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Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the minds of children and the availability of high-performing teachers in adequate numbers is central to quality education. Further, the role of teachers is fast evolving from that of imparting knowledge to that of guiding learning, driving inquiry, enhancing thinking skills, inspiring confidence while being aware of the increasing role of technology in the lives of learners. High quality upfront training, typically leading to teaching qualifications, and high quality continuous professional development are both critical for improving the performance of teachers. Nations such as Finland and Singapore are considered the gold standard in teacher education. Which of their lessons apply across geographies and which would need customization especially for countries that are starting at a much lower level of performance and for countries with larger size, more diversity, and resource driven constraints? In several large emerging markets, while there are many good teacher education efforts in small pockets, it has been difficult to find scalable models and to link teacher education efforts to large scale system change. This segment will provide a platform for educationists, administrators, teachers and a host of international experts from the field of education to come together and share their perceptions and concerns regarding the role of teacher education in improving the overall schooling system, and how to make teacher education efforts large scale and catalytic.


  • What constitutes high quality learning and how should teacher education deal with the different definitions of this?
    In many education systems, getting students to memorize and regurgitate is almost an explicit goal. Never mind that the economy of the 21st century requires creative, critical and collaborative thinkers who can solve problems effectively! At the same time, in these systems, there are the few individuals who joined teaching to build participatory learning communities and the few school leaders and parents who expect this. How should teacher education models, especially those that are trying to operate at scale, deal with these different expectations from teachers?

  • What constitutes success for teacher education efforts and how can this be measured?
    Teaching success, and correspondingly the success of teacher education efforts, is often narrowed down to “measurable outcomes” measured through student tests/examinations for which teachers and teacher educators are held accountable. Teachers are forced to “teach to the test” in order to prove their effectiveness and teacher educators in turn are forced to “get teachers to teach to the test”. How can teacher education efforts be measured beyond just student scores? How can standards be set with respect to skills and attitudes of teachers, towards which teacher education efforts can aspire to take them?

  • What can be some scalable and sustainable teacher education models? What is the role of technology?
    As mentioned earlier, even in large emerging markets, there are some good teacher education efforts, but in small pockets and fundamentally non-scalable in terms of the resources they use or operating model or other factors. Further, in the case of several efforts, while impact can be seen during the effort, it often fizzles out soon after. How can scalable teacher education models be developed, potentially through use of technology as well? How can the impact of these and the continuous development of teachers be sustained over time?

Moderator - Ramya Venkataraman


Ramya Venkataraman

McKinsey and Company's Education Practice, India


Brief Bio:

Ramya Venkataraman is the Leader of McKinsey and Company's Education Practice in India. For the last several years, Ramya has also pursued her long-term passion in education through involvement in various initiatives, and towards the end of 2008, took on a new role to pursue this passion fully. She now leads McKinsey's Education practice in India on a full-time basis, as part of the Firm's global Social Sector practice.

Her experiences in education cut across school, higher and vocational education. Recent examples include driving a large urban school system transformation effort with a municipal corporation in India, working with a neighbouring country's government on end-to-end education reform, conducting rural education diagnostics in a few districts, serving foundations, non-profits and private education players on their own strategy, working with some higher education institutions of national importance, helping investors evaluate potential opportunities, and providing input into policy discussions.

Ramya completed her B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from IIT Delhi.

Panelist - Ben Schmidt


Ben Schmidt

Regional Director
Cambridge International Examinations, Southeast Asia & Pacific


Brief Bio:

Ben Schmidt was named Regional Director for Southeast Asia & Pacific in March 2012. Based in Singapore, he leads a team that is responsible for driving the organisation’s growth in providing Cambridge programmes and qualifications to schools across the region.

Cambridge International Examinations is the world’s largest provider of international education programmes and qualifications for 5 to 19 year olds. It has a broad and growing education remit, providing education solutions and consultancy services to governments and schools around the world.

Prior to joining Cambridge International Examinations, Ben has had over 15 years of experience in the education sector in Europe, having worked in numerous roles and capacities that led to educational transformation and strategic partnerships. He has successfully managed training and professional development programmes as well as research programmes and consulted on the design of educational facilities.

Ben has a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Zurich, where he worked as a lecturer and researcher. As a fervent believer in lifelong learning, Ben completed a law degree and a second M.A. in Education with a thesis on learning-led design.

