Policy Roundtable: SEAMEO member countries and experts discuss SEA-PLM’s new evidence to support teachers to improve learning post-COVID-19 in Southeast Asia

Monday, 06 June 2022 |


On March 24, the SEA-PLM Secretariat convened a virtual roundtable to discuss existing challenges and gaps to inform policy discussions for effectively recruiting, training and managing teachers. The roundtable drew together 90 participants to discuss the findings of the new evidence SEA-PLM 2019 latest evidence in basic education: Supporting teachers to improve learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries, published by the SEA-PLM Secretariat. In his opening remarks, Mr Francisco Benavides, Regional Education Advisor, UNICEF EAPRO, spoke on the urgency and relevance of the webinar. He underscored teachers as "critical drivers to children's learning and are the basis of a better education system."

Mr Antoine Marivin, SEA-PLM Manager and Ms Jessica Bergmann, Education Researcher, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, presented the new SEA-PLM evidence. Mr Antoine highlighted the importance of the latest findings to "encourage countries to share successes, experiences and challenges to increase teachers' workforce capacity, support school reopening and building a resilient academic system." Ms Jessica Bergmann pointed out that "countries should create opportunities to build teachers' confidence and competency and invest in ICT support to strengthen resilience for unforeseen disruptions in education systems." She added that judiciously designed programmes would help teachers acquire core competencies and skills according to each country's context.

The new evidence is particularly relevant. As countries speed up learning recovery post-COVID-19, teachers' competency and supportive working environment are crucial to accelerating the learning recovery to advance learning for all students, especially the most marginalized. Dr Faryal Khan, Programme Specialist for Education, UNESCO, commented on the report's significance following the COVID-19 crisis, which compromised children's learning. She also stressed how the "SEA-PLM programme's research and evidence are critical to advancing transformative education and has implications for informing UNESCO's policy and practices to support teachers."

Dr Tara Béteille, Senior Economist East Asia Pacific region, World Bank, asserted that the report with robust evidence "forms a solid basis for approaching governments" and decision-makers. This is evident in participating countries such as Cambodia. Findings and recommendations from the SEA-PLM 2019 study have influenced educational policy reforms, and reforms are in the pipeline to improve pre-service education of teachers, ICT support and preparing teachers' data management systems.

The webinar also brought in expert commentaries from Dr Miyoung Hong, Vice President, Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE). Dr Miyoung Hong shared efficacious practices and examples in Korea that can be tailored to the needs of each country, such as Korea's process-oriented evaluation, to apply revised curriculum successfully.

Following the presentation from key experts, SEAMEO member countries presented different perspectives and approaches to the table. They shared their experiences and reflection on the study, existing policies and challenges in supporting teachers to improve learning in their respective countries.

Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat, ended the roundtable on a hopeful note. "Listening to extraordinary thought leaders of the region, the recommendations and analysis made during this policy roundtable will be considered, and satisfactory progress can be expected," said Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela in her closing remark.

The virtual roundtable was part of the policy dialogue series organized by the SEA-PLM Secretariat, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat and UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and Pacific (EAPRO). It explores compelling new evidence based on the results and data of the SEA-PLM 2019 report. Through such policy discussions, the SEA-PLM programme aims to establish a policy community in the region where partners, experts and countries can come together and exchange robust dialogue to advance children's learning, especially learning recovery post-COVID 19.