“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
– Albert Einstein
All eyes are on Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, who has been appointed Education secretary, as the country’s education system teeters amid what many call a crisis. The Philippines has, over the years, scored poorly in global quality of education rankings.
A 2021 World Bank report stated that proficiency levels were below minimum for more than 80 percent of Filipino students. Furthermore, the Philippines was rated last in reading and second to the last in science and mathematics among 79 countries.
The Unesco Global Education Monitoring Report, meanwhile, showed a decline in the country’s quality of education ranking: 55th in 2021 from 52nd in 2020 on a list of 77. It exposed cracks in the education system when schooling moved to virtual or remote.
Other indicators released by global independent organizations also show the sorry state of our education system.
It is not that our policymakers don’t know the root causes of the education crisis. Scholars, lawmakers and independent organizations have always pointed these out: lack of classrooms, poor infrastructure, poor pedagogy, low textbook quality and poor internet connections, among others. Policymakers, however, keep using the same approaches in trying to address these issues.
Duterte-Carpio appears to be bringing a fresh perspective. Her early pronouncements indicate a focus on addressing the impact of the pandemic on education and a review of K to 12 programs, the latter seemingly being blamed by lawmakers as ineffective.
To address the education crisis, however, we should not stop at just band-aid fixes for a six-year government term. It entails a long-range vision of how we want the education system to look like and the creation of a 10 or more year roadmap.
The growth in online education due to the pandemic has exposed the need to meld the student’s educational needs with his or her well-being, emotional intelligence and technological advancements. This is where visioning about the future of education comes into play.
Education has evolved over the decades. Education 1.0 in the pre-1990s was characterized by a teacher-centered system. In the 2000s, it evolved to Education 2.0 where communication and collaboration started to grow with the advent of mobile devices and the internet. This was predominantly an exam-based approach to learning where memorization of knowledge was the key to get good grades. The lesson plan was the most relevant to teachers.
With technological advancements at the onset of 2010, the teacher transformed into a coordinator, facilitator, advisor and learner guide. There was more dialogue, technology was everywhere, and the student became self-learning. Education 3.0 adopted a student-centered approach to learning where the lesson plan was most relevant.
Further advancements such as in artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things saw learning evolve to Education 4.0 where co-creation and innovation was at the center. This is where learning is done at home or outside school while in school students develop skills. Personalized teaching and learning are at the core and learning plans are now called creativity plans.
The Philippines is stuck between Education 2.0 and 3.0 where rote memorization is rewarded in the classroom and technology is least applied due to costs and the lack of good internet connectivity.
Many developing countries and developed ones, meanwhile, are optimizing Education 4.0 with the use of educational technologies and new learning approaches. Developed nations are even now preparing for Education 5.0, which is projected to be realized by 2030.
The teaching philosophy and management processes in Education 5.0 start with humans, not technology. It focuses on specific outcomes that need to be achieved by teachers and students because of a particular learning experience. It is not about providing every learner with a laptop or a tablet or improving infrastructure and connectivity or developing digital tools and platforms. These are part of the givens.
Rather, it is about preparing socially, emotionally and intellectually strong students who are also aware of their health and personal development. This is where the appropriate pedagogical approaches are developed and applied and where the role of the teacher is to bring motivation and creativity back to learners. Technology will still play a crucial role but as an enabler and not the end-all.
Our country has a fresh six years under a new government to revisit and reboot the education system. Policies to transform education, however, require long-range vision and execution, a fact that Duterte-Carpio, lawmakers and policymakers should consider.
The author is the founder and CEO of Hungry Workhorse, a digital and culture transformation consulting firm. He is a fellow at the US-based Institute for Digital Transformation and teaches strategic management in the MBA Program of De La Salle University. The author may be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.