ASEANannounced the two recipients of its ASEAN Rural Connectivity for Education and Development Grant Program on 29 May, 2012; the first ever grant program to be undertaken jointly between ASEAN and the United States. The program was designed to address some of the gaps identified at last year’s ASEAN Conference on Rural Connectivity for Education and Development, such as teacher training in information and communications technology (ICT) and the development of online education content and software applications.
Over 50 applications were received for the pilot program, aimed at supporting ASEAN-based civil society organizations. A joint ASEAN and U.S. committee awarded grants to the following projects:
1. The ASEAN Cyber Course Project, awarded to the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Open Learning Centre (SEAMOLEC); and
2. Building Capacity for ICT Enabled Learning in Laos, submitted by the Kenan Institute Asia (K.I. Asia)
ASEAN recognizes that civil society and regional organizations, such as these two grantees, have a critical role in supporting the people-to-people component of the Master Plan on ASEAN Connectivity, utilizing ICT to deliver key education services to rural, remote, and underserved communities in the region.
“Congratulations to SEAMOLEC and the Kenan Institute for submitting their grant-winning proposals,” stated U.S. Ambassador to ASEAN, David Carden. “These two projects will help schools in rural areas of ASEAN to have more interesting and provocative classes through the innovative application of information and communication technology.”
SEAMOLEC will develop an online program called the ASEAN Cyber Course, to help teachers and lecturers in Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand, and Vietnam (i.e. the Lower Mekong Region) as well as Indonesia, to integrate ICT into the learning process.
K.I. Asia will expand its already successful rural Thailand ICT project, the One Computer Classroom Program, into Laos. The program assists teachers living in rural areas to understand the principles of using information technology in the classroom for better learning. This includes developing effective lesson plans using IT and accessing online teaching materials suitable for the Lao curriculum in sciences and English language. The ASEAN-U.S. Rural Connectivity for Education Grant Program was funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the U.S. State Department, and ASEAN Secretariat.