Sunday 13, March 2016

Dubai – MENA Herald: A discussion on ‘How teachers in 2030 will look like’ at the fourth Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF) presented a comprehensive portrait of their preferred abilities that include being tech-savvy, upholding the highest values of nobility and serving as ardent advocates of peace.

The session moderated by Tony Jackson, Vice President of Education Asia Society in the USA, witnessed heightened debate on the impact of technology on teachers and whether the two are mutually exclusive. The verdict was unanimous: technology can only serve as an enabler while teachers, with their face-to-face interaction and counsel will be as relevant as ever. “Goodbye then, to robotutors,” remarked Jackson.

Highlighting the need for elaborate planning and teacher preparation, William Samoei Ruto, Deputy President of Kenya, said that technology must be leveraged as part of building the capacity of teachers to ensure that they can “deliver what gadgets and technology will never be able to offer.”

As part of drawing on the value of technology, Kenya is currently bringing electricity to all schools in the country this year and one million students will have access to technology gadgets, said Ruto.

Anies Basweden, Minister of Education & Culture of Indonesia, emphasised the role of technology in delivering better teaching experience, adding that the biggest challenge today is that “while teachers and students are 21st century, the classrooms are 19th century. There is an urgent need to improve the quality of education infrastructure.”

Basweden said that teachers must be provided an environment where they are encouraged to be continuous learners. “With the rapid changes around us, and some of the current jobs set to be obsolete, it is important that teachers learn continuously to prepare our students for the future. What we need to build is a credible and creative educational ecosystem, not just focusing on technology, but with the goal of improving quality and professionalism.”

He also cited the need for parents to be more demanding of the quality standards so that the educational providers can push themselves. Ruto, however, pointed out a practical challenge in this, as in many communities, parents are not aware of what to expect from schools, given their negligent exposure to educational systems.

Furthering the teacher versus technology debate, David Edwards, Deputy General Secretary of Education International in Belgium, said that technology cannot make up for poor teaching; “what it does is amplify good teaching.”

Teachers of 2030 should have the ability to instill strong social skills in the students observed Beatrize Cardoso, Executive Director, Laboratorio De Educacao of Brazil, adding that the future is one of hybrid teaching models – where there is always face-to-face learning supported by the tools of technology.

The panellists called for teaching profession to uphold the highest values of nobility and the growing role of teachers to be advocates of global peace with classrooms to evolve as the ‘safe haven for students.’ Ruto added that Ayub Mohamud, one of the Top 10 finalists shortlisted for The Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, serves as a role model in how learning environments can serve in promoting peace and harmony.

GESF is convened by the Varkey Foundation and held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

With partners including UNESCO, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Dubai Cares, GESF features intense debates on reconciling the relevance, excellence and inclusiveness of both public and private learning environments. GESF 2016 will culminate on Sunday March 13 with the live announcement of the second annual award of the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize.