The Colombo Plan Staff College (CPSC), together with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) recently organized a five-day Regional Program titled “Empowering TVET Sector through Digitalization and Climate Resilient Skills for Sustainable Development” which was held in Manila, Philippines from October 16 to 20, 2023. This program was anchored on the 10th ADB International Skills Forum with the theme: “A New Era of Digitalized and Climate-Resilient Human and Social Development”.

The program involved 18 TVET practitioners from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Fiji, India, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. The activities were primarily managed by the Program Supervisor, CPSC Director General, Prof. G.L.D. Wickramasinghe; and Program Co-Coordinators, CPSC Faculty Consultant, Dr. Kesavan Ulaganathen; and CPSC Senior Faculty Specialist, Engr. Dr. Mian Khuram Ahsan.

The program aimed to provide understanding on how TVET plays a pivotal role in the development of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in nurturing innovation by encouraging creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving among learners. In addition, by bridging the digital divide, fostering climate resilience, promoting sustainable practices, adopting a community-centric approach, and nurturing innovation and inclusivity, TVET institutions can prepare learners to thrive in the digital age while contributing to a greener and more equitable world.

CPSC Director General, Prof. G.L.D. Wickramasinghe (left) during his welcome remarks and Chief Guest and Ambassador of Papua New Guinea in the Philippines, H.E. Betty Palaso (right) during her special address

The opening ceremony was held at the CPSC Headquarters in Manila on October 16 wherein Prof. Wickramasinghe delivered his welcome remarks. In his speech, he reiterated the importance of convening different countries together within the region, providing a useful platform to benchmark some best practices in TVET, and identify solutions to the gaps and challenges faced by developing countries regarding their educational landscape. Meanwhile, Chief Guest and Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Embassy of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea, Her Excellency Betty Palaso hoped that the program will establish new partnerships, and reignite engagements between the participating member governments through her special remarks.

Prof. Wickramasinghe together with NITTTR-Chennai Director, Prof. Dr. Natesan sign the Memorandum of Understanding between CPSC and NITTTR-Chennai, India

In its efforts to expand and strengthen its function to continuously develop and improve its networks and establish linkages across its member states, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between CPSC and the National Institute of Technical Teachers Training and Research (NITTTR) - Chennai, India was signed. This was entered into by the two parties, having NITTTR-Chennai Director, Prof. Dr. Usha Natesan to represent the latter.

Participants at the 10th ADB International Skills Forum

Anchored on the 10th ADB International Skills Forum, the participants attended a three-day forum held at the ADB Headquarters in Ortigas City. The event executed plenary sessions and parallel workshops, which were facilitated by international experts, industry and academic representatives across the globe, and high government officials. Their discussions revolved around key issues in confronting education across kinder to grade 12 (K-12), technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and higher education. These covered topics on Global Trends, Climate Action and Green Transition, and Intersectoral Approach, as to supplement the TVET practitioners with new knowledge and innovations towards a quality education amid the rise of generative Artificial Intelligence (AI).

The participants present their SWOT analysis

The regional program had a group discussion held at the CPSC Headquarters during the last day, which was facilitated by Dr. Kesavan Ulaganathen and Engr. Dr. Ahsan. The participants worked in groups and presented their SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis based on the opportunities and challenges faced by their countries.

The exchange of insights allowed the participants to learn more about the current nature of TVET in other participating countries as to also bridge the gap between their own TVET and technological advancements. With this, Engr. Dr. Ahsan emphasized that “no country should be left behind in the digitalization.”

Engr. Dr. Mian Khuram Ahsan (top left) and Dr. Kesavan Ulaganathen (top right) deliver the closing remarks and vote of thanks; and the commemorative group photo during the closing ceremony

During the closing ceremony held on October 20, messages of appreciation were delivered by the Program Co-Coordinators, Dr. Ulaganathen, and Engr. Dr. Ahsan. Selected participants from India, the Philippines, and Thailand briefly shared their reflections and learnings throughout the five-day program. All participants were conferred with Certificates of Participation at the end of the ceremony.