2021 SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award

Organisers   Supporting Partners


"The Government of Japan has contributed and supported the organisation of SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award through the collaboration of MEXT and SEAMEO since 2012".

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In 2002, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 57/254 and declared the period 2005-2014 as the “United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development” (DESD). 

In its declaration, the United Nations General Assembly defined ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) as a “learning process (or approach to teaching) based on the ideals and principles that underline sustainability and is concerned with all levels and types of learning to provide quality education and foster sustainable human development – learning to know, learning to be, learning to live together, learning to do and learning to transform oneself and society.”

At the end of the DESD in 2014, the UNESCO World Conference held in Japan announced the Global Action Programme (GAP) on ESD aimed at generating and scaling up ESD actions at all levels and in all areas of education, training and learning to accelerate progress towards sustainable development to the post-2015 agenda.

As the follow up to the GAP, ESD for 2030 was approved by the UNESCO General Conference at its 40th Session and acknowledged by the UN General Assembly at its 74th Session in 2019. Education for Sustainable Development: Towards achieving the SDGs (ESD for 2030) is the global framework for implementation of ESD from 2020-2030. ESD for 2030 builds upon the lessons learned from the Global Action Programme on ESD (GAP, 2015-2019), in response to the increased importance placed on ESD to promote the contribution of learning content to the survival and prosperity of humanity. ESD for 2030 places emphasis on education’s contribution to the achievement of the SDGs. It aims to review the purposes and values that underpin education and reorient all levels of education and learning to contribute to sustainable development and to strengthen education and learning in all activities that promote sustainable development.1

While ESD is implemented worldwide under the GAP, in support of further promoting ESD in Southeast Asia, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology, Japan (MEXT), in cooperation with the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education, have shown their collective commitment to promote best practices in ESD in schools across Southeast Asia, by organising the SEAMEO-Japan Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) Award.  The award scheme has been held annually since 2012.

The objectives of the SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award are: 

  1. To raise awareness of ESD in schools and communities across Southeast Asia;
  2. To promote ESD best practices in schools and communities across Southeast Asia; 
  3. To share and exchange knowledge and best practices on ESD in schools across Southeast Asia and Japan;
  4. To encourage networking among schools and communities which implement ESD practices in Southeast Asian countries and Japan; and        
  5. To support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) of United Nations.    


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*The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) consist of 17 integrated and interdependent global goals with associated 169 targets, which aim to shift the world on to a path towards sustainable and resilient development.

Since 2012, the Award has been conducted with the following themes and participated by the following number of schools in Southeast Asia.  

Year Theme Number of Participated Schools Participated Countries in Southeast Asia
2012 Education for Disaster Risk Reduction 69 7 Countries: 
Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
2013 Values Education 126 8 Countries: 
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
2014 Fostering Global Citizenship for Sustainable Future 63 9 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
2015 Safeguarding our Cultural Traditions 90 10 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
2016 Saving Energy 43 8 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. 
2017 Improving Health and Nutrition
56 8 Countries
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.
2018 Applying Local Wisdom for Environmental Conservation
94 7 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Thailand.
2019 Building Peace in Schools and Communities
79 9 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and Thailand.
2020 Addressing Plastic Problems for Transforming Communities
181 9 Countries:
Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, and Thailand.



Theme for 2021: “Securing Educational Opportunities in Covid-19 Crisis”

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 people2. 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 future3.

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 in Covid-19 Crisis”.

The objectives of this year’s award scheme are;

  1. To foster initiatives on creating educational opportunities in schools in Southeast Asia in cooperation with Japan;
  2. To encourage schools to maintain safe and accessible educational platforms in use of innovation;
  3. To build resilience into educational system with practical learning alternatives.

Under the theme of “Securing Educational Opportunities in Covid-19 Crisis”, the school entry may cover at least one or more than one of the following areas:

  1. Initiatives for public health education to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the school, community, and family.
  2. Initiatives for preventing the occurrence of mental health problems stemming from the prolonged lockdowns and anxiety about COVID-19.
  3. Initiatives for promoting a correct understanding of the coronavirus itself and infectious diseases.
  4. Initiatives for the effective utilization of Information Communication Technology (ICT) for classroom transformation and ICT contents for education during COVID-19 crisis.


2 https://en.ccunesco.ca/idealab/education-and-covid-19-challenges-and-opportunities
3 https://en.unesco.org/news/one-year-covid-19-education-disruption-where-do-we-stand

All schools in Southeast Asian countries are invited to enter the competition

All public and private kindergarten / elementary / secondary / vocational and technical (equivalent to Grade 12) schools in 11 Southeast Asian countries – namely Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Vietnam – are invited to submit information about programmes, projects and activities that are related to the theme of this year’s competition.


1) 1st Prize Winner
  • USD$1,500
  • A study tour to Japan
(The organizer will sponsor the travel expenses for four to six persons, which includes round-trip airfares, accommodation for three nights, domestic transportation in Japan, interpreter, and visa fees).
2)  2nd Prize Winner
  • USD$1,000
3)  3rd Prize Winner
  • USD$500
4) A Special Prize from the SEAMEO Secretariat for the best programme carried out in small schools of less than 250 students 
  • USD$1,000


All winning schools will receive a Plaque of Recognition and Certificate of Appreciation for teachers and students involved in planning and implementing the school’s initiative. 

A representative from the winning schools will be sponsored to participate at the award presentation ceremony which will be held at the SEAMEO High Officials Meeting in November 2021.   

