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To celebrate the International Day of Cooperatives, ICA Asia and Pacific Committee on Cooperatives in Educational Institutions (ICEI) in partnership with the National Federation of University Co-operative Associations (NFUCA, Japan) organised a webinar on 21st June on the theme: Opportunities for Cooperatives in Educational Institutions Post COVID-19 (Part 2).

 

The speakers in this webinar were from NFUCA (Japan), Institute of Cooperative of Indonesia (IKOPIN, Indonesia), Centro Escolar University (Philippines) and Korea Federation of University Cooperatives (South Korea). It was attended by 85 international participants from different countries in Asia and Pacific and representatives of the Co-operative College, United Kingdom. The discussions were moderated by Dr. Yashwantha Dongre, Co-Secretary, ICEI.

 

ICEI Chairperson, Dr. Mohd. Azlan Yahya welcomed the guest speakers and participants. He noted that every country has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since it started and economic activities have come to a standstill. Cooperatives have been no exception. According to the ICA World Coop Monitor 2020, despite economic repercussions caused by the pandemic, many cooperatives have continued to fare well. Cooperatives in every continent have continued their businesses and adapted to the evolving situation. They have taken suitable measures to make their businesses sustainable and resilient. He added that the ICEI decided to conduct such webinars to share the experience of cooperatives in educational institutions from the Asia and Pacific region on how they are coping with the pandemic and the steps they were taking to rebuild their businesses. He said that the first webinar on the same theme was conducted by the ICEI in collaboration with ANGKASA in April. The committee office bearers felt that this theme is very relevant, and it would benefit the members and cooperatives in educational institutions in the region to have a second webinar with the same theme.

 

Mr. Balasubramanian Iyer, Regional Director, ICA-AP, joined the webinar during the opening session and welcomed all the guest speakers. He noted that the first webinar showed that education and training was one such sector that had to rapidly adjust due to travel restrictions and lockdowns. While education and training could be moved online, the business of cooperatives in educational institutions took a hit. He said, through these webinars, we learn how cooperatives in educational institutions in the region have fared during the pandemic and what opportunities lie ahead.

 

Mr. Ichiro Nakamori, MD and CEO, NFUCA and Vice-Chairperson, ICEI noted that in the situation where there are no students on campuses, managing university cooperatives can be very challenging. He discussed some areas in which university cooperatives are re-structuring their business. These include the supply of textbooks and cafeterias. He added that university cooperatives are also supporting members to find part-time jobs and build connections with students by helping them.

 

Dr. Burhanuddin Abdullah, Rector, Institute of Co-operative of Indonesia (IKOPIN), emphasised the role of youth and their future in the cooperative movement. He said that educational institutions can play a key role in educating young people about cooperatives and capacitating them to become cooperative entrepreneurs.

 

Dr. Milagros Lim-Borabo, Former Program Director, Professional and Continuing Education (PACE) of Centro Escolar University and Former Chairperson of Centro Escolar University Credit Cooperative, Philippines, noted that the pandemic has introduced innovative measures to follow the seven cooperative principles. She presented examples of measures taken by her university cooperative to engage with members using digital technology. One such example was the online exposure visits to cooperatives to observe their work and learn best practices.

 

Ms. Son Ye-Lim, University Cooperative Student Committee Member, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies’ and Student Committee Core Member, Korea Federation of University Cooperatives (KFUC), South Korea presented an overview of measures undertaken by KFUC and its student committee to support students during the pandemic. KFUC supplied them with grocery packages and free training programmes. Moving forward, one of the measures taken by KFUC will be to introduce an online version of Coopsket, a store run by KFUC in collaboration with a Korean supermarket company. By moving sales online, a stable source of revenue would be ensured for members, she added.

 

The presentations were followed by a brief Q/A session.

 

Dr. Azlan shared his closing remarks and thanked the guest speakers, ICEI Secretariat, and participants for attending the webinar. He also invited participants to the forthcoming webinars of ICEI.

 

The full recording of the webinar can be accessed here.