New projects firmed up, new areas of collaboration with
development partners defined

The Centre Directors of the SEAMEO Regional Centres gathered for the annual SEAMEO Centre Directors Meeting from 16 to 18 July 2012 at the S31 Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand to discuss proposals, plans and activities under the 2011-2020 SEAMEO Strategic Plan and the respective development plans of the SEAMEO Centres. The Meeting was organized by the SEAMEO Secretariat and was attended by 80 participants including the directors and key staff of SEAMEO Centres and the Secretariat, representatives of Associate and Affiliate Members, and invited partners.

Among others, discussion focused on the implementation of the three key initiatives that will help attain the Golden SEAMEO goal such as the SEAMEO Knowledge Management System, the SEAMEO Centre Mentoring Programme, and the Partnership for Social Responsibility. Golden SEAMEO is an ideal state foreseen 10 years from now and is characterized by programme responsiveness, financial stability, social mobility, thriving application of modern technologies, and the Organization's expansion. Other items presented for deliberation were the proposal for the establishment of a Southeast Asian evaluation network, development of regional standards for Science and Mathematics teachers, and conduct of region-wide student assessment on Mathematics.

A half-day special session for Centre Directors was held on the first day of the three-day meeting which provided opportunity for detailed discussion on setting effective implementation arrangements for the 18 SEAMEO initiatives. Decisions reached pertain to streamlining activities, combining related initiatives, firming up implementation timelines of the 18 initiatives, and determining funding mechanisms for their implementation.

Seventeen, out of the 20 SEAMEO Centres took part in the meeting. SEAMEO TROPMED Network Office also participated in the discussion. The SEAMEO Regional Centre on History and Tradition (CHAT) and the two newly-established centres, namely, SEAMEO Regional Centre on Special Education (SEN) and SEAMEO Regional Centre on Lifelong Learning (CELLL) were not able to attend this year's meeting. The Centre Directors Meeting 2012 was chaired by the SEAMEO Secretariat Director.

Collaborative and Networking Sessions

Separate sessions dedicated for collaboration and networking were also held where nine institutions and organizations presented proposals on potential areas of collaboration with SEAMEO. Invited partners included the Asian Development Bank that presented support to SEAMEO for the development of a detailed design of a regional platform for dialogues among ministers and high-level education officials, and the support for an ongoing project that aims at promoting higher education harmonization and networking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region.

The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology Japan renewed support for the regular provision of experts to SEAMEO Centres as well as the ongoing collaboration with SEAMEO on education for sustainable development. New opportunities for capacity building were also offered through the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy in Japan. On the other hand, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development which attended the meeting for the first time presented a proposed study on efficiency of investment in education and skills in the SEAMEO Member Countries.

From left: (1) Dr Yasushi Hirosato, Principal Education Specialist, Asian Development Bank; (2) Mr Ian Whitman, Head, Programme for Cooperation with NME, OECD; (3) Mr Takashi Inutsuka, Director, Office for International Cooperation, MEXT Japan; (4) Mr Daoyu Wang, Deputy Director, ASEAN-China Centre; and (5) Mr Tao Song, Professor, Beijing Normal University

Other partners that attended the SEAMEO Centre Directors Meeting for the first time were the ASEAN-China Centre and the Beijing Normal University. The ASEAN-China Centre proposed the development of a resource guide on education for SEAMEO Member Countries and China. Meanwhile, the Beijing Normal University proposed partnership with SEAMEO on the establishment of the Asian Green Development Research Centre which is envisioned to serve as platform for Beijing Normal University and SEAMEO to popularize the concept of "green development".

From left: (1) Prof Dr Mariko Sato, Director, Centre for Research on International Cooperation in Education Development, University of Tsukuba (Affiliate Member); (2) Dr Suci M Isman, Assistant to the Rector/International Office, Universitas Terbuka/ICDE (Affiliate Member); (3) Mr Gwang-Chol Chang, Chief, Education Policy and Reform Unit, UNESCO Bangkok; and (4) Dr Clifford Meyers, Regional Advisor - Education, UNICEF EAPRO

In addition to existing collaboration with the SEAMEO Secretariat and the Centres, UNESCO put forward further cooperation on technical and vocational education through existing projects such as the ASEAN Regional Qualifications Framework and the Policy Study on Expanding TVET at the Secondary Education Level. Considered a regular partner, UNICEF reiterated support for a feasibility study and partial establishment costs for a new SEAMEO regional centre on ECCE, as well as a possible undertaking on primary learning outcome assessment.

As Affiliate Member of SEAMEO, the University of Tsukuba, Japan expounded on three-year collaboration with SEAMEO themed "Educational Challenges of Globalization" which aims to establish a longer-term and reciprocal relationship between SEAMEO and the University of Tsukuba. In same manner, the International Council for Open and Distance Education, another Affiliate Member of SEAMEO suggested for SEAMEO and ICDE to follow up the 2012 Paris Open Educational Resources (OER) Declaration which would be suported by activities such as a study on OER in Southeast Asia, establishing a network of higher education institutions, and development of regulatory framework for Open and Distance Learning.

Other partners present at the Meeting were the ASEAN Secretariat and the Food and Agriculture Organization. Germany and The British Council also attended the Meeting.

SEAMEO Centre Directors Meeting is held annually. The first meeting was held in 1971. Since then the SEAMEO Centre Directors Meeting has become a venue for SEAMEO Centres and the Secretariat to thresh out strategies for effective and immediate implementation of the resolutions of the SEAMEO Council which is composed of the education ministers of the 11 SEAMEO Member Countries.

Centre Directors Meeting 2012 participants in a group photo


SEAMEO Centres and the Secretariat discuss with partners on details of collaboration with SEAMEO during the Networking Session. Agreements include details on specific areas of cooperation, mechanism for working together, timelines, roles and responsibilities of partners and the SEAMEO Centres, and other project implementation arrangements.