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Education gets a boost with the 6th East Asia Summit Education Ministers meet

On October 14, 2022, the Education Ministers meet of the East Asia Summit (EAS) was convened at Hanoi by Vietnam. Sixth of its kind, the meeting was presided over by Vietnamese Education Minister H.E Nguyen Kim Son and resulted in important takeaways.
The joint statement issued after the meeting pointed at the appreciation of the substantive progress and contribution of the EAS countries in the implementation of the priority areas of cooperation under education as mentioned in the Manila Plan of Action which calls for increasing communication and dialogue in educational policies through the EAS Education Ministers’ Meeting and other mechanisms and also to promote educational exchange programs. However, the ministers expressed worries over the “profound impacts” of the pandemic on respective national education systems.

Reflecting on the commitments made at ASEAN Comprehensive Recovery Framework, the EAS participants reiterated to prioritize the “digital transformation of education systems by fostering digital skills and literacy, and 21st Century skills and competencies among all children and young people, and by promoting ICT-enabled teaching and learning.” The EAS participants also committed to advancing regional cooperation and sharing best practices.

Speaking about sustainable development goal 4 i.e., inclusive and equitable quality education for all, the ministers reaffirmed their commitment to Global Citizenship Education and appreciated South Korea’s efforts in the EAS region through student and teacher mobility programs for vocational education institutes.

The Education ministers also recognized the UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education and the UN Transforming Education Summit and mentioned, “the need to transform education across all levels to address the global crisis in education, particularly, in terms of equity and inclusion, quality and relevance in the 4th Industrial Revolution, the changing world of work, and in the post-pandemic environment” which was the objective of both events.

The statement thanked countries such as Australia, New Zealand, India, the USA, China, South Korea, et cetera for their excellent cooperation and for facilitating education goals. Speaking about India, the statement read, “We are pleased to note that the ASEAN-India Network of Universities Faculty Exchange Programme was launched at the ASEAN Secretariat on 29 August 2022 and look forward to its on-going implementation.” The ASEAN-India Network of Universities was inaugurated on 29 August 2022 in Jakarta and aims to twin universities in India and ASEAN under common areas of interest through the exchange of faculty members.

From the Indian side, Ms. Neeta Prasad, Joint Secretary (International Cooperation) of the Indian Ministry of Education, virtually addressed the meeting. She mentioned that various Indian programmes that have been initiated for changing the education landscape in the country including the National Education Policy (NEP) which was announced in 2020 under PM Narendra Modi, and India’s vast cooperation with the East Asian Summit countries.

She elaborated on the NEP 2020 which encourages “holistic, flexible & multidisciplinary approach to education” and is based on the “foundational pillars of access, gender equality, quality, affordability and accountability.” In addition, the Joint Secretary also mentioned about the “PM SHRI” scheme where more than 14,500 schools will be re-developed across India with NEP components in place. The Indian delegate also mentioned a host of virtual learning and digital resource platforms that have been put into place to facilitate education.

The East Asia Summit which was originally based on the ASEAN plus six mechanism involves 18 countries today including the ten countries of the ASEAN who remain the driving force behind the grouping, and non-ASEAN members like India, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, China, South Korea, United States and Russia. The next EAS Education ministers meeting will be hosted by Thailand in 2024.

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