UNESCO-ICHEI Held 2020 International Advisory Committee MeetingNovember 10, 2020
On October 30, 2020, the “International Centre for Higher Education Innovation under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO-ICHEI) 2020 International Advisory Committee” was held at Shenzhen Southern University of Science and Technology. The meeting was led by MEI Yanchang (Freddy Boey), Chair of the International Advisory Committee of UNESCO-ICHEI (Innovation Centre) and Deputy President of the National University of Singapore. TANG Qian, former Assistant Director-general for Education of UNESCO, LI Ming, Director of Innovation Centre and Secretary-General of IIOE Secretariat, HAN Wei, Executive Deputy Director of Innovation Centre and Deputy Secretary-General of IIOE, and all colleagues from the Innovation Centre, participated in the meeting. Online participants included representatives from UNESCO headquarters and regional offices, partner universities of Innovation Centre in Asia-Pacific and Africa, and domestic partner enterprises and universities.
LIM Cher Ping, Chief Specialist of International Institute of Online Education (IIOE), Chair Professor at the Education University of Hong Kong, and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Higher Education Research of Southern University of Science and Technology, made a special report on “IIOE – inclusive and quality professional development for higher education teachers in developing countries.” LIM Cher Ping pointed out that ensuring the professional development of university teachers in the context of COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for developing countries. The Innovation Centre launched IIOE to provide solutions for improving teachers’ ability to apply information and communication technologies (ICT), increasing quality online learning opportunities, and offering ICT courses relevant to the economic development needs of various countries. The report also discussed the progress made by IIOE since its launch.
FENG Siyuan, Co-Director of IIOE Management Centre, and YAO Shanglang, the founder of Jiker, Chief Technology Officer of Innovation Centre, and Co-Director of IIOE Management Centre delivered a special report on “In the context of COVID-19, how can IIOE excel in product design and planning to promote university teachers’ ICT application capability.” FENG Siyuan emphasised that since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers’ ability to adopt ICT for teaching has become invaluable, and the digital transformation needs of universities have become particularly urgent. IIOE targets three key categories of ICT professors, educators and administrative managers in universities, focusing on cutting-edge subjects, such as cloud computing, big data, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence. The institute gradually builds ICT competencies of college teachers to advance their professional development. YAO Shanglang expressed that digital evaluation of talents is helpful to the effective training of talents. The current blended education model, both online and offline, demonstrates significant effects, and more technologies will be introduced to serve teachers in the future. In addition, as beneficiaries, companies should also actively participate in the process of talents development while focusing on the long-term interests of such investments.
Afterwards, the committee discussed three topics revolving around “IIOE Helping Education 2030”, “IIOE Resource Sharing and Partnership” and “ICT Empowered Teacher Professional Development.” They also provided valuable suggestions on the development plans and specific implementations for the Innovation Centre in the future.
The “IIOE Helping Education 2030” roundtable discussion was hosted by WANG Libing, Chief of Education Innovation and Skills Development at Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education of UNESCO (UNESCO Bangkok).
TANG Qian, former Assistant Director-general for Education of UNESCO emphasised that in the face of current challenges, IIOE needs to fully fulfil its role of purpose to help realise Education 2030 goals. We should further expand the scope of partner countries, provide software and hardware support, and promote in-depth development of education digitalisation. In addition, we need to inspire and mobilise the whole society, calling on enterprises to make contributions in the education sector.
Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director of SEAMEO Secretariat, pointed out that in the process of ICT competency development projects for teachers, we must continue to strengthen cooperation among all parties and pay close attention to the improvement of teachers’ ICT competency.
Anasse Bouhlal, Programme Specialist in Higher Education at UNESCO Regional Bureau for Education in the Arab States (UNESCO Beirut), expressed that under the traumatic impacts of both the pandemic and Beirut explosion, the local development for higher education is experiencing many difficulties. To escape from the predicament, it is necessary to promote the digital development of higher education and improve the public’s recognition of online education. Furthermore, Anasse hopes that IIOE can consider opening Arabic training programmes, and government agencies and related enterprises can offer more funding and equipment support.