Panelist - Chinezi Chijioke


Chinezi Chijioke

Founder & CEO
Pioneer Academies


Brief Bio:

Chinezi is the Founder & CEO of Pioneer Academies, a new network of high quality affordable private schools. Chinezi was previously the Head of McKinsey & Company's African Education Practice, where he worked for 8 years gaining experience with over 25 countries' school systems across the world, including South Africa. Chinezi started his career as a secondary school mathematics teacher, where he was nominated by his students to Who's Who of American Teachers. He has also founded youth leadership programmes in South Africa and Nigeria.

Chinezi holds a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Education from Stanford University, a Bachelors in Psychology and an Honours Certificate in African Studies from Harvard University, where he also received the John P. Reardon award as Harvard's top scholar-athlete. Chinezi is Nigerian and American, and has spent 10 years living in South Africa.

Panelist - Professor Gopinathan


Professor Gopinathan

Adjunct Professor
Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore
Ex-Dean of The School of Education
National Institute of Education (NIE), Singapore


Brief Bio:

Professor S Gopinathan is currently an adjunct professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He served as Dean of the School of Education (1994-2000) and then, Dean of Initial Teacher Education Programmes (2000-2003), National Institute of Education (NIE), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

In 2003, he helped NIE establish a Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice. He has served on various MOE review committees and was a resource specialist for the Government Parliamentary Committee on Education, as a consultant for the Singapore Teachers Union, and a board member of the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board. He has been a consultant to the World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, McKinsey and Company, and MENA Ministers of Education, and School of Education, Qatar University.

His research interests span teacher education, higher education, values and citizenship education, and education development. He is founding editor of the Singapore Journal of Education, serves on the International Advisory Board of the Asia Pacific Journal of Education, and co-edits the Routledge Critical Studies in Asian Education. His recent book, Education and the Nation State published by Routledge in 2012, offers a comprehensive overview of Singapore’s education policies and practices.

From 2003 to 2010, he helped NIE establish the Emirates College of Advanced Education for the Abu Dhabi Education Council, and the Bahrain Teachers College for the EDB in Bahrain. In his personal capacity, he helped establish the Sampoerna School of Education in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Panelist - Siva Kumari


Siva Kumari

Director General
International Baccalaureates (IB)


Brief Bio:

Dr. Siva Kumari started as the 7th Director General of the International Baccalaureate's (IB) in January 2014; she is the first woman to hold the post. She started at the IB as Regional Director for Asia Pacific in April 2009, and from May 2010 she served as IB's Chief Operating Officer.

To join the IB, Dr Kumari left Rice University in Houston, Texas, where she served as the first Associate Provost for K-12 initiatives. She also served as Associate Dean in the School of Continuing Studies, and received critical acclaim for her work, winning several national and regional awards. She grew teacher professional development (PD) programmes into the largest in the country, and vastly expanded the School's portfolio of IT and PD programmes. Several key projects initiated by Kumari have received competitive funding from state and federal governments, private and corporate local and national foundations. In 2002, she created the Advanced Placement Digital Library (DL) for science teachers, and secured funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), serving as chair of NSDL conferences. Kumari has voluntarily served on boards, national and international advisory committees and conference committees for various associations.

Dr. Kumari has a Bachelor's degree in Science from India, a Master's degree and a Doctorate in Education, specializing in Instructional Technology, from the USA. She was awarded "outstanding doctoral student" for her pioneering work, which studied online higher education courses in 1999 via a web survey about online learning pedagogy.

Panelist - Stavros Yiannouka


Stavros Yiannouka

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE)


Brief Bio:

Stavros N. Yiannouka was recently appointed CEO of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a major initiative of the Qatar Foundation. WISE is dedicated to advancing universal access to education, lifelong learning and education anytime, anywhere.

Until August 2012 Stavros was the Executive Vice-Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore. He joined the LKY School in June 2005 to spearhead the implementation of an ambitious growth strategy, which he had helped develop as a management consultant with McKinsey & Company. Together with Kishore Mahbubani et al. Stavros is the co-author of Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy: Building a Global Policy School in Asia, World Scientific (2012).

Before joining the LKY School, Stavros spent 5 years with McKinsey & Company from 2000-2005 serving private and public sector clients in Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea and Canada, predominantly in the financial services and healthcare industries. Prior to joining McKinsey, Stavros practiced corporate law in the City of London from 1995-1998 with the firms Gouldens and Mayer, Brown & Platt. He holds an MBA (with Distinction) from the London Business School, an LLB (with Honours) from the University of Bristol, is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and an Adjunct Professor and Senior Advisor at the LKY School. A native of Cyprus, Stavros is married to Sherena Mistri, a Singaporean, and they have two children Stephania and Nicholas.


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