APU don is new Unesco chair

PROF Dr Abtar Darshan Singh (pic) has recently been appointed the Unesco Chair on Harnessing Innovations in Technology to Support Teachers and Quality Learning for a four-year term.With the appointment, the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) Digital Learning Hub director and innovative digital learning professor becomes the first academic in a Malaysian private university to be elected to such a position.

As the Unesco Chair, Prof Abtar will drive research, training and knowledge-sharing initiatives and capitalise on disruptive technologies in the areas of the Fourth Industrial Revolution such as artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and big data and analytics to promote inclusive and equitable education in Malaysia, as well as other developing economies.

The role also includes equipping teachers and professionals in education with state-of-the-art knowledge and tools to enhance hybrid learning.

APU chief executive officer Datuk Parmjit Singh said Prof Abtar’s appointment reflects the UN agency’s recognition of the varsity’s ability, as well as that of other Malaysian tertiary institutions, to promote technological innovations that could strengthen the quality of the teaching profession, be it in the public or private sectors.

“Technology, innovation and creativity form the heart of APU’s education philosophy.

“The appointment will further catalyse our efforts to produce graduates who intuitively embrace technological innovations and help make a difference in the diverse international communities they represent,” he said in a press release on July 12.

Thanking Unesco for her appointment, Prof Abtar said, “Together with our partner organisations, we will work very hard to promote innovations in technologies to help enhance the quality of teaching and learning among teachers, educators and curriculum developers in Malaysia and the region.”

A key objective of the Unesco Chair is to foster collaboration among stakeholders in education and leverage technological innovations to promote inclusive education for everyone, including girls and children.

It is an integral part of Unesco’s wider medium-term strategy and sustainable development goal to leverage education programmes to reduce poverty.

Launched in 1992, the Unitwin/Unesco Chairs Programme involves over 850 institutions in 117 countries with the vision to advance an integrated system of research, training and activities in diverse fields by building university networks and encouraging inter-university cooperation through the transfer of knowledge and expertise.

Prof Abtar has more than three decades of experience in the education field. A former Fulbright scholar, she has been closely involved in the research, teaching and development of technological innovations in higher education in Malaysia and abroad.

She was the winner of the International Competition on Innovative University Practices in ICT in Education, which was organised by the Unesco Institute for Information Technologies in Education in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 2015.

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