UNESCO has organized a Sub-regional Policy-dialogue Forum on Strategic Education Policy during COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond on 12 November 2020. The forum aimed to explore the strategic education policy and planning during COVID -19 and beyond as well as to identify key findings of the sub-regional policy review to be reflected in the final Education Policy Review Report. Around 30 key officials and representatives from the Ministry of Education in the cluster countries, Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Timor-Leste, participated in the event.
In his opening remarks, the Director and Representative of UNESCO Jakarta, Dr Shahbaz Khan, extended his appreciation to the Ministries of Education in the cluster countries for their continued support in the implementation of SDG4-Quality Education. He reiterated that UNESCO is part of the Global Education Coalition to support countries in scaling up best distance learning practices and reaching children and youths who are at most risk due to closure of schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. He highlighted that UNESCO High Level extraordinary session of the Global Education Meeting in October 2020 had adopted a Declaration to express the strong commitment to protecting education financing and outlining measures to be adopted over the next year to safeguard education from the devastating impact of the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The Head of the Education Unit of UNESCO Jakarta, Dr Mee Young Choi, presented the Overview of the Education Policy Review Report. She shared the process and progress of the report, which is covering five thematic areas: Sector-wide Policies and Plan, Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Teachers Policy and Plan, Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), and Inclusive Education.
Prof. Nizam Said from the National University of Malaysia (UKM), as the developer of the report, presented the key findings in the Education Policy Report. It was found that prior to COVID-19 pandemic the targets of SDG 4 indicators in each thematic areas are met to some extent. Therefore, there was a need to improve the efforts to meet and sustain the achievement fully. However, during COVID-19 pandemic, the main concern in the cluster countries was to ensure continuing the learning process amidst the pandemic, which raised other concerns on effective connectivity, lack of funding, teachers’ capabilities in response to the situation. Nevertheless, efforts are in place to address the concerns within the current context and constrain to ensure SDG4 indicator for each thematic area is upheld. After the presentation, each country has an opportunity to provide feedback on the report and clarify some points.
In the closing remarks, Dr Shahbaz Khan, stated that the education policy review report is a useful tool to provide an understanding of what are the strategic direction of the education policy point of view, which are very important for the cluster countries as well as for the on-going global initiative, specifically the Global Education Coalition. He further mentioned that the report requires actions to address the challenges identified in the report, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.