‘Convergence, Cohesion, Collaboration’ Key to Addressing Education Challenges

Teachers and students must be equipped with the skills to use new technology and apply developments in different disciplines such as pedagogy and psychology to continue learning amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, participants at the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) 9th International Skills Forum heard today.

“We see widening digital gaps across age groups and regions within countries,” said ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development Bambang Susantono. “This shows the urgent need to equip students, teachers, and trainers with digital skills to adapt and learn in a rapidly digitalizing world.”

Mr. Susantono stressed the importance of “convergence, cohesion, and collaboration” to address challenges in education—combining discoveries in different disciplines such as behavioral science with new generation technologies to improve learning experiences and outcomes.

“Artificial Intelligence and adaptive learning software can help students learn at their own pace and learn from their mistakes,” added Mr. Susantono. “Teachers can use data generated by adaptive learning software to cater to the individual learning needs of each student.”

The International Skills Forum is ADB’s flagship event in education. Under the theme “Reimagining Education and Skills Development for a New Normal,” this year’s event explores how to ensure ongoing learning for all in a new normal characterized by COVID-19, and how developing countries can improve employability and equip their citizens with 21st century skills.

ADB has a long track record of helping to improve access to and the quality of education in Asia and the Pacific, having provided more than $15 billion in loans and grants since inception. Last month, ADB President Masatsugu Asakawa stated that the organization is aiming to double its financing for education up to 10% of its total annual commitments by 2024.

Indonesia’s Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim gave the opening keynote address. University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences Co-Director Patricia Kuhl and Stanford University Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology Carol Dweck joined BRAC University’s BRAC Institute of Educational Development Executive Director Erum Mariam, and edX Founder and CEO Anant Agarwal on a panel discussion on “The Future of Education – Power of Convergence.”

More than 3,000 participants are expected at the forum including policy makers, representatives from academia, education experts, and partners from ADB’s developing member countries. This year’s event runs 23–27 August and is held virtually due to the pandemic.