2 -- 4 September 2008
In the 43rd SEAMEO Council Conference that was held back-to-back with the 3rd ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting in March 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, issues on access, equity and quality of education were discussed, among other education policies and initiatives in Southeast Asia.
An important highlight of the conference was a policy forum on bridging the education gap with a discussion on the progress of Education for All (EFA) in the ASEAN countries. UNESCO presented key policies, strategies and recommendations towards meeting EFA made by Southeast Asian countries and EFA partners at the Southeast Asia EFA Mid-Term Policy Review Conference in February 2008. According to UNESCO, national assessments of EFA progress conducted by countries show significant achievements but also highlighted many issues that must be addressed urgently if Education for All is to be met by 2015.
The result of this discussion is a proposal for SEAMEO and ASEAN Secretariats to collaborate with UNESCO in developing a programme/project where ASEAN countries could work together to attain the EFA goals by 2015. This initiative should focus on themes such as "Reaching the Unreached" and "Inclusive Education".
In a Joint Statement, the 3rd ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting raised the concern in attaining the EFA goals as follows:
In response to this, the SEAMEO Secretariat is collaborating with the ASEAN Secretariat and UNESCO Bangkok to bring together the 11 Southeast Asian Countries to identify potential mutual activities and projects to reach the unreached and accelerate the attainment of the EFA Goals in Southeast Asia.
The meeting has four objectives:
The meeting will focus on strategies to reach the unreached, disadvantaged and underserved groups of society. In actually providing Education For All, these groups need special attention and specialised and collaborated programmes to provide them the needed services.
In spite of efforts to provide access to education for everyone, some groups are still left out. Many countries in Southeast Asia share the same challenges on this issue. Other countries, though, may have the solutions to these challenges. The meeting will bring together experiences, challenges and best practices of Southeast Asia in reaching the unreached population. In an effort to bring out the common challenges and potential answers to address them, this initiative calls for extensive sharing and collaboration.
In describing the 'unreached', countries have varied definitions of this target group. For purposes of the meeting language, 'unreached' may be referred (but not limited) to as the disadvantaged, underserved, deprived and excluded such as learners from remote and rural communities; learners from religious, linguistic and ethnic minorities/indigenous peoples; girls and women; children from migrant families; learners with disabilities; street children; orphans; children and young people affected by HIV and AIDS; and so on.
The overall theme of the meeting is "Reaching the Unreached to Achieve the EFA Goals Together".
The meeting hopes to produce initial proposals for activities and projects that Southeast Asian countries could implement together through collaboration to reach the unreached population groups.
DATES, VENUE AND MEETING MODALITY
The meeting will take place over three days, 2-4 September 2008. It will consist of two days of discussion and planning and a day intended for a field visit to some institutions in Bangkok that implement programmes for various groups of disadvantaged sectors of society.
A special meeting of EFA National Coordinators is set within the three-day activity for country participants to provide updates on the EFA Mid-Decade Assessment. Please see the Draft Meeting Programme.
Download Draft Meeting Programme
Three (3) participants from each Southeast Asian country are invited to participate. Preferred participants from the Ministry/Department of Education are the SEAMEO High Officials, EFA National Coordinators/Focal Persons, and Directors of Planning or Curriculum.
Other expected participants are representatives from International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs), members of the donor community, SEAMEO Centres and other international organisation partners.
Download Participant's Form
Each country will prepare a simple background paper as the starting point and reference for discussion during the meeting. A template called 'Matrix for the Country Profile of the Unreached' is provided to organise information on the unreached population in the country. The matrix has the following columns to fill in with facts:
For the meeting, UNESCO identified 11 categories or groups of the unreached. The above-named matrix will use these categories. To facilitate the planning session and field visit, each country will need to pre-determine at least three (3) priority unreached groups and reflect the choices in the Participant's Form.
Where available, country participants are encouraged to refer to the national EFA Mid-Decade Assessment Report as basis in the preparation of the background paper. A Summary of the EFA Highlights by country was prepared by UNESCO in aid of the pre-meeting assignment. Other references such as case studies of reaching the unreached in various parts of the world are available online on the meeting webpage.
Accomplished Country Profiles of the Unreached
Useful references and case studies on reaching the unreached: http://www.unescobkk.org/index.php?id=8044
This page is dedicated as a means to publish meeting documents and references, particularly in the preparation of the country's background paper. This same site will also circulate the proceedings of the meeting and other subsequent activities on Reaching the Unreached.
Link to the webpage will be made available on the UNESCO Bangkok website.
The organisers will seek maximum networking on "reaching the unreached" in the region and beyond. Press materials will be developed and circulated in coordination with existing networks and partner organisations.