Ed­u­ca­tion leads way to re­gional co­op­er­a­tion

China Daily (USA) - - VIEWS -

From the first Chi­naASEAN Ed­u­ca­tion Co­op­er­a­tionWeek in 2008 on “Work­ing To­gether for a NewChina-ASEAN Part­ner­ship” to the this year’s 9th CAECW, the devel­op­ments re­flect the or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee’s ef­forts to build the spirit of co­op­er­a­tion and part­ner­ship be­tween China and South­east Asian na­tions, work­ing around the “TripleHelix of co­op­er­a­tion”, which be­gins with learn­ing to ac­cept and know one another, de­vel­op­ing a sense of be­long­ing, and seek­ing ways and means to con­trib­ute and share ex­pe­ri­ences to fos­ter sus­tain­able re­gional devel­op­ment and peace through ed­u­ca­tion.

The ef­forts re­flect the truth em­bed­ded in a Con­fu­cius say­ing: “Ed­u­ca­tion breeds con­fi­dence. Con­fi­dence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” Craft­ing as well as de­sign­ing the best ed­u­ca­tion is an end­less process. Aris­to­tle said: “The roots of ed­u­ca­tion are bit­ter, but the fruit is sweet,” and “Ed­u­cat­ing the mind with­out ed­u­cat­ing the heart is no ed­u­ca­tion at all.” John Dewey took the ed­u­ca­tion phi­los­o­phy fur­ther say­ing: “Ed­u­ca­tion is not prepa­ra­tion for life; ed­u­ca­tion is life it­self.”

In 2014, the South­east Asian min­is­ters of ed­u­ca­tion, with their ax­iom of “lead­ing through learn­ing,” held a congress ti­tled “South­east Asia in Tran­si­tion: Re­think­ing Ed­u­ca­tion, Sci­ence and Cul­ture for Re­gional In­te­gra­tion”. The congress em­pha­sized re­gional co­op­er­a­tion and net­work­ing in ed­u­ca­tion to break the bar­ri­ers to eq­uity, equal­ity and ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion; dis­cussed strate­gies needed to achieve in­clu­sive ed­u­ca­tion in or­der to build an eco­nomic and so­cial safety net; and pro­posed seven pri­or­ity ar­eas to sus­tain the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion.

The 9th CAECW, whose theme is “Ed­u­ca­tion First, Make Dreams Come True To­gether”, is based on the phi­los­o­phy of the Chi­nese Book of Rites, which is fo­cused on the vi­tal role of ed­u­ca­tion for devel­op­ment, and the pro­ce­dure adopted for the co­op­er­a­tion week is “learn­ing by do­ing” in ac­tion. The theme of the event is quite vi­sion­ary. And con­sid­er­ing the size of the event, the mag­ni­tude of the vi­sion and the ef­forts needed to re­al­ize the vi­sion, the real chal­lenge will come dur­ing the fol­low-up pe­riod.

The 9th CAECWis di­vided into three parts: the warm-up pe­riod from Jan 1 to July 31, the cur­tainup (or the core ac­tiv­ity) pe­riod— on­go­ing in South­west China’s Guizhou prov­ince from Aug 1 to 7 — and the fol­low-up pe­riod from Aug 8 to Dec 31. The one-year ex­tended pe­riod has helped the 9th CAECWto widen the op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­changes, from univer­sity pres­i­dents, ad­min­is­tra­tors, re­searchers, stu­dents and other stake­hold­ers shar­ing their dreams to ed­u­ca­tion min­is­ters shar­ing their opin­ions at the pol­i­cy­mak­ers’ level.

“The 2nd China-ASEAN Ed­u­ca­tionMin­is­ters Round­table Con­fer­ence” is another key meet­ing that might pro­duce new­for­ward­look­ing pol­icy state­ments, although the chal­lenge is to im­ple­ment such pol­icy state­ments. Other parts of the event of­fer op­por­tu­ni­ties for dis­cus­sions among youths, de­lib­er­a­tions on health­care is­sues and ex­change of ideas on ed­u­ca­tion pro­grams.

The fol­low-up sem­i­nars in South­east­Asian coun­tries are a newad­di­tion. From the per­spec­tive of ed­u­ca­tion, they will be good plat­forms to dis­cuss spe­cific coun­try-based is­sues af­ter the gen­eral dis­cus­sions in the main event.

All in all, the 9th CAECWis yet another mile­stone in cre­at­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties for part­ner­ships and col­lab­o­ra­tions be­tween China and South­east Asian coun­tries. We have to thank and con­grat­u­late the or­ga­niz­ers for their tire­less ef­forts to im­prove the event from year to year.

And since the theme of the 9th CAECWis “Ed­u­ca­tion First, Make Dreams Come True To­gether,” the ques­tion to ask is: “What are those dreams? And how can ed­u­ca­tion make those dreams come true? Hope­fully, all an­swers will be pro­vided at the end of the 9th CAECW. The author is di­rec­tor of SEAMEO Sec­re­tar­iat (1 April 2011-31 March 2015) and Ad­vi­sor to the CAECWOr­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee.

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