The SEAMEO Council, composed of the Ministers of Education of ten SEAMEO Member Countries convened from 12 to 15 March 2002 in Chiang Mai, Thailand for the 37th SEAMEO Council Conference to review reports and proposals and share successes, ideas and policies.

His Excellency Prime Minister Dr Thaksin Shinawatra opened the Conference on Wednesday, 13 March and delivered the Keynote Address.

One of the highlights of the Conference was an initiative by Thailand on Regional Cooperation on Equity and Quality Education. A proposal was put forward and approved to support national policies and initiatives in education reform and development through the establishment of a network of schools aimed towards advancing issues and experiences on cross-cutting regional concerns, as well as promote a whole-school approach as model for quality and equity education at the school level in Member Countries.

Hosted by the Ministry of Education, Thailand, the Conference was attended by high ranking officials of the Ministries of Education of SEAMEO Member Countries (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam); and representatives from SEAMEO Associate Member Countries (Australia, Canada, Germany and France) and SEAMEO Affiliate Member, the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE).

His Excellency Mr Suwit Khunkitti, Minister of Education, Thailand succeeded Malaysia’s Minister of Education, His Excellency Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Musa bin Mohamad as SEAMEO Council President and chaired the three-day meeting.

The Plenary Session began with a report by the SEAMEO Council President and the annual accomplishments of the fifteen SEAMEO Centres located in various parts of the region. The SEAMEO Council took note of on-going and completed programmes, some of which are as follows:

  • SEAMEO Community Involvement Programme
  • The continuation of SEAMEO Regional Schools Internet project with 39 schools from SEAMEO Member Countries (including 4 schools from Thailand: Payao Witthayakom, Sri Ayutthaya, Benjamarachalai, Yothin Burana) and six schools from Australia (Bloomsbury State High School, The Southport School, Trinity College, Helensvale State High School, St. Hilda’s, Marryatville High School) taking part in designing web pages in a magazine format on the theme "Friendship among Youth”.
  • The completed SEAMEO RELC ASEAN award project entitled "Enhancing of Oral Communication Skills of Teachers in the ASEAN Countries” which provides training to improve the teachers' aural/oral English language proficiency.
  • Future issues of the Journal of Southeast Asian Education to be published and marketed by Pearson Education Indochina aimed to assist in policy-making in education in Southeast Asia.

The meeting also deliberated on a number of future plans, which included the following:

  • SEAMEO Centres’ Five-Year Development Plans from SEAMEO BIOTROP, SEAMEO RIHED and SEAMEO SPAFA
  • Second SEAMEO Education Congress
  • ICT in HIV/AIDS Preventive Education in Cross Border Areas of the Upper Mekong Region: A SEAMEO-UNESCO Innovative Project
  • Proposal on Pre-Service Teacher Training and Teacher Professional Development in the Use of ICT in the Teaching of Mathematics and Science
  • Integrated report on SEAMEO INNOTECH Plans and Initiatives: A Strategic Redirection
  • SEAMEO RECSAM’s International Events on the 2002 Third Regional Congress: Search for SEAMEO Young Scientists and the Third SEAMEO Mathematics Olympiad

An exhibition showing the activities and accomplishments of the 15 SEAMEO Regional Centres/Units and participating educational institutions from Thailand was also open to the public during the Conference. A study visit and bilateral meetings were also included in the agenda on the second day. The meeting ended with the adoption of agreements, declaration and press conference.

The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization was established in November 1965 as a chartered international organization whose purpose is to promote cooperation in education, science and culture in the Southeast Asian region. Since its establishment, the Ministers have been meeting annually to take note of the accomplishments of the 15 SEAMEO Regional Centres/units situated all over Southeast Asia, the financial reports, the on-going activities and to approve the future plans and activities.