June 22, 2021 – Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones on Thursday underscored that education is a shared responsibility, calling for the involvement of all sectors during the 5th Strategic Dialogue for Education Ministers (5th SDEM).

“Education has become, and it is obvious now that it is, a shared responsibility. We call for the involvement of all sectors of society, in addition of course to the Ministries of Education who are leading these efforts. It is a shared responsibility because of the added threat — the health threat in our countries,” Secretary Briones said.

The Education Chief also noted that challenges in the education sector cannot be separated from the problems arising in the society, particularly in the economy and crises such as COVID-19.

“The impact of COVID in economy, for example the Philippines has been badly affected and has resulted in the loss of thousands of jobs which also limits the capacity of parents continue sending their children to school,” she added.

Briones explained that to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and other societal problems, the Department of Education (DepEd) has developed a learning continuity program with the help of organizations and government agencies.

Through the Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP), DepEd has introduced blended learning and addressed the digital divide by increasing digital learning support to schools and communities that needed it the most.

In line with this, Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Council President Chan Chung Sing stressed that education is truly a shared responsibility and collaboration across countries will help learners to achieve a well-rounded education.

“What doesn’t change is what Secretary Briones mentioned, which is the saying, ‘it takes a village to bring-up a child’ and this collaboration between parents, the teachers, the society, is so important in the well-rounded education that we will like our children to experience,” SEAMEO Council President Sing emphasized.

Moreover, H.E. Sing said education through digital and blended learning will widen the capabilities of learners in creating a better future.

“This experience of full-home-based learning provided us  a glimpse of the future reality, where pandemic or not, our students and workers will need to be 100% digitally literate and abled. And it strengthens our intention to prepare every student, especially those with less resources, tools, and capabilities to drive in this digital future,” he said.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Minister of Education His Excellency Dr. Radzi Jidin mentioned that the openness of SEAMEO member countries to technology and digital learning is an integral component of the region’s strategy in learning continuity.

This year, Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones was elected as the Vice President of the SEAMEO Council (SEAMEC) 2021-2022 and as the Vice-Chairperson of the conference, and as part of SEAMEO’s tradition, the current SEAMEC’s Vice President will assume presidency in the next Council Meeting in 2023.

The 5th SDEM was attended by the Ministries of Education from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Myanmar, and Thailand. It was first conceived in 2014 as a venue to share country practices, review priority areas, and agree on the general directions of the SEAMEO.

The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education (SEAMEO) is a regional intergovernmental organization among governments of Southeast Asian countries that promotes the enhancement of regional understanding and cooperation in education, science, and culture.