12 June, 2008

Prepare students for rapid change, say APEC Ministers

Lima, Peru, 12 June 2008 -- Workers need "to go to higher levels" and to develop their propensity for "critical thinking, creativity, teamwork and self-learning", according to ministers throughout the Asia-Pacific. A Joint Statement issued by APEC Education Ministers anticipates rapid technological change and the need to transcend borders in accommodating them.

"It is not enough to be skilled in Mathematics or grammar," explains Peruvian Minister of Education and Chair of the Meeting, Jose Antonio Chang Escobedo. "Societies are becoming increasingly interdependent. In order to succeed in the future, students will need to be able to share their skills, to collaborate and to cooperate with others. They will need to adapt quickly to change and find solutions to problems that do not even yet exist." They recommend integrating ICT into classroom instruction.

Education is a substantive priority across APEC - not only as a social issue but as a fundament in defining economies and economic relations in the future. "Well educated citizens," says the Statement, "not only contribute to but also make for the social, economic, and sustainable development of our 21 Economies within just societies that value knowledge, promote a culture of peace, understanding and diversity."

Recognizing at once the diversity among cultures as well as a marked escalation in the number of trade agreements and level of regional cooperation, Ministers will concentrate efforts on developing among students the "competencies of the 21st Century...needed to succeed in all aspects of life, beyond the workforce, as an individual, a family member, community member and global citizen."

To this end, they say, curriculums should place critical emphasis on:

* Mathematics and science as a way to navigate in a data-driven and technological world, regardless of occupation;
* Career and technical education, preparing students to make multiple career transitions and to adapt to new technological innovations;
* Learning each other's languages to communicate across cultures; and
* Integrating information and communications technologies into classroom instruction.

While the actual roadmap may vary among economies, there is broad consensus as to desired outcomes and the statement includes a clause citing as imperative systematic educational reform.

The entire Joint Statement can be found at the APEC website:

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