ASEF successfully participated in the 9th ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME9) held on 25-26 January 2024 at the Grand Hotel Excelsior in Malta.
Co-organised by the ASEM Education Secretariat, the Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research, and Innovation, and the Malta Further & Higher Education Authority (MFHEA), ASEMME9 carried the theme “Leaving No One Behind” and was attended by 100 participants representing 26 ASEM partner countries and seven stakeholder organisations.
The successful hosting of the ASEMME serves as a key milestone for Asia-Europe cooperation and dialogue, as the ASEM Education Process (AEP) remains to be the only functioning ASEM process.
The ASEF delegation was headed by Amb Toru MORIKAWA, joined by the Education Department’s (ASEFEdu) Director, Ms Reka TOZSA, and ASEFEdu’s Senior Project Executive for Higher Education, Ms Cleo CACHAPERO. Delegations from Asia and Europe were welcomed by Hon Dr Clifton GRIMA, Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research, and Innovation of Malta. Dr GRIMA’s message acknowledged the value of the ASEM Education Process in bringing together member countries, secretariats, and stakeholders, to collaborate towards the promotion of political, economic, financial, socio-cultural, and educational cooperation.
The ASEMME9 Chair’s Conclusions was adopted, in which the Ministers recognised the work of ASEF, as ASEM’s only permanent institution, in promoting intellectual exchange and people-to-people connectivity through its programmes. The outcomes of its key initiatives in the areas of youth (5th ASEF Young Leaders Forum), higher education (9th ASEF Regional Conference on Higher Education and the 3rd and 4th ASEF Higher Education Innovation Laboratory), and teaching and learning (16th ASEF Classroom Network) were also noted by the Ministers with satisfaction. Ministers further called on policymakers to study the ARC9 Policy Recommendations on “Asia-Europe Higher Education Mapping: Working Towards the SDGs” jointly drafted by student, youth, and university leaders, as well as policymakers.
The Ministers encourages ASEF to continue doing research, organise dialogues, and support the work of the ASEM Expert Groups (EGs) on 1) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Education, 2) Recognition and Balanced Mobility, 3) Lifelong Learning and TVET, and 4) Digitalisation.
The Ministerial Meeting also gave room for stakeholders to provide inputs through the Stakeholders’ Panel discussion themed “Leaving no one behind in higher education: How is this possible?”. In this session, stakeholder organisations such as ASEF, ASEM-DUO, ASEM LLL Hub, Asia-Europe Institute at the University of Malaya, European Students’ Union, and the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Higher Education and Development (RIHED) shared their views on how Asia and Europe can foster equity and inclusivity in education. Amb MORIKAWA shared his thoughts on the topic through the lens of his personal experiences and ASEF’s work on Education. The discussion was moderated by Dr Rose Anne CUSHIERI, CEO of MFHEA.
Prior to ASEMME9, the 2nd ASEM Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM2) was held on 24 January 2024 in preparation for the ministerial sessions. A key highlight of SOM2 is the presentation of the Stocktaking Report titled “From Bangkok to Valletta,” which was followed by a series of presentations from stakeholders, such as ASEF, on their milestones and completed initiatives the past two years.
Amb MORIKAWA opened ASEF’s presentation highlighting the important strides made by the ASEM Education Process in preserving and carrying the torch of Asia-Europe dialogue and cooperation. Ms TOZSA afterwards gave an overview of the accomplishments and milestones of ASEFEdu’s projects and introduced ASEF’s up-and-coming work in the fields of youth, higher education, and teaching and learning.
At the sidelines of the SOM2 and ASEMME9, ASEF also met with prospective partners such as the Co-Chairs of the EG on SDGs and Education from the Malta Further & Higher Education Authority and Thai Ministry of Education, as well as the Japanese delegation representing the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology.
ASEFEdu also met with alumni of its programmes currently based in Malta.
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