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The ICA Asia and Pacific Committee on Cooperatives in Educational Institutions (ICEI) and ANGKASA co-organised a regional webinar on the ‘Opportunities for Cooperatives in Educational Institutions Post COVID-19’ on 15th April 2021.

It was the first webinar from the ICEI webinar series this year. Over 70 people from different countries in Asia and Pacific participated in the webinar.


Dato Kamarudin Ismail, Deputy President of ANGKASA and ICA Global Board Member delivered the inaugural address. He noted that cooperatives have shown resilience during the pandemic and with changing times cooperatives need to adopt innovative and creative ways of doing business. He said that school cooperatives are a good way of reaching youth from an early age. School cooperative is a model that allows youth engagement, promotion of cooperative entrepreneurship, and involvement of young people in the cooperative movement. He congratulated the winners of the short film competition organised by the ICEI.


The three winning films of the short film competition organised by the ICEI late last year were screened. The winners were awarded prize money of USD 950, sponsored by ANGKASA. The first prize was won by students from Japan and the second and third prizes were won by students from Malaysia. The winning films can be viewed here.


Dr. C. Pitchai, Professor and Head of Department of Cooperation, School of Management Studies, the Gandhigram Rural Institute (Deemed to be University), Gandhigram, India, noted that the sales of most of the university cooperatives in India were affected due to COVID-19 as university campuses were closed. The business in cooperatives in medical colleges such as that of Madurai Medical Colleage Students Cooperative was relatively better as these cooperatives supply medical books and instruments which are not readily available in the market. He noted, “necessity is the mother of all inventions.” Due to COVID-19, demand for home delivery of essential supplies, medicines, food and water increased. Therefore, university cooperatives that earlier supplied stationery items only, have diversified their business. He shared the example of Mangalore University Cooperative Society which started accepting orders over the phone and commenced home delivery of groceries both for faculty and staff living on the campus and for people within a radius of 1-2 km from the campus. The demand for their door-to-door grocery services increased during the pandemic and the cooperative plans to continue with these services and start online orders with digital payment methods.


Ms. Anahita Eslahpazir CEO, Rah – E – Roshd Cooperative Education Complex (RCEC), Iran said that one of the good things that have happened during the pandemic is that the state of public education has improved as students have relatively more access to education through distance or online classes. She said through technology, there is scope to provide education to those from deprived and low-income background as investment cost for infrastructure has reduced. Schools and educational institutions already have well-developed educational materials which can be used to teach children from poor and marginalised backgrounds. People involved in cooperatives have had special training in how to start a cooperative business, management strategies, practical experience in cooperation and collaboration. These experiences can be shared internationally as a way of providing universal education on cooperatives. RCEC conducts a Coop Talk program to engage in dialogues/ conversations on cooperatives at the international level. Usually held in-person, the pandemic provides an opportunity for such experience and knowledge sharing programmes to virtually reach out to many with a reduced cost. Cyberspace and digital platforms also allow cooperatives to showcase the model and present its advantages to those who are unaware of cooperatives.


Mr. Ichiro Nakamori, MD and CEO, National Federation of University Co-operative Associations (NFUCA), Japan and Vice-Chairperson of the ICEI; accompanied by Mr. Ryota Ishida Student Committee Member, NFUCA Japan shared the survey results, conducted by NFUCA with students affected by the pandemic due to closure of university campuses in 2020. The results show that students are facing three types of crises of - livelihood, learning and community. The crisis of learning is being addressed through online and/or hybrid classes. Mr. Nakamori noted that in the situation where there are no students on campuses, managing university cooperatives can be very challenging. However, as a consumer cooperative whose mission is to create a better life for its members, they are committed to supporting students. Mr. Ishida shared how the Student Committee is using creative methods to address the crisis of learning and community among students. To ease new students' anxiety about university life and not having friends, they are organising online recreational activities where students can interact with each other and learn about the university and/or its courses from senior and fellow students. To address the crisis of livelihoods, student cooperatives in Japanese universities such as the Ritsumeikan Co-op is continuing to provide healthy meals to students thereby ensuring income opportunities for student members of the cooperative.


Prof. Dr. Wan Mohtar Wan Yusoff Chair, Koperasi UNIKEB Berhad Malaysia emphasised the importance of continued education on values of cooperation in adult life. He said that cooperative values and the meaning of being a true cooperator should be taught to people from an early age and adults should constantly self-educate and self-evaluate themselves. He noted that the pandemic has offered an opportunity to cooperators to constantly educate themselves by reflecting on the five M’s of management. These are: 1) the purpose of a human being is to serve a larger community so cooperatives should be committed to serving their community 2) cooperatives should be aware of the sources and flow of their money (income) 3) cooperatives should try to make the best use of locally available resources/ materials 4) cooperatives should adopt indigenous methods and 5) cooperatives should adopt and update data management methods. He said informal education is as important as formal education and shared an example of a mentor-mentee network in cooperatives that can help guide and educate younger cooperators about the importance of cooperative principles and values.


Briefly, the guest speakers suggested:


  • Diversification of business activities as per the needs of members and local customers like the supply of essential groceries, medicines, drinking water.
  • Providing door-to-door services and continuing business digitally.
  • Engaging in conversations/dialogues on cooperatives for exchange of information and best practices at national and international level.
  • Undertaking creative and recreational activities online. and
  • Orienting students online who cannot visit school/ university campuses.
  • Establishing mentor-mentee networks in cooperatives.
  • Introducing values of cooperation from an early age through informal educational methods.
  • Using digital technology and hybrid methods for education, training and transfer of knowledge.


Dr. Noraini Mohammad, General Manager of International Division, ANGKASA moderated the discussions which were followed by a brief Q&A session.


Dr. Mohd Azlan Yahya, ICEI Chairperson and Vice-President of ANGKASA thanked Dato Kamarudin Ismail, the distinguished guest speakers, ICEI Secretariat, and the participants for attending the webinar. Dr. Azlan informed the speakers and participants that it was the first webinar organised by the ICEI in 2021 and invited them to participate in the forthcoming webinars.


The webinar recording can be viewed here.