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Leading Multidisciplinary Research University of Education in Asia and the Pacific

 

 

 

Overview

 

In the 21st century, efforts have been continuously focused on addressing the impacts of globalization, increasing international trade and commerce, and shifting to the knowledge economy. These trends require some deep thinking about the changing human capital formation and introducing more focused modifications and adjustments in the education systems to address the demands of a knowledge based and integrated economy.

 

Within this framework of change, higher education systems fire more prominently in building the foundation for higher skills and in creating network for sharing and integration. There is a great need for quality higher education institutions which are not only necessary for the knowledge creation, dissemination, and application, but more so in the development of the technical and professional competencies of a nation’s people. Given these, the transformational capacity of the education system, the teaching profession, and the teacher’s roles in building the human capital needed today should be carefully assessed.

Strategic package of higher education reforms have to be initiated. And these reforms have to be systemic and anchored on a clear framework of institutional change guided by the competency requirements of a 21st century learner. The learner’s desired competencies shall serve as the organizing force in strengthening higher education institutions. This will be the essence of the transformation process of CNU.

 

Dr. Marcelo t. Lopez, the CNU President, stated that reforms, which are geared towards reinventing CNU for greatness, have already been crafted and are also already being implemented. Dr. Lopez  believes that both the teaching and non – teaching staff, which he regards as the most important resource that shall bring CNU closed to its vision, should be provided continuous professional development opportunities. He stated, “We can only produce the  21st century graduates if we have a strong 21st century teaching and management force at CNU.”

 

A collaborative journey to discover the best from Singapore and Malaysia’s higher education system

 

The entire CNU management, faculty and staff went on a collaborative learning journey to have a better appreciation of what’s happening in other neighboring countries, particularly Singapore and Malaysia, which are both well – known worldwide because of their respective universities. This experience gave them fresh insights and realizations about the best practices bring adopted in the  visited universities and learning institutions.

 

Singapore is  a nation that sees its future in the knowledge and expertise of its people. The country has crated a 21st century education system through a unique tripartite partnership between the Ministry of Education, the country’s national Institute of Education (NIE), and the schools. Such a strong partnership is the desire of other nations, as it allows research to inform policy and policy, in turn, to be translate seamlessly to schools.  Education has been the main enabler of Singapore as it takes pride from the competitive advantage of its people who are equipped with the right 21st century skills and competencies. Whit this continuously nurtured, best practices and shared and replicated to create new sets of learning models. The culture of excellence and great respect for learning are also strengthened in the process. Singapore’s NIE has a clear and shared agenda of preparing a generation of adaptive and global citizens rooted in their own country.

In 2007, Malaysia’s national higher Education Strategic Plan was launched. It aimed to create a higher education environment that will foster the development of academic and institutional excellence as stipulated in the 2020 vision of Malaysia. It envisions a world – class higher education for the country as it produces the best quality of human capital needed to be able to turn Malaysia into a developed nation. The learning institutions all over Malaysia carry the 2020 Vision as their common strategic direction. Inspired by this, the higher academic institutions continually revisit their program offerings and pedagogical strategies. They as well enhance faculty development and training to be able to adapt to the ever changing environment and realities, the wide use of technology not just in teaching but in the overall school operation and management and to be able to focus more  on higher education leadership and governance.

 

Generating insights and learning meaningful lessons format eh collaborative journey and shared experience.

 

While going through this journey, the CNU faculty and staff constantly talk about their insights and the things that struck them most, both as an individual and as a part of  a similar learning institution.

 

Most of the participants were amazed that Malaysia focused on a single vision (2020 vision) and how all the strategic plan and programs were anchored towards achieving the said vision. They also observed that plans are continually being monitored and evaluated five the changing educational landscape.

On the other hand, observations about Singapore include the fact that Singapore’s NIE is closely collaborating with their own Ministry of Education in aligning and enhancing their curriculum as well as the pedagogical and assessment practices of the country’s educators. The Universities visited have a very strong regard on instituting a culture of research and excellence which is aimed to continuously improve instruction and learning outcomes. Research results are utilized to develop new models and innovations both inside and outside the University. One specific input is that research is integrated in student teaching while action research becomes part of the student teaching portfolio. One requirement for graduation is the publication of a journal article in an international referred journal, a validation for what CNU is currently implementing.

