Southeast Asia is a region covering 4.875.068 sq
km which consist of 3,209.506 sq km land and the rest, 1,665,562
sq km is water. It has ten member countries (Brunei Darussalam,
Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore,
Thailand, and Vietnam), with a combined total population of around
540 million. The number of population varies from the fourth world
populous country like Indonesia with 238 million people to the least
populace country like Brunei Darussalam (365,251, July 2004 est.).
They are different not only in terms of number of population but
also in terms of geography, culture, and level of socio-economic
development (The World Fact book, 2004)
Regardless all those differences, these ten countries
share a similar emphasis on human resource development as a key
in developing the whole nation to enter the knowledge-based economy
and global environment. It is realized that we are moving fast forward
the situation in which all nations operate in a global market environment.
No country can grow in isolation. We are facing unprecedented challenges,
brought by the convergent impacts of globalization, the increasing
importance of knowledge as a principal driver of growth and the
ICT revolution. Education, as a fundamental human right, is considered
very important and strategic for developing their human resources.
The right to education imposes an obligation upon countries to ensure
that all children and citizens have opportunities to meet their
basic learning needs. Promoting Quality and Equity Education is
a common policy for countries in Southeast Asia region regardless
their different levels of development.
In the Philippines, “the State shall protect
and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all
levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education available
to all” (Art. XIV, Sec. 1) (Ballestamon, 2000). To address
marked disparities in the provision of education in terms of access
and quality, the main trust of education sector in Myanmar is not
only quantitative expansion but qualitative improvement as well.
(Han Tin, 2000). Under its motto Building a Modern Development Nation
through Education, the vision of education in Myanmar is to create
an education system that will generate a learning society capable
of facing the challenges of the Knowledge Age. (Ministry of Education,
Malaysia belief that education plays a vital role
in achieving the country’s vision of attaining the status
of a fully developed nation in terms of economic development, social
justice and spiritual, moral and ethical strength, towards creating
a society that is united, democratic, liberal and dynamic. It is
the mission of education to develop a world class quality education
system which will realize the full potential of the individual and
fulfill the aspiration of the Malaysian nation. (Education Act 1996,
Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2001).
As the smallest country among the Southeast Asian
Countries in terms of population, Brunei Darussalam clearly sets
out its education policy aiming at quality education for all. One
of its primary aims is to provide a minimum of 12 years of education
for every Brunei a child, covering 7 years primary and pre-school,
3 years lower secondary school and 2 years on upper secondary or
in a vocational/technical college. (Hamid, 2000)
Similar policy can be found in Lao PDR where Ministry
of Education clearly set out their education development policy
on providing quality education for all (Mitaray, 2000).
In Indonesia the national education system is carried
out universally, open to every citizen, regardless of their geographic
location, race and ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background,
address the differing needs of people at various stages of societal
development (Purwadi and Muljoatmodjo, 2000).Target has been determined:
to increase the access of children to school in order to succeed
the nine-year compulsory basic education by 2008. Besides increasing
the access improving the quality of education is another priority
as two of the three major educational problems in Indonesian are
widespread inequitable access to education and low quality and relevance.
(Muhaimin, in Jalal and Musthafa, 2001).
Cambodia, in its education policy and strategic
framework 1995/2000 also put quality improvement and equitable access
as the main policy objectives (MOEYS, 2000); while Vietnam also
has a policy that social equity in education and training must be
ensured. Everyone should be given the same education opportunities.
The poor should be assisted and the talented should be facilitated.
(Kyeu and Chau, 2000). Study is both the right and obligation of
each citizen. All citizens, regardless of race, religion, belief,
sex, family background, social status and financial condition, are
equal in study opportunities. (Kieu, 2002)
Singapore, as the most developed country in the
region, has re-defined its mission and vision of education. Its
mission is to mould the future of the nation by molding the people
who will determine the future of the nation. Its vision is Thinking
Schools, Learning Nation (TSLN) as an overall descriptor of an education
system geared to meet the needs of the 21st century. (Ministry of
Among the nine strategies for implementing education
reform in Thailand two are related to the promotion of education
quality and expansion of lifelong educational opportunity. (SEAMEO
Secretariat, 2001). Quality improvement has become the ultimate
goal in the provision of education in Thailand in addition to maintenance
of equity and social justice. They believe that success in terms
of equity in education without quality will not enable the Thai
people to trive in a knowledge-based economy and society. (Office
of the Educational Council, 2004). The government therefore is committed
to provide equal access to lifelong education and training to all
Thai citizens to ensure that they will be equipped with necessary
basic life skills and be employed.
