SEAMEO collaborates with various partners to determine Post-2015 education agenda in Southeast Asia

SEAMEO collaborates with various partners to determine Post-2015 education agenda in Southeast Asia

In a bid to trigger discussions on post-2015 education agenda in Southeast Asia, SEAMEO works with various organizations beginning December 2013 to June 2014 in the conduct of a foresight study applying futuristic methodology to build preferable depiction of the Post-2015 education in Southeast Asia. The seven-month project involves SEAMEO’s key partners including the Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST) Thailand, Burapha University Thailand, the National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP) through MEXT Japan, and the Thailand-United States Education Foundation (Fulbright Thailand). UNESCO and UNICEF are also actively involved in the discussions.

Dubbed as the “SEAMEO Study and Development of Post-2015 Education Scenarios and Post-EFA Agenda in Southeast Asia”, the initiative utilizes foresight and future studies, and is a direct response to the resolution of the SEAMEO Council during the 47th SEAMEO Council Conference in March 2013 in Vietnam which specifically directed the need to focus efforts and initiatives of SEAMEO on Post-2015 Education Agenda. The year 2015 marks the conclusion of the movements on Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which have been the flagship agenda of education and development programmes around the world and in Southeast Asia for the past three decades.

As the core activity of the regional study, the SEAMEO Secretariat with support from its two key partners, namely the IPST Thailand and the Burapha Univesity Thailand, convened the SEAMEO Consultation and Workshop on Post-2015 Education Scenarios and Post-EFA Education Agenda on 28-30 January 2014 at the Empress Hotel, Chiang Mai, Thailand which was attended by 8 out of 11 SEAMEO Member Countries, 21 SEAMEO Centres and Network, 16 international and Thailand-based non-governmental organizations, and some students from Chiang Mai University.


Officials representing the three organizing institutions deliver remarks during the opening ceremony of the three-day consultation, (from left)
Dr Witaya Jeradechakul, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat;
Dr Pornpun Waitayangkoon, President, Institute for the Promotion of Teaching Science and Technology (IPST), Thailand; and
Dr Montien Chomdokmai, Director, International Graduate Studies Human Resource, Development Center, Faculty of Education, Burapha University

The three-day activity brought together SEAMEO stakeholders with the aim of discussing the most appropriate education agenda in Southeast Asia beyond 2015 with particular focus on the region’s unique needs and context. The consultation highlighted the current effort of governments of Southeast Asian countries towards the ASEAN Community and its implication to the post-2015 education agenda in the region.

The three-day consultation and workshop reviewed the existing global and Asia-Pacific discourses on MDGs, EFA Goals and post-2015 education agenda especially that of UNESCO and other United Nations agencies. SEAMEO Member Countries presented country issues on education and identified gaps, priorities and replicable practices on education programme implementation. With these as backdrop, discussions focused on the outlook of education in Southeast Asia using the perspective of four “alternative futures” or scenarios according to the four generic futures of the Manoa School. Finally, short and long term recommendations on future of education in Southeast Asia were agreed upon; and regional mechanisms to pursue recommendations and roles of key stakeholders were proposed.

The consultation and workshop strategy and process was guided by experts, namely Professor James Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA; and Dr Kuniko Urashima, Deputy Director, S&T Foresight Center, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan. The experts were supported by the foresight study team of the SEAMEO Secretariat and some SEAMEO Centres.

A background document was also commissioned to provide context on the development and achievements in education globally and in Southeast Asia. The paper was developed for SEAMEO by Dr Sheldon Shaeffer, Consultant to SEAMEO and former Director of UNESCO Bangkok. The paper described the international processes underway to determine the post-2015 development agenda as well as key events in 2015 that have great significance to the nations of Southeast Asia including the possible endorsement of a new set of Education for All (EFA) targets at an international conference on education to be held in Korea in May 2015, and the likely universal endorsement by the United Nations General Assembly of a new set of International Development Goals in the form of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Inputs were also provided by various international organizations on major driving forces that are important to the development of education in Southeast Asia such as economy, environment and health, society and culture, and technology. Invited presenters were ASEAN Secretariat, UNESCO Bangkok, IPST Thailand, Chamber of Commerce of Chiang Mai Thailand, and SEAMEO Regional Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network.

Activities during the consultations include three workshops where four generic “alternative futures” were introduced to allow participants to experience and imagine options of what is ahead. Discussions focused on four futures or scenarios. With an awareness of four plausible futures and an expanded outlook brought about by the drivers of change as well as trends in education, participants agreed on short and long-term recommendations for the future of education in Southeast Asia. Mechanisms how to pursue the recommendation at regional level were also suggested, as well as possible roles of key stakeholders.


(From left) Professor James Dator, Director of the Hawaii Research Center for Future Studies, Department of Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa, USA introduces the perspectives of the four alternative futures.
Dr Kuniko Urashima, Deputy Director, S&T Foresight Center, National Institute of Science and Technology Policy (NISTEP), Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan shares the use of foresight in policy development in Japan.
Dr Sheldon Shaeffer, Consultant to SEAMEO and former Director of UNESCO Bangkok presents various ongoing international processes to determine the post-2015 development agenda.


Representatives from ASEAN Secretariat, IPST Thailand, UNESCO Bangkok, SEAMEO Regional Tropical Medicine and Public Health Network, and Chamber of Commerce of Chiang Mai Thailand share how economy, environment, health, society, culture and technology shape the trends and landscape of education
in Southeast Asia.

While there have been a number of efforts by international organizations such as UNESCO and UNICEF on post-2015 education agenda at the global and Asia- Pacific contexts, there has been no specific discussion convened yet with particular attention and focus to Southeast Asia, particularly in aligning education agenda in Southeast Asia to respond to the requirement and sustainability of the ASEAN Community. This SEAMEO study and consultation concentrates heavily on the implications of integration efforts to education in Southeast Asia as well as the various drivers of change in the region.

Three other activities are set in March, April and June 2014, respectively to further process and finalize the post-2015 recommendations for education in Southeast Asia which were generated in the January 2014 workshop. The result of the study and regional discussion will be presented to the Education Ministers of SEAMEO Member Countries in a special forum under the SEAMEO College. Subject to the agreement of the SEAMEO Education Ministers, the ministerial discussion on the post-2015 education agenda in Southeast Asia could further result in new regional agreements and standards, suggestions for innovative national policies and programmes, options for new social-institutional arrangements, schemes for market-oriented systems, linkages and approaches, and others.

A mix of participants including officials and representatives from SEAMEO Member Countries, international and Thailand-based non-governmental organizations, SEAMEO Centres, and students discuss on recommendations for future of education in Southeast Asia.

Full documentation of the consultation workshop is found on http://www.seameo.org/Post2015/.