by : Johannes Lehmann, Stephen Joseph
by : Erina Sulistiani, Samsul Ahmad Yani
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The Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam, with support of the SEAMEO Secretariat, convened the 46th SEAMEO Council Conference at the Empire Hotel and Country Club, Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam from 26 to 29 January 2011 with more than 150 participants from 18 countries comprising education ministers, high-level government education officials, and representatives from international organizations from the SEAMEO Member Countries, Associate Members, Affiliate Members, and partners.
Highlights of the Conference included the launch of the Ministerial Round Table Meeting, conduct of a policy forum on the theme "Transformation in Technical Vocational Education", plenary sessions, in-camera session and bilateral meetings. Among others, important resolutions of the SEAMEO Council included the adoption of SEAMEO's strategic plan for the next 10 years (2011-2020), approval of the proposal on the establishment of the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning in Vietnam, and acceleration of progress in providing quality Education for All (EFA) in Southeast Asia.
His Royal Highness Prince Haji Al-Muhtadee Billah Ibni His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Crown Prince and Senior Minister at the Prime Minister’s Office, Brunei Darussalam, officiated the Opening Ceremony and welcomed the delegates to Brunei Darussalam. His Royal Highness stated that the annual conference represented an important occasion to facilitate discussion of the highest officials of governments responsible for education in the region and to provide opportunity to review and appreciate the work of SEAMEO in enhancing greater regional cooperation and understanding.
At the start of the Conference, H E Br Armin A Luistro FSC, Secretary of Education, Philippines presented his accomplishments and turned over the SEAMEO leadership to H E Pehin Abu Bakar Apong, Minister of Education, Brunei Darussalam. The new SEAMEO Council President expressed hope to work with SEAMEO Member Countries to address the priority areas of the Organization. He stated that since the establishment of the Organization in 1965, SEAMEO has achieved quality human resource development in Member Countries in the field of education, science and culture. He highlighted the importance to continue with the obligation of maintaining and modernizing education from primary to university level.
The SEAMEO Secretariat presented two working papers during the plenary sessions, namely, the Report on the Outputs of the SEAMEO Strategic Planning Workshops and the Key Points and Lessons Learned on the Implementation of the Second Phase of the SEAMEO-World Bank Project: Enhancing Awareness and Building the Capacity of SEAMEO in Establishing Mother Tongue-based Multilingual Education Programs. Two other papers presented included the Acceleration of Progress in Providing Quality Education For All (EFA) with Equity by UNESCO and Updates on the Collaboration between SEAMEO and UNICEF East Asia Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) and Proposed New Areas of Collaboration by UNICEF.
Initiated by Brunei Darussalam, the Ministerial Round Table Meeting was launched during the Conference. Brunei Darussalam led the conduct of the meeting in a less structured and more relaxed manner where the SEAMEO Council members were engaged in a free-flowing discussion on future directions of SEAMEO. During the Meeting, the SEAMEO Council endorsed that from 2011 onwards, the Presidency of the SEAMEO Council would extend from a one-year to a two-year term period. As a consequence, the SEAMEO Council Conference would be held every two years with the conduct of the ASEAN Education Ministers meeting in the intervening year.
The Ministry of Education, Brunei Darussalam hosted a policy forum with the theme "Transformation in Technical Vocational Education". Dr Law Song Seng, the former CEO of the Institute of Technical Education, Singapore shared Singapore's experience on vocational and technical education. He highlighted Singapore's experience in transforming vocational technical education between 1992 and 2007 and the key lessons learned in the process. He also emphasized the importance of aligning vocational and technical education with economic development. A question-and-answer portion followed the presentation where the education ministers asked questions and shared their thoughts on technical and vocational education.
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