All shortlisted schools will receive Certificate of Recognition for the school. The coordinators of shortlisted schools (Maximum of 2 persons) will receive the Certificate of Appreciation.    

All participating schools that have submitted entries relevant to the theme will be recognised (name, project name and country) on the SEAMEO website and receive the Certificate of Participation.     

Judging Criteria

The judging committee will consider the following criteria in selecting the winning schools:  

  1. Effectiveness of the School’s Initiative to Teachers, Students, Students’ Families, and Communities 
    • The school’s initiative has demonstrated the effectiveness that create positive impacts to the community, teachers, students, and families of students.

  2. Integration of Strategies/Modalities for Implementation 
    • Implementation of the school’s initiative is emphasized and incorporated into school policies, management plans, and teaching and learning strategies within the school.
    • The school has demonstrated clear effective strategies, and programme components/activities on how to implement the school’s initiative.   
    • Appropriate and effective methods and resources are used to implement the initiative. 
    • Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms or processes are identified to ensure the immediate and long-term outcomes. 

  3. Innovation and Creativity 
    • The school’s programme has demonstrated innovative practice in relation to the theme that can be replicated. 
    • The school has demonstrated innovative ideas for utilising available resources.  

  4. Teaching and Learning Approaches   
    • The school has demonstrated effective and innovative teaching and learning approaches that have been applied for securing educational opportunities for all learners. 

  5. Participatory Approach and Engagement of Community    
    • The school has demonstrated the use of participatory processes – involving teachers, parents, students, communities’ stakeholders and partners – in planning and implementing the initiative.
    • The school has engaged community-level partners such as community stakeholders, experts, local governors, practitioners and parents in the programme.  

  6. Sustainability 
    • The school has demonstrated a clear future plan on how to sustain or scale up the initiative.  

  7. Interrelationship with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
    • The school has demonstrated that the school’s programme has integrated the improvement of other SDGs, not the individual pursuit of each SDG, but has interrelation with other SDGs. Therefore, the school should make a clear statement in its application on how the school’s programme connects to other SDGs.

The Judging Committee

The Judging Committee consists of experts in the areas of education for sustainable development, and education from Japan and the Southeast Asian region. The decision of the Judging Committee is final and challenges/appeals are not allowed.

Guidelines for submission of entries

  1. Schools can submit information about the school’s initiative related to the theme “Securing Educational Opportunities in Covid-19 Crisis” from 16 June to 15 August 2021. 
  2. The deadline of entry submissions is 15 August 2021.     
  3. Each school can submit only one entry.
  4. Schools must submit the following requirements to the SEAMEO Secretariat:  
  5. Regarding the Submission Form, the information of school initiative (In Part II as below) should not be over five (5) pages of A4 in total. The information should be written in Times New Roman/Calibri font, font size 11.
    • Part I - Information about the school; 
      1. School name and contact details 
      2. Brief information about the school such as number of teachers and students and educational level 
      3. Contact details of the coordinator  
    • Part II - Information about the school’s programme; 
      1. Title of the school’s initiative 
      2. Summary of the initiative (a half page of A4 sheet size)   
      3. Objectives/goals of the school’s initiative 
      4. Period of time when the initiative has been started 
      5. Activities (strategies/activities of implementation, and brief information of each activity)     
      6. Teaching and learning approaches/strategies that the school has integrated for this school initiative
      7. Participation of community and parents in the school initiative     
      8. Monitoring and evaluation mechanisms 
      9. Effectiveness of the school initiative to learners, teachers, families, and community.
      10.  Plan for future
      11. Interrelationship of the school’s programme with other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
      12. Link(s) to the information of school’s initiative in social medias such as facebook, website, youtube  
  6. All submissions should include related photos. A maximum of five (5) photos with captions written in English can be attached in the Submission Form.
  7. All submissions can be attached with a maximum of three (3) supporting documents (Optional).  The teaching and learning materials can be in local languages, however a brief translation in English should be provided.     
  8. How to Submit the Entry: Schools can submit the completed "Submission Form of 2021 SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award" and a “video clip of 3-5 minutes” together with supporting documents/materials to the SEAMEO Secretariat’s email:  seameojapan.award@seameo.org

    Note: To align with the ESD practices and to save the environment and energy, the Committee will NOT accept the entry in hard/printed copies.  

  9. All entries submitted to the SEAMEO Secretariat will be acknowledged. If the school has not received any acknowledgement of the receipt from the SEAMEO Secretariat within one week after the submission, please contact the SEAMEO Secretariat (Email: seameojapan.award@seameo.org).


Important Dates


16 June – 15 August 2021 Period for submission of entries to the SEAMEO Secretariat by schools
15 August 2021 Deadline for entry submission
1 November 2021 Announcement of the winning schools on the SEAMEO website
29 November 2021 Awarding ceremony of winners at the 44th SEAMEO High Officials Meeting (Tentative)
TBC in 2022
(During cross boarder travel resumed)
Study visit programme in Japan for the 1st prize winner


Contact information


For enquiry, please contact: 
Ms Pitchayawadi 
Coordinator / Document Officer
SEAMEO-Japan ESD Award 
SEAMEO Secretariat
920 Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoey District,
Bangkok 10110, THAILAND
Email:  seameojapan.award@seameo.org  
Website: www.seameo.org Tel: +662 391 0144
Fax: +662 381 2587