Seameo Innotech Center director and former Education secretary Leonor Briones
MORE than 200 youth leaders from the 10-member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), plus East Timor, gathered on June 27 and 28, 2023 for the “Youth Summit 2023: Transforming Education in Southeast Asia” at the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (Seameo) Regional Center for Educational Innovation and Technology (Innotech) in Quezon City.
Officials and representatives from international development organizations also participated in the first international youth-led summit hosted by Seameo Innotech to heed the call to transform education in the region.
Organized and moderated by the youth leaders themselves, the “Youth Summit 2023: Transforming Education in Southeast Asia” provided a unique opportunity to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda.
It served as a platform where young people could voice their opinions, share knowledge and innovations, engage with fellow youth and key stakeholders, and convey their collective recommendations on transforming education.
“This is a wonderful transformation of how the youth can convey their views on what our policymakers could do to take care of them. Focus on the youth is one of the major thrusts of Seameo Innotech. Legislators pass laws, bureaucrats issue memoranda, and teachers tell us how to behave and give us tests, but we must hear from the young people themselves,” Seameo Innotech Center director and former Education secretary Leonor Briones said in her welcome remarks.
She likewise reminded the delegates of the transformational power of youth.
“After all, it is your future. The time will come when you will be running your respective countries, the time will come when you will be occupying positions of responsibility, [and] the time will come when you will demand change. So you will give feedback to the policymakers, give feedback to the people, on what you will consider important to you,” she said.
At the opening of the two-day summit, youth leaders shared the Youth Declaration, laying out their collective recommendations on the transformation they want to see, along with their commitments for action on education.
The Youth Declaration demands that policymakers include youth in education-related policy design, implementation and evaluation. It also appeals to decision-makers to invest in youth leadership and inclusive education.
Ilan Enverga, SDG advocate and member of the Youth Summit 2023 Core Team, led the presentation of the Youth Declaration.
“[The] youth are not just here to complain. Youth are here to help education ministries and to work with education ministries to address the disconnection between top down policies and the problems happening on the ground,” he said.
After the opening program, the youth leaders led the parallel presentation of their programs and innovations through breakout sessions discussing key issues such as youth leadership, inclusive education, digital learning and transformation, learning support, learning through arts and technology, entrepreneurship, environmental resilience, and psychosocial and mental well-being.
The other members of the Core Team were Bui Y Nhi from Vietnam, Joshua Villalobos from the Philippines, Peggy Tek Pei Yee from Malaysia, Prim Rajasurang Wongkrasaemongkol from Thailand, Si Thu Wai from Myanmar, and Veronica Pereira from East Timor.
The second day of the summit was dedicated to the panel discussion, where the youth leaders presented their concrete recommendations to high-level government representatives from the Department of Education (DepEd) and Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines, Seameo Innotech, Asean Secretariat, Unicef Philippines, Unesco, and other international development organizations, who in return gave their Commitment of Support.
The summit concluded with the collective commitment of the youth leaders and the panel to further shape the future of education. The concrete recommendations will be formally submitted to the United Nations and Asean government bodies to champion cross-sector and multilateral cooperation in shaping the transformation of education beyond the borders of the region. They will continue to monitor the progress until the success of the Youth Declaration.
Seameo Innotech, on the other hand, will use youth-led solutions and concrete recommendations for future programs to develop innovative approaches to education.
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