role of SEAMES in coordinating with Centre/Coord inators to support teachersí the direction of management reform towards the discussed features of learning programmes
               iv)   programmes/projects to develop the kind of teachers envisioned in the paper
               v)    pre-service and in-service teacher education programmes to be developed by training institutions

It was proposed that SEAMEC endorse the strategies of teacher improvement and educational reforms for SEAMEO countries to adopt according to their particular needs and conditions. Based on the deliberations of the symposium, SEAMES and the centres were urged to prepare a plan of action and initiate the steps that need to be taken.

 

Last Updated: 16 August 2001


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Annex I

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