YOU cannot give what you do not have. The so-called 21st century skills required for the Future of Jobs can only be possessed by a workforce that results from a relevant educational system composed of skilled teachers. Our first line of defense as a country in the knowledge economy should be our educators. If we do not upskill them with the right tools and mindset, it will be hard for us to grow as a country.
The Unesco ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CTF) is a rich resource for countries in designing frameworks to equip teachers with the right skills to ensure relevant education. Here are important insights from the framework.
Unesco believes modern societies are increasingly based on information and knowledge. And so they need to build workforces which have ICT skills to handle information and are reflective, creative and adept at problem-solving in order to generate knowledge; enable citizens to be knowledgeable and resourceful so they are able to manage their own lives effectively, and are able to lead full and satisfying lives; encourage all citizens to participate fully in society and influence the decisions which affect their lives; and foster cross-cultural understanding and the peaceful resolution of conflict.
These social and economic goals are the focus of a country’s education system. Teachers need to be equipped to achieve these goals, and Unesco in partnership with industry leaders and global subject experts, has created the ICT-CTF, an international benchmark which sets out the competencies required to teach effectively with ICT.
Unesco’s Framework emphasizes that it is not enough for teachers to have ICT competencies and be able to teach them to their students. Teachers need to be able to help the students become collaborators, problem solvers, and creative learners through using ICT so they will be effective citizens and members of the workforce. The Framework therefore addresses all aspects of a teacher’s work.
The Framework is arranged in three different approaches to teaching (three successive stages of a teacher’s development). The first is Technology Literacy, enabling students to use ICT in order to learn more efficiently. The second is Knowledge Deepening, enabling students to acquire in-depth knowledge of their school subjects and apply it to complex, real-world problems. The third is Knowledge Creation, enabling students, citizens and the workforce they become, to create the new knowledge required for more harmonious, fulfilling and prosperous societies.
Unesco sees an emerging broad consensus worldwide about the benefits that can be brought to school education through the appropriate use of evolving information and communication technologies. The range of possible benefits covers practically all areas of activity in which knowledge and communication play a critical role: from improved teaching and learning processes to better student outcomes, from increased student engagement to seamless communication with parents, and from school networking and twinning to more efficient management and monitoring within the school. All in all, this is not surprising since the windows of opportunity that ICT offers for the development of knowledge economies and societies are open also for education.
In the Philippines, we have yet to break the barriers between traditional education and modern education that facilitates not only learning of literary skills but competencies such as creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and problem-solving. The goal is to embed in every Filipino the mindset that learning is a lifelong process. And that learning is never confined in the four walls of the classroom. If we have more teachers who are able to inspire young people to crave for more skills and knowledge, and to seek out platforms where they can collaborate with others - then we build a stronger economy.
We need to create productive knowledge, the kind where individuals group themselves and combine their knowledge to create valuable products and services. These will fuel the growth for more products and services that will carry the Filipino brand. Teachers therefore need to understand their role in building a knowledge economy.
According to Unesco, economists identify three factors that lead to growth which is based on increased human capacity: capital deepening, which is the ability of the workforce to use equipment that is more productive than earlier versions; higher quality labor or a more knowledgeable workforce that is able to add value to economic output; and technological innovation or the ability of the workforce to create, distribute, share and use new knowledge.
These three productivity factors serve as the basis for three complementary, somewhat overlapping, approaches that connect education policy with economic development.
First is increasing the extent to which new technology is used by students, citizens and the workforce by incorporating technology skills into the school curriculum which might be termed the Technology Literacy approach. Second is increasing the ability of students, citizens, and the workforce to use knowledge to add value to society and the economy by applying it to solve complex, real-world problems which could be called the Knowledge Deepening approach. Third is increasing the ability of students, citizens, and the workforce to innovate, produce new knowledge, and benefit from this new knowledge or the Knowledge Creation approach.