DESPITE the disruptions wrought by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are ways for educators and students to emerge from the crisis with the upper hand.
Key to achieving that is for educational institutions to incorporate elements of lifelong learning and to enhance individualised curricula focusing on the strengths of each student, said INTI International University & Colleges (INTI) director of teaching and learning Subashini K. Rajanthran.
The educationist, fondly known as Suba among her peers, said educational institutions have a duty to help students develop an awareness of the career paths available, including building a deeper understanding of what it takes personally and professionally to succeed in their chosen fields.
While Suba acknowledges that the pandemic has presented tremendous challenges, she is optimistic about the advantages that one can gain from the situation.
“The pandemic has brought about wonderful opportunities and innovative methodologies to enhance the teaching and learning experience, so why not use them?” she said.
An advocate for lifelong learning, Suba, who has 25 years of experience in the field, also urged educators to seek personal and professional development.
“It is important to remember that in our current times, students can learn in the absence of teachers, thus the importance of lifelong learning through upskilling and reskilling ourselves as educators, ” she said.
Pointing out the emergence of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (IR4.0), she added that students need to be equipped with soft skills.
“The epidemic and the impact of IR4.0 have made technology more present in our lives than ever before, hence creating different expectations and demands for our students.
“More and more employers are emphasising the need for soft skills from fresh graduates such as interpersonal, critical thinking and collaborative skills. Machines cannot teach these skills.
“This is where educational institutions, along with their curricular and staff, play a greater role, ” she said, adding that it is an educator’s civic responsibility to instil values that are pertinent to building a stronger, brighter and kinder generation. Suba, however, cautioned that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to instilling civic, moral and social skills in students.
“Learning is a nuanced experience shaped by numerous factors including personalities, individual struggles and motivations.
“It is the responsibility of educators to help nurture and enhance their students’ strengths, ” she said.
In her current role at INTI, Suba is responsible for developing teaching and learning webinars and training across all INTI campuses where she co-trains new faculty members on 21st century learning methodologies with an emphasis on online learning tools such as Blackboard. She also oversees INTI’s operations and academic research outputs, and ensures that the institution’s programmes comply with the latest Malaysian Qualifications Framework and Outcome-Based Education.
Suba shared that a highlight of her career was having the opportunity to validate educational institutions abroad for potential franchise partnerships.
It included conducting inspections, engaging with fellow academicians across Asia and Africa, observing global teaching and learning best practices, and developing internal educational transformative strategies based on her findings across the different continents.
“It was truly an eye-opening experience for me because I was able to gather valuable information, some of which I believe is immensely helpful in building new academic programmes in Malaysia, ” Suba, who started off her career teaching the English language in secondary and tertiary institutions, said.
Having served as a pedagogy trainer, dean and head of departments at various schools, before assuming her current role at INTI, Suba is currently pursuing a PhD in Education.