The idea of establishing an APEC Education Forum—which is the body that preceded the APEC Education Network (EDNET)—was first broached in the APEC Educational Ministerial Meeting held in 6 August 6 1992 in Washington, D.C.
To address the need of each APEC member to ensure that its education standards respond to the needs of the 21st century, ministers from the then 14 APEC member economies declared their intent to engage in mutually beneficial cooperative activities in education. For the purposes of developing and implementing these joint activities, and carrying on further discussion on high-priority education issues, the ministers agreed to endorse and support the establishment of the APEC Education Forum.
The ministers agreed that this forum would also serve as a communication link among APEC members, for discussions about education-related issues, and declared their intention to engage in specific, mutually beneficial joint initiatives of exchanging information and people for education-related purposes.
Today the EDNET operates within APEC’s Human Resource Development Working Group (HRDWG). The network is considered a significant platform where many APEC-badged projects and initiatives have been implemented through collaboration to promote the well-being of all people and to achieve sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the region.
The Education Network (EDNET) dedicates itself to
- Developing 21st century knowledge and skills for all
- Integrating human resources development into the global economy
- Addressing the social dimensions of globalization, which align with the objectives of the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG)
The EDNET publishes documents such as the APEC Education Strategy 2016–2030 and its Action Plan to provide systematic guidance and conducting various projects to promote education quality in the APEC region.
Through these publicly available documents, the EDNET fosters strong and vibrant learning systems across APEC member economies, promoting quality and equitable education to enable people of all ages to enhance competencies, accelerate innovation and increase employability through cross-border education cooperation.
Two EDNET meetings are usually held annually at the