Resilient teachers and society shape resilient learners for life

Resilient teachers and supportive society shape resilient learners for life

/ 02:29 PM April 29, 2024

This ever-changing changing world calls for opportunities to learn throughout life, for personal accomplishments, social interconnection, and economic success. However, post-pandemic learning has been altered by digital technology, and while it is an opportunity for growth, it has also been confronted by several challenges, for educators and learners alike.  The questions now are: what positive difference can we impart to our learners using outstanding pedagogy amidst digital technology?  How will children with learning deficiencies feel confident in the capabilities of a teacher? If the context of resilient learning extends beyond the educational norm, how could we help them become resilient students who will not be afraid to look out for learning opportunities throughout their lives? 

To answer these questions, the NISAI group and UNESCO IITE, in partnership with, once again gathered all education stakeholders to the third and final installment of the interactive webinar series, billed as “Fostering Resilient Learners to best utilize lifelong learning opportunities”. Highlighted in this series are valuable insights from education experts and thought leaders such as Elizaveta Kondrashova, UNESCO IITE Programme Assistant; Laura Brown, Nisai Professional Development Institute (NPDI) Manager, and Anne Subashini Sivanathan, CEO of The Inclusive Outdoor Classroom.  These speakers expressed their perceptions and studies about redefining and setting the framework for truly inclusive education in Asia in the age of technology and shared solutions about reframing the environment and mindsets for education equity and inclusion. 

The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2030 agenda for sustainable development includes the advocacy to champion quality of education that is equitable and inclusive for all (  This big picture, when broken down, reveals several opportunities as well as obstacles but the concept always comes home to a greater truth which is the ultimate objective of championing the expansion of every child’s right to education, and providing opportunities for everyone despite the challenges. 

Resilience is the attitude and ability to bounce back from challenges and thrive in the face of adversity, with adaptability, perseverance, and positivity—all of which are lifelong skills. Perhaps the most tangible illustration of this is teachers and learners who have just emerged from the global pandemic experience and, despite the frenzied effects of the global health scare on the educational system and the abrupt incursion of digital technology, have continued coping and adjusting to the circumstances.  While it is undeniable that digital technology has been ensconced not only as a knowledge provider but also as a co-creator of information and opportunity, some teachers, learners, and learning environments lack the facility and access to digital technology, especially in remote places in the country.  Thus, when placed in parallel with the UN Inclusive Education Agenda, the Philippines still has a long way to go. 

Equitable access to technology for lifelong learning

American writer, sociologist, and futurist, Alvin Toffler, author of The Third Wave and Future Shock, once said: “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn”Toffler’s vision was that society wasn’t just changing but was changing faster than it ever had before, highlighting the importance of lifelong learning in our day and age.

“The overarching goal is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning for all by committing to guarantee it through several principles which include equitable access, flexible learning pathways, functional literacy and numeracy, adult learning opportunities, and also strengthening Science, Technology, and Innovation, and harnessing Information and Communication Technology or ICT,” Kondrashova said.  Technology plays a major role in achieving lifelong learning in an increasingly online world thus, to be able to harness ICT and ensure equitable access to learning, people should be able to acquire and update their digital skills needed to fully participate in a modern economy.  As such, digital skills are crucial to achieving key policy goals, including maintaining employability and well-being, and everyone’s starting point should be to address digital inequality and barriers. 

Lifelong learning, according to the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning is rooted in the integration of learning and living, and the term ‘lifelong’ would mean from-cradle-to-grave life-wide learning for people of all ages, delivered and undertaken through a variety of modalities and meeting a wide range of learning needs and demands. In education, digital technology can offer innovative ways to engage, support, and access learners and provide them with new opportunities for new adaptive, personalized, and responsive learning.  “The influx of digital technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) offer more and more potentially unlimited opportunities to contextualize learning and allow more responsive learning activities that answer learning demands.  That is the real advantage of ICT, again, but only if we utilize and manage them properly,” Kondrashova reminded. This is mainly because digitalization still offers a risk of not serving the interest of the learners.  What’s more significant, she pointed out, is learning within people’s lives, communities, and social groups, and providing opportunities for personalized lifelong learning management systems and real-time responsive learning activities. 

ICT can be empowering, promoting extra opportunities for lifelong learning and inclusive education, but can also create additional hindrances which could prevent social inclusion and create a digital divide. “Educators should focus on education and lifelong opportunities, with emphasis on e-inclusive teaching and learning, social community integration, vocational education, and guidance, promoting ICT skills development among teachers,” she emphasized. 

Developing educational opportunities for all

While the current keyword is inclusion, exclusion should also be discussed as it could obviously cause further risk for the development of disadvantaged children. According to Laura Brown, students with Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) make up 17% of overall learners but given the 50% of exclusions within schools is proof enough that equality is not present.  Given the special needs of children in this segment, exclusion will result in lower expectations of what they can achieve and outcomes due to missed opportunities. “If equality is not there, they don’t have equal opportunities to start with, then we can’t build further from that,” she explained and further assured that the Nisai group is looking to improve this circumstance and ensure that systems are there for learners to be able to continue to engage.  