So, we can see that every country considers human
resource development as a key element in developing the whole nation
and education plays a pivotal role in developing their human resources.
It is not surprising that all governments commit themselves to provide
equal access to high quality education and learning to all their
children and people. However, opening access to quality education
and learning opportunity to all children and people is not always
easy as there are a number of constraints. The basic challenge is
how to meet these two conflicting requirements: on the one hand
the demand for rapid expansion of the scale of provision and on
the other hand the requirement to improve the quality of provision.
There is a tendency that quality is not adequately addressed (being
sacrificed) due to the fast expansion of learning opportunity
of Equity in Education
Inequalities in the region exist not only between
rural - urban areas and public – private education institutions
or among provinces within the countries. There are also genders
and socio-economic conditions that result to disparities in the
delivery of quality learning opportunities especially if we talk
about access to ICT.
In Indonesia, for example, educational disparities can be seen across
geographical areas, urban and rural, between western and eastern
part of Indonesia and among groups of people with varying income
and gender. (Muhaimin, 2001)
The rate of female enrolments into upper secondary
education schools in Vietnam, for example, is much lower than that
of male enrolments. Ethnic minority school girls are the most disadvantaged
in upper secondary education.
Only 4 % (37,689) out of the total number of disabled children are
in both special and integrated education. (Information Management
In Malaysia, gaps in achievement are a main focus
of programmes undertaken by the MOE. The programmes such as for
English, Science, Mathematics and ICT all emphasize the need to
bridge gaps between urban and rural children.
The following factors contribute to inequality of
education and learning opportunity:
Lack of available school building and classroom with all required
not apply to countries like Brunei and Singapore but most of the
countries in this region are still facing this problem.
Shortage of teachers, especially in remote areas; That is one
of the reason in countries like Thailand and Indonesia there are
multi grade teachers where one teacher teaches more than one grades
of primary school.
Uneven spread of population, which also creates serious disparities
in educational opportunity; especially in a big country like Indonesia.
provinces, 141 districts and around 12,000 villages and population
around 5.5 million people Lao PDR has serious disparities in educational
opportunity due to uneven spread of population and the inaccessible
nature of much of the country. About 4,000 villages lack of primary
Lack of good textbooks and other learning materials. Due to financial
and geographical reason this problem can easily be found in remote
are still many students living in remote areas where it is difficult
to reach them or ask them to go to the school due to lack of adequate
transportation system or schools. In some places, number of students
is so small so that it will be very expensive to build a school
building to serve their needs. On the other hand teacher: students
ratio usually bigger in urban areas in compare to the remote ones.
It is not unusual to see 60 or even more students in a class with
one teacher in some of the countries.
Student’s and parent’s low appreciation toward education.
see the benefit of going to or sending their children to school.
This is magnified by the fact that many school or even university
graduates cannot get any job and remain unemployed. In some countries
community belief, tradition and value limit girls’ opportunity
to go to school or continue their study to a higher level.
Level of socio-economic condition of the family.
one third of the population in Southeast Asia, at the average, lives
below the poverty line. Except Brunei and Singapore, where there
is no data available, all countries still have problem with poverty.
High percentage of people living below the poverty line can be found
in Lao PDR (40%), Philippines (40%), Vietnam (37%), Cambodia (36%),
Indonesia (27%), and Myanmar (25%). The rest of the countries have
smaller percentage: Thailand (10.4%) and Malaysia (8%) (The World
Fact book, 2004). For poor families education is not an urgent need.
Due to economic reason students have to work for helping their parents
or for their family and do not have time to attend the conventional
education and training system.
In the Philippines there is an increasing demand
for children to assist their parents in providing for the family’s
day-to-day needs. Access and equity for the poor become the major
issue in financing education in this country. The pressures of family
survival combined with the parent’s own attitude toward education
ultimately determine whether or not a child will be able to stay
in school despite the limited financial resources of family.( Ballestamon,
Lack of budget for building more schools, classrooms, learning
is always an issue in promoting education opportunity as we are
dealing with so big number of children and people in a wide geographic
area. Many governments have focused their efforts on the easy to
reach for social, economic or geographic reasons.
of Quality Education
To understand the issue of quality in education
it will be easier for us if we look at education as a system with
all its interdependent components: inputs, process, outputs and
feedback. Under the inputs we have students as raw inputs and curriculum,
learning materials, teachers, principals and other educational resource
persons, learning facilities and environment as instrumental inputs.
