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October 15, 2020

Education Gets Reinvented: There’s No Going Back To The ‘Old Normal’ After The Pandemic, PLM President Thinks

Education Gets Reinvented: There’s No Going Back To The ‘Old Normal’ After The Pandemic, PLM President Thinks Siblings Kyle and Kris Anne Cervantes share a tablet on Oct. 8, 2020 to fulfill their online class requirements while outside their home in Paco, Manila. The two are students of Justo Lukban Elementary School located in the same area. Photo by KJ Rosales, The Philippine STAR

Viewed from a business perspective, the Philippine education system must take the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to reinvent itself and adapt to the broader trend of going online all over the world, Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila (PLM) president Emmanuel Leyco said.

“If the pandemic ends, do we go back to old practices? I don't think so,” Leyco, a former officer-in-charge of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), predicted.

“Our future is not going to go back to the ‘old normal.’ Education is being reinvented, and it should be relevant to the current times,” he said during BusinessWorld Insights’ session on “Internet, Technology and Education: Connecting Schools and Students in the New Normal” on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Beyond the recurring issue of unequal access to the internet and heightened stress caused by the pandemic, Leyco said “the main challenge now is that what we are teaching from the old paradigm may no longer be relevant.”

He highlighted the need to not just convert learning materials into digital formats, PDF files and modules, but also to “reorganize, reassemble, and focus on our mandate and philosophy in educating our people.”

At the core of Leyco’s assessment was how technology has taken over and reshaped the way careers and businesses are built.

“Companies all over the world are already reconfiguring themselves. If you are not adept with online technology, you will be left behind,” he said.

IBM Philippines president and country general manager Aileen Judan-Jiao agreed: “Digital economy will really beg different sets of skills.”

She said the technology company is working on a four-year program that works with junior and senior high schools to equip students with such skills. Its recently launched Open P-Tech program offers a free online learning platform to hone professional skills, while SkillsBuild caters to professionals who want to be “upskilled.”

Like Leyco, Tata Consultancy Services TCS iON sales director Shashwat Rai stressed the need to develop online learning programs in such a way that “learning is not limited to a structured curriculum.”

Rai raised the following questions that ought to be asked: “How can schools bring out the kind of personalized learning experience that students require? How can parents ensure that their children are getting the most out of their schools?”

He also pointed out the need to create “interactive content that will be more relevant to students.”

While Leyco acknowledged that “online learning will not be the same as face-to-face,” he expressed belief that “it will be a continuing part of our learning platforms” moving forward.

Leyco underscored that online learning could pave the way for “interaction from international faculty.”

“Opportunities abound. Sovereign borders have come down. We can now access learning materials from the best schools in the world,” he said.

However, taking advantage of the “unlimited” reach of the internet “can’t be done without being mindful of our resources,” Leyco added.

For the paradigm shift to take place in a country where many do not have the means to go online, Leyco said: “There must be free or low-cost access to internet and gadgets, since this will make the difference in who will be successful in our new environment.”

PLDT Enterprise first vice president and Enterprise Revenue Group head Victor Tria promised that the telecommunications giant would ensure data safety and abide by the mantra that “no learner is left behind.”

Tria saw education as an important “investment” for the business sector.

“Learning cannot be confined in the educational sector. Learning is part of other industries as well like healthcare, retail, banking and BPO (business process outsourcing),” Tria said. “And the shift to e-Learning (electronic learning) can be considered as an investment for businesses’ futures.”

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