May 7, 2021 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones stressed the need for futures thinking in education to adapt to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in a recent international virtual summit.

In her ministerial message at the recently concluded SEAMEO Congress 2021, Secretary Briones noted the Philippines’ effort in preparing the country’s education system for the challenges and opportunities for the years to come.

“Whether there would be COVID-19 or not, the dimension, landscape, and method of education—as well as society—have changed rapidly. In the Philippines, I introduced the formation of the Education Futures Programme, which would endeavor to perceive, see, and discern what will happen in education in the near, middle, and perhaps even the far future. This is our response to the need for futures thinking in education, for readiness to confront the rapid changes, the challenges, and opportunities of the future,” Sec. Briones said.

With the theme “Transforming Southeast Asian Education, Science and Culture in the Digital Age”, the Congress highlighted the sustainable and social development of education in the region amidst digital transformation during the two-day virtual event.

“COVID-19 has changed the landscape of education forever. Education Ministries or departments in Southeast Asia are not sitting idly by at this critical conjuncture of our lives. While we close the gaps that COVID-19 widened, ensure that learning continues, and prevent further learning loss, we must also kick and leap into the future,” Briones added.

In the same event, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado San Antonio shared in a parallel session the Department’s initiatives in assisting the Last Mile Schools to address inequality issues.

“It’s very important that we have to be more aggressive in extending support to the Last Mile schoolers, and in terms of addressing the gaps between the learners who belong to the more advantaged classes versus those who come from disadvantaged backgrounds. We feel that there is really a need for some equity,” Usec. San Antonio said.

Meanwhile, in terms of implementing distance learning, he underscored the importance of making learners interested and engaged in different learning tasks regardless of the modality of learning.

“I feel that what is more important is the extent to which we can make the learners really interested to learn and get the support from the parents and the teachers and others,” San Antonio added.

More than 15,000 participants from 65 countries attended the two-day event, which concretized transformative educational programs and promoted more inclusive and innovative learning paradigms and education policies in Southeast Asia.

The event was organized by SEAMEO, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Malaysia, and the Ministry of Education, Thailand.