Policy Briefs


ICT in ASEAN Education

Challenges and New Opportunities

The Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN) ICT Masterplan 2020 is focused on propelling the region towards a digitally enabled, integrated economy. ICTs in education offer opportunities for governments in ASEAN and other emerging nations to address such key education challenges of quality, equity, and efficiency and to develop their human capital. This is especially so for developing nations undergoing education reforms and with a large youthful demographic. The challenges can be resolved through the strategic use of ICTs when a holistic approach towards ICT in education is adopted (ADB, 2009, 2011; Ra, Chin & Lim, C.P, 2016).

ICT development in ASEAN varies greatly. Singapore, on the one end of the spectrum, is ranked 16th globally with an ICT Development Index (IDI) value of 7.90, while Myanmar is ranked 150th with an IDI value of 1.82. Only three countries — Singapore, Malaysia, and Brunei — are reported to be above the global IDI average value of 4.77. The region’s awareness of the need to improve education quality is growing and progress is evident in many areas. However, inequalities in quality teachers, infrastructure, and access still exist both within and between countries. To continue progressing towards the United Nations’ 2030 Goals for Sustainable Development for quality education (SDGs), it is imperative to find ways to provide equitable and inclusive education, as well as lifelong learning opportunities for all in the region. Having a clear vision as well as a strong and competent educational leadership are crucial for the region to continue progressing at all levels (UNESCO, 2008, 2014).

Based on the discussions from The HEAD Foundation’s ICT Policy Forum held on November 7-8, 2016, what is evident is that each of these ASEAN nations represented is on its own path for ICT development. Overall, it is fair to say that considerable progress is being made with ICT implementation in many schools within ASEAN.

About this Policy Brief

This policy brief was written by Professor Lim Cher Ping, Education University of Hong Kong and Dr Uma Natarajan on behalf of the HEAD Foundation. An initial draft of this policy brief formed the basis of a policy forum, which was held at The HEAD Foundation, Singapore on 7-8 November 2016. The authors thank Ms Laura Kuan for her assistance in earlier versions of this draft. We thank the forum participants for their contributions, some of which have subsequently been integrated into the policy brief document.

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