promoting the role in SEAMEO in strengthening : Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus, Director of the SEAMEO Secretariat, Philippines

Dr. Edilberto C. de Jesus, Director of the SEAMEO Secretariat, assumed office at the start of 2005. Previously, he was the SEAMEO Council President from 2003 to 2004, while he was also the Secretary of the Department of Education in Philippines. The Director is committed to promoting the role in SEAMEO in strengthening education in Asia.

   What is SEAMEO’s mission and priority area of work?

The Charter states that SEAMEO’s mandate is “to promote cooperation among the Southeast Asian nations through education, science and culture in order to further respect forjustice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are the birthrights of the peoples of the world.” In terms of priorities, many member countries are still focused on attaining the EFA and MDG targets within the 2015 deadline, if not sooner.

   What are the most pressing educational challenges facing Thailand at the present time?

In terms of access to elementary education, Thailand is focused on reaching the last 5% to 10% of the school-age population not yet covered by the formal education system. At the same time, like many middle-income countries, it has to cope with the growing demand for post-secondary education, even as it addresses the concern of raising the quality of the educational services it delivers.

   Do you believe new technologies have transformative power for education in developing countries?

Governments in the region are hoping that the progress in ICT will enable their countries improve both access to, as well as quality of, educational services. It certainly makes sense to explore the potential of open and distance learning systems for bringing education to communities in far-flung areas or those rendered less accessible by peace and order problems. ICT can provide powerful learning tools, but governments must invest the resources, not only to purchase the tools, but also to provide the training for their effective use.

   What is SEAMEO’s vision for education in Thailand?

The same as its vision for the other countries of the region: that the educational system provides the human resources it needs for the development of a prosperous, democratic and caring society.

   How has SEAMEO aimed to fulfill the UN Millennium Development Goals particularly in providing ‘Education for All’?

Through its network of 12 Regional Centres, hosted by eight of the Member Countries, SEAMEO can deploy resources at ground level to help ministries of education in the implementation of their EFA/MDG programs. The annual ministeri