36th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting tackles post-2015 agenda, endorses 3 new projects
BANGKOK, Thailand – Vice ministers, permanent secretaries, and high-level education officials from the Southeast Asian countries met on 18-20 February 2014 at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel here for the 36th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting (HOM).
This year’s HOM tackled the education agenda in Southeast Asia after 2015, which marks the conclusion of the Education for All (EFA) movement that has been the flagship education agenda globally for the past three decades.
The HOM also endorsed three projects that focus on Southeast Asia on the themes of pre-primary teacher development, intercultural dialogues, and learning metrics. The projects were proposed by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) to be implemented collaboratively with SEAMEO.
Moreover, the HOM endorsed SEARCA’s Tenth Five-Year Development Plan and the Fifth Five-Year Development Plan of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Vocational and Technical Education and Training (VOCTECH). The HOM also endorsed the amendment to the Enabling Instrument of SEARCA.
The opening ceremony held on 19 February 2014 was presided by H.E. Mr. Chaturon Chaisaeng, Thailand’s Minister of Education, who addressed more than a hundred education officials and representatives from 17 countries and 28 international organizations and specialist institutions. The SEARCA delegation was led by Dr. Gil C. Saguiguit, Jr., SEARCA Director. With him were Ms. Adoracion T. Robles, Executive Coordinator; Mr. Elmer G. Pandanan, Communications Assistant; and Ms. Adah Sofia A. Renovilla, Secretary, all of the Office of the Director.
The Minister said the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) adopted in 2000 as a global blueprint to fight poverty were interconnected and reaffirmed that education is fundamental to all kinds of development. Having recalled that the EFA was launched in Thailand in 1990 and reaffirmed a decade later, the Minister spoke of Thailand’s commitment to both the EFA and MDGs, citing the country’s participation in the collaborative projects “to reach the unreached in education in Southeast Asia” under the auspices of SEAMEO.
The Minister reiterated Thailand’s keen interest to work with SEAMEO and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) towards raising the quality of education in Southeast Asia.
“I have every confidence that with the continued dedication and commitment of the SEAMEO High Officials, this meeting will achieve its objectives and complete the tasks assigned to it by the SEAMEO Council,” he said.
36th SEAMEO HOM Agenda
This year’s HOM was chaired by Mr. Tran Ba Viet Dzung, Director General, International Cooperation Department, Ministry of Education and Training, Vietnam. He said the HOM is an important platform in strengthening cooperation between SEAMEO member countries, particularly in tackling regional issues of mutual concern.
The Meeting Chair was assisted by Dr. Witaya in the plenary session where new regional initiatives were deliberated and updates on ongoing activities were made as well as in the in-camera session, a closed session that focused on organizational matters.
Key agenda tackled in plenary session included reports on Collaborative Projects to Reach the Unreached in Southeast Asia by Brunei Darussalam, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Thailand; update on the Regional Study and Development of Post-2015 Education Scenarios and Post-EFA Agenda in Southeast Asia; SEAMEO Congress; recent UNESCO initiatives for Southeast Asia and the proposed collaboration with SEAMEO; regional program of the German government on health care in schools; proposed continued collaboration between SEAMEO and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) on the second phase of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metric Initiative; and the 50th SEAMEO Anniversary celebration in March 2015.
Results of deliberations and decisions of the Meeting will be submitted to the education ministers of the SEAMEO member countries who comprise the SEAMEO Council for information and approval. The SEAMEO Council meets biennially and 2014 is a non-meeting year. Thus, resolutions of the SEAMEO Council on the result of this year’s HOM will be sought through referendum.
The next SEAMEO Council Conference will be held on 29 April-2 May 2015 in Hua Hin, Thailand.
During the HOM, SEAMES, the British Council, and Thailand’s Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST) signed an agreement to organize the SEAMEO Congress to be held on 21-22 October 2014 at the Imperial Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand.
With the theme Southeast Asia in Transition: Re-Thinking Education, Science and Culture for Regional Integration, the SEAMEO Congress will provide opportunities for educators and stakeholders to establish and renew cooperation in the advancement of education, science, and culture in the region.
Three SEAMEO Awards were presented during the opening of HOM: SEAMEO-Jasper Research Award 2013, SEAMEO-Australia Education Links Award 2013, and SEAMEO-Japan Education for Sustainable Development Award 2013.
Officials from partner and sponsoring countries, namely: Canada, Australia, and Japan announced the winners in each competition. H.E. Mr. Chaturon presented the plaques of recognition to the winners.
Other Side Events
The Joint Action Plan between SEAMEO and the Organisation of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) was signed on 19 February 2014. The SEAMEO-OEI Joint Action Plan outlines the first set of priority activities to be jointly conducted by SEAMEO and OEI from March 2014 to March 2016 following the MOU signed on 24 April 2013 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
A special meeting on the Princess Maha Chakri Award was also convened by Thailand’s Ministry of Education.
The 8thASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Education (SOM-ED), the 4th ASEAN Plus Three Senior Officials Meeting on Education, the 2nd East Asia Summit (EAS) Senior Officials Meeting on Education were also convened back-to-back with the 36th SEAMEO HOM on 20- 21 February 2014.