Taking Learning to the Next Level in Asia-Pacific
For immediate release
Taking Learning to the Next Level in Asia-Pacific: Expert Meetings Highlight Need for Rethink on Education Policy
Bangkok, 18 October 2013 – Education systems in the
Asia-Pacific region must look beyond schooling to promote
learning that responds to the demands of a changing world,
while also opening up to cross-country collaboration as the
world moves toward regional and global integration.
This is one of the key messages from two conferences attended by a host of education experts, researchers that are running concurrently under the auspices of UNESCO Bangkok.
The Regional High-Level Expert [HLE] Meeting “Beyond 2015: Transforming Teaching and Learning in the Asia-Pacific” and the annual meeting of the Education Research Institutes Network (ERI-Net), are being held at the Bangkok Marriot Hotel Sukhumvit, Thailand from 16-18 October and 17-19 October respectively.
Both meetings stressed the need for countries in the region to think beyond their borders when it comes to education policy. The ASEAN Economic Community in 2015, for example, will bring issues such as free flow of labour and student mobility to the fore, requiring an approach beyond national boundaries.
UNESCO Bangkok Director Dr Gwang-Jo Kim stressed the need for such cross country collaboration during his welcoming remarks at the HLE Meeting, which gathered regional experts, researchers, policy makers and practicioners to share innovative practices in teaching and learning as well as to discuss education beyond 2015.
“The region faces transnational challenges, which require transnational solutions,” Dr Kim said. “As countries become increasingly interconnected, the solutions must begin with providing good education through close collaboration across countries.”
Both meetings also emphasized the need for a rethink on the goals of education systems within the countries themselves. While access to education throughout the region has improved significantly in recent years, concerns remain over quality, especially quality of learning.
Researchers and experts at the meetings agreed on the need to shift away from education systems where high scores on examinations are the lone goal to those that value non-cognitive or transversal skills which are often not subject to such tests.
As Mr Kim said at the HLE Meeting: “There is increasing recognition of the role of education for the development of non-cognitive skills [or transversal skills] to cope with multi-faceted transnational challenges.”
Speaking on the opening day of the ERI-Net meeting, Shigeharu Kato, Secretary General, Japanese National Commission for UNESCO, called for a “holistic approach to education reform, placing learning at the core of education policy debate.”
“Some people would argue that curriculum and teaching are being skewed towards the subjects and cognitive skills that are assessed in the exams, at the expense of other important, transversal skills which are seldom measured in our education systems,” Mr Kato said.
The ERI-Net meeting focused on both this need for more inclusive and holistic learning in education systems and also improving the transition from secondary to higher education.
The results of both meetings will inform both the development of the post 2015 agenda for education as well as form the basis of policy recommendations to education ministries and relevant throughout the region during this dynamic period in the region’s history.
UNESCO Bangkok will continue to spearhead such expert gatherings and encourage the sharing of research. By doing so the organization hopes to develop a solid platform through which the wealth of experiences of all countries in this extremely diverse region can be shared for mutual benefit.