The second component, process, is where all inputs interact in the
process of teaching-learning to reach educational goals and objectives.
The third component, output, is the product of the interaction among
the inputs, which can be seen from the student’s improved
performances in terms of cognitive, affective, psychomotor domain.
Feedback mechanism is another important component of the education
system that will give us information on how the system succeeds
or fails in achieving goals and objectives.
Quality in education cannot be seen from the output
or student learning achievement only, but from other components
as well. If we follow the Dakar’s Framework of Action, then
the definition of quality is no longer focused only on teaching
learning and the classroom. A good quality education requires:
Healthy, well nourished and motivated students,
- Well motivated and professionally competent teacher,
- Active learning techniques,
- A relevant curriculum,
- Adequate, environmentally friendly and easily accessible facilities,
- Healthy, safe and protective learning environments,
- A clear definition and accurate assessment of learning outcomes,
including knowledge, skills, attitude and values,
- Participatory governance and management, and
- Respect for and engagement with local communities and cultures.
(World Education Forum Drafting Committee, 2000).
We cannot expect to have good quality education
if the students are not healthy, malnourished, going to school with
empty stomachs. Their basic need for food will decrease their attention
and motivation from learning. The significant number of people living
below the poverty line in the region needs real actions if we really
want to improve the quality of education.
The economic downturn since 1997 increased the number
of poor people. The World Bank has described the reversal in Indonesia’s
fortune as “the most dramatic economic collapse anywhere in
50 years”. The UNICEF report on” the State of The World’s
Children 2000” revealed that Indonesia is suffering the greatest
setbacks worse than any other country in East Asia. Even UNICEF
Indonesia and Malaysia representatives said that Indonesia faces
the threat of an entire generation lost, characterized by a large
number of unhealthy, malnourished and uneducated children, including
those who work on the streets (http:// www.lists.esential.org).
Teachers are essential players in promoting quality
education. Well trained, highly motivated, dedicated and professionally
competent teachers are very important. This is strongly related
to the financial reward they get from their profession as teachers.
What is important in improving the quality of education is not only
having enough number of teachers in school and class, but enough
number of good quality teachers which are highly motivated and dedicated
to their jobs. This region has a shortage of teachers both in number
and quality. In most of the countries, teaching is not an attractive
Cambodia has made significant progress in expanding access to primary
and secondary schooling in the past ten years. In contrast to access
gains, quality improvement has been broadly disappointing. In particular,
there appear to be serious urban-rural quality gaps. Roughly one-half
of primary school teachers have had little professional training;
only two-thirds have completed lower secondary schooling.
The teaching learning process should put the students
as subject not as an object. Students must be active in learning
and they should not only learn about subject matters but also to
learn how to learn. Teachers should play their new role in preparing
students for an emerging knowledge-based and technology-driven economy.
It is unrealistic to expect the low quality and less dedicated teachers
to perform this new role.
A relevant curriculum, which addresses the need
of students, community and work place, should be used in good quality
education. In most of the countries it is considered that curriculum
is overloaded and should be reformed. Mismatching between what students
learn at school and what the community or world of work demands
is also an issue to address. This is the irrelevant curriculum and
teaching learning process that contribute to the widening gap between
education institutions and world of work, and finally contributes
to increasing unemployment rate.
In majority of the countries we are still lacking
learning facilities such as textbooks, libraries, laboratory, and
other learning materials both in number and quality. In Vietnam,
for example, “most schools in the more developed rural areas
lack of the teaching equipment required by standardization of the
Ministry of Education and Training. Libraries remain poorly stocked
and out of date. Many schools are yet to get a science laboratory”
( Kieu, 2002). The same picture can also be found in countries like
Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and even Indonesia.
Not all schools and classrooms in our education
institutions are healthy and conducive enough to promote excellence
in learning. We need a better governance of education systems that
is efficient, accountable, transparent and flexible so that they
can respond more effectively to the diverse and continually changing
needs of learners and community.
the Problem of Equity
To improve equity
in education the following measures have been undertaken by countries
in the region:
Set up an education law or act, stipulating 6, 9 to 12 years compulsory
education to be implemented at all primary and secondary school
through out the country.