 

Give the changing needs of 21st century students, teachers need to be knowledge – driven, self – directed, collaborative, and technology – savvy learners. Thus, teacher education institutions’ curricula must constantly be revisited and revised, if necessary. This is also where the conduct of research studies, particularly action research, would be very important. The faculty’s contribution to adding new knowledge through research is an important component of their performance assessment. There has to be a conscious effort  among all the faculty members to experiment and highlight the best pedagogical approaches, given the requirements of the new generation of learners. And this is also where a systematic and structured faculty professional development program is given utmost importance in both countries. This is so that their core faculty remains competent and always attuned to the needs of the 21st century schools. In Singapore, there is a strong institute – wide mentoring program aimed at building the repertoire of the faculty members’ skills towards achieving teaching excellence.

 

Both in Singapore and Malaysia, the Bachelor of Education and other relevant degrees have blended leaning components, while more and more courses are being delivered online. In fact, Singapore’s NIE delivers about 50 percent of the course through e – learning. This is a deliberate effort to introduce technology early on and become integral part of the competencies of the future teachers. In all of universities visited in Malaysia, a number of course have an e – learning component and some are delivered purely online. Not to mention, that the universities’ have an efficient and reliable communication system utilized by all faculty and staff.

New pedagogical approaches such  as integrating facilities design and technology are being simulated in Singapore’s’ school learning environment. The participants were amazed to see classrooms designed to support pedagogical practices that will help achieve grated collaboration and teamwork among the students. Infrastructure and systems needed to support innovative teaching and learning are also being looked at to ensure alignment of all components of learning , including strengthening the administrative support and services.

 

 

Defining the next steps to translate these learning and insights into concrete actions for CNU

 

Reflections about the participant’s experiences are continuously discussed while highlights of their interactions with Singapore and Malaysia’s educators are still fresh in their minds. In the effort to translate these insights and new discoveries into actions, some small steps have been started in the different CNU units, while some are still in the planning stage. These are important processes that the entire CNU community must go through. However, it should be noted that there has to be a deliberate process of ensuring that these small conversations turn into a system wide reform. Thus, a strategic planning workshop engaging all levels of the university must be started. The next important steps include bringing all their learning and insights together and coming up with concrete programs  and interventions to put all these into action.

A pre – planning conversation was also previously conducted. Several ideas already came to mind, some requiring systemic change, while others involve modifications in existing systems, some would necessitate further discussions and validation. The study visits and their learning and insights gained were able to generate high expectations among the CNU faculty and staff about how a learning institution must be organized and managed. These triggered extended interactions and exchanges among them about the important areas that need to be given more attention to for CNU to stay relevant and responsive given the 21st century realities.  Among the things mentioned in the discussions included investing in technology, training faculty with regards latest technology, and providing space for people to generate new ideas.

 

From the pre- planning conversations, the following important through and propositions came out.

Offer high quality academic programs

  • Revisit existing curriculum and attune contents to the current needs and development
  • Offer online and distance learning course
  • Use technology to respond to current needs and future trends
  • Build a culture of research in the CNU community
  • Create a community of learners that are critical of nation building
  • Redefine the distinct competencies of CNU teacher graduates
  • Strengthen extension program
  • Use of Web 2.0 for instruction

 

Continuously improve quality of programs through national and international accreditation and quality assurance

  • Maintain Level 4 accreditation and surpass outcomes of level 4 HEI; work for level 4 accreditation of other CNU programs
  • Partner with international universities and learning institutions
  • Work for international accreditation of CNU programs and services

 

Strengthen the core of motivated and competent CNU faculty, academic and support’s staff

  • Strengthen faculty development based on the strategic directions of CNU
  • Develop student – centered support staff
  • Tie – up with universities in other countries; exchange program for both faculty and students
  • Design a systematic / comprehensive faculty development plan.

