UNESCO-ICHEI hosts Regional Conference on Quality Assurance of Higher Education in Asia-PacificJune 16, 2017
On the 15th of June 2017, the Regional Conference on Quality Assurance of Higher Education in Asia-Pacific was held in Wuzhou Guesthouse, centrally located in Shenzhen. The event attracted more than 100 top education industry leaders from over 30 countries. It was jointly organised by the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok, Thailand and the Section of Higher Education UNESCO in Paris, in collaboration with the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the International Centre for Higher Education Innovation under the auspices of UNESCO (UNESCO-ICHEI), based in SUSTech.
The event will last two days and aims to bring together regional education leaders to share experiences on innovative policies and practices in higher education, build a better understanding of quality assurance and raise awareness about non-traditional modes of education such as MOOCs and blended learning. The final objective is to shape the regional consensus in a set of reports for the UNESCO 2018 International Conference on Quality Assurance in Higher Education in Paris, and define the Shenzhen statement on quality and inclusive higher education in Asia and the Pacific.
Gwang-Jo Kim, Director of UNESCO Bangkok gave an opening speech in which he thanked the organisers of the event, and underlined the importance of education and cooperation in the region. Quoting Daxue, a classical Ancient Chinese philosophy work, he said the purpose of the gathering was to try and transform higher education in each one’s own country as well as in the Asia-Pacific region so as to deliver access to quality education for all. He reminded the audience the importance of their presence, that they have a shared responsibility to cultivate quality not only in higher education but across all levels of education, and that there is “no finish line for our pursuit of higher education – no ending point in a lifelong pursuit ‘of the perfection of humanities’.
Mr Kim was followed on stage by Li Ming, Director of UNESCO-ICHEI. During his speech, Li introduced the centre’s activities in developing international research and innovation, and connecting universities around the Asia-Pacific region. In particular he made reference to the Belt and Road Initiative, and said in its perspective the centre has established particularly close relationships with universities in Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Egypt, Cambodia, Djibouti and various other countries involved in the initiative. He said the centre’s objectives are to bring together education institutes and industrial companies, such as the partnerships established between SUSTech and Huawei. He also underlined the importance of ICT, and how education institutions should make the most of them to prepare students for their future careers, but also to deliver access to education to the more remote places of the world. He finally concluded his speech by thanking UNESCO, the Shenzhen government, the Chinese Ministry of Education and SUSTech, who provide support to the centre to pursue its activities.
Liu Jiachen, Deputy Secretary General of the Shenzhen Municipal Government gave the audience an in-depth presentation on Shenzhen’s history, economic development, industries, and future projects. Mr Du Yue, Secretary-General of the National Commission of China for UNESCO reported on the objectives and the ambitions of the conference as well as the global one in Paris to be held in 2018.
During an exclusive interview, Mr Kim,said he believes the ultimate aim of education is to “perfect ourselves, to try and reach a state of goodness”. He went on to explain that education is not just about learning and teaching, but about helping people and serving the community through research and innovation. He pointed out that most challenges mankind face, like diseases, natural disasters, and climate do not take into account national boundarie:,. Therefore higher education should also be transnational in order to advance in solving these challenges together.
He stated that China is a leader in this field and that universities from all around the region should have the possibility to reach out and play an active role in the community. On this aspect he said that the key is to look back into the great classical Chinese works and philosophies of thinkers such as Confucius and Laozi, who understood very well the importance of serving the public. Finally he concluded that the way forward is to combine traditional legacy with today’s innovation, in order to tackle the contemporary challenges in a responsible and dynamic way, in the image of the city of Shenzhen, and that such meetings were significant to bring people together and inspire them to lead the way towards a better future.
The event will continue throughout Friday 16th, during which speakers from Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, France and other countries will deliver talks on stimulating and innovating topics. Group workshops will also be held to encourage exchanges of ideas and connections between the top education bodies of the region to further progress education across the world and leverage new technologies.