ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub Conference 27-31 May 2024, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland

ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub Conference

27-31 May 2024, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland


(Dr. Ai’s Presentation at Plenary Session 2)

 Cork City, Ireland: University College Cork organized the Asia-Europe Meeting Lifelong Learning Hub (ASEM LLL Hub), which were participated by policy makers, researchers, and practitioners around the world. It provides an opportunity for Europe and Asia to work together to innovate, to achieve excellence in comparative lifelong learning and to contribute to evidence-based educational reform. It was participated by the representatives from 51 countries to share the better future together, and to learn from each other to make the world the better place. At plenary session 2, Dr. Songheang Ai, director of SEAMEO TED presented three topics covering ASEAN skills development award, informal economies in the ASEAN region, and basic education equivalency program (BEEP) on May 27, 2024.

(Dr. Ai’s Explanation on Each Point)

To support the ASEAN Declaration on Human Resources Development for the Changing World of Work, ASEAN skills development award was created. It targets the industries which invest in human resource development strengthening the cooperation between industries and TVET institutions for skills development. The award recognizes the significant contribution of businesses and industries in human resources development. The companies are eligible to apply for the skills development award if they are in any of ASEAN member states with at least 40% of ASEAN-owned equity, be in operations for a minimum of 3 (SMEs) to 5 (large companies) years, and implement their skills development activities in the ASEAN region. The 10 judges representing all ASEAN member states and leading figures in their countries’ business community or in academia evaluate the application following four criteria consisting (1) impact of a company’s human capital development activities for 40%; (2) cooperation assessing the mechanism for collaboration with the public sector for 30%; (3) innovation and replication are judged in terms of innovation and future skills orientation and replicability for 20%; and (4) sustainability based on how long the activity has already been successfully implemented for 10%. The award covers 8 priority sectors consisting of tourism, logistics, real estates, textiles, healthcare, handicraft, Fintech, and Agri-based product.

Dr. Ai specified the second point on the informal economies in the ASEAN region. Nearly 80% of the total workforce were employed in the informal sector. Many startups are informal, but they contributed much to the economic growth amounting to over 1 billion USD. Particularly, the share of informal employment for some ASEAN countries covers 80.4% in Indonesia, 16.8% for Malaysia, 57% for the Philippines, 64.4% for Thailand, and 67% for Vietnam. The informal employment is resulted from an increasing number of unskilled workers enabling them to work for the vulnerability jobs. For example, Vietnam has 56 million labor force, in which 12% is skilled workers. Thailand suffers from a lack of technicians. Indonesia has 55 million skilled workers. By 2030, it needs 113 million skilled workers. 28% of Malaysian population is skilled workers. Platform workers in the ASEAN region are considered self-employed or independent contractors and are not covered and protected by Labor Codes. Digital economy values 130 billion USD by 2025 in Indonesia. Digital economy in the ASEAN region will value 300 billion USD by 2025. ASEAN is home to one of the largest concentrations of tech startups and home to over 400 million internet users.

(Participants listening to Dr. Ai’s Presentation)

Finally, he shared the basic education equivalency program (BEEP), which was established in 2018 with the audience. The program purposes to increase the enrollment rate of students at lower secondary level for grade 9 as a compulsory education because the dropout rates at grade 7, 8, and 9 were 45.26% in 2019. It is a self-paced learning being flexible and part time. Learners can study on smart phones or tables with free internet cost provided by smart phone companies in cooperation with the ministry of education, youth and sport. They have to study three clusters of curricula consisting of core subject cluster (Khmer Language, Math level 1, Physics, and Chemistry), technical subject cluster (Math level 2, Gender, and Career Fundamentals), and general subject cluster (English Language, Entrepreneurship, Tourism, and ICT). The program is under a cooperation between the ministry of education, youth and sport (MoEYS) and ministry of labor and vocational training (MoLVT). After graduating successfully from the program, learners will get grade 9 certificate so that they can pursue their studies to technical and vocational training courses or to general and technical high schools for any certain trade. To be admitted to the program, learners must be dropouts, displaced or migrant workers, ageing from 14 years old, and register for the program online or at the BEEP center. The duration of studies ranges from 3 to 6 months according to the pace of learners’ learning. Learners have to sit for a final examination at any BEEP center nearby for either one among four times in March, June, September, or December. As a result, in 2019 there were 1,500 registered learners. In 2023, there 35 BEEP centers located in 16 provinces. To be extended, 40 prisoners were allowed to study the program at the prison under an instruction from experts in 2024. As a result, on April 3, 2024 35 prisoners graduated successfully for the 1st batch. Another 40 prisoners volunteered to register for the program for the 2nd batch.

(Dr. Ai and other speakers got a book gift from Prof. Seamus O Tuama)

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