SEAMOLEC, Tokyo. University of Tsukuba in cooperation with Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) conducted a SEAMEO-University of Tsukuba Symposium at the University of Tsukuba, Tokyo Campus, Japan (10/2/2019). The Symposium was related to SEAMEO Priority Area No 7, “Adapting 21st century Skills,” and No 5, “Revitalizing Teacher Education.”
It focused on the school-teacher education reforms for the age of digitalization in 4.0 Industrial society under the following scopes; Reforms on Teacher Education System in relation to Digital Economy, Harnessing Human Resource Development thru Education Science and Culture, Academic Mobility and Overseer Programmes on Internship, and the Challenges on 4th Industrial Revolution and Employability of Graduates. The event’s main objective was to share the reform movements of SEAMEO Member Countries and Japan as well as to seek for further collaboration beyond region.
All SEAMEO Centres were invited to participate in this event, especially those engaged in teacher education and development, including SEAMEO Regional Open Learning Centre (SEAMOLEC). Dr. Alpha Amirrachman, SEAMOLEC Director became one of the speakers of this Symposium. He delivered a paper in Panel Session 1, entitled “Innovating Education in Response to Opportunities and Challenges of Digital Industry: The Case of Open and Distance Learning in West Java Province, Indonesia. “
In his presentation he started with the idea of equal access to proper education for all children to prepare them in the era of globalization where most of the things in life are handled by utilizing technology, and it also changes the workforce need which requires high skilled workers. In its capacity, SEAMOLEC in cooperation with West Java Provincial Education Office develops models of Open High School and Distance Learning Vocational School. The main objective of this programme is to improve access, quality, and relevance of secondary education through distance learning system in Indonesia, especially in West Java province, where enrollment rate of students was very low.
Dr. Alpha explained that since 2017, this programme has been allowing learners to study by using an independent learning system that cooperate with business and industry by combining distance learning using internet network and face-to-face learning, and practice with facilitator from business/industry practitioners. Likewise, for remote areas where there is no internet connection, Dr. Alpha shared the institution’s experience with SIERRA (SEAMOLEC Educational Resources for Remote Areas) device which is developed by the Centre. SIERRA is a product that allows students to learn by accessing learning materials in form of video, audio, and other contents compiled in an offline site, by using their smart phones or personal computer (PC) without using internet connection and with less electricity as it is powered by a power bank, which can be charged with a solar cell. He also mentioned that at a wider scope this programme is expected to reduce unskilled labor. As a result, the enrolment rate increased.
The low enrollment rate of students in West Java Province, for example, was not only caused by economic or geographical considerations, but was also due to psychological aspects and social perspectives of local communities. Therefore, a multi-dimensional approach is needed to address this problem. At the end of his presentation, Dr Alpha suggested that other areas of Indonesia, especially in the remote areas as well as in other SEAMEO member countries replicate this programme. **