JAKARTA, 22 October 2020 – ASEAN education ministers shared their experiences in integrating technology in education and pledged to improve the resilience of ASEAN education systems at the “Conference on the Digital Transformation of Education Systems throughout ASEAN”.

The online Conference took place in Ha Noi, Viet Nam on 15 October, and was attended by over 100 participants representing youth, academia, the private sector, and international organisations

Education ministers also reiterated the need to develop both digital and transferable skills among students. While education systems across ASEAN are increasingly digitalised in recent years, this shift has become more urgent given the disruptions posed by COVID-19.

WiTech Founder and Executive Director Audrey Pe participated as a youth representative in the conference. WiTech, a nonprofit based in the Philippines, harnesses technology to break gender barriers in education and skills development.

She presented the key findings of UNICEF’s survey between August and September 2020 that collected perspectives from over 8,000 ASEAN children and youth regarding technology and education.

Results showed that high costs, poor infrastructure, and limited information are the main challenges that ASEAN children and youth face, when acquiring digital skills and literacy.

Representatives from the private sector and academia also weighed in on issues surrounding the digital transformation of ASEAN’s education systems. SAP Southeast Asia’s President and Managing Director Verena Siow highlighted the importance of engaging the private sector in the delivery of education and skills.

On his note, Harvard Graduate School of Education Professor Fernando Reimers underscored the need to reimagine education in the face of COVID-19 and in the context of urgent global issues, such as climate change and inequality.

The ministers concluded the conference by agreeing in principle to a joint statement that expresses their collective commitment to promote access to digital technologies as well as digital literacy and transferable skills.

They are also committed to ensure inclusion and equity in education, harness public-private sector partnerships, and highlight the role of children and young people in the digital transformation of education systems.

The Ministry of Education and Training of Viet Nam hosted the Conference with the support of the ASEAN Secretariat and UNICEF.