Regional Awards

The COVID pandemic had great impact on global society in many aspects till now, education is not the exception. Schools in many countries has been severely impacted such as the temporary closure of schools themselves. The nationwide closures are impacting over 60% of the world’s student population, interrupting the education of more than 1.5 billion young people. Two-thirds of an academic year has been lost on average worldwide due to full or partial closures. The longer schools stay closed, the higher risk of children and youth losing out on their future.

Schools have made efforts to secure educational opportunities for their students while carrying out COVID-19 countermeasures, and have been developing initiatives to prevent infections in schools and the spread of COVID-19 in the community. They have also been devising measures for dealing with complex social problems such as disparities and discrimination feared to arise through unexpected COVID-19 infections.

Moreover, schools have been required to conduct distance teaching with no time to prepare and often with limited guidance and resources.

To ensure quality education for all learners in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award timely selects the theme “Securing Educational Opportunities during COVID-19 Crisis”.


SAELA showcases and promotes the value of education, training and research and their roles in fostering stronger people-to-people and institutional links between Australia and SEAMEO Member Countries (MC).  It focuses on innovations in the field of education cooperation between Australia and Southeast Asia. The Award also acknowledges and rewards innovative projects or proposals demonstrating effective and inspiring efforts of individuals, groups, education institutions, or organizations to improve education cooperation and linkages across the SEAMEO region and between SEAMEO MC and Australia.  SAELA recognizes cross-border partnerships on education which promote inter-cultural understanding.  It will also support regionalization of education while promoting the importance of and respect for local wisdom.

Education link as suggested by the Award’s name includes existing initiatives in educational cooperation which have proven to be effective and beneficial to Southeast Asia and Australia.  It can also be proposals or innovative ideas which carry the potential in improving education in the region.  Projects and proposals may include event organizations, academic or student exchanges, an education or research development programmes, and other activities.  Proposals for scholarships and research in Australia are, however, not considered for the SAELA programme


As recognition for exemplary research by Southeast Asian nationals, the annual award was established in 1990 with the support of the Government of Canada. The 2018/2019 theme follows the priorities of both SEAMEO and the Canadian Government. SEAMEO Priority Area No. 2 aims to address barriers to inclusion and access to basic learning opportunities. Similarly, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy seeks to eradicate poverty and build a more peaceful, more inclusive and more prosperous world.