SEA-PLM Highlights Equity Challenges in Technology Access in Southeast Asia

Tuesday, 02 July 2024 |

SEA-PLM Highlights Equity Challenges in Technology Access in Southeast Asia


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The SEA-PLM 2019 report reveals that on average, only 22% of grade 5 students in the region had access to a computer, and a significant portion of their teachers lacked confidence in using computers inside the classroom.

This highlights the disparity in both student’s access to technology and teachers’ qualifications and skills related to integrating technology into their instructional strategies. Many teachers reported a need for more ICT training to enhance their teaching techniques. These insights are drawn from the comprehensive data collected during the first cycle of the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM), a premier large-scale learning assessment and capacity building programme designed by and for Southeast Asian countries.

These challenges related to technology use and learning disparities highlighted by SEA-PLM 2019 underscore the urgent need to reassess and strengthen efforts to integrate technology and make basic education systems more equitable in the region. Significant investment in digital infrastructure is essential, but it must be accomplished by equitable access and distribution to ensure all students benefit. The primary focus should be on leveraging technology to advance foundational skills, and positively impacts students’ overall learning.

SEA-PLM continues to make a significant impact in supporting foundational learning in Southeast Asia. SEA-PLM provides comprehensive and reliable data on student performance in key areas such as reading, writing, math, and areas on global citizenship education, 21st century skills, and broader essential skills. This data helps Ministries of Education identify factors affecting learning, including evidence on how technology is used and integrated into classrooms. By fostering a data-driven approach to education, SEA-PLM empowers educators and policy makers to formulate evidence-based policies and programmes tailored to their specific educational contexts and conditions.

Findings on the use and experience of technology are just one of the many variables that SEA-PLM investigates to provide the most comprehensive analysis, sharpening insights into the use of evidence in shaping educational policy. In 2021, as an offshoot of the first round of SEA-PLM, the SEA-PLM Secretariat, in partnership with the SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO), launched a series of regional thematic studies building on the SEA-PLM 2019 latest evidence in basic education. The thematic studies delved into various thematic areas examining the relationships of key contextual variables with academic learning such as boys’ and girls’ learning disparities, characteristics of low reading performers, and the diversity of Southeast Asian teacher workforce.

Following the success of the SEA-PLM programme in 2019 and the lessons learned from the 2024 cycle, SEA-PLM intensifies its role in monitoring student learning outcomes. Recently, SEA-PLM just successfully conducted its first rounds of the administration of the 2024 Main Survey in Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Viet Nam. Involving more than 20,000 students and parents, along with over a thousand teachers from over 500 randomly selected schools, SEA-PLM continues to generate data and evidence in order to advance foundational learning in the region.

SEA-PLM has inspiring plans to improve equity and learning and to achieve the SDG 4 education agenda. By harnessing technology and fostering regional collaboration, SEA-PLM will carry on to generate learning data and evidence to formulate effective learning recovery strategies through valid and reliable measures, continue building knowledge sharing and peer-to-peer learning, and provide capacity building to increase technical competencies in using evidence to inform education policy and practice in region.