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2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister's Conference (APREMC II): outcome document

2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister's Conference (APREMC II): outcome document

the publication's coverThis report reflects the discussions and deliberations of the second Asia-Pacific Regional Education Ministers Conference (APREMC-II) held from 5 to 7 June 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. The report was prepared by the staff of the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok).

The COVID-19 pandemic caused an unprecedented disruption of education globally and in the Asia-Pacific region, severely impacting education delivery, learning outcomes, student engagement and their health and well-being, affecting vulnerable learners the most, resulting in a significant setback in progress towards achieving the SDG 4.  It also caused a global and regional economic crisis, deepened poverty and inequities, coupled with global security concerns, environmental degradation and climate change to which Asia-Pacific countries are particularly prone. Overall, while the situation is diverse between and within countries of the region, the pandemic not only exacerbated pre-existing deep inequalities in access to education and a pre-existing learning crisis, but it also exposed significant existing weaknesses in the quality, relevance and inclusiveness of education and the overall fragility of education systems. 

The majority of countries in the region experienced school closures of varying length. Learners experienced major learning loss and drop-out rates have increased, in particular among the most vulnerable and marginalized learners. The crisis revealed education system fragilities and limits in terms of inclusion, flexibility and resilience to shocks. 

As an urgent and immediate action, countries need to ensure that all learners return to school and recover lost learning, ‘to prevent this generation of students from suffering permanent losses in their learning and future productivity, and to protect their ability to participate fully in society’.  At the same time, this needs to go hand-in-hand with a rethinking and transformation of education and its systems to be resilient to withstand future shocks and to become more equitable, inclusive, relevant and flexible to address the learning crisis and respond to shifting learning and training requirements, build more peaceful, inclusive and sustainable societies and deliver on the SDG4-Education 2030 commitments.  

Against this backdrop, APREMC-II, held in Bangkok from 5 to 7 June 2022, was organized at a critical moment, as most countries reopened their schools, or were planning to do so.  Most Asia-Pacific countries were setting up learning recovery measures, while also commencing reflections for a broader transformation of education systems, including through the preparatory processes towards the Transforming Education Summit taking place in New York in September 2022.  

APREMC II was co-organised by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education and the UNICEF Regional Offices for East Asia and the Pacific, and for South Asia.  The conference was co-hosted by the Ministry of Education of Thailand and organized with the kind collaboration and support of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan.  It was convened under the umbrella of the Asia-Pacific Learning and Education 2030+ (LE2030+) Networking Group. 
The overarching theme of APREMC-II was ‘Education Recovery and Transformation towards more Responsive, Relevant and Resilient Education Systems: Accelerating progress towards SDG 4-Education 2030’. The conference was framed around three interlinked themes: 

1. Achieving learning recovery and, in the longer term, improving learning outcomes for all (addressing the learning crisis).  
2. Achieving a deep transformation of education systems and building resilience (for example, more flexible, more inclusive, resilient, more digital, more environmentally friendly and sustainable systems).  
3. Achieving increased and better investment in education and enablers for transformation. APREMC II discussed and made recommendations on how to achieve learning recovery and at the same time strengthen and transform education and its systems to become more equitable, inclusive, responsive, relevant and resilient, with the overall objective to accelerate SDG4 implementation. 

The conference had two segments, a Technical Segment on Day 1 (5 June 2022) and a High-level Segment on Days two and three (6 June and 7 June 2022). This outcome report summarized the discussion and key findings from each of these segments.  

The Technical Segment included ten parallel thematic sessions, which aimed to discuss and agree on priority action areas and strategies as well as policy pointers for the immediate learning recovery and for transforming education and its systems. Chapter two of this outcome report summarizes the discussions of the ten thematic sessions and lists the identified policy pointers for each of the themes. Findings from the technical segments fed into the discussions and dialogue at the High-level Segment the next day.

The high-level segment gave space for ministers and high-level officials to discuss, exchange ideas and good practices and identify priority areas for action in the region and their countries for learning recovery and transforming education and its systems. Chapter three of this report summarizes the good practices and identified priorities from the Ministerial dialogues. The technical segment and high-level segments were both introduced by scene setting plenaries that took stock on the state of education in the Asia-Pacific and gave the floor to youth representatives and civil societies organizations to share their views in order to ground the APREMC-II discussion in evidence and the aspirations and calls for actions from various stakeholders. 

Over 500 participants participated in APREMC-II (over 360 in person).  Some 201 government delegates from thirty-two countries participated to APREMC-II, including twenty-three ministers or deputy ministers. Moreover, representatives from youth organisations, civil society organizations, academia, United Nation agencies and multilateral organizations participated in this process.

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