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Seminar: Education Development & Cooperation in Asia-Pacific

31.07.2013

UNESCO Bangkok and the Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI) are once again bringing together stakeholders in education for their annual Regional Policy Seminar.

The theme for this year’s seminar is “Education Development & Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific Region: Shifting Dynamics, Increasing Collaboration”. The seminar will be held from 5-7 August in Bangkok, and participants will include senior education officials and representatives from regional and sub-regional organizations, NGOs and the private sector.

UNESCO Bangkok and KEDI have held annual policy seminars since 1995 as part of a collaborative effort to contribute to educational development. This year, the issue of collaboration itself will be the focus. Trends in international cooperation in education and the modalities of bilateral and multilateral cooperation will take center stage.

Participants can look forward to sharing knowledge and perspectives on official development assistance (ODA), South-South cooperation, cooperation with the private sector, and other forms of regional cooperation including normative action/standard-setting, regional integration, knowledge exchange, benchmarking and capacity development.

International collaboration in the field of education development is not new. However, the dynamics and modalities of collaboration are changing, and the areas on which countries collaborate have expanded considerably. The roles of some countries have also changed significantly. For example, as developing countries attain middle-income status and cooperate to share best practices with each other instead of being mere recipients of ODA, the term "South-South cooperation" has come into popular parlance to describe collaboration between developing countries.

Thus in this era of globalization, "collaboration" between countries is not just a euphemism for a simplistic "donor-recipient" relationship. During the seminar, participants will hear country delegates share the experiences and plans of their own countries in regard to collaboration in education.

The private sector is also a valuable emerging partner in education collaboration. Some companies have formed partnerships with existing development agencies to support the agency's work, such as CISCO's partnership with UNESCO, whilst others have gone on to spearhead new initiatives, such as the One-Laptop-Per-Child initiative backed by a broad consortium of technology companies.

Identifying ways to better engage the private sector and leverage the strengths of companies willing to support education is a key aspect of collaboration in education development.  As such, the perspectives of private sector representatives will also be actively sought during the seminar.

There are a few possible drivers for the changing dynamics in regard to increasing collaboration in this area.  One is that the aforementioned attainment of middle-income status for many countries leads to commonality in the issues that they are facing. Some, like monitoring of the quality of education, are issues that the higher-income countries have been grappling with as well. This need to solve the "common problems" that countries face could provide impetus for expanded and novel forms of collaboration.

Companies and workers today also compete in a global marketplace for talent. This has at least two implications. First, countries need to prepare their people to compete internationally and hence need to expose their people to ideas, cultures, and knowledge present beyond their own borders. Second, countries need to be able to benchmark their own education systems against that of others in order to identify areas for improvement. Both of these implications demand that countries, or at least the institutions within them, collaborate on education development.

This year's UNESCO-KEDI seminar is happening at a time when the nature of collaboration on education is evolving - due possibly in part to the reasons mentioned above - and will likely evolve further, as has been suggested in discussions of the post-2015 education and development agendas. The issues are complex, important and ultimately unavoidable. A meaningful understanding and discussion of collaboration in educational development should be a key priority for stakeholders in education, and this year's UNESCO-KEDI seminar will make a valuable contribution towards this and the future education agenda in general.

For more information, please contact Ramya Vivekanandan [r.vivekanandan(at)unesco.org] or Stella Yu [s.yu(at)unesco.org] at the Education Policy and Reform Unit.


Written by  George Lee [g.lee(at)unesco.org]


Related Links:

• UNESCO-KEDI Seminar 2013

• Korean Educational Development Institute (KEDI)