National Education Policy provides continuous education for all
children for a period of 12 years. Starting 2003, Thailand is expanding
the 9 years to 12 years compulsory education, while other countries
such as Indonesia and Philippines still maintain 9 years compulsory
education. This policy is important as the legal basis for any effort
in promoting education equity and quality.
Building more school buildings and classrooms to accommodate more
students and reconstruct or rehabilitate existing schools.
Train and appoint more teachers especially to remote places.
In some countries
a special incentive is given to teachers who are willing to be appointed
in remote areas. Brunei, for example, is improving the quality of
their teaching staff through better in-service and pre-service training
and the intake of better qualified candidates in the teaching profession;
upgrade and expand existing education facilities; to improve the
administration and management of the education system, particularly
in schools; and to upgrade the status of teaching profession by
making classroom teaching an attractive profession comparable to
other professional career paths in the public service.
Publish more textbooks and learning materials for distribution
make it easily accessible for the students to learn.
Develop and implement alternative education programmes such as
small schools, multigrade teaching classroom, and satellite schools
for children leaving in remote areas; special education for children
with physic and mental disability.
Increase community and private sector participation in providing
and Cambodia, where education is mostly provided by the Government,
almost all countries in the region encourage private sector participation
in education. In Indonesia, private institutions have been contributing
significantly to the provision of education. The higher the level
of education, the higher the level of involvement of the community
and private sector in providing education opportunity. Malaysia
is now moving towards a more equitable share of financing education
between the government and the private sector, while Thailand and
the Philippines are strengthening active partnership between government
and the private sector to sustain the process of human resource
Social mobilization to create awareness among the people regarding
the importance of schooling and education by using mass communication
and publicity media such as radio, short films, posters, billboards,
radio and TV spots.
Provide assistance to disadvantage children such as stipend programme,
school feeding and lunch programme, and mobilize resources of
the community to support children’s needs such as school
uniform, textbooks and stationary.
since 1980, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn initiated
Agriculture for School Lunch Project to increase food production
in order to improve the quality and frequency of school lunches.
This is important not only to lower dropout rates but also for combating
malnutrition among school children and thus facilitate their learning.
This project has served 48,176 children attending 478 schools in
41 out of 76 provinces in Thailand. (Office of HRH Princess Maha
Chakri Sirindhorn’s Projects, 2000).
A similar project
has also been started in Indonesia for socio economically disadvantaged
school children. Scholarship was also given to students at the higher
education level. High school students with exemplary record were
given scholarships and exempted from university entrance test. Scholars,
mostly those coming from the provinces and remote areas were also
offered dormitories free of charge. At the primary and secondary
levels, there are also initiatives on providing dormitory for poor
students who are living far from the schools.
Develop and implement open education and learning systems.
at the basic and secondary schools Indonesia has expanded education
opportunities for school age children who can not learn via the
conventional system due to geographic, socio-economic, and cultural
reason by managing the Open Junior Secondary School. Started with
5 locations in 5 provinces, this open school has been expanded to
all over the country. In the middle of 90s, there were 4,483 open
schools in 26 provinces (Sadiman, et all, 1996, Rahardjo, 2001).
In the Philippines, the Bureau of Secondary Education will undertake
the Distance Learning Program (Open High School) specifically to
address accessibility concerns at the secondary level. (For above
the school age children the government also conducted Package A
Programme (equivalent to primary school) and Package B (equivalent
to secondary school).
access at the higher education level a number of countries in the
region is conducting open universities, such as Sukhothai Thamathirat
Open University (STOU, Thailand), Open Learning University (Indonesia),
University of Philippines Open University (Philippines), University
of Distance Education (Myanmar), Hanoi Open University (Vietnam),
Open University Malaysia and University of Tun Abdul Razak (Malaysia).
Distance or open learning has not been formalized as an official
mode of acquiring knowledge in Brunei Darussalam.
This open learning
system is not only for primary, secondary and university levels,
but also for teacher training programmes. Indonesia has been using
radio broadcast for primary school teachers upgrading programme
since the 1970s. With the new requirements for being primary and
secondary school teachers, more than a million teachers have to
be trained. The conventional approach is not feasible to solve persistent
and prevalent issues such as geographic location, limited time,
lack of budget, big number of teacher and insufficient learning
facilities. Thus, open learning; using radio and TV become a good
very aggressive in using radio and TV. They started using TV broadcast
for education in 1964 and radio for distance education programmes
from primary to pre-university level in 1978. Under the Satellite
Distance Education Project which started in 1994 Thailand uses satellite
television broadcasts to provide an open access and equal education
opportunity to all target groups, consisting of formal students,
non formal students and the general public through seven TV channels
broadcasting education and instructional programmes every day. (Non-formal
Education Department, 1998).
