The looming ASEAN integration in December this year poses a lot of questions in the mind of citizens of ASEAN member countries. Among these questions are from the education sector especially on the challenges and opportunities which can open up by the said integration?
To begin answering this question, one has to know the very purpose on which ASEAN was founded. ASEAN was founded “to drive economic, social and cultural progress on the foundation of solid regional peace,” said Prof. Federico M. Macaranas of the Asian Institute of Management.
The economic integration is geared towards regional co-opetition blending the element of cooperation and competition. As envisioned in the 1996 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, education is one of the areas which can help in attaining ASEAN’s goal for prosperity and equitable growth.
According to Prof. Macaranas, “Reaching regional harmonization in education is not very distant given the current significant developments.” Regional harmonization is fast accelerating because of increasing international student mobility, deepening research cooperation and networks. As such, there are opportunities unfolding with these events.
Challenges however arise from standardization of ‘quality’, institutional diversity, quality assurance systems, research funding, disparities in national migration policies and war for skills. Looking at the Philippine situation, we have shortcomings in human resource as can be deduced from the results of competitive ranking and global surveys.
To address these challenges, educators will play a significant role and they have to look into the following specific courses of action:
- Reforming the curriculum geared towards collaborative learning between management and S&T.
- Emphasis on Science and Math education leading to evidence-based discussions
- Not ‘credentialing system’ graduate education
- Quality-assured masteral and doctoral programs bench-marked with top research institutions
- Eco-tech cooperation in ASEAN with focus on intra-regional collaboration
- Programs for faculty and student exchange, distance learning and university-academe linkages
It is therefore imperative that the development of educational institutions lies within the standards of regionalism and integration. As such it will not only result to competitive human resources but also to a technologically advanced ASEAN society.
(From the presentation of Prof. Federico Macaranas of the Asian Institute of Management to Sisters of St. Paul of Chartres.)