Follow Us:

Regional Experts Debate on the Future of Learning in the Asia-Pacific Beyond 2015

Bangkok, 26 November 2012 – Imagine an outcome of neuroscientists, economists, information and communication specialists, and educationalists discuss on the sort of learning to provide productive, happy and meaningful lives for everyone in the 21st century.

Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok (left) and Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education, UNESCO (©UNESCO)

Masuo Aizawa, Executive Member, Council for Science and Technology Policy Cabinet Office, Government of Japan (©UNESCO/R.Kulsawet)


 It soon will be heard after a three-day UNESCO regional high-level expert meeting “Beyond 2015 – Rethinking Learning in a Changing World,” which begins today in Bangkok, Thailand.

“When you combine different skills, different ways of thinking, different perspectives, you might expect some degree of disagreement and debate,” said Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education. “But I believe the combination of multiple perspectives also creates the perfect recipe for creativity and the generation of new ideas on the future of learning here in the Asia-Pacific.”  

Today, over 70 high level experts, researchers and practitioners representing education think tanks, universities, government representatives, sister UN agencies, international and regional institutions and UNESCO National Commissions from more than 20 countries in and outside the Asia-Pacific region are starting a debate that will ultimately shape the lives of many, for the years to come. 

The meeting aims at answering the question ‘How can people learn better and continue to learn in a changing world?’ More specifically, it aims at an understanding of learning based on cutting-edge findings from different disciplines. Also it aims at defining key emerging learning requirements, competencies and learning outcomes and their implications for educational policy and practice in the region. 

“The world has changed. The environment surrounding the Asia-Pacific is also drastically changing. Innovation and creativity are considered key to learning in the 21st century. The time to change is now,” said Masuo Aizawa of the Cabinet Office of the Japanese Government who spoke on the opening day.

In 1990 international community came together to launch the Education for All, or EFA, movement, in Jomtien, Thailand. Ten years later, in Dakar, Senegal, representatives from 164 countries as well as civil society and multilateral partners came together at the World Education Forum to set six common goals for education: goals that range from increasing participation in early childhood care and education, through to universalizing primary education, achieving gender equality, improving opportunities for young people and adults to engage in literacy and life skills training, and improving education quality. 

2015 was identified as the target year for achieving these goals. 

There is no denying that globally significant progress has been made since then. The number of out-of-school children of primary school age has decreased by 47 million, and young people are far more likely to be in post-primary education.

“But we must not forget that we still have far to go to achieve our targets,” said Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education at UNESCO during the opening. 

Worldwide, sixty-one million children of primary school age are still excluded from the classroom. More than seventy million adolescents have dropped out or were never able to enter the school system. Indeed, only half of young adolescents are enrolled in lower secondary education in low income countries, and this proportion has not improved in the last five years.

“Education for All is still an ‘unfinished agenda’. While we redouble our efforts to meet the goals set in 2000, we must also reflect on the vision of education and learning that we wish to promote beyond 2015. Whether we are talking about early childhood care, about primary or secondary schooling, about literacy, technical and vocational training or higher education; and whether our geographical focus is on poor, low income or wealthy countries one challenge remains central: the quality and relevance of education,” said Mr. Tang. 

‘Beyond 2015 – Rethinking Learning in a Changing World’ is organized by UNESCO with support from the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). All documents, including the agenda, concept note and participant list can be found here.

Journalists who wish to attend the event can contact Ms. Rojana Manowalailao at UNESCO Bangkok: tel: +66 81 825 2188. Individual interview opportunities for journalists with key speakers can be arranged.  

 Related links:

• Beyond 2015 – Rethinking Learning in a Changing World

• Better Learning, Better Life E-Contest

• Towards EFA 2015 and Beyond - Shaping a New Vision for Education