Provide free education to all students.
Brunei Darussalam is free of charge for all citizens from the age
of 5 years to the university level. In other countries, under the
nine years compulsory education policy, education is also provided
to all the school age children free of charge.
the Problem of Quality
of education is really one of the big challenges faced by countries
in Southeast Asia. Several measures have been undertaken such as
Train teachers, school principals and other educational personal
and upgrade their professional competency.
are not only knowledgeable and innovative, but highly disciplined,
strongly motivated and dedicated. Competency-based approach has
been used to meet this goal. To ensure quality, the status of teaching
profession is being upgraded by making classroom teaching an attractive
profession comparable to other professional career paths by improving
teachers’ welfare. Incentive and facilities were introduced
such as providing opportunities for further studies, presenting
appropriate awards for dedicated teachers, determining appropriate
allowances for teachers teaching critical subjects and those teaching
in remote areas, etc. to make the teaching profession more attractive.
plans are under way to attract the best people to teaching by providing
housing facility, car loans at low interest rates and scholarship
to further studies at the masters and PhD level.
targets are to improve achievement among children. Apart from overall
achievement, emphasis is placed on science, mathematics, English
and in bridging the digital divide with the introduction of ICT
year Malaysian government start implementing a new policy in education;
teaching science and mathematic using English as medium of instruction.
The challenge is they do not have enough capable teachers doing
that job. Training (both pre and in-service training) has been done
but it seems it will take times to have all science and math teachers
capable in teaching those subjects using English.
To ensure that a competent teaching force is maintained to deliver
quality education, Singapore MOE has introduced programmes that
focus on talent management, leadership selection and review of teachers’
workload. Various initiatives, from faster promotion prospects to
awards, have been introduced, to acknowledge the role teachers play,
and raise the standing and morale of the profession.
Revise curriculum and make it more relevant and appropriate.
Effort is also
undertaken to match the skills provided in education and training
with the skills required by the industry and world of work and to
improve the image of technical education by integrating vocational
and technical education with general education.
Singapore, for example, has been imparting values and skills through
a forward-looking curriculum. MOE has been reviewing and introducing
changes to the curriculum, assessment modes and teaching methodologies
in order to impart core skills, values and attitudes to our students.
Some of these changes include reduction of the syllabus content,
infusion of IT and thinking skills through the launch of the IT
Master Plan in Education in 1997, as well as introducing project
work to help the different disciplines.
its Decade for Quality and Equity in Education during 2002-2011
has developed a core curriculum for basic education aimed at preserving
Thai identity and providing international contents to enable learners
to keep up with updated information. It is flexible enough to facilitate
the community to make adjustments in response to local demands.
to equip all school leavers with an employable skill with which
to secure employment in the job market, and for those who choose
to be self-employed, they are taught the rudiments of entrepreneurship
and the setting up of a small business in the field that they have
As the smallest
country in terms of population, Brunei has the highest unemployment
rate (10%,est.2001). (World Fact Book, 2004). For that reason the
MOE Brunei is trying to reduce unemployment by matching the skills
provided in education and training with the skills required by the
industry and world of work. The Ministry is also making efforts
to improve the image of technical education by integrating vocational
and technical education with general education.
MONE is providing pre-vocational skills especially to the poor students
who are enrolled in open junior secondary schools as part of life
skills programs. In 2002 there are 1,000 out of 3,121 open junior
secondary schools covered by the program.
its curriculum, Thailand allows for contribution/participation of
stakeholders, to meet new challenges and demands of difference groups
of learners with an emphasis on mathematics, science, and technology
in parallel with the promotion of pride in national identity and
Increase the availability, accessibility and quality of textbooks
and other learning materials.
it Education Reform policy requires the students to use various
learning sources besides their textbooks. Electronic sources are
encouraged to expand a knowledge base of both learners and teachers.
Indonesia, in order to bridge urban-rural gaps is procuring textbooks
prioritized to the remote areas. Currently, the ratio of textbooks
to students is still 1:3, while the ideal one is 1:1.