SHEN Dai, Senior Vice President of Weidong Cloud Education Group, conveyed that IIOE has played a critical part in advancing the digital development of higher education and has alleviated the impacts of the pandemic on education. Weidong will continue to offer support for the development of IIOE, launch English and French courses, and assist in achieving Education 2030 goals.
WANG Libing, Chief of Education Innovation and Skills Development at Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education of UNESCO (UNESCO Bangkok), supplemented that during IIOE’s project development process, the practical needs of partner countries are the top priority.
The “IIOE Resource Sharing and Partnership” roundtable discussion was hosted by DU Yue, Director of Division for Cooperation at Intersectoral Follow-Up and Partnership of Africa Department of UNESCO.
DU Yue said that the growth of online education along with the promotion of education digital transformation will help achieve sustainable development in the field of education.
Peter Wells, Chief in Higher Education of UNESCO Headquarters, emphasised the importance of increasing recognition for online education, strengthening North-South cooperation, carrying out ICT-related training, as well as comprehensively improving teachers’ ICT practical application capability.
Chhem Rethy, Minister Delegate Attached to the Prime Minister of Royal Government of Cambodia, expressed that a change in mindset is essential for fostering a successful transformation of higher education institutions in the post-epidemic period.
QU Jian, Vice President of China Development Institute, suggested that in addition to higher education institutions, IIOE should also actively initiate cooperations with various regions (including special economic zones). The IIOE course curriculum should incorporate the development needs of local industries, assist regional talents training, and promote the coordinated development of industries and regions.
Mr Wu, Deputy Director of Huawei Enterprise BG Talent Ecosystem Development Department, appraised Innovation Centre’s achievements and stressed the importance of the centre’s partnership and resource sharing with enterprises and countries. He also highlighted the promotion of perception transformation and integrated digital development.
Hoba Andoh, Senior Education Specialist at UNESCO-ICHEI, conveyed that the digital transformation of education in Africa is encountering many challenges, including insufficient ICT capabilities. He hopes that IIOE can realise its mission to achieve successful education transformation in Africa.
The “ICT Empowered Teacher Professional Development” roundtable discussion was hosted by ZHAN Tao, Director of UNESCO Institute for Information Technology in Education (IITE).
Shabhaz Khan, Director of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Science (UNESCO Jakarta) shared his working experience in Jakarta. He pointed out that in an effort to continue teaching during the pandemic, teachers are confronted with various challenges, including insufficient ICT capabilities, outdated equipment, etc. Also, he proposed that the Innovation Centre should strengthen the contacts and cooperation with countries.
Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (IICBA), highlighted that both teachers and students should be aware of the importance of lifelong learning.
ZHAO Jianhua, Professor at Southern University of Science and Technology, complimented that IIOE’s teacher ICT competency evaluation system is a major accomplishment of the Innovation Centre, and should be used as a reference for future course customisation.
ZHANG Yu, Chairman of Guangzhou CreateView Education Technology Co. Ltd., communicated that CreateView has been actively cooperating with IIOE, improving ICT competencies of teachers in developing countries and providing online education courses for partner countries.
After the three rounds of discussions, Freddy Boey delivered the closing remarks. He pointed out that in the process of digital education development, ICHEI encountered various obstacles and challenges, and the centre achieved remarkable results in resolving those issues. He also suggested that IIOE should offer more courses in different languages with Arabic being one of the languages.
At the end of the meeting, LI Ming, Director of the Innovation Centre, expressed his gratitude towards the participants for their valuable comments and opinions. He said that the participants offered professional and constructive suggestions, which would be integrated into the future development of IIOE. The centre will implement multilingual courses as soon as possible, further deepen cooperation with enterprises, and promote the coordinated development between emerging technologies and education.