The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) hosted the 40th High Officials Meeting in Montienside Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand, from 28-30 November 2017. This event is held annually, bringing in education vice ministers, permanent secretaries, director generals and other high-level education officials of the SEAMEO Member Countries, to discuss any and all issues on education based on SEAMEO’s 7 Priority Areas: 1) Achieving Universal Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE); 2) Addressing barriers to inclusion; 3) Promoting Resiliency in the face of emergencies; 4) Promoting Technical and Vocational education and Training (TVET); 5) Revitalizing Teacher Education; 6) Promoting harmonization in Higher Education and Research; and 7) Adopting a 21st Century Curriculum.

In attendance were a total of 131 participants representing the 11 SEAMEO Member Countries, two Associate Members, four Affiliate Members, 24 SEAMEO Regional Centres/Network, Partners, and Observers.


Dr Sophon Napathorn, Vice Minister of Education from the Ministry of Education in Thailand, presided over the Opening Ceremony of the plenary session on 29 November 2017.

Before the formal meeting was called into order, the awarding ceremony for the SEAMEO-Japan Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Award 2017 took place. Mr Kazuaki Kawabata, Director of International Affairs of the Ministry of education, Culture and Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) gave the opening address to launch the award.

For this year’s SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award 2017, a total of 56 entries were submitted, with the them of “Improving Schools’ Health”. A total of 4 schools from different countries were awarded, with their coordinating teachers and delegates present as well for the Awarding Ceremony. Dr Sophon Napathorn, Vice Minister of Education from the Ministry of Education in Thailand, Mr Kazuaki Kawabata, Director of International Affairs of MEXT, and Dr Gatot Hari Priowirjanto, SEAMEO Director presented the awards for each school.

The first prize winner of the SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award 2017 is Ms Phang Oi Mei, principal of SJK(C) Woon Hwa, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The second winner is Mr Chit Tun, school headmaster of Basic Education High School No. 1 Dagon, Yagon, Myanmar. The third prize winners are Michelle Reyes Samia, Teacher II, EPP/TLE Coordinator, and Ms Soledad Samia Villanueva, Principal III, of Labuin Elementary School, Laguna, Philippines. A special award was given to Mr Bangun Naruttama, Director of Sekolah Alam Pacitan, East Java, Indonesia.

The High Officials Meeting is an annual event of SEAMEO that serves as form for discussion of priority issues on education in Southeast Asia. For the 40th High Officials Meeting, the meeting was presided over by the Chair, Dr Ir Suharti, MA, Head of Bureau for Planning and International Cooperation, Ministry of Education and Culture of Indonesia. The results from the discussions of the 40th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting will be submitted for approval to the SEAMEO Council, the highest governing body of SEAMEO, consisting of the Education Ministers of the 11 Member Countries of Southeast Asia.

After the main discussions, a simple surprise was brought out to celebrate SEAMEO’s 52nd Anniversary. Afterwards, the participants of the 40th High Officials Meeting discussed and agreed on the tentative dates for the 41st High Officials Meeting to be held from 28-30 November 2018.

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