Innovative Mindset Key to Future-Proofing Learners, Experts at Komunidad Fireside Chat Series Say

Future-proofing Filipino students amid a technology-driven world requires synergy among government institutions, industries and the education sector, experts said during the Komunidad XChange Fireside Chat Series.

Komunidad, together with the Philippine Development Foundation, staged its second iteration of the Fireside Chat Series on July 12, this time focusing on the education sector.

Titled “Unlocking Potential: Future Skills and Preparing Future Innovators,” the panel talk was led by Komunidad founder and CEO Felix Ayque.

Rounding up the panel are Dr. Danilo Lachica, President of the Semiconductor and Electronics Industries in the Philippines Foundation, Inc. (SEIPI), and Paolo Josef Blando, Program and Partnership Development Officer of the National Teachers College.

Innovation mindset

Technology has introduced to the world smart machines, big data, and, of late, artificial intelligence—and these are the things that people “need to be conversant about,” Lachica said.

There is a need for an innovation mindset to navigate this new environment, he added.

This can also be done by exposing future innovators to global practices, which enhances their understanding and helps them become more responsive to changes, Ayque, for his part, said.

Ayque shared that among Komunidad’s meteorologists are graduates from Rizal Technological University, who used to only consider those from the Department of Science and Technology and PAGASA as their seniors in the industry. But Komunidad has exposed them to other international practices that have helped them break the ceiling of their standards and carve another path of growth and innovation

This has shaped them to become innovators that are now strengthening the climate resilience of thousands of communities in Assam state, India, as well as other communities served by Komunidad.

Bold and innovative ideas also thrive in startup environments, Ayque added. But the Komunidad CEO pointed out that good startups come from the desire to “solve a problem.”

Komunidad’s beginnings are rooted in Ayque’s own experience growing up in the province of Albay, where he witnessed the recurring challenges posed by typhoons and the looming threat of volcano eruptions.

This has allowed him to see the gaps that startups like Komunidad can fill. “If you know the problem and put your heart into it, if you want to solve it, everything will just flow,” Ayque said.

Blando pointed out that aside from honing the hard or technical skills of students, schools should also develop their soft skills, such as their love of country.

“When we are able to see the problems of our country and empathize with people who are suffering because of these problems, we have the idea to ideate, problematize, and obsess about these problems and create meaningful solutions so that those who are experiencing them will rise from them,” he added.

Innovating inside the academic institution

Blando said that shaping future innovators and leaders also entails schools conducting social listening. This includes tuning in to the needs of students and industries to be able to come up with relevant or emerging courses.

“There is the primacy of student voices and student choice… [Education] should deliver to any learner, not one-size fits all,” he said.

There is also a need to put a premium on the learning experience of students and not just focus on content, Blando said.

“If learning experiences are at the forefront of the entire learning agenda, then all these emerging trends and social phenomena should be part and parcel of that experience as well,” Blando continued.

Lachica supported Blando’s idea of innovating within the academic system. He acknowledged, however, that the changes in the education system are bound by governing agencies, like the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) for higher educational institutions. Universities also pander to achieving a high percentage of board passers.

But the industry expert pointed out that this is not always the case. In the multi-billion electronics industry, non-board passers are welcome. “We need the skills, and that’s what’s lacking in our education system,” Lachica said.

“In a nutshell, I’m glad we have people like [Blando] who innovate in the education system, but part of the issue really is waking up the regulatory agencies in education and being more sensitive to what the students need,” he continued.

Ayque, meanwhile, stressed that education plays a fundamental role in preparing Filipinos for the future, as this is where innovators and leaders learn basic skills.

But he pointed out that “future skills that are needed should come not from innovations of the past but from innovations now,” referring to how new sciences have evolved in modern times.

“The education system should also engage students. [There is] a lot of social learning that we should do,” Ayque continued.

Komunidad will continue conversations on climate innovation and foster collaboration among different sectors in the next KomunidadXchange fireside chat series, which will focus on eco-tourism and agriculture in the last quarter of the year.

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