ICT in Asian Education: Successes, Challenges and New Opportunities


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The HEAD Foundation convened an ICT Policy Forum on 07 and 08 November 2016, drawing individuals from academia, international organisations, and the private sector. Its principal aim was to address the following questions: what are the key challenges facing the successful integration of ICT in education amongst developing countries in Asia? What are the strengths and capacities of ASEAN member countries in integrating ICT in education? Are current national ICT education policies well aligned with national educational vision? How are countries to know if their policies are being well implemented and meeting policy objectives?

Prof Gopinathan and Dr Uma Natarajan welcomed the participants by stating the potential of ICT in improving education and countries’ development. Prof Lim Cher Ping, consultant for the forum, delivered the opening keynote address, presenting an overview of ICT in education and indicated how it can meet needs in three areas of education, namely quality, equity and efficiency. He noted that while ASEAN nations recognise ICT’s strengths, efforts across ASEAN countries vary, especially in financial investment and in the planning of policies. Dr Park Jonghwi (UNESCO) who also delivered a keynote address, highlighted the Sustainable Development Goals and how ICT might assist in reaching global goals.

There were three panel discussions across the two days, with the first panel highlighting ICT in education in three ASEAN nations: Indonesia, Vietnam and Singapore.  It was noted during this panel that countries use ICT for education to pursue national masterplans that full access to ICT is a challenge and that constant evaluation of ICT efforts is essential. A second panel discussed partnerships between agencies and educational bodies for ICT. It was noted that commitments to ICT planning as well as engagement with all relevant parties would strengthen educational outcomes.

The second day of the forum opened with a keynote address by Dr Siribodhi (SEAMO) on ICT Education and teacher capacity building. ASEAN teachers have varying abilities in using ICT for teaching and strategies were proposed to improve teachers’ ICT skills. A third panel on the second day furthered the discussion, with reflections on the various lessons learnt from ICT in Education efforts. This panel noted the diverse nature of education across and within ASEAN nations and how ICT can aid or present a challenge to educational systems.
A detailed discussion for the event’s policy brief brought up many key ideas, including:

  • identifying the policy dilemmas in each region or country
  • identifying successful practices for policy makers
  • emphasising that any action taken must be consistent with local realities
  • that ICT is only a means to an end
  • that policy proposals differ from practical implementation
  • and that access to rural and marginal communities should always be factored in

The forum concluded with proposals highlighting the importance of teacher capacity building, the emphasis of an infrastructure for ICT education, noting that a detailed understanding of the local context is needed for successful transfer of ICT education practices, and that all relevant parties, not just those centred in education, should be involved in order for any ICT education programme to be effective. Following this policy forum, a policy brief will be produced with the aim of disseminating the key proposals to policy makers in the wider ASEAN region.

Watch the video interview with Prof. Lim Cher Ping, Professor of Curriculum and Innovations at The Education University of Hong Kong and the Editor-in-Chief of The Internet and Higher Education as he shares his thoughts on the challenges and opportunities for ICT integration in Asian Education.

Watch the video interview with Dr. Tinsiri Siribodhi, Deputy Director (Administration and Communication) at SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) as she shares her thoughts on harnessing collaboration to enhance ICT integration in Asian Education.

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Mr Ho Swee Huat

Mr Ho Swee Huat is the Founder and Managing Director of Abacus Assets Advisors Pte Ltd. Before starting the company, he had an established career in the banking industry, with 20 years of experience in Singapore, Hong Kong and New York.

He was an Independent Director and Chairman of the Audit Committee of CapitaCommercial Trust Management LTD from 2004 to 2013.

He is the current Chairman of Autism Association (Singapore) which he co-founded with a group of parents in 1992. He is also Vice-Chairman of Eden School, a special school for children with autism.

Mr Ho holds a Master’s degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a Liberal Arts degree in Economics from Hamilton College, USA.

He has been a member of the Board of the Foundation since its incorporation.