The Department of Education (DepEd) of the Philippines on Wednesday hosted the 15th Senior Officials’ Ministers Meeting on Education (SOM-ED) joined by education ministers of the ASEAN member states.
In the first-ever virtual meeting, senior officials of ASEAN member states came together and discussed recovery plans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Anchored on the theme, “Transforming Education the ASEAN Way: Forging Partnerships in the Age of Global Disruptions,” the education ministers shared their best practices to confront the challenges brought by the pandemic.
Hosted by the Philippines, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones delivered the welcome remarks where she underscored the importance of international cooperative solutions on education notwithstanding the presence of a pandemic.
“This year and perhaps in the next few years, we are faced right now and we’ll probably be facing these obstacles for some time, challenges which complicate the delivery of education to our various communities,” Briones said.
For this year, the proposal for the development of the ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2021-2025 is expected to be completed through succeeding technical workshops and consultative meetings.
Coordinated by the ASEAN University Network (AUN), SOM-ED administers cooperation on higher education and serves as an ASEAN mechanism to promote cooperation among scholars, academicians, and scientists in the region; develop academic and professional human resource in the region; promote information dissemination among the ASEAN academic community; and enhance the awareness of regional identity and the sense of ‘ASEANness’ among members.
ASEAN cooperation on education is handled at the ministerial level by an ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting – which meets annually – and the implementation of the programs and activities for education matters is carried out by the ASEAN SOM-ED, which reports to the ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting.
Apart from giving focus on the development of basic education, the progress on the Ad Hoc Working Group on ASEAN Higher Education Mobility to be hosted by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) will also be looked forward to during the forum.
During the APEC Conference on Cooperation in Higher Education in Asia-Pacific held recently, Briones also noted the challenge to develop general ability to learn knowledge and skill for solving real-world problems and challenges.
“We are all aware that most of us, if not all of us, have been moving into the direction of futures education even without COVID-19,” Briones said. “We really need digital cooperation strategy to ensure high quality and also enrich equity of education,” she added.
Meanwhile, the Philippines – as the chair of the ASEAN education sector – will also host the 11th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting on Friday, Nov. 20.