Bangkok, Thailand (October 21st, 2022) — Equitable Education Fund (EEF), Thailand, in partnership with the Ministry of Education of Thailand, UNESCO Bangkok, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF EAPRO), UNICEF Thailand, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), and Save the Children jointly organized the 2nd International Conference on Equitable Education: Together Towards Equity on October 19th – 20th, 2022, to continue the equitable education initiatives in strengthening the education responses amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The two-day conference holistically and innovatively addressed the governments’ strategies for out-of-school children and youth (OOSCY), emerging trends of digital learning, and recovery programs for marginalized and disadvantaged groups during the COVID-19 outbreak. This is done so to equip the target groups with the necessary skills for livelihood and employment as part of ongoing efforts for equity in education. In the conference, the discussion on the implementation of education systems, assessments, and partners was also addressed to tackle the critical OOSCY issues.
Since the beginning of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has been posing a challenge to governments, teachers, students, and parents worldwide; In response to school closures, distance learning options, primarily online, have been rolled out worldwide. Nonetheless, as internet penetration varies from country to country, online-based, high-tech approaches do not necessarily guarantee equitable and inclusive learning environments. The digital divide exacerbated as much the inflexibility of teachers’ pedagogies on online platforms as the inefficient allocation of learning resources. While COVID-19 has been claimed to have created additional challenges and costs for out-of-school children and youth (OOSCY), the path to recovery is still tenable.
The conference started with welcoming remarks from each of the working groups’ representatives, including
- A video presentation of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn and Ms. Treenuch Thienthong, Minister of Education Thailand
- Equitable Education Fund (EEF), Dr. Kraiyos Patrawart, Managing Director
- UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF EAPRO) and UNICEF Thailand, Ms. Kyungsun Kim, Director
- UNESCO Bangkok, Ms. Rika Yorozu, Head of Executive Office and Regional Programme Coordinator
- Save the Children, Ms. Warangkana Mutumol, Strategy, Program Quality and Impact Director
- Recap of the Transforming Education Summit (TES) from Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), Dr. Ethel Agnes P Valenzuela, Director
- Youth Perspectives on Equity in Education, Mr. Enkhjin Ganzorig, Youth Representative from Mongolia, and Ms. Siribut Musikapodok, Youth Representative from Thailand
The conference comprised five main sessions. Sessions 1 and 2 centered on a statistical overview of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to build forward in the face of the pandemic, with a panel discussion featuring representatives of various perspectives, such as public-private partnership, pedagogy, didactics, and many more. Sessions 3 and 4, which were in the breakout-room format, opened up space for participants to contribute tangible recommendations on topics, such as “Skills Development and Needs of Disadvantaged Children and Youth in Rapidly Evolving Societies and Recovery Program for the Disadvantaged Groups – Bridging the gap in Education.” Last but not least, Session 5 was dedicated to assessment as a tool to transform learning from different plenaries.
Equitable Education Fund (EEF), Dr. Kraiyos Patrawart, Managing Director
In a closing remark, Ms. Jenelle Babb, Regional Advisor (Education), UNESCO Bangkok, provided the connection of the AFE conference with other international conferences which had occurred such 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister’s Conference (APREMC II) and Transforming Education Summit (TES). In addition with Dr. Kraiyos Patrawart, Managing Director, Equitable Education Fund (EEF) Thailand to introduce on Equitable Education Alliance (EEA).
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF EAPRO)
and UNICEF Thailand, Ms. Kyungsun Kim, Director
UNESCO Bangkok, Ms. Rika Yorozu, Head of Executive Office and Regional Programme Coordinator
Save the Children, Ms. Warangkana Mutumol, Strategy, Program Quality and Impact Director
Youth Perspectives on Equity in Education, Mr. Enkhjin Ganzorig, Youth Representative from Mongolia,
and Ms. Siribut Musikapodok, Youth Representative from Thailand
The 2nd International Conference on Equitable Education: Together Towards Equity raised awareness and shared information on equity-based education at the national, regional, and international levels, as well as encouraging reflection on emerging strategies, mechanisms, and practices to foster equity in their respective contexts. At this conference, policymakers, educational leaders, and educators were provided with the opportunity to exchange ideas with one another and learn from regional and international experiences to enhance equity through their respective education systems. This will in turn assist their joint efforts towards equity in education, including the underprivileged and marginalized groups, made to ensure educational equity through non-formal education — albeit many of the principles being applied to a variety of contexts within formal education. Delegates, as an overall outcome of participation, had 1) a clear overview of the education system situation and equity, 2) clarity of future needs and demands, and 3) practical cases or solutions to make quality education accessible for all.