On 17-19 October, UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education organized the Education Research Institutions Network (ERI-net) annual meeting at Bangkok, Thailand. This year’s ERI-Net annual meeting was organized in partnership with Tokyo Institute of Technology (Global Scientific Information and Computing Center: GSIC) and with support from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan (MEXT) and Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE). 26 institutions in Asia and the Pacific were represented at the meeting by a total number of 40 participants from Australia, Hong Kong SAR, China, Japan, Mongolia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand.
Members of the ERI-Net, including Prof. Yamaguchi, Ms Onodera and Ms Kurokawa, gathered in Bangkok to present their preliminary research findings of this year’s topics: (1) integration of transversal/non-cognitive skills development in education policy and practice and (2) the transition from secondary education to higher education.
The two research topics, which come together under the umbrella theme ‘Transition to a Better and Higher Learning’, are highly pertinent to the Asia-Pacific region where many countries have embarked on important education policy reforms, such as re-organising their college and university admission systems and integrating non-cognitive skills in education policies and practices to encourage a more holistic and well-rounded development of learners.
The focus of the first day was “integration of transversal/non-cognitive skills development in education policy and practice”. Researchers from 10 countries/regions in Asia and the Pacific (i.e. Australia, Hong Kong SAR, Japan, Mongolia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand) made presentations on the topic. Through researchers’ presentations on non-cognitive/21st century skills, also termed ‘transversal competencies’ (a term participants at the meeting suggested be used to designate these skillsets), it became clear that although the definition, scope and application of the concept can vary between countries/regions, its value is gaining increasing attention and importance in most education systems. From GSIC, Prof. Shinobu Yume Yamaguchi, Ms Onodera and Ms Kurokawa presented on Japanese New Course of Study, which is deeply rooted to the unique educational concept know as “Zest for Living”. Participants also appreciated their detailed case studies on some MEXT pilot schools, which included innovative practices for nurturing “transversal competencies”.
Second day covered this year’s another topic, “transition from secondary education to higher education”. The case studies on the transition from secondary education to higher education highlighted that the nature, administration, purposes and goals of higher education admission policies vary greatly across the region. In particular, the research showed that the transition between the two education levels is by no means smooth and clear cut, and comes with a number of implications for secondary education and society at large.
In addition to presentations and discussions, on the last day, the meeting also saw the establishment and inaugural session of the ERI-net Steering Group, which will support overall programme activities and suggest and explore future research topics. Prof. Yamaguchi was selected as one of the eight steering group members. She actively contributed to the 1st meeting by indicating the needs of fostering partnership between policy makers and researchers to enhance and strengthen the ERI-Net further as an educational research network.
Established by UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in 2009, ERI-net aims to promote and enable regional collaboration among education research institutions on educational issues that are particularly relevant to the Asia-Pacific region. More information about ERI-net and past research topics can be found here.