PETALING JAYA: Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said Wednesday it is crucial for ASEAN+3 to establish a partnership with East Asia Summit (EAS) countries to expand cooperation in education beyond the ASEAN region.
This can help build capacity and human capital and strengthen regional competitiveness among the ASEAN member countries and others, he said in his opening remarks at the 9th ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting (ASED) here.
“This ASEAN Education Ministers Meeting serves as a platform for all of us. Together with our partners, I am optimistic that we can identify the strengths, challenges and recommendations to translate the ASEAN Work Plan into actions with clear and measurable outcomes,” he said.
ASEAN groups Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam while ASEAN+3 also comprises China, Japan and South Korea. The EAS membership comprises ASEAN as well as Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea and the United States.
The 9th ASED is being held here for two days from today, with Malaysia having been appointed chairman of ASEAN Education for two years from this year.
Mahdzir said the spirit of ASEAN among the 10-member countries would help chart the way forward and close the gaps in the development of education in the ASEAN region.
“We are gathered here for the 9th ASED to review and renew our commitments, solidarity and support in our effort to build an ASEAN Community bounded by shared visions and objectives,” he said.
He said the 9th ASED would serve as platform for member countries to review the action plan and discuss its direction in line with the five-year ASEAN Work Plan on Education (2016-2020) which aimed to futher develop the education sector in the region.
“The Work Plan will focus on vital cross-sectoral initiatives and opportunities related to education. The ASEAN Work Plan on Education will be the blueprint for spearheading education in the ASEAN region to greater heights,” he said.
Furthermore, he said, ASEAN had a combined population of over 600 million, and the combined economies of over US$2,323 trillion (RM9,530 trillion) showed that ASEAN countries had the potential to be significant, competitive global players.
“Key to realising this potential is education. We, as leaders, policy makers and educationists, need to pave the way to ensure that the 600 million ASEAN people are given the knowledge head-start to contribute effectively towards a vibrant and socially responsible community,” he said.
The meeting, with the theme of ‘Fostering ASEAN Community of Learners – Empowering Lives through Education’, is being attended by more than 200 delegates.