What is waiting for us after learning recovery?
The Annual Educators’ Congress (AECON) 2023 acknowledged and addressed this subject over the course of the 2-day event, which took place essentially lately. Almost 20,000 practitioners, policymakers, and thought leaders in education gathered at AECON under the theme “Learning Recovery to Learning Resilience” to address new issues and trends in education and, most importantly, to continue the movement toward learning resilience.
AECON 2023 made an effort to assist DepEd’s goal of developing learner and educational ecosystem resilience in order to advance the body of research regarding learning recovery. The event explored issues of quality and inclusive education, learner empowerment, and good learning environments, drawing inspiration from the organization’s 2030 Basic Education Development Plan (BEDP).
“In a sense, this is an affirmation for us that what we are doing contributes to larger nationwide goals,” REX Chief Executive Officer Don Timothy I. Buhain said in his opening speech. “This affirmation fuels us to be more eager and willing contributors—a feeling and sentiment we wish to share with all of you.”
Learning from the experts
AECON featured renowned local and international speakers across different disciplines. Delivering the keynote address was Hon. Gina O. Gonong, DepEd’s Undersecretary for Curriculum and Teaching.
The plenary sessions kicked off with Dr. Yolanda Quijano, Chief of Party of Project Gabay, covering the topic “Expanding Access to Education for Groups in Situations of Disadvantage to Ensure Inclusive and Equitable Quality Service Delivery.” Dr. Quijano highlighted how disadvantaged youth often have limited access to formal education. She named children in geographically isolated or disadvantaged areas (GIDA), youth from indigenous cultural communities (ICC), Muslim students, and persons with disabilities as some of the sectors that are left behind.
Also present was Dr. Alison Atwell, an International Whole School Improvement Consultant, in a session on the “Teacher’s Tool Box: Six Essential Tools to Achieve Comprehensive Student Growth.” Dr. Atwell elaborated on different instruments education professionals could use in optimizing classroom success, namely, creative interactive teaching, positive physical school environment, inclusive classrooms, participative shared leadership, supportive school culture, and engagement with family and community.
AECON capped off its plenary sessions with Dr. Amy Berry, an International Education Consultant and author of “Reimagining Student Engagement: from Disrupting to Driving”, and her talk on “Pivoting to Quality, Ensuring That All Learners Attain Learning Standards in Every Key Stage in the K to 12 Program.” Berry focused on what she called building blocks that develop the language, partnership, and process of engagement within one’s classrooms. Each aspect was coupled with concrete actions such as the development of teachers’ effective communication, collaboration with stakeholders, and activation of fundamental skills that could facilitate learning.
In all, Ms. Rita Atienza, Director of the Ateneo Teacher Center, facilitated the Q&A segments after each plenary session.
Aside from the different talks, participants also had the freedom to choose 2 from the 10 breakout sessions covering varying topics regarding basic education, early childhood care and development, and higher education. These sessions were co-organized by a number of partner organizations within the sector, and allowed attendees to deepen their experience through topics of their interests.
Organizations that facilitated breakout sessions were the Early Childhood Care and Development Council, Pambansang Samahan sa Linggwistika at Literaturang Filipino, Ink., Samahang Pisika ng Pilipinas, the College of Graduate Studies and Teacher Education Research of Philippine Normal University, the Organization of Social Studies Teachers in the Philippines, the Reading Association of the Philippines, the Values Education Department of the College of Education of University of the Philippines, the Association of Philippine Schools Overseas, the Philippine Guidance and Counseling Association, and the Philippine Association of Colleges and Universities.
Paving the road for recovery and resilience
The congress formally concluded with a synthesis session from Dr. Jerome Buenviaje, Dean of the College of Education, University of the Philippines – Diliman. “We have to understand that resilience is a weapon to fight for empowering our learners [and] creating positive learning environments, so that we will attain quality and inclusive education,” he said. “In looking forward to learning resilience, tatayo tayo, dahil tayo ay Pilipino (we will recover, because we are Filipinos).”
Over the years, AECON has served as a testament to Rex Education’s commitment of service to the public and the country. “The worst may have been behind us, but the journey to learning recovery and on to learning resilience is far from over. And what a joy to have you all as traveling companions,” Buhain said of AECON attendees, who he addressed as Edukampyons, or champions of education. “Ultimately, it will be all of us who will make the difference.”
Through AECON and the strength of Edukampyons, Rex Education remains committed to the journey, from learning recovery to learning resilience.
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