The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Secretariat (SEAMEO Secretariat) is the executive arm of the Council.  One of its main functions is to execute the instructions and decisions of the Council as contained in the Council resolutions.   The SEAMEO Secretariat is located in Bangkok, Thailand. 

It is headed by a Director who is appointed by the Council and who is the chief administrative officer and legal representative of the Organization.  He is supported by a professional staff recruited from member countries, and a general service staff recruited from its host country, Thailand.

The term of service of directorship was three years up to 1998.  As a result of the Study of SEAMEO's Structure, Functions and Management System, approved by 32nd SEAMEO Council Conference,1997 and the Result of Consultation with Member Countries (MC-35/IC/WP/2); the post of Director is a minimum of three plus one years. However, the three plus one formula is not an automatic element to the appointment of the Secretariat Director.

The Director's term of office of four years, non-renewable was approved by the 46th SEAMEO Council Conference, 2011. The term of office of four years, non-renewable is applicable to Associate Professor Dr Witaya Jeradechakul.

The 46th SEAMEO Council Conference, In-Camera Session also approved the transition period of the SEAMEO Secretariat Director-Designate to be six weeks instead of three months before the end of the incumbent’s term. The new Director shall report to the SEAMEO Secretariat as Director Designate six weeks prior to the date of appointment for proper turning over of responsibilities, orientation on the job, and other relevant matters.

In practice, the post of the Director of SEAMEO Secretariat is rotated among Member Countries, but it is the Council who will make the final selection.   The rotation has been in the following order:  Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia, as shown in the table below. Singapore, which has been a member since the setting up of the Organization, and Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam nationals have not taken up the Director's post as yet.

The 46th SEAMEO Council Conference, 2011 approved the existing rotation pattern of Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia plus other SEAMEO Member Countries in alphabetical order: Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, Singapore, Timor-Leste and Vietnam. However, a Member Country may pass its turn.

SEAMEO Secretariat  Director Appointment Country

Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim

Appointment approved by the Council through referendum
(Ref: 12.104.1/09/23) dated 4 January 2023
1 April 2023 present Malaysia 
Director Designate 20 February 2023 31 March 2023

Dr Ethel Agnes P Valenzuela

Appointment approved by the Council through referendum
(Ref: 12.409.1/079/19) dated 29 January 2019

