Dr. Attaphon Sangkkawasee, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Thailand, representing Her Excellency Treenuch Thienthong, Minister of Education, Thailand, formally opened the 45th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting (HOM) on 29 November 2022 at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers in Bangkok, Thailand.
The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) is the mother organization of the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA).
The HOM brought together education ministers, permanent secretaries, and other high-level education officials of the 11 SEAMEO Member Countries, Associate Member Countries, and affiliate members as well as officials and staff of SEAMEO regional centers.
The SEAMEO SEARCA delegation was led by Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA Director. With him were Assoc. Prof. Joselito G. Florendo, Deputy Director for Administration; Ms. Sharon A. Malaiba, Head, Partnerships Unit; Ms. Beatrisa L. Martinez, Executive Coordinator, Office of the Director; Ms. Mary Anne R. Martinez, Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director for Administration; and Mr. Gaspar L. de Chavez of the General Services Unit.
The two-day meeting tackled important issues on education in Southeast Asia and how the SEAMEO centers and affiliate members can collaborate to assist SEAMEO’s initiatives to support transforming education.
This year’s meeting also saw the turnover of SEAMEO HOM leadership from Singapore to the Republic of the Philippines with Atty. Gerald Chan, Undersecretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), as Chairperson of the 45th SEAMEO HOM. In his remarks, Undersecretary Chan stressed the need to recognize “the weight of our action and impact to the learners that we serve.” He added that SEAMEO members and affiliates share a unity in purpose and thus encouraged everyone to actively participate in the sessions.
Other highlights of the meeting included the confirmation on 38 Working Papers of 45th SEAMEO HOM by Ad Referendum, including SEARCA’s working paper on Grants for Research towards Agricultural Innovative Solutions (GRAINS). The working paper of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (RIHED) on the Updates on Redefining the Common Space in Southeast Asian Higher Education was given focus, particularly the initiative of SEAMEO RIHED for a joint SEAMEO-ASEAN Declaration on the Common Space. The Joint SEAMEO-ASEAN Declaration will define a historical partnership that will put forward Southeast Asia’s common shared vision for the future of regional higher education.
Also part of the meeting was the awarding ceremony to confer the 2022 SEAMEO-Australia Education Links Award, 2022 SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award, and the 1st Southeast Asian Educational Innovation Awards by SEAMEO INNOTECH as well as the Video Presentation of the Special Education Innovation Award (SEIA) 2022 by SEAMEO Regional Centre for Special Educational Needs (SEN).
Day 2 witnessed the presentation from SEAMEO Associate Member Countries as well as SEAMEO affiliate members and partners. Their presentations centered on the theme and proposed collaborations with the SEAMEO Secretariat (SEAMES) and SEAMEO centers in 2022 onwards. These include the presentations of four of the nine SEAMEO Associate Member Countries, namely, Australia, Morocco, Spain, and the United Kingdom, and three of the seven SEAMEO affiliate members, namely, British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE), the Education University of Hong Kong (EduHK), and the University of Tsukuba (UT).
The HOM concluded with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between SEAMEO Regional Centre for Education in Science and Mathematics (RECSAM) and Google for Education.