Session highlights

Teaching for all of us has been like making a phone call for a year and a half. That impacts on the faculty and the students, raising questions about how you measure what learning is taking place. Young people may be sitting in a room with their family, or sitting on the roof to get WiFi access. We’re constantly focusing not just on technology, but the learning implications of that technology.” Dr Tiffany Cone, Associate Dean, Asian University for Women, Bangladesh. 

  • In a session on improving learner outcomes in South Asia, the British Council’s Aatreyee Guha Thakurta noted that COVID-19 has “accelerated” experimentation into areas such as online learning across the region. World Bank Senior Operations Officer Dr Mokhlesur Rahman added that it had sparked increased adoption of blended learning, and panellists from Sri Lanka and Pakistan talked about responding to the challenge of improving quality and access.
  • Recent events have highlighted the digital divide that exists, even within countries. Professor Zia-ul-Qayyum of Allama Iqbal Open University in Pakistan said the institution addressed this by opening regional campuses where students could access digital resources. It is also tackling other inequalities, offering free education to students from marginalised communities. Around 600,000 of its 1.2m total enrolment is now female. 

Session summary

This session will explore the innovations and approaches to modern education in South Asian countries – Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. Whether it’s the UK-Pak Gateway in Pakistan or the new education reforms in Sri Lanka, new approaches to curriculum, pedagogy and learning techniques are becoming increasingly important for the governments in these countries. The need of the hour is to future-proof our students – give them the tools and knowledge that empower them to thrive as global citizens and innovators – to be able to adapt to and evolve with a dynamic socio-economic landscape.   

Are governments nurturing global learners? Are education institutions ensuring students are meeting the expectations of future employers? Are governments able to assure gender balance in education access?   

The session will discuss the following themes through a panel discussion:

  • Evidence based education strategies, policies and practices 
  • Gender balance and equity in higher education through these practices and policies
  • Innovation – challenges and outcomes
  • Case studies of international collaboration and partnerships that can help achieve better learner outcomes 
  • Student perspectives to provide testimonials and evidence

The session will also look at universities as complex institutions where innovation, on-ground practice, teaching quality, policy, leadership and internationalisation must achieve that delicate and strategic alignment at the centre of which global learner outcomes are placed.   

We will discuss the new approaches towards higher education in these countries, how the opportunities and challenges of developing economies face-off in re-shaping the country’s higher education ambitions,  and subsequent policies and innovations that have empowered a future generation of critical thinkers.

This discussion will be chaired by Nishat Riaz, Education Director at the British Council, Pakistan. Speakers:

  • Prof. Abdul Tawab Balakarzai - Deputy minister of academic affairs, Ministry of Higher Education, Afghanistan
  • Prof. Zia-ul- Qayyum - Vice Chancellor, Allama Iqbal Open University, Pakistan
  • Prof. Harischandra Abeygunawardane - Chair  and former Vice Chancellor, National Education Commission / Peradeniya University, Sri Lanka
  • Dr. Mokhlesur Rahman - Senior Operations Officer, World Bank, Bangladesh
  • Dr. Tiffany Cone - Associate Dean, Asian University for Women, Bangladesh