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Australia looks to boost teacher quality in SE Asia

The ASEAN-Australia Education Dialogue recently held a virtual meeting of over 100 participants from Southeast Asia and Australia on enhancing teacher learning in the region.

Photo: iStock

"In the SEAMEO Education Agenda (2015-2035), revitalising teacher education has been focused upon"

Bringing together “thought leaders, key government officials, business representatives, and education practitioners” from ASEAN countries and Australia, the event aimed to share best practices, ideas, and explore new opportunities. 

“The idea of the dialogue, is that it’s track two diplomacy and we recognise the work that government has done to provide the framework and the architecture that we can use to bring Australia and Southeast Asia closer together in education,” highlighted Michael Fay, convenor AAED.

AAED continues to receive support from the regional representatives of the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Department of Education, Skills and Employment.

Rebecca Hall, commissioner for Victoria to South East Asia, emphasised that the Victorian government was “really keen to share [its] knowledge and experience, systematically across government, but also directly and targeted towards teachers who are dedicating themselves to lifelong contribution in teaching”.

AAED also works closely with the Secretariat of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation, which is an intergovernmental organisation of eleven Southeast Asian countries. Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Germany, Spain, Morocco, and the UK are also members.

Speaking at the webinar, Ethel Agnes Pascua – Valenzuela, director of the SEAMEO Secretariat, highlighted the focus of her organisation on teacher education — “in the SEAMEO Education Agenda (2015-2035), revitalising teacher education has been focused upon”, she said.

She told attendees that SEAMEO was working on the professional development of teachers in ICT, so as to enhance their competency for hybrid and distance learning, a need which had been heightened in the wake of the pandemic. 

I am hoping to have more collaboration and working closely with Australia”

“I am hoping to have more collaboration and working closely with Australia, which is the number one destination for teachers and learners from Southeast Asia,” she mentioned.

Presenters from SEAMEO INNOTECH and FutureLearn took the participants through the different professional development programs for teachers in Southeast Asia, that they were running.

FutureLearn showcased its ongoing program for teacher development in partnership with Study Melbourne and the Victorian GovernmentTrade and Investment Commission, called ‘Best Practice for Education: Professional Development Showcase’.

AAED also serves as a key platform for building connections between Southeast Asia and Australia, with Fay pointed all to an important fact about the historical relationship that the region shared with Australia.

“From at least 1700 until 1907, there was an active maritime trading and cultural relationship between North and North-East Australian Aboriginal communities and South-Eastern Indonesia,” Fay mentioned.

“I think it’s very appropriate for a schools based webinar, on education, focusing on what we want to pass over to the next generation, to have an understanding that there is a long and a deep historical connection between Northern Australia and South-East Asia.

“Australia should feel at home in strengthening and deepening that relationship between our two regions,” he posited.

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