On the afternoon of 2 November 2021, the Teacher Education Centre of UNESCO (UNESCO TEC) and the ASEAN-China Centre (ACC) co-hosted the “Empowering Rural Teachers: China-ASEAN Teacher Professional Development Forum”. Representatives of embassies and consulates of ASEAN Member States (AMS) to China, such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam, representatives of ACC, officials from the Ministry of Education of China, Shanghai Municipal Education Commission, and experts from Shanghai Normal University and other domestic universities attended the forum online and offline. The forum focused on the experience and models of rural teacher professional capacity building, aiming to promote mutual communication and exchanges and strengthen the cooperation in the field of teacher cultivation between ASEAN and China.
Dr. Chen Qun, Vice Mayor of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government and Board Chairman of UNESCO TEC, Dr. Andi Yulanti Ramli, Vice Deputy to the Minister of Maritime and Investment of Indonesia, Mdm. Pasupha Chinvarasopak, Minister Counsellor of Education and Science of the Embassy of Royal Thai, Mr. Qin Changwei, Secretary General of China’s National Commission for UNESCO, Mr. Wang Ping, Director General of the Shanghai Municipal Education Commission and Dr. Yuan Wen, President of Shanghai Normal University addressed the opening ceremony.
Dr. Chen Qun stated that the cultivation of rural teachers is the key factor to make up for the shortcomings of education development. It is the common pursuit and important task of all countries to construct qualified rural teacher staff. The Shanghai Government has always attached great importance to the development of rural teachers, continuously promoted the integration of rural and urban education, rationally allocated education resources and unblocked the channels for teacher development. In the future, Shanghai will further strengthen the construction of rural teachers teams with the help of UNESCO TEC and ACC, and make education a new highlight of cooperation between China and AMS.
Dr. Andi Yulanti Ramli pointed out that Indonesia has the largest population in Southeast Asia and is the world’s fourth most populous nation. The Indonesian Government has always given priority to the development of human resources. The Coordinating Ministry for Maritime and Investment of Indonesia is committed to improving the quality of human resources, coordinating with all forces to strengthen vocational education and training, and improving the level of teacher development. This forum, as an excellent platform for educational cooperation and exchanges among AMS and China, is expected to invigorate the development of Indonesian rural teachers and further promote the development of rural education and rural revitalisation.
Dr. Pasupha Chinvarasopak stated that the development of rural teachers is one of the key factors to promote national progress. Rural education still faces many challenges, such as low teaching quality and the shortage of teachers. This forum aims to further boost rural revitalisation and improve the living standards of people in the region through rural teacher empowerment, so as to promote the transformation and upgrading of economy and social governance reforms.
Mr. Ren Youqun, Director of the Department of Teacher Education of the Ministry of Education of China, Mr. Yaya Sutarya, Education and Culture Attaché of the Embassy of Indonesia to China, Mr. Phoxay Thepvilayvong, Education and Culture Counsellor of the Embassy of Lao PDR to China, Mr. Abdul Aziz How Abduliah, Education Counsellor of the Embassy of Malaysia to China and Mr. Tang Jui Piow, First Secretary of the Embassy of Singapore to China delivered keynote speeches on topics of the Experience of Anti-Poverty Volunteer Teachers in China, Empowering the Professional Development of Rural Teachers in Indonesia, Impacts of the New Normal to Lao Teachers in Teaching and Learning, Enhancing Teacher Professionalism in Malaysia, Uplifting Teachers and Students through Scholarships and International Exchanges respectively.
It is agreed that education equality is an important issue at present, and teachers play a key role in the education system. Comprehensively strengthening the capacity building and the professional development of rural teachers helps to improve the quality of rural education and to promote the realisation of inclusive and equitable quality education. ASEAN and China will continuously strengthen the collaboration in teacher capacity building, deepen talent training, improve innovation capability and enhance research and practice on teacher professional development.