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Asia-Pacific youth share their dreams: the education we need

The creative student team at Lopez National Comprehensive High School in the Philippines hard at work for UNESCO’s Better Learning, Better Life competition. (©UNESCO)

These students received first prize in the video category, alongside seventeen year old Eer Kai Song of Malaysia for her written submission. (©UNESCO)

Eer Kai Song from Malaysia (©UNESCO)

Seventeen year old Eer Kai Song of Malaysia and the creative student team at Lopez National Comprehensive High School in the Philippines have been awarded first prize in UNESCO Bangkok’s Better Learning, Better Life competition

As part of this competition, youth from across the Asia-Pacific including from Australia, China, India, Iran, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand have shared their vision for the future of education through both written submissions and video entries. 

UNESCO Bangkok asked youth of the region: what is learning of good quality? What kind of skills will be needed for the future? What should young people be learning and how should they be learning it?

The answers appeared easy for the winner of this year’s video entry,  Lopez National Comprehensive High School students in the Philippines, with their video submission identifying “innovative teachers as the ultimate resource”, to learning “out of the box”, a type of learning so crucial for youth leading a better life today and having a better future.

As part of her written submission, 17 year old Eer Kai Song wrote, “I envision an education system that teaches us how to think, to understand and therefore to form our own opinions, an education system which helps us become independent learners and leaders of the global community. Thus, as idealistic as it sounds, we should move further away from the exam-oriented system in order to develop well-rounded individuals.” 

Both Eer Kai Song and students of Lopez National Comprehensive High School received tablet computers from UNESCO Bangkok as a prize for their winning entries.

While not all of the entries could receive a prize, the competition revealed a great number of creative youth willing to share their innovative ideas on the future of education and selected three candidates as highly commended:   

- Alejandro Hita Fernandez, of Spain and Bangkok resident, for his collection of thoughts and ideas from youth across the region and beyond  

- Edwin Tan of Singapore for his vision of “play, practical experience and purpose” in education

- Shirley Abraham of India for her focus on the promise of imagination and her wonderful story telling

Winners of the competition and those highly commended will have their submissions shared publically as part of UNESCO’s efforts to engage youth in discussion on the future of education. 

The Better Learning, Better Life competition is undertaken within the framework of UNESCO Bangkok’s endeavour to shape a new vision for the future of education development, as well as contributing to global thinking on the international education agenda beyond 2015; in concert with the United Nations post-Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) discussions. 

Next steps involve a high-level expert meeting on “Beyond 2015 – Rethinking Learning in a Changing World”, 26-28 November 2012.  The views of youth who have contributed to this competition will inform discussions of regional experts at this meeting and will continue to be reflected in UNESCO’s efforts to improve the future of education for all. A poster with just some of their ideas will also be shared!

Even though all participants cannot be recognised individually, the Better Learning, Better Life team at UNESCO Bangkok wishes to convey their appreciation to all the applicants and encourages them to engage with us, ensuring the voice of youth continues to be heard in important discussions around the future of education. 

For more information on this story, please contact Rachel McCarthy, Education Policy & Reform Unit, UNESCO Bangkok at r.mccarthy(at) or at +66 2 391 0577 Ext 374

Related Links:

Announcement of Nominations for BLBL E-contest
 - BLBL E-contest