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Press Statement ACET 2015

3 – 5 AUGUST 2015 (Day 1)

The Asia Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET) 2015 commenced with the Welcoming Remark by Mr Gwang Jo Kim, Director, UNESCO Asia and Pacific to almost 650 delegates from Malaysia, international participants and high-ranking officials from member countries comprising of Secretaries of State, Director Generals of Education, policy advisors and Directors.

In attendance were also nine (9) Ministers from the Asia-Pacific region – Afghanistan, Fiji Island, Kiribati, Maldives, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Samoa and Solomon Islands. Deputy Ministers from Kyrgyzstan and Lao PDR were also present at the conference. The Honourable Minister of Education Malaysia, Datuk Seri Diraja Mahadzir Khalid graced the event, presenting the welcoming remark. He emphasized the need for countries to prioritize TVET, placing it within mainstream education to ensure youths are equipped with the skills which will enhance their employability rates.

The theme Making Skills Development Work for the Future was deliberated through the plenary and concurrent sessions involving a total of 22 presenters from various participating countries. In Plenary Session 1, the issue of labour market trends and their implications on skills development strategies in the Asia-Pacific region was examined. The session also looked at the impact of the ASEAN Economic Community on the labour market and skills development, job creation policies and practices in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Three international and one local presenter discussed how the investment in education and training could provide significant returns to individuals.

Plenary Session II presented a general overview on trends, challenges and opportunities for skills development, particularly in light of changes in job structures and characteristics. The session also outlined concrete strategies and priority action areas to identify issues and challenges. New insights into skills needs, working models and best practices were also highlighted.

Five concurrent sessions involving 15 international and local presenters were held between 2.30 – 4.30 pm, each looking into training and employment. Session 1 focused on The Economy and the Informal Sector: Opportunities and Challenges in TVET, while Session 2 discussed various policies and programmes related to youth skills development and employment.

Session 3 presented the preliminary findings of a research study that took stock of the green jobs supporting low-carbon transitions in the Asia Pacific region and shared experiences on greening TVET and skills across the UNEVOC Network. The role of Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) to improve the delivery of relevant, effective and quality TVET for employment was deliberated in Session 4, where the private sector shared the critical success factors that determined how PPPs can help deliver quality learning outcomes to students.

In Session 5, participants were exposed to transversal skills and entrepreneurship in the workplace and the innovative practices of infusing these skills in post-secondary education. 10 exhibition booths were set up showcasing best practices in TVET by representatives from Malaysia’s Technical Universities, Community Colleges, Polytechnics and Vocational Colleges.

In his speech during the exhibition launch, The Honourable Deputy Minister of Education Mr P Kamalanathan reaffirmed that the Malaysian Government would intensify collaboration with industry to increase intake into TVET, to enhance the quality of programmes and institutions and to improve overall branding and profile, in line with the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025. 

Ministry of Education Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
3 August 2015


3 – 5 AUGUST 2015 (Day 2)

The second day of The Asia Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET) 2015 resumed with the welcoming address and overview of Day 1’s session presented by Mr Cheoi Hee Kim.  Plenary Session 3 focused on the efforts to integrate ICT as a way to improve the quality of TVET and highlighted innovative ICT-supported teacher training programmes to improve teachers’ instructional practices in formal and informal TVET programmes.  In Plenary Session 4, participants discussed lessons learnt for partnership-building from the process of establishing the ASEAN Qualification Reference Framework (AQRF) in the effort to strengthen partnerships and coordination within and across borders.

UNESCO's Deputy Assistant Director-General for Education Dr Qian Tang reiterated the message from the Shanghai Conference in his Keynote Remark that there is a need to transform TVET in order ‘to make the most of its potential to stimulate innovation and to bolster vibrant societies’.  He called upon member countries to make TVET a national agenda.  This, he believed would require greater investment in the effort to achieve a better match between the skills people acquire in education and training and those needed in the labour market.  The conference was informed of UNESCO’s effort to encourage member states to adopt the post-2015 Framework for Actions which outlined the vision, rationale and fundamental principles of Education 2030.

