APEC to map out educational cooperation
By Na Jeong-ju
GYEONGJU ― Key educational policymakers of 21 APEC member economies agreed Wednesday to map out a concrete action plan to move their cooperation and partnerships on various educational issues forward.
The agreement, reached at the APEC Education Ministerial Meeting in Gyeongju, calls for the implementation of joint research programs and conferences in the coming years to find workable solutions to common challenges, such as nurturing teachers, creating a technology-based educational environment and activating people-to-people exchanges.
South Korea’s Education Minister Lee Ju-ho described the agreement as an important first step toward realizing the true meaning of a cooperative partnership beyond only symbolic gestures and words.
According to the joint statement adopted unanimously by the countries, the Education Network, which is under APEC’s Human Resources Development Working Group, will draft an outcome report, tentatively titled “APEC Educational Cooperation Strategies” and submit it to the next ministerial meeting in 2016 for endorsement.
The report, if adopted at the 2016 meeting, will play a pivotal role in disseminating best practices of education among countries and putting their agreements into action, South Korea’s education ministry said.
The report should include identification of possible ways to expand educational cooperation for the future prosperity of all APEC member economies, and should consolidate all the findings of the collaborative research and discussions in the symposiums that will be held until 2016.
It should also provide directions for building a mutually beneficial system of APEC educational cooperation for the maximum benefit of all APEC economies, the statement said.
Minister Lee held a series of bilateral talks with ministers and vice ministers of APEC members on the sidelines. Suh You-mi, a senior ministry official, said there were tangible results on specific areas at the bilateral talks.
“For example, Southeast Asian and Latin American countries asked us to provide resources to meet the growing needs for Korean language education in their respective countries. We will find ways to address their requests,” Suh said.
South Korea also agreed with China and Japan to activate a “Campus Asia” program, under which universities in the three countries conduct joint research and exchange students and faculty members. They will hold working-level talks in Japan this year to find ways to promote their educational cooperation.
High on the agenda at the Gyeongju meeting was the convergence of technology and education.
The participants recognized the importance of enhancing the use of information and communication technology (ICT) in education for innovative and inclusive growth in the Asia Pacific region. However, they noted that an ICT infrastructure and development divide still exists across the APEC member economies.
“There is a need to improve teachers’ capability to use ICT effectively so that they can help students acquire 21st-century competencies, and that considerable attention needs to be paid to training teachers,” the statement said.