Reimagining Education

Ashoka Philippines Sparks the Conversation

As the clock struck 7, excited individuals from different sectors and industries in the Philippines gathered to take part in the discussion of ‘Reimagining Education’ in the country as everyone prepares for the future of the next generation in this fast-changing world.

With the aim of igniting conversations and contributing to the ongoing discussion in helping improve education in the country, Ashoka Philippines, in partnership with Asian Institute of Management, gathered key education players across disciplines last July 5, 2017 to simply provide possible solutions to the question: “How do we effectively educate for an unknown future?”

Terri Jayme-Mora, Country Manager of Ashoka Philippines, opened the session by welcoming everyone and introducing Ashoka as the pioneer in establishing social entrepreneurship in different industries with over 3,500 fellows from 93 countries. Having emphasized the role of changemakers in driving social change across causes, disciplines, sectors, and borders, she introduced one of the key players and changemakers in Philippine education, Professor Juan Miguel (Mike) Luz, former undersecretary of the Department of Education and a current professor in the Asian Institute of Management.

Luz started by painting a picture of the current situation of education in the Philippines by stating that the government budget for education has increased significantly throughout the years with its current amount at P500B, the largest budget in all departments of the government. Having over 147,000 public schools across the country, the government only invests around P23,000/year for every student in public schools given the high population of pupils per school. He added that to be able to ensure that students receive high quality education similar to that of the Philippine Science High School, the government needs to invest around P75,000-P80,000/year for every student.

Luz reminded, however, that the solution is not simply throwing more money to solve the current educational crisis in the Philippines, rather, shifting our focus on getting superior results with inferior resources. “In staying true to our theme of reimagining education, we have to figure out a different way to make our investment in the students more productive”, he added.

We have to figure out a different way to make our investment in the students more productive.

With the attendees having a clearer background of the state of education in the Philippines from Mike Luz, Ashoka invited Danielle Goldstone, Senior Advisor to Ashoka’s global leadership team, to provide insights as to the role of education in the global setting. Goldstone has helped develop various initiatives for social entrepreneurs with Ashoka’s Empathy Initiative as the most recent one, where a community of social entrepreneurs, schools, universities, media, and other partners are collectively positioning empathy as the new literacy in today’s world.

Propping her way up to the podium, Goldstone began her speech by declaring that every child can become a changemaker just like how Ashoka believes that social entrepreneurs can unleash change by empowering them to do so. “We need to ensure that our children grow up knowing that empathy is the foundation of learning and that teamwork, collaboration, and leadership, are the skills that influence and equip them to thrive in today’s world.”

We need to ensure that our children grow up knowing that empathy is the foundation of learning.

She added that the current framework of education worldwide focuses too much on college attendance as the end goal of education itself. With the increasingly interconnected global issues, compounded by rapid technological advancement, success is now different compared to how it was before. “This model does not apply anymore. We don’t raise followers of rules, we now raise changemakers that can make a difference in this world”, Goldstone emphasized.

Having encouraged everyone to partake in contributing to changing the current global framework of education, Goldstone emboldened the audience to shift their mindsets to be able to adapt to the ever-changing world and help influence the future of the next generation.

Immediately after the enlightening speeches by Mike Luz and Danielle Goldstone, the key players of education from different industries were encouraged to join four different breakout sessions, namely: improving access to education, creating innovative approaches to teaching, fostering cross-sector partnerships, and empowering future changemakers.

Getting the pulse of the individuals from across disciplines, a few had insights that inspired them to reflect on the present day state of Philippine education and its impact on their respective industries. Former alumnus of Teach for the Philippines, environmentalist, and educator, Ryan Bestre, highlighted his belief in designing creative ways of employing non-traditional teaching methods in the classroom that teaches a few of the 21st century learning skills Danielle Goldstone mentioned, such as empathy, collaboration, and leadership. Everything has changed and we, as educators, need to adapt to that change to equip us in instilling lasting impact to our students,”said Bestre.

Everything has changed and we, as educators, need to adapt to that change.

Jollibee Group Foundation Project Manager, Joanna la’O, was specifically delighted to have attended the session which inspired her to reimagine education in her own work. “We frequent these kinds of events that help us brainstorm on how we can ensure that we’re giving our foundation’s scholars the best, not just in terms of financial support for their education, but complete individual formation that equip them for life.”

A government worker, Karl Satinitigan, passionately agrees with Mike Luz and Danielle Goldstone that reshaping education in the country takes creating a new framework that banks on more data-driven results to be able to make significant change in the Philippines. “This will only be possible once we have accurate data on our pupils, our teachers, our curriculum, to know which works and what doesn’t specifically for a Filipino pupil.”

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Arabelle Magalona was a Communications Intern for Ashoka Philippines. She is a mental health advocate and currently the Youth Counselor at HOUSE Foundation.