A Symposium of Innovations, The 12th SEAMEO-University of Tsukuba Symposium

Monday, 17 June 2024 |
A Symposium of Innovations
The 12th SEAMEO-University of Tsukuba Symposium


Supported by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan, the 12th SEAMEO-University of Tsukuba Symposium served as a forum to discuss the most pertinent education issues in Japan and Southeast Asia. Themed “Challenges and Ways Forward in the Era of Generative AI with Reflection on 25 Years of 21st Century Education”, it attempted to address the impacts of recent innovations toward education. Topics ranging from generative AI, higher order thinking skills, to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) were discussed by prominent speakers that included SEAMEO centre directors and experts from University of Tsukuba, EdTech Hub, TeachAI, and Khan Academy, among others.

Subthemes of inclusion and international education were also covered. Frankie Randle, Connected Higher Education Specialist at UNHCR, related the education challenges of refugees in the 21st century to those of marginalised communities. The University of Tsukuba led the SEA-Teacher sessions in promoting the vitality of student-teachers’ international exchange program.

Innovations extended beyond the topics of these dynamic discussions, as the symposium boasted many firsts. In its more than a decade-long history, the 12th Symposium was the first to be held hybrid. It also marked the return of onsite participants after the pandemic lockdowns pushed the event online. Online participants, however, remained as active as ever. Approximately 19,500 of them were garnered over the symposium’s two-day duration.

The symposium was also the first SEAMEO activity to cluster interested online participants into a breakout group with dedicated facilitators. These breakout sessions alone gathered over 150 online participants.

Furthermore, the symposium was the first SEAMEO activity to provide live language interpretation in five Southeast Asian languages, namely Burmese, Indonesian, Khmer, Malay, and Thai. It also opened the door to having SEAMEO activities be promoted to and participated by audiences in China, despite digital barriers. Overall, close to 15,000 registered online, originating from all 11 SEAMEO Member Countries, China, India, Japan, and even as far as El Salvador, Hungary, Kenya, the United States, and Uzbekistan, totaling to approximately 50 countries.

Educators are curious, or even anxious, to get ready for 21st century education in the era of generative AI. Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, once referred to preparation as key. The 12th SEAMEO-University of Tsukuba Symposium served as a testament to this. Through it, educators embraced global innovations by preparing for them through dialogues and knowledge exchanges.