Lankan delegation attends APREMC-II

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Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha led the Sri Lanka delegation for the Second Asia-Pacific Regional Education Ministers’ Conference (APREMC-II), from 5 to 7 June 2022, in Bangkok, Thailand. The Conference held on hybrid modality under the theme ‘Education Recovery and Transformation towards more Responsive, Relevant and Resilient Education Systems: Accelerating Progress towards SDG 4- Education 2030’, was attended by Ministers of Education from across Asia at the Shangri-La Hotel in Bangkok and WASCO-organised by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok), UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO), and the UNICEF Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA), and hosted by the Ministry of Education of Thailand with the support of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan.

The three-day conference was inaugurated by Her Royal Highness Princess MahaChakriSirindhorn with Minister of Education Treenut Thienthong, Deputy Minister of Education K. Hunying Kalaya Sophonpanich. Director of the UNESCO Bangkok Office, Shigeru Aoyagi, Director of UNICEF Office Debora Comini, Chairman of the UNESCO Executive Committee Tamara Rastovac Siamashvili and UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Education Stefania Giannini addressed the gathering andUN Secretary-General Envoy on Youth Jayatma Wickramanayake made a virtual statement.

During the Ministerial roundtable discussion, Minister Premajayantha stated, “Under reforms to teaching and learning, the need for curriculum reforms for teachers and students alike to equip the teachers for professional development and to empower the learners to have the skills and flexible pathways required for life and work, to be employable and to contribute to changing socio-economic needs should be given due focus and attention.” He emphasised that to build back better post-Covid-19 for adolescents and youth, education, training, and retraining systems needed to be strengthened and make more flexible for secondary level education through the establishment of multiple and flexible learning pathways and lifelong learning and training opportunities for general and technical and vocational education and training including the recognition of previous learning, validation of skills, career guidance and counselling. He further stated that “Investments should also be made into the Rising Skills of the 21st Century, since as of 2020, 42 per cent of the core skills required for a job will have changed. We therefore need to map out what our existing talent is capable of and investing into reskills early can help take the sting out of disruption. At the end of the Conference, the Bangkok Statement -2022 “Towards an effective learning recovery for all and transforming education in Asia-Pacific” was adopted.

Minister Premajayantha had a bilateral meeting with Director of the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Bureau for Education Shigeru Aoyagi and explained the prevailing financial crisis in Sri Lanka followed by the Covid-19 pandemic and challenges faced by the Education sector and implementing digitalisation and smart classrooms. Director Shigeru Aoyagi invited the active participation of the Minister in Preparatory meeting of UNESCO in Paris on 28 June. Minister Premajayantha also had bilateral discussion Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, and exchanged views on enhancing co-operation in the fields of Information and Communications Technology, Science, Technology and Innovation and Research with the UNESCAP.

From the Sri Lanka Mission in Bangkok Ambassador and Permanent Representative C.A. Chaminda I Colonne, and First Secretary A.W.S. Samanmali were included in the delegation andDirector of the Ministry of Education of Sri Lanka B.P. Vithanage joined the delegation virtually.