ASEAN Regional Forum on the Future of Education

06 Jun 2023

JAKARTA/ONLINE, 24-26 May 2023 -  The ASEAN Regional Forum on the Future of Education was organised from 24 to 26 May 2023 and served as a platform for experts and leaders from the ASEAN region and beyond to explore innovative approaches for education. Organised under the ASCC Research and Development Programme with the support of the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund, the forum focused on fostering synergies among teachers, learners, and technology. It stressed the importance of capacitating and empowering the region's human resources to maintain competitiveness in the global market and effectively navigate 21st-century challenges.

In his opening remarks, H.E. Ekkaphab Phanthavong, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, highlighted the urgent need for innovation in education and the importance of equipping ASEAN youth with essential skills to thrive in a rapidly evolving world. Furthermore, H.E. Kwon Hee-Seog, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to ASEAN, shed light on the efforts of the Republic of Korea to drive education transformation in the face of digital advancements.

The forum examined the digital transformation of education, highlighting the experiences and initiatives of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, and the Lao PDR. These countries emphasised the importance of ensuring quality and inclusive education, promoting digital citizenship, addressing cybersecurity concerns, and establishing effective governance and monitoring mechanisms to keep pace with the rapid technological changes in the region. Another crucial area of focus was the promotion of green education with Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam sharing concrete steps taken to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through climate-change education. The Sufficiency Economy philosophy, embraced by the Thai society, was highlighted as a strategic approach to advancing sustainability in education. To bridge the digital divide and promote inclusivity for disadvantaged learners, the Philippines presented its flagship agenda, MATATAG, which aims to tackle these challenges head-on. The forum also emphasised the importance of international collaboration and coordination with the ASEAN Working Group on Environmental Education as a key strategy to realise digital education innovation and reform.

The second day of the forum centred on teacher development and the transformative impact of technological advancements on the education landscape. Academics from Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, China, and South Korea emphasised learner-centred teaching strategies, immersive learning environments, and cultural values that encourage teacher resourcefulness and creativity. The Internationalisation of teacher education and training, including teacher mobility and exchange programs, was discussed as a means to enhance teacher competencies and promote multicultural understanding. The experts also examined the rapid growth of online learning and the emergence of technologies such as artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality. They highlighted the need for comprehensive trainings for teachers and students to effectively utilise these technologies, revisit institutional policies, and consider ethical and legal implications.

The closing day of the forum reiterated the critical role of digital skills, lifelong learning, and inclusive education in building equitable societies. The Minister of Education Malaysia, H.E. Ms. Fadhlina Sidek, underscored the importance of addressing the educational needs of marginalised individuals and advancing global citizenship education. Experts from international organisations and think tanks highlighted the significance of accessible education and inclusive practices, emphasising the importance of developing transferable skills among learners. They advocated for a multiple pathways approach to education and training, recognising that skills development can occur at different times, in various settings and contexts, and through diverse providers. To enhance youth employability, they recommended a comprehensive review of Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) curricula and the implementation of flexible approaches and inter-agency cooperation to support student and labour mobility. Regional initiatives such as the EU-ASEAN SHARE program were advocated as a valuable means to strengthen regional cooperation and promote the internationalisation of educational institutions and students in ASEAN.

Dr. Ethel Agnes Valenzuela, Advisor of the Future of Education platform, provided a comprehensive summary of the three-day forum, highlighting key takeaways and urging support from the ASEAN Member States for crucial education reforms. She emphasised the importance of raising awareness for  green education, creating safe learning environments, and actively involving the youth in education policy development. The insights and recommendations from the three-day forum will contribute to shaping the region's education landscape through the Future of Education platform.

Relevant news is also featured in the ASEAN Secretariat webpage.