By Dimithri Wijesinghe
“Will the way our kids learn change after Covid?” is a panel discussion to be held on 22 May at 5:30 p.m. Hosted by Igniter Space and ReadMe, the discussion will feature top educators in Sri Lanka coming together to discuss the shortcomings and challenges they would face considering the “new normal” for education.
The event moderators are Igniter Space Co-Founder and CEO Jehan Wijesinghe and ReadMe.lk Co-Founder and Founders Institute Director Enosh Praveen.
We spoke to both with regard to what they hope to achieve from this discussion. The duo, who come from two different professional backgrounds, bring unique and necessary insights into the discussion, with Enosh coming from a start-ups and entrepreneurial background and Jehan representing the innovation and technological aspects of the conversation.
Speaking on what to expect at the panel discussion, Jehan shared that one of the main points of discussion would be the use of technology. Especially considering how the nature of learning in Sri Lanka has been talked about to no ends and how learning institutes and educators are being forced to move to a more technology-driven way of learning with the rise of the pandemic, they have been forced to move forward.
However, he said that with these changes come new challenges; for instance, with this acceleration into technology-based learning, there are issues in whether everyone can effectively migrate into e-learning, are we really ready for it, is the infrastructure available, etc. Then come concerns with regard to accreditation as it is a new media, and the question “do we even need specific accreditations”, etc.
The panel includes Asian International School Principal Harshana Perera, Leeds International Schools Directress Malithi Jayatissa, Ministry of Education Assistant Director of e-learning and Nenasa Rupavahini Programme Unit Sumudu Wasana, Alethea International School Principal Buddhika Pathiraja, and SL Democratic Education Community Founder Nuwan Dissanayaka.
Jehan shared that all these questions and more will be brought into light and discussed as the panellists represent a variety of educational sectors, from low-income schooling to international schools. They also happen to be members of the association The International School of Sri Lanka (TISSL), who are therefore able to make policy changes in those schools.
He also shared that considering Igniter Space and their skin in the game, the organisation is an innovation centre for young engineers, and their goal is to inspire children at a young age to become technology thought leaders. In order to effectively address the lack of good technology education programmes for children, the syllabi courtesy of Igniter Space has since been adopted in a number of international schools in Sri Lankan as well.
Moving on to the discussion on syllabi and what we are teaching children, Enosh stepped in to share that education should be a continuous process and the idea that you are qualified once you pass your Advanced Level (A/L) or degree is incorrect. “Sure, you may be qualified at that moment, but a few months in, you’re entirely outdated once again” he said.
He also shared that the 12 years you spend in school, at present, is an “utter waste of time”, adding that when you leave school, you should not have to start from square one when it comes to entrepreneurship or starting a business, you should have already acquired those skills and knowledge. Children should not be learning from outdated textbooks and educators who are not tech savvy or ill-prepared to deal with students coming from a technological age. The school curriculum should represent a well-rounded education which will result in fresh minds able to provide new ideas to help the economy and propel our country forward.
Children shouldn’t just use technology, they must create it. The panel discussion hopes to discuss and iron out any questions educators may have with regard to carrying out the new normal with regard to education for children post Covid-19, now that we have been forced to adapt, so that we can better inspire children to be creative and provide them guidance, knowledge, and tooling required to be innovative.
Then hopefully in the future, the system is able to support our young generation to become innovators and creators of technology, able to witness a passionate new generation of young innovators and entrepreneurs.
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Date: 22 May
Time: 5:30 p.m.
To take part, register via igniter.link/register