Create an enabling environment for learning

  • Provide open thinking space to generate ideas
  • Create state – of – the – art classroom that are conducive to teaching/learning
  • Invest in infrastructure and facilities improvement
  • Revisit/develop information and management systems and processes supportive of innovative learning and interactions
  • Build a library 2.0 for quality and better services to students
  • Revisit CNU’s existing systems and guidelines
  • Finalize the University Code

 

 

 

Defining the best possible future for CNU

 

With the premise that CNU is serious in making a difference to the quality of its programs and services are reflected by the quality of their graduates, the CNU community will be gathered to reflect on their thoughts and previous discussions as well as to rethink about the best possible future for CNU. This two-da conversation, which would be held on May 14 to 15, aims to produce visible transformation in CNU’s capacities and direction.

The CNU community shall be engaged in a discussion that will enable them to acquire greater awareness of the changing education landscape. They will also be given a chance to deepen their understanding o f the CNU’s internal capacity. The expected result of which is to become more responsive of the 21st century realities and challenges. This will lead them to collaboratively revisit CNU’s Vision and Mission and allow them to be more engaged as they re-affirm its bold directions and brings about the needed energy to driver transformation throughout the campus.

This gather aims to:

1)      Engage the entire University to revisit its vision and direction for the next five years given the current and future educational environment, opportunities, strengths, and challenges;

2)      Collaboratively talk about their aspirations for CNU as they look/review the most positive and compelling organizational innovations and practices from other countries in the region;

3)      Craft specific and concrete programs, priorities, and interventions for the next five years;

4)      Agree on the next critical steps CNU ha to undertake so as to be able to finalize the plan (CNU Strategic Plan 2012-2016) for its implementation

 

Sessions

Session1. The Current and Emerging Challenges and Academic Revolution in Higher Education Institutions in the SEA Region. By Prof. Nieves R. Confesor, Executive Director Team Energy Center for Bridging Leadership, Asian Institute of Management (AIM)

Among the bold realities in the 21st century that will continue  to shape higher education institutions include integrated world economy, new information and technologies , and growth of international knowledge. These realities have magnified the importance of the global context and could be used for deeper appreciation for what’s happening locally. These, however, should offer some exciting possibilities for higher education institutions like CNU and take all these as opportunities to further the growth and continuous improvement of the university.

Prof. Confesor will lead the CNU faculty in examining the development trends and challenges as well as the academic revolution happening both in the country and in the international scene, representing the global field of any learning institution in the 21st century. Stories of transformations from the Philippines and Singapore will also be shared in this session. Lessons that can be gleaned from these cases shall be highlighted throughout the discussion. This session will provide the overall context in redefining the new directions of CNU.

Session 2: Revisit CNU’s Vision / Mission/ Identify Strategic Goals

 

Taking off from the discussion on Session 1, the group will be led in revisiting CNU’s Vision and Mission and defining strategic goals/ objectives that captures the overall strategic directions of the University. This process of clarifying CNU’s over arching aspirations will enable the CNU community to recreate new synergies among them. The strategic goals shall define the areas of focus of the strategic plan and the priority concerns that need to be given utmost attention.

Workshop 1: Revised Vision/Mission

Vision:

A leading multi – disciplinary research university of education committed to build a strong nation.

Mission:

To develop high performing professional educators that generate new knowledge and help build progressive and peaceful communities.

Workshop 2: Identify Strategic Goals

Session 3: Staying Relevant and Responsive as a Higher Learning Institution in Malaysia

By: Engr. Norman Mariun, Director, Research Management Center, University of Putra Malaysia (UPM)

 

Dr. Mariun will share his personal and institutional journey as he led UPM in becoming one of the leading research universities  in Malaysia. Concrete programs and interventions will be explained; innovations and practices that are working well at UPM will be revealed; and the appropriate systems and processes which helped propel success will be imparted to the CNU community. This session hopes to spark new ideas and concrete programs that would bring CNU closer to its vision.

 

Workshop 3: Define Strategic Priorities and Interventions

 

This is a brief session that will help the participants to identify the next critical steps that they must undertake to ensure that the transformation process will continue until the plan is finalized by the end of June 2012. Working committees shall be formed to facilitate the finalization of the plan. A communication plan shall also be developed to identify steps on how best to communicate with the stakeholders and as well as to be able to foster coherence , greater coordination, and unity across CNU.

 

 

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