EDUCATION TO NARROW DEVELOPMENTAL GAP: ASEAN TAKES LEAD
Erle Frayne D. Argonza
Human & social capital constitutes the greatest driver to development. No less than the World Bank assessed that 77% of what constitutes development gains comes from human & social capital, which explains why the prosperous economies of the day reached their prosperity and widened their gap with other countries.
Being a social development expert who had long track record of capacity-building engagements, I can very easily point out to enthused parties the full import of education, training, and related capacity-building strategies aimed at shoring up human capital (individual competencies) and social capital (trust and institutional capabilities). I have witnessed how many poor folks graduate to better living through intensive trainings, workshops, seminars, and the likes.
Of course, being a university mentor for long, I was also witness to how former students coming from very poor families ended up as high achievers in their professions. I wish to site, for instance, Jericho Go, alumni of my former social science department, who once lived in the ghetto neighborhood of southern Manila, rise to top echelon in realty firms (Vice President at age 25…he’s senior VP today in a big dynamic realty company).
Manila today is the among the wealthiest megacities in the world, thanks to the very high concentration of competent and empowered individuals and groups (including civil society) in the city. Singapore, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok hold parallel prestige and power, thanks to their high concentration of well educated professionals and business leaders. Such experiences must gravitate to less developed areas in Asia as a way of closing the gap between rich and poor.
Below is a special report from the ASEAN about efforts being undertaken towards such goal.
[Philippines, 03 September 2011]
Education to Play a Central Role in Narrowing Development Gap: East Asia Summit Education Ministers Meet Informally in Bali
Bali, Indonesia, 20 July 2011
Education has a significant role to play in realising the objectives of the East Asia Summit, particularly in helping to build productive lives, the eradication of poverty, and the narrowing of the development gap in East Asia, said the Secretary-General of Asean, Dr Surin Pitsuwan.
He said that during an informal meeting with the Education Ministers from the East Asia Summit, which will be held in Bali later this week.
"Cooperation in education contributes both to the goals of ASEAN and the EAS. It will allow us to develop quality human capital and the next generation of leaders, contributing to more equitable development among the EAS countries. This will enhance our ability to compete in an increasingly competitive world," he said.
The timing for the initiative could not have come at a better time, with the region posting robust growth, and boasting of an upbeat outlook. Moreover, the EAS countries are home to almost half of the world's population, making the EAS a significant platform for dialogue and cooperation.
"We will need strong commitment to implement these objectives. We will need to invest in efforts and resources to develop our human capital. Regional cooperation in the ASEAN, ASEAN Plus Three, and the EAS platforms are well poised to achieve our goals," he said, urging the ministers to "leverage on these platforms to create opportunities for collaboration. For example, the EAS could exchange best practices and strategies on education which have worked in our countries, without reinventing the wheel."
ASEAN has a 5-year Work Plan on Education (2010 - 2015), which has a strong focus on enhancing the quality of education and improving access to education. The Work Plan represents ASEAN's aspiration to promote educational cooperation to (1) narrow development gaps (2) prepare the youth for regional leadership and (3) enhance the competitiveness of its people.
Similarly, the ASEAN Plus Three Educational Cooperation framework is currently finalising the ASEAN Plus Three Plan of Action on Education.
This is the first informal meeting among the Education Ministers, and more meetings are expected.
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