The highlight of the second day was the Keynote Speech delivered by The Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Dato’ Seri Idris Jusoh.  The Minister drew the participants’ attention to envision the scenario in 2030, where the global workforce was expected to increase to 3.5 billion; however, a surplus of 90 million low and medium skilled workers was projected.  Thus, it is now imperative to analyse the current trends and challenges to resolve future uncertainties.  Policy makers need to be more proactive to address unpredictability in the labour market in growing economies around the region and beyond.   The Minister outlined several pertinent policies that can be adopted to ensure that TVET programmes will continue to generate high skills and high productivity among workers to sustain growth.

The concurrent sessions continued in the afternoon with 18 international and local presenters sharing their experiences and expertise on TVET.  Session 1 showcased the achievements made in enhancing TVET’s relevance in the Asia Pacific region based on the findings of two recent progress reviews.  In Session 2, feedback from the participants was gathered based on the preliminary findings from a UNESCO research study which examined innovative practices of harnessing the potential of ICT in TVET in the Asia Pacific region. 

In order to ensure that quality in TVET was not compromised, Session 3 explored efficient and effective mechanisms and tools of quality assurance in TVET.  Session 4 provided insights into pre-service and in-service TVET teachers’ training programmes.  The discussions focused on the strategies to address existing skill gaps of TVET teachers in the Asia Pacific region.  In Session 5, participants discussed how international and regional networks could contribute to the development of National TVET systems and provided recommendations to policy makers. 

In the final session of the day, key messages and conclusions of the plenaries, concurrent sessions and the closed-door ministerial discussion were deliberated upon. The final draft of the outcome statement will be presented on the last day of the conference. 

Ministry of Education Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
4 August 2015


3 – 5 AUGUST 2015 (Day 3)

The last day of The Asia Pacific Conference on Education and Training (ACET) 2015 continued with the welcoming address and overview of Day 2’s session presented by Mr Borhene Chakroun, Chief of the UNESCO Section for TVET at UNESCO Headquarters. The participants deliberated the content of the Kuala Lumpur Declaration – Quality Education and Skills Development for Sustainable Future which took into account the developments made in TVET in the region since the Third International Congress on TVET 2012 held in Shanghai.

The Kuala Lumpur Declaration called for eight (8) recommendations. These are to:
1. Enhance the quality of TVET and its relevance to the changing needs of the world of work;
2. Ensure inclusive and equitable TVET;
3. Expand lifelong learning opportunities through TVET;
4. Integrate greening skills for sustainable development in TVET programmes;
5. Adapt qualifications systems to facilitate learning and career pathways;
6. Strengthen governance and increase investment in TVET;
7. Leverage the potential of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for TVET; and
8. Foster regional integration and labour mobility.

The conference also called upon member states to implement the action framework for TVET development in the Asia Pacific and pledged continued commitment to TVET and skills development in this region.

In a press conference after the adoption of the declaration, The Honourable Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching highlighted that this was a historic event for Malaysia as the Kuala Lumpur Declaration was unanimously accepted by the participants of the conference. The preparation of the declaration itself underwent a comprehensive and rigorous process as it involved input from ministers and high ranking officials of the member states and the participants of the conference.

The Ministry of Education and the Minister of Higher Education Malaysia are committed towards the implementation of the recommendations for TVET in the Kuala Lumpur Declaration as they are in alignment with TVET initiatives in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, the Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025 and the 11th Malaysia Plan 2016-2020.

The session continued with the discussion on the next steps after ACET 2015 and outlined concrete actions at regional and national levels to implement the recommendations proposed in the declaration. The participants agreed that member states need to foster stronger collaborations in the effort to implement these recommendations.

In her closing speech, The Honourable Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Mary Yap supported the call for member states to promote sharing of experiences, knowledge and peer learning through regional organisations, platforms and networks. She emphasised Malaysia’s commitment to implement the initiatives for TVET and for Malaysia to play a greater role in the transformation of TVET in this region.

Ministry of Education Malaysia and Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia
4 August 2015