ASEAN Summit on Giftedness 2014: Life Span Perspective in Developing High Ability and Giftedness

            Similar to the Zero In Workshop on Establishing Community Museums, the 2014 ASEAN Summit on Giftedness took off from an earlier summit on the same topic in 2013. This earlier Summit on Giftedness and High Ability however, was only national in scope, involving lecture-presentations and discussions in General Santos City in Mindanao and Iloilo City in the Visayas. The national summit was intended to raise public awareness on what “giftedness and high ability” are and inform participants on the state of gifted education in the country.

            Both the 2013 and 2014 Summits were spearheaded by the Philippine Center for Gifted Education (PCGE) under the leadership of PH NatCom Education Commissioner, Dr. Leticia Peñano-Ho. As its name implies, the ASEAN Summit extends/expands PCGE’s advocacies on promoting gifted education to our neighbor countries in South East Asia in support of the impending integration of ASEAN into one economic, political, and sociocultural community in 2015. To PCGE, promoting gifted education contributes to many interlocking goals including ensuring inclusive quality education, maximizing use of the talents of the gifted and those of high ability for development at all levels (from local to global), and furthering the adoption of lifelong learning perspectives for all.

            The two-day ASEAN Summit took place on 24-25 October 2014 at Crown Plaza Hotel- Ortigas Center, Pasig City. With messages from the President of the Philippines, the country’s education ministries, UNESCO Bangkok and PH NatCom, the Summit was opened by Dr. Peñano-Ho who said that the affair offered an opportunity for ASEAN Member-States to converse on the nature of giftedness, its different aspects, how one goes about identifying the gifted and high ability individuals, and nurturing them to their full potential. A total of 150 participants attended the Summit with representatives coming from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia.

            Currently a graduate student in Gifted Education at the University of New South Wales in Australia, Mr. Minh Ngoc Kim, Founder of Tomoe Vietnam Kindergarten, shared the success of Vietnam’s program that enhances abilities of the gifted in the fields of mathematics, science, IT, and literature. He also provided an overview of the state of gifted education in ASEAN member countries and cited models for regional cooperation in the area of gifted education.

            Hajah Aidah Lena Mawarni Mohd Nah and DayangKu Hidayatul Manja of the Special Education Unit of Brunei’s Ministry of Education gave a brief report on the state of gifted education in their country including existing laws and policies on gifted education and the Gifted Education Programmes and Services (GEPS) developed by their Special Education Unit. GEPS consist of 1) Student Screening for Gifted Education 2) National Gifted Education Programmes in Science and Creativity; 3) International Gifted Education Programmes; and 4) Professional Development for the Gifted.

            The Summit’s main speaker was world-renowned psychologist, Dr. Francois Gagné of the Universitè du Québec à  Montréal, who presented his Differentiating Model of Giftedness and Talent. His model assumes that individuals vary widely in many aspects: in aptitudes, personal qualities, needs, interests, perseverance, social environment, etc. All these elements contribute to a person’s level of success in school, at work and in life; and there are typical developmental profiles that distinguish the outstanding achievers and the average performers. It is from an understanding of these that one can then identify processes and educational services that can facilitate talent development.

            At the closing of the Summit, participants were treated to a cultural night by the College of Music of the University of the Philippines-Diliman and dinner at the University Executive House.

A participant from Brunei discusses her country’s policies and programs on gifted education.

Dr. Francois Gagné talks about the theme of the Summit: “Lifespan Perspective”