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Asia-Pacific officials meet to draw up education roadmap

TOP education officials from 37 countries have gathered for a three-day meeting to brainstorm ideas - like the Education For All movement - for the development of a 15-year education roadmap for the Asia-Pacific region.

At the conference that started yesterday, organised by Unesco in collaboration with the Education Ministry, the participants would discuss and address a common platform to push for educational policies in the Central Asia and Asia-Pacific regions

The platform would be adopted at the UN General Assembly in New York next year.

"We wish to work hard together and join forces to speak strongly in favour of education," Unesco director Gwang-jo Kim told a press conference.

He emphasised that the debate on the Education For All (EFA) agenda that would be taken into action after 2015.

A global process is underway to determine the next step in the development of not only regional, but also international education.

Though progress has been made in the 24 years since the initiative was set in 1990 at a meeting in Thailand, there are still problems to be addressed, said Isiye Ndombi, Unicef deputy regional director.

Poverty, remoteness of schools, gender inequality and challenges facing children with disabilities are drags on the process in some countries.

Governments and UN agencies would do more to promote the growth of education, especially in such a critical period of human development.

"If you want people to develop and achieve empowerment, it is in education where you will gain the most benefit," he said.

He emphasised the value of education through early child development, as the number of unschooled children has reached over 6.5 million in East Asia and Asia-Pacific and 10 million in the southwest region.

Suthasri Wongsamarn, acting education minister, said countries in the region need to prioritise the key issues for future action together, including early childhood education, basic education, life skills and quality of education.

Maria Khan, regional coordinator of ASPBAE, spoke about the adult illiteracy rate and political ownership of the upcoming process.

"We hope to form a bigger and more ambitious agenda so that the goals of EFA can be fully met in 2030."

With Thailand already spending over 20 per cent of annual budget on education, it is a good example of countries investing in the future of education, he said.




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