Opening Remarks and Presentations VDO
1 April 2019 31 March 2023 Philippines
Director Designate 15 February 2019 31 March 2019
Dr Gatot Hari Priowirjanto
Appointment approved by the Council through referendum
(Ref: 12.409.1/058/15) dated 20 January 2015
1 April 2015 31 March 2019 Indonesia 
Director Designate 16 February 2015 31 March 2015
Associate Professor Dr Witaya Jeradechakul
Appointment approved by the 45th SEAMEO Council Conference (IC), 2010 and four years; non-renewable approved by 46th SEAMEO Council Conference (IC), 2011.
1 April 2011 31 March 2015 Thailand 
Director Designate 4 January 2011 31 March 2011
Dato’ Dr Haji Ahamad bin Sipon
Appointment approved by the 42nd SEAMEO Council Conference (IC), 2007, Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia (Ref. KP(HA 008.3 Jld.2(44) dated 13 February 2007)
1 January 2008 31 December 2010 Malaysia
The 45th SEAMEO Council Conference 2010, In-Camera session approved the extension of Dato’ Dr Haji Ahamad bin Sipon's term of office for 3 months
1 January 2011 31 March 2011
Director Designate 1 October 2007 31 December 2007
Prof Dr Edilberto de Jesus
Appointment approved by the Council through referendum (Ref 12.408.1/1734/04 dated 11 October 2004)
1 January 2005 31 December 2007 Philippines
Director Designate 18 October 2004 31 December 2004
Dr Arief Sukadi Sadiman
Appointment by 36th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia, 2001
1 June 2001 31 May 2004 Indonesia
The 39th SEAMEO Council Conference 2004, In-camera session approved the extension of Dr Arief S Sadiman’s appointment as SEAMEO Secretariat Director up to 31 December 2004. (MC-39/IC/WP/5)
1 June 2004 31 December 2004
Director Designate 22 Mar 2001 31 May 2001
Dr.Suparak Racha-Intra
Appointment by 32nd SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Manila, Philippines, 1997
1 June 1997 31 May 2000 Thailand
The 35th SEAMEO Council Conference In-Camera Session took note of and confirmed the Result of the Consultation on the "three plus one year" term of incumbency of Dr Suparak Racha-Intra. (MC-35/IC/WP/2) 1 June 2000 31 May 2001
Director Designate 1 May 1997 31 May 1997
Dr Ashari bin Che Mat
Appointment by 29th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Jakarta, Indonesia, 1994 [Did not complete term because of his new appointment.]
29 August 1994 31 May 1997 Malaysia
Director Designate 1 August 1994 28 August 1994
Dr Ruben C Umaly
Appointment by 26th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Manila, Philippines, 1991.
29 August 1991 28 August 1994 Philippines
Director Designate 3 June 1991 28 August 1991
Professor Dr Jakub Isman*
Appointment by referendum to finish Professor Dr Ida Bagus Oka's term.
29 August 1988 28 August 1991 Indonesia
Appointment by 24th SEAMEC, Melaka, Malaysia, 1989 for three years starting 29 August 1988.
Professor Dr Ida Bagus Oka
Appointment by 21st SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Brunei Darussalam, 1986. [Did not complete term because of his appointment as Governor of Bali.]
8 February 1987 28 August 1988 Indonesia
Director Designate 8 November 1986 7 February 1987
Professor Dr Adul Wichiencharoen*
Reappointment by 18th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Penang, Malaysia, 1983 for a second term of three years.
8 February 1984 7 February 1987 Thailand
* The Council reaffirmed the principle of rotation which enable Indonesia to nominate the next SEAMES Director (MC-18/IC/1983).
Professor Dr Adul Wichiencharoen*
Agreement of the Council Members for the appointment of Dr Adul was made by referendum. (Ref RSD/80/23 dated 15 July 1980).
8 February 1981 7 February 1984 Thailand
* Following the withdrawal of the candidature of Mrs Tai Yu-lin of Singapore, the Council agreed that a suitable candidate from Thailand be nominated for the appointment of Director, SEAMES (MC-15/IC/1980).  Ministry of Education, Thailand officially nominated Professor Dr Adul Wichiencharoen for the appointment of SEAMES Director (Ref 0206/13303 dated 1 May 1980).
Director Designate 10 Nov 1980 7 February 1981
Mr Tan Seng Chye*
Appointment by 12th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Jakarta, Indonesia, 1977
8 February 1978 7 February 1981 Malaysia
* Only one nomination was received from Malaysia.  Both Singapore and Laos indicated that they would not make any nomination (Ref. 0035/1977 dated 12 January 1977).
Director Designate 7 November 1977 7 February 1978
Dr Vitaliano Bernardino*
Appointment by 9th SEAMEC (IC), Bangkok, 1974
8 February 1975 7 February 1978 Philippines
* Following the withdrawal of the candidature of Dr Pan Sothi of the Khmer Republic (MC-9/IC/1974). No nomination was received from Laos, Malaysia, Singapore and Viet Nam (Ref.2534/2516 dated 2 November 1973).
Director Designate 7 November 1974 7 February 1975
Dr Soedjono P Pusponegoro
Appointment by 6th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Saigon, Vietnam, 1971
8 February 1972 7 February 1975 Indonesia
Director Designate 7November 1971 7 February 1972
General Netr Khemayodhin
Appointment for another year by 6th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Saigon, Vietnam,1971
8 February 1971 7 February 1972 Thailand
General Netr Khemayodhin
Appointment by 5th SEAMEC (IC) Conference, Kuala Lumpur, 1970 to fill the remainder of the term of Professor Sukich Nimmanheminda.
20 January 1970 7 February 1971 Thailand
Dr Soemantri Hardjoprakoso
Acting Director&Assistant Director
17 March 1969 19 January 1970 Indonesia
Professor Sukich Nimmanheminda
Appointment by 3rd SEAMEC, Singapore 1968.

8 February 1968

16 March 1969 Thailand
Did not complete term because of his appointment as Minister of Education, Thailand
Director Designate 8 February 1968 7 May 1968
Dr Kaw Swasdi-Panich
Interim Director
Appointment mentioned in 2nd SEAMEC, Manila,1966.
December 1965 January 1968 Thailand

Note:    The above list reveals that there have been no directors from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Singapore, Timor Leste and Vietnam.