The other countries are also trying to provide the learners with
good quality, enough in quantity and easily accessible learning
Improve teaching-learning process, shift it from a conventional
to a leaner-centered approach with an emphasis on self- learning
to promote lifelong learning and relevant to real situations
and their daily life.
seeks to identify, as early as possible, the talents and abilities
of students and develop educational programmes to cater to their
different needs, abilities, aptitudes and learning modalities. There
is a need to structure different educational routes for children
of different ability groups and move towards a model of mass customisation
in the provision of education.
Provide the schools and learning institutions with more and better
Singapore is the most developed economically country in the region
but attention is still being paid to school infrastructure, including
the building of new schools, making all secondary schools go single-session
and reviewing school designs for flexibility and expandability.
Use ICT both for teaching – learning and management purposes.
have been trying to integrate the use of technology, especially
ICT to improve the quality of their education.
been using radio and television broadcasting intensively to provide
good quality education to all formal as well non-formal students.
Indonesia trains hundred thousands of primary school teachers using
the same media. New policy on ICT has been set up and action plans
has been developed by the countries. E-education/virtual education/on-line
education become a common trend we can find in most of the countries.
The MOE Malaysia
considers ICT as a means, not an end in itself. All departments
in the MOE are actively engaged in the implementation of the ICT
in education policy. (UNESCO Bangkok, 2003). Malaysia has launched
their SMRT School project as one of the seven flagship applications
of the Multimedia Super Corridor to systematically reform the Malaysian
school system and transforming a culture of memory based examination
oriented learning to a thinking creative and problem solving culture.
(Ministry of Education, 2001)
with its ICT Plan for Basic Education focuses on seven key areas
:infrastructure development, technical support, teacher training
on the design, production and use of ICT-based instructional materials,
research and development, technology integration in the curriculum,
use of innovative technologies in education and training, and fund
generation. (UNESCO, 2003)
Apply school-based quality improvement by combining school-level
autonomy with accountability.
empowers the schools by promoting participative decision-making
and flexibility in allocating school resources. At the higher education
level, more autonomy has been given to universities and colleges.
play a vital role in developing children in all aspects of skills,
school reform is a fundamental element of quality improvement. With
this justification, Thailand has introduced the concept of school-based
management to schools as part of school reform aiming to improve
quality in education. Local schools are able to independently administer
their schools to assure close participation of local community.
Administrators will be trained to keep pace with new administration
techniques related to effective school management. (Office of the
Educational Commission, 2003)
Introduce bilingual system of education to enable students achieves
high degree of proficiency in national and international languages.
Brunei and Malaysia
believe that proficiency in English will allow students easier access
to information on development of science and technology, and as
a result, take advantage of more opportunities to compete in an
increasingly globalize world. Cambodia introduces foreign language
teaching (French and English) in grades 5 and 6.
A good reading habit is a prerequisite for better learning.
like Brunei, Thailand and Indonesia are promoting book and reading
among the school children, youth and the community in general.
Strengthen partnership with foreign educational institutions through
twinning programme, credit transfers, validation and accreditation,
distance learning and Open University programmes.
to open up foreign education to Malaysians, the Education Ministry
approved the 3+0 foreign degree programmes. Students are able to
obtain foreign degree locally. The presence of offshore campuses
will provide the impetus to higher education institutions to improve
their quality and standard of education.
with foreign partners in education is also encouraged in Vietnam,
Thailand and Indonesia.
Strengthen partnership with community, private and business sectors.
This will help minimizing the gap between education and the world
like in other countries, recognizes the importance of involving
schools, parents, community and industries as partners in education.
Efforts have been made to involve the various stakeholders at the
Ministry and school levels.
Giving more autonomy to education institutions/schools to manage
their education process. Decentralization becomes a common agenda
of education reform in most of the countries in the region.
Lao PDR, for
example, is improving the management of non-formal education programs
through increased decentralization of management and activities,
with improved training of trainers. (Mitaray, 2000).
more autonomy to the school to improve quality of education by assuring
the implementation of school-based management program.
It is really
a challenge for the country moving education environment from centralized
to decentralized system. The consequences, among others, are as
follows. Since they have more autonomy, some local governments at
district level are trying to develop their own education systems,
which sometimes are not congruent with the national system. The
new bureaucracy system at the district level, which requires appropriate
adjustment, has caused a time constraint in implementing quality
and equity improvement programmes. In addition, some districts with
low income have some reasonable difficulties in developing their
education program. Therefore, they are still highly dependent on
the budget allocated by the central government. (SEAMEO Secretariat,
decentralize authority to local communities for self-reliance and
self-determination of local affairs, while Vietnam renovate strongly
state governance over education by decentralizing dramatically educational
management and bring into full play the initiative and self-responsibility
of educational institutions. For this purpose, a project of decentralization
in education is being implemented.
