The Bangkok launch, attended by ministry officials, academics, NGO associates and others, provided opportunity for UNESCO Bangkok to share its research into the Quality Challenge: Improving Pedagogical Approaches in countries of the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr. Gwang-Chol Chang, Chief of the Education Policy and Reform (EPR) Unit shared with the academia community on-going research endeavours of UNESCO-Bangkok in support of teacher plan and development in the region. Some subjects of this research include capacity developing for ICT-pedagogy integration to support student-centred learning; collaborative research on marketing transversal (21st century) skills and competencies; quantitative review of teacher needs to achieve universal basic education in the Mekong sub-region; multi-country study for the gender dimension of participation and learning achievement in Mathematics and Science; and regional research on transforming teaching and learning for the future of education.
Mr Chang focused on the key findings of UNESCO’s regional research on transforming teaching and learning which was conducted in 10 countries from the region in 2013. The study exposed that there is generally a conceptual change in focus toward:
1) improvement of quality understanding for all;
2) learner-centred approaches;
3) whole-person growth beyond examinations;
4) learning through multi-media/sources/methods;
5) inclusion of skills for a lifetime and lifelong learning;
6) increasing focus of curricula on local and global meaning beyond national relevance; and
7) promoting diversity away from uniformity in education.
While national policies in these countries promote such shifts in focus, it is often the case that prevailing training and learning practices are still not even close to reflecting these conceptual shifts. Hence, there remain challenges and constraints in transforming teaching and understanding practices in schools and sessions.
So what are these constraints and challenges in effectively transforming teaching? Study outcomes suggest a lack of sustained political will and commitment to be one challenge. In addition , there may exist an implementation gap in terms of resources, capability and know-how. In some cases, insufficient consensus building among stakeholders on instructions of education reform and plan changes while in others, limited neighborhood empowerment and " bottom-up" ways of implement change may exist. Generally there many also be need for better teacher development and qualified teachers and strengthened efforts to ensure conducive work environments for teachers. Lastly, dealing with social or family pressures close to high-stake examinations may also be important.
Moving forward, Mr Chang pointed out several key recommendations that arise from this research, including: fostering fair access to relevant learning experiences; having to pay equal attention to teaching processes and learning outcomes; developing evidence-based education reform; ensuring that teachers are supported, empowered and incentivized; and progress well-balanced, relevant, integrated, flexible and implementable curricula for lifelong and life-wide purposes.
The launch ended with a roundtable discussion on " Teacher Plan and Development in Thailand" concerning UNESCO, representatives from Chulalongkorn College and UNICEF Thailand. Questions right here centred on addressing the learning accomplishment gap, urgent teacher policies for Thailand, teacher shortages and the part of teachers in Thailand, and preparing teachers for " twenty-first century" learning. Mr. Chang reiterated UNESCO’s readiness for analytical and capacity development support in enhancing the quality of teaching and learning, making certain teacher policy and other reforms, which aimed at strengthening equitable and high quality learning, do indeed help transform the long-term prospects of people and societies in Thailand.
For more information, please contact Gwang-Chol Chang [gc.chang[at]unesco.org] at the Education Policy and Reform Device.
Written by Amalia Miranda Serrano [am.serrano(at)unesco.org]
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