“Some students need structure and routine, and exclusion of any option will break the structure and could put them into further disadvantage because they have to overcome the emotional barriers before they could get back to that same level,” Brown explained. “The academic and social impact is that they won’t be learning all. They won’t be able to develop communication skills, they will have poorer relationships with their peers, and eventually, will have limited opportunities in the workforce, something that education and teaching information must deal with,” she added. 

She also strongly recommends avoiding segregation as learners could see the different tasks assigned to them according to their capabilities (or lack thereof).  Instead, educators should bring everybody together for a fully inclusive teaching opportunity, where everyone enjoys the same chances and achieves the same potential.  “We need to see the long-term effect of segregation and how we break stereotypes to disrupt that cycle. The way that we consider bias toward students is important for teachers and all professionals engaged within education. Breaking that cycle and giving every learner a free start to try again and try their best could help them reach and unleash their maximum potential.” she reiterated. 

Speaking resilience is key to empowering both educators and learners

While digital technology is crucial in achieving all educational objectives, teachers in general find ICT challenging thus, speaking about resilience with them first before one could even allow them to empower the students is key. Particularly, reality highlights that some Filipino families lack technology, have no access to Wi-Fi, or if they have it, they lack the proper devices. This would mean that some of our children have missed out on well-deserved opportunities. Apart from the limited or no access to ICT, lack of funding and personnel, plus some students’ learning disabilities vis-a-vis the ever-changing ICT landscape, are supplementary issues that should be considered. 

“This is difficult for our teachers especially those with students under five years old, and with disabilities. The mission, however, is to ensure that both teachers and students are not left out. To supplement learning, online courses could connect us with those who have expertise on these issues and concerns”, Anne Subashini Sivanathan expressed. To add to these concerns, educators must value the importance of looking at the child as a child—even with their learning incapacities—and not as a setback.  Instead, educators should focus on strength identification and strength learning so they could encourage a growth mindset and teach their students (and themselves) about problem-solving skills that promote self-reflection and improvement.

Brown also recommended online learning platforms that give equal opportunities for teachers and students who have been let down by mainstream education. Teachers, particularly, need to boost their ICT competence through online courses dedicated to inclusive education.  There are open and distance learning solutions for teachers in dealing with students with disabilities and soon, a course on Gender equality in education and how to access ICT equality will soon be available at “These online learning tools can be used to develop new skills, build coping strategies, and could allow both teachers and students to share their emotions as they recover from the traumatic 2020.  This will provide better training for staff and offer a better quality of support and encourage improved outcomes.  On their part, students will be confident that they won’t be judged and they will be supported, despite their vulnerabilities,” Brown clarified.

Resiliency and lifelong learning should be a concerted effort

Resilience is crucial as it helps learners overcome obstacles and encourages lifelong learning for continuous growth.  The call to action now is to foster that kind of resilience and to get from here to that goal, inclusivity and equity are important steppingstones.  However, the truth is equity recognizes that one size doesn’t fit all and while mainstream education is great for most students, it is not beneficial to all of them, and we need to offer a suitable alternative which that will work for all.  The first step is to make the teaching staff more resilient by building appropriate expectations, allowing for growth and plans.  

Quality education starts with the resilience of educators because what makes a good positive classroom is a safe, stable, and secure learning environment.  Resilient learners are created by resilient teachers.  We need to ensure that schools are equipped properly and that teachers can efficiently use ICT.  Supporting teachers in their goal to be better equipped with ICT skills could encourage capacity building, boost their technology proficiency, and make them more confident to impart learning. 

Apart from teachers, there must be a concerted effort to bring together dedicated teaching staff and school personnel, supportive families, and the community to make academic goals easier to achieve through collaborative teamwork.  The families of these students should get involved, making sure that every child has a safe and stable household, and likewise their peers, the wider school network, including all professionals within and outside of the school, and the community in general.  Parents who have children with SEND could connect with other parents who are in the same circumstances so they can learn from each other’s experiences, sharing techniques about what works for them and what doesn’t, and being able to bond together to be a louder voice to push for change. 

There is also a need to work with policymakers, in the community at large, and build that social connection that is focused on the education and development of all children.  This supportive relations and tight-knit community will give children a sense of belonging, opportunities for skill building, decision making and planning, and social and cultural integration. This is not all about the curriculum, it’s all about how we approach the child and his education, in the wider social context. 

Indeed, as a popular African proverb states, “it takes a village to raise a child”, people’s learning experience are framed by an everyday life perspective and learning always takes place in our lives, when we interact with our community or the society groups we belong.  Inclusive education is integral to lifelong learning and requires the active participation of learners, families, communities, and the government. This will only be achieved through collaborative design, meeting diverse needs, and valuing inter-disciplinary, physical, cognitive, and emotional diversity and diversity of background (age, gender, disability, social status, among many others) and seeing it as a jump-off point rather than an obstacle. 

While we have triumphantly survived the pandemic, it has also opened our eyes that there may still be challenges ahead thus, our children should be armed with the resilience to bounce back from any crisis and develop the kind of grit to stand up, dust off the remnants of these challenges, and move forward, knowing that everything is going to be all right.  This is why we all have an important central role to play and make a difference in the character-building and lifelong learning of our children.  It is about time that we do the tasks expected of us as teachers, parents, family, professionals, and public servants, so that—with our concerted effort and dedication—we will slowly ignite the spark and move institutions and government to action for the betterment of education, learning, and the safe and stable future which all children rightfully deserve. 


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