Editorial (Thomas) –
The COVID-19 pandemic and the effects of the shift to online education have revealed a large digital divide in countries in the Southeast Asia region that are considered to be the fastest growing Internet penetration in the world.
Among children who have access to digital learning opportunities and those who often do not happen in remote areas. Boys and girls who are most vulnerable to being affected by this digital divide.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused damage in several fields, including education, health and the economy of ASEAN member countries and countries of the world, while globalization and cultural integration in the ASEAN region and the world are growing rapidly.
In this regard, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted Indonesia’s learning system, for example. About 45 million students are unable to continue their learning activities at school. Schools have the flexibility to choose the most appropriate form of distance learning. However, the Government provides a free online portal and an online learning sharing platform to encourage knowledge sharing.
In order to provide budget support, a ministerial regulation was issued that allows the use of resources from the School Operational Assistance to subsidize internet expenses for students and teachers. Based on the Presidential Decree issued in 2020, the Ministry of Education’s budget is increased by 96 percent, with a large part of the budget aimed at supporting distance learning.
The main obstacle comes from inequality in infrastructure within and between islands. The digital divide has harmed many students during school closings, especially those from low-income families and rural areas.
The reduction of the infrastructure gap and digital exclusion has been included in several agendas of the ASEAN Interparliamentary Assembly (AIPA) since the last few years. At the last AIPA General Assembly, Indonesia also presented a cooperation resolution to overcome the challenges related to Industrial Revolution 4.0.
What happened as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak attracted great attention from a group of representatives of the people who are members of the parliamentary organization AIPA. Those who are members of AIPA continue to strive to strengthen their role in ASEAN in order to become a frontline institution to help strengthen and strengthen ASEAN.
If ASEAN is an association of 10 countries in the Southeast Asia region, AIPA will be an association or assembly of parliaments or legislative bodies of ASEAN member countries.
Like legislative institutions in general, the main objective of this assembly is to make references or proposals for policies related to the development of interests and issues in the Southeast Asia region, which are expected to be implemented in ASEAN member countries: Brunei Darussalam, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia. , Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Vietnam, which will become president of ASEAN and AIPA in 2020, has prepared to hold the 41st AIPA General Assembly, which will be held virtually from 8 to 10 September 2020.
In order to promote mutual understanding between the countries of the region, the National Assembly of Vietnam took the initiative to host a conference on the ASEAN Parliamentary Partnership for sustainable development in the region.
The chosen theme is cultural and educational cooperation that aims to exchange views on the cultural values characterized in relation to universal values in the fields of culture and education, for the ASEAN Unit in Diversity. This initiative is supported collectively by ASEAN member countries.
ASEAN must find more innovative ways to address today’s infrastructure challenges for seamless connectivity. This will include innovative ways of dealing with the infrastructure deficit in the region.
To create educational opportunities and distribute educational opportunities to the public, Thailand, for example, has a real project called Distance Learning Television (DLTV), which was launched on December 5, 1995 to help eliminate educational inequality.
DLTV offers the same quality of education, learning and teaching among participating schools. It also helps to solve the problem of teacher shortages efficiently. The project has been successful for over 20 years helping to reduce inequality in education.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of schools was part of the government’s measures to control and contain the spread of COVID-19. DLTV was selected and presented to Thai children at all levels as an alternative learning system.
The apprenticeship system is not mandatory. It just gives children a chance to review their materials and spend their time wisely before school reopens.
The AIPA conference aims to allow parliamentarians and AIPA partners to consider cooperation mechanisms in education and culture that lead to the implementation of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for sustainable development, which then contributes to the advancement of ASEAN’s cultural identity, building ASEAN communities of wealth , prosperity and sustainable development.
As legislators, parliamentarians need to take measures consistent with the mandate and commitment to sustainable development, as stated in the HIPO Declaration of the 132nd UIP Assembly: “Sustainable Development Goals: Turning words into action” by April 2015.
At this AIPA conference, Hanoi will focus on the topic of cooperation in the fields of education and culture as the main issues that play an important role in building the ASEAN Social and Cultural Community.
In the development of a country or nation and of all humanity, education and culture are fundamental bases for the advancement of social progress and sustainable development.
Educational and cultural cooperation in recent years has been strengthened and promoted among ASEAN member countries and, as a consequence, has achieved extraordinary results.
However, there are still several obstacles to education by the National Education Agency, such as a growing gap in the quality of education, management standards, budget allocated to education, lack of systematic connectivity between national training programs, mutual recognition of qualifications , internationalization of diplomas in the region.
In addition, the preservation of cultural heritage in ASEAN also faces considerable challenges as a result of climate change, natural disasters, pollution and other consequences of the excessive use of tourism.
In the margins of the 36th ASEAN Summit on 26 June, an online meeting was held between the leaders of ASEAN and AIPA, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as President of ASEAN 2020, President of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, President of the 41st AIPA chaired the meeting.
Speaking at the meeting as the 41st President of AIPA, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, greatly appreciated ASEAN’s joint efforts to face unprecedented challenges and support their implementation. Indeed, ASEAN’s initiatives continue to accompany and support the governments of ASEAN countries in implementing pandemic control and mitigation solutions.
Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan emphasized that his party wanted to do more coordination between AIPA and ASEAN at all levels. On this occasion, he proposed three areas that AIPA would promote in collaboration with ASEAN: From a political point of view – security, AIPA continues to strengthen cooperation to ensure transparency and openness., A law-based approach that emphasizes the central role from ASEAN.
AIPA Parliament recognizes the importance of peace, stability, security, protection and freedom of navigation and aviation, especially in the South China Sea, and promotes trust building and preventive measures to increase trust between the parties.
The parties need to avoid engaging in behavior that could complicate the situation; continues to resolve disputes through peaceful actions under international law, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), actively works for the full and effective implementation of the Declaration on the Conduct of the SCS Parties (DOC) of 2002 as a whole and preliminary conclusions of the region’s effective and substantive Code of Conduct (COC).
At the same time, AIPA proposes to strengthen substantive cooperation between AIPA and ASEAN, promote partnerships in regional connectivity and increase the capacity of ASEAN countries to respond to non-traditional security issues.
Economically, in the context of contributing to the construction of an inclusive and resilient ASEAN Economic Community, the AIPA member parliament is committed to press for the ratification of regional agreements and agreements for greater cooperation to develop policies for the development of the circular, energy economy renewable energy, innovation, proactive adaptation to the Industrial Revolution. 4.0; prioritizing the strengthening of efforts to resolve the negotiations and the initial signature of the Regional Integral Economic Partnership (RCEP).
From a socio-cultural perspective, AIPA encourages the improvement of the roles of women, children and the elderly in the implementation of socio-economic development policies, welcoming ASEAN’s efforts in 2020 to promote gender equality and empower women.
AIPA calls on ASEAN member countries to further increase the spirit of friendship, cooperation, responsibility, respect for diversity in ASEAN and, at the same time, expand exchange, support and develop sustainable tourism.
*Muhammad Anthoni is a former senior editor at the Thomas News Agency
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