The 5th Asia Pacific Meeting on Education 2030 (APMED 5) is set to take place in Bangkok from 1-4 October 2019. With this year’s theme – Delivering Inclusive and Equitable Quality Education in the Era of Lifelong Learning and Sustainable Development – APMED 5 is an important policy meeting for civil society organisations to engage and ensure that governments deliver on the “Leave No One Behind” commitments of the Education 2030/SDG 4.
APMED 5 will focus on Target 4.1(ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes) and Target 4.6(ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy)and explore progress and challenges towards implementing and monitoring foundational learning and skills for all age groups. APMED focuses on specific targets, allowing for more in-depth discussions and analyses of the regional capacity needs and priority action areas.
The aim of the meeting is to understand how Member States are progressing towards implementing the SDG Targets 4.1 and 4.6, and to facilitate cross-national exchanges and sharing. As such, the focus will be:
- To take stock of regional progress, issues, and challenges towards achieving SDG Targets 4.1 and 4.6.
- To clarify and create a shared understanding of the definition, strategies, and monitoring issues regarding SDG Targets 4.1 and 4.6.
- To identify and build consensus on capacity building needs, including monitoring, for SDG Targets 4.1 and 4.6.
- To prepare the region for the mid-term progress review in 2020-2023.
- To discuss the agenda for the 2nd ministerial meeting on SDG 4-Education 2030 in 2020.
Approximately 250 key stakeholders have been invited from relevant organisations within and outside the Asia Pacific region. Invited guests include government officials, non-governmental organisations, and civil society organisations in the Asia and the Pacific who are responsible for SDG4 planning, monitoring, and statistics.
A total of 29 civil society participants are ASPBAE members: 10 are part of the official delegations of their governments and 19 endorsed by ASPBAE for participation. Along with ASPBAE staff, they constitute the ASPBAE delegation in APMED 5. Among the ASPBAE delegates are youth representatives and representatives of organizations of the deaf.
ASPBAE Executive Council members Ehsanur Rahman of Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM, Bangladesh), Kim Anh of the Vietnam Association for Education for All (VAEFA), and Kialala Devette-Chee of the PNG Education and Advocacy Network (PEAN) are attending APMED 5 along with ASPBAE staff, Cecilia (Thea) Soriano, Bernie Lovegrove, and Medha Soni.
The meeting will also convene the 3rd SDG4 National Coordinators’ Network meeting to discuss plans for – (i) the 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Ministers’ Conference (APREMC) in 2020, and (ii) the regional mid-term progress review (MTR), among others.
Civil society preparatory meeting for APMED 5
The Civil Society Preparatory Meeting to APMED 5, to be held on 30 September 2019, will be a moment for civil society organisations (CSOs) to agree on key policy recommendations for SDG 4 and focused policy asks for SDG 4.1 and 4.6. It will also discuss tasking to make sure that messages are disseminated and linkages are forged with government representatives and other key decision-makers in education.
Within ASPBAE, national education coalitions and other ASPBAE NGO members have pursued policy studies, done case studies on effective social protection strategies to ensure that students and learners from disadvantaged groups are able to fully exercise their right to education. They have put forward recommendations on financing equity in education that will promote affirmative actions for marginalised communities who are left behind in education, towards universal access to quality early childhood education, primary and secondary education, and adult literacy. Importantly, within the network, there is a wealth of experience in youth and adult literacy programmes implemented within a broad framework of economic, social, and political empowerment. These programmes have generated lessons, curricula, methodologies, support strategies that can inform a systems-approach to delivering SDG 4.6 through formal, non-formal, and informal means in the public education system.
To make a strong case for the civil society agenda in APMED 5, CSOs need to pin down urgent issues and strategic policy recommendations that need governments’ attention. The attention to equity and inclusion in Target 4.1 must be reiterated, considering that countries are lagging behind in addressing disparity in provision of quality education within regions in the countries. Importantly, youth and adult literacy, especially delivering on women’s literacy, must never be neglected as what happened during the Education for All period. CSOs must insist that neglecting women’s literacy is a violation of the rights of women to exercise their other rights and realise their full potentials as individuals and members of the community.
Participants of this CSO meeting will agree its key policy recommendations and messages that will ensure equity and inclusion in the implementation of SDG 4.1 and 4.6. They will also identify strategies to highlight the work of CSOs and their role in implementing and monitoring SDG 4, and highlight the need to institutionalise inclusive CSO participation at the country level. And ensure that the voices of the marginalised are heard in APMED 5.
In developing the CSO advocacies for APMED 5, participants will be drawing on earlier policy work, notably the outcomes of the 16 CSO Spotlight Reports on SDG 4 as summarised in the Regional Synthesis, and on the ASPBAE advocacy messages on Adult Learning and Education (ALE) for APMED 5.
Parts of this write-up draws from the APMED 5 Concept Note.