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Filipino Teachers Learn Online Through UC

Teachers in the Philippines are benefiting from the knowledge and experience of expert educators from the University of Canterbury (UC) this year.

UC’s College of Education, Health and Human Development offered a new five-week online course in partnership with Education New Zealand and Teach for the Philippines, a non-profit organisation that aims to provide Filipino children with an inclusive, high quality education.

UC Emeritus Professor Janinka Greenwood taught the professional development course on the Leadership of Learning for 50 people in the Philippines, including primary and secondary school teachers and others who work in education leadership and policy roles.

The course, run through UC LEARN and Zoom, began in mid-January and finished recently.

Professor Greenwood was impressed by how positive and proactive the participants were but she says they are all dealing with the impact of Covid-19 on their work.

“They’re a pleasure to teach because they’re very engaged and engaging, but the biggest issue they’re facing is Covid. It’s always underlying our discussions around how do we provide leadership and learning.

“There have been a lot of school shutdowns and that has made it very challenging for them. They’ve learned, as we did, that it’s easier to engage with children online if parents are comfortable online and know how it all works.

“This course is a way for them to tap into international concepts and experiences in education and to critically consider how they might adapt them to meet their own local context,” she says.

The Educational Leadership course follows a series of virtual workshops provided by UC’s College of Education late last year for teachers in Indonesia, in partnership with Education New Zealand, Teach for Indonesia, and Cikal Schools.

UC International Relations Co-ordinator Tony Baird says UC has adapted to teaching international students online since borders have closed.

“UC College of Education, Health and Human Development has an established reputation for running short courses on campus for educators from several Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea and Bangladesh. The online courses were introduced as a way of keeping those relationships going in a post-Covid world.

“New Zealand is known internationally for its student-centred learning and high quality early childhood education. But we realise that many teachers in other countries are applying our approach in their own context of many more kids and fewer resources.

“So far, the feedback from participants has been positive and we hope there will be more opportunities to work alongside Education New Zealand and deliver these kinds of courses across other international markets.”

Ginny Villa-Real, Director of Programme and Training for Teach for the Philippines, hopes the New Zealand-Philippines initiative will help upskill existing public-school teachers who have enormous leadership potential.

“Through our partnership with the University of Canterbury, our teachers and alumni are able to build a community of practice to share knowledge, experiences, and strategies with the goal of removing the barriers that impede student learning in our country.”

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