SCORING the apparent lack of participation of the education sector, Foreign Affairs Assistant Secretary Teresita Barsana urged them to start preparing for the full economic integration into Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Economic Community in 2015.
Barsana said the country’s education leaders and stakeholders should work together to strengthen and improve educational opportunities for the Filipino children and make full use of the Asean to be able to compete with their counterparts in the region.
“We hope that the education sector will use the mechanisms and programs in place to further propel our country and our people to be among the best in Asean. We hope that the education sector will participate actively in regional cooperative programs to develop a qualified, competent and well-prepared citizenry that would benefit from, as well as, cope with the challenges of Asean regional integration,” Barsana, the country’s director-general for the Asean Affairs, said in her keynote address during the 5th Congress of the Coordinating Council of Private Educational Associations (Cocopea).
The Asean integration was one of the highlights in the Cocopea’s annual assembly, which was attended by educators, members of various academic institutions and students. This year’s event, which ran from February 20-21, has the theme “Leading Philippine Education for Global Excellence.”
Given that education sector serves as an engine of economic growth, Barsana stressed that the national government is committed to put education as the central strategy for investing in the Filipino people, reducing poverty and building national competitiveness.
“We need the education sector to help us promote Asean awareness and a sense of community; to create a sense of belonging among our youth and a deeper appreciation and understanding of the diversity of Asean,” Barsana said, believing that educational institutions play a key role in promoting awareness of Asean’s diverse culture and heritage, and in fostering a feeling of “belongingness” to an Asean community and an Asean identity.
According to Barsana, there is a low level of Asean awareness among the public, including the business sector. She cited a 2012 survey on Asean Community Building Efforts, which showed that 55 percent of businesses know the basic information on Asean, while 30 percent lack any basic knowledge of Asean.