Shaping Policy Through Research

Tuesday, 14 May 2024 |

Shaping Policy Through Research

Did you know that about 3 out of 10 grade 5 students in Southeast Asia experience school bullying at least once a month?

Research presented by Mr Alejandro S Ibanez from the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) programme revealed a compelling link between students' mental health wellbeing and their learning outcomes.

This fascinating SEA-PLM research was just one of many eye-illuminating studies presented during the SEAMEO Centres Policy Research Network (CPRN) Summit in Brunei Darussalam on 23-25 April 2024, co-hosted by SEAMEO Secretariat and SEAMEO VOCTECH with support from the Ministry of Education of Brunei Darussalam and GIZ-RECOTwin. Using findings from their 2019 research, the SEA-PLM programme has positively informed the implementation review of the Anti-Bullying Act in the Philippines in 2023.

This situation perfectly shows how research can play a crucial role in shaping policy decisions across various sectors, including in education, science, and culture. Research should be the compass, guiding decision-makers towards more informed and effective policies. At SEAMEO, this principle is mainstreamed across our work in Southeast Asia championing research as a powerful tool to inform education policies in the region. We aim to empower SEAMEO Units to conduct effective research and strategically communicate research findings to policymakers and other target audiences.

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The SEAMEO CPRN Summit also brought together researchers and experts from the 26 SEAMEO Centres and Network and partners to discuss how to embrace inclusivity in education, science, and culture to prepare the region for a future-ready world and pitch the key recommendations to the relevant Ministries’ Representatives, including the Minister of Education of Brunei Darussalam Yang Berhormat Datin Seri Setia Dr Hjh Romaizah binti Haji Md Salleh.

In March this year, SEAMEO Secretariat also hosted a Research Policy and Publication Workshop in Thailand – supported by the UK-ASEAN SAGE programme and facilitated by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report – that brought together over 30 policy and research officers from all SEAMEO Units. This workshop focused on equipping participants with the skills to translate research findings into actionable policy recommendations.

Steps to Robust Research

The above two workshops are just one of numerous examples where SEAMEO has taken the lead in championing education research to drive policymaking in Southeast Asia. From our experience, the following key principles must be followed by researchers to ensure robust studies:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Before starting, define your research goals: what do you want to study, why is it important, and who will benefit? Use the SMART criteria (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to guide your objectives and questions.
  2. Design Your Research: Based on your goals, choose the right research methodology and procedures that fit your expertise. This ensures reliable and verifiable results.
  3. Ensure Quality Research: Employ methods like peer reviews, expert consultations, triangulation of findings, and validate the findings with the government about the final audience and group who will use your work.
  4. Translate Data into Policy Recommendations: Start by identifying your target audience, choosing the right format and design, and crafting clear messages for advocacy. Do remember when creating a policy recommendation based on your research evidence, it is necessary to use the evidence not just to support the validity of the recommendations but also to illustrate the urgency and critical nature of the policy changes being proposed. This approach ensures that recommendations are perceived not as mere opinions but as informed, research-backed solutions imperative for addressing specific problems.

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The SEAMEO CPRN Summit clearly demonstrated how these key steps can be translated into robust research and actionable policy solutions. During the Summit, speakers showcased research on diverse topics like inclusive TVET development, adult learning, and school-based food and nutrition programmes, highlighting key policy recommendations that can significantly benefit the region's population. This summit emphasised the power of connecting research directly to policymakers, ensuring research findings directly influence policy decisions for a more inclusive and equitable future.

By fostering robust research and its effective communication, SEAMEO is committed to shaping a brighter future for Southeast Asia through informed and inclusive policy making.

Find the full list of research presented during the SEAMEO CPRN Summit on the CPRN 2024 website here.