Role in Promoting Quality and Equity
What role SEAMEO
plays in helping the member countries dealing with these challenges?
As the only and oldest regional organization of Ministers of Education’s
in Southeast Asia, SEAMEO commits itself to help member countries
in promoting quality and equity in education. This commitment is
reflected clearly as one of the seven SEAMEO programme priorities,
at least for the next five years : expanding access to quality education
at all levels and streams (SEAMEO Secretariat, 2001). This is done
through its main activities : training and workshop, seminar/conference/symposium,
research and development, consultancy, and information sharing.
Since its establishment
in 1965, through its 15 regional centres, SEAMEO provide various
training programmes, both short term and long term, degree and non
degree ones. The trainings covers area such as science and mathematic,
vocational and technical education, education innovation and technology,
ICT, language, higher education and development, history and tradition,
education management, preventive health education, open learning
methodology. Most of the training target beneficiaries are teachers,
instructors, lecturers, principals, and other educational personals.
in Penang, Malaysia, provide trainings for teachers and school principals
in how to teach better science and mathematic; SEAMEO RELC in Singapore
in teaching English and other languages, SEAMEO INNOTECH in the
Philippines using new and innovative approach in teaching–learning,
SEAMEO TROPMED in Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines
dealing with preventive health measures to make the learning environment
and children healthier.
In higher education
level SEAMEO RIHED in Bangkok does the training, research and development
dealing with higher education development. SEAMEO SEAMOLEC (Indonesia)
promotes the use of open and distance learning approach in expanding
learning opportunities, as well as the use of technology for supporting
in Brunei Darussalam provides training for teachers and other educators
in vocational and technical education while SEAMEO SEARCA (Philippines)
trains university and higher education people in sustainable agriculture.
In education management we have SEAMEO RETRAC (Vietnam) while improving
teaching history and culture preservation and development are done
by SEAMEO CHAT (Myanmar) and SEAMEO SPAFA (Thailand).
The 37th South
East Asia Ministry of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Council Conference
in Chiang Mai, Thailand on 11 March 2002 adopted the Declaration
on Quality and Equity in Education in Southeast Asia. All SEAMEO
member countries committed to enhancing education quality and equity
in their respective countries.
As the follow up of the conference, the Special High Official Meeting
(SHOM) was held in Pattaya, Thailand on 29-31 May 2002 to discuss
what to be done by each SEAMEO member country. The meeting agreed
on the following issues: 1) to strengthen the program responding
equity and quality in education, 2) to form the task force consists
of one representative from each member country, and 3) to provide
school targets in each member country through the coalition of the
schools, that is the Regional Coalition of Schools on Quality and
Equity (RCS-QE). The targeted schools are included in a pilot project
on quality and equity for two years (i.e. 2002 and 2003).
A regional Coalition
of Schools on Quality and Equity has been set up and the number
of schools is growing as the countries see the important of this
ICT is very
important for improving the quality of as well as expanding access
to education. Research findings around the world shows that appropriate
use of ICT will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of teaching
learning process. SEAMEO is also promoting the use of ICT in the
member countries. Just to mention some of the programmes, the development
of model for the use of ICT for pre-service and in-service teacher
training on science, mathematic and language; development of e-learning
and virtual library; SEAMEO Sister School Internet Project, The
Use of ICT for HIV/AIDS Preventive Health Education at the Cross
Border Areas in GMS , Virtual Forum for Language Teachers etc.
as a centre for Education Innovation and Technology, has conducted
the following ICT based programmes: Utilizing Leading-Edge Technologies
for Quality Education, Technology Tools for Producing Instructional
Materials, Special Course on Using Computers in the Teaching-Learning
Process, Technology Applications in Education: Teachers and Teacher
Trainers, The Principal as CEO and Technology Leader. Similar training
on ICT was also done by SEAMEO SEAMOLEC such as Development of Web-based
course using WebCT, Utilization of Internet for instruction, and
Development of interactive multimedia for CD ROM and online access.
Since its establishment
in 1965, SEAMEO has done a lot in helping the member countries in
improving their human resources through education and training but
the demand keep increasing as our environment keep changing. The
challenges are still there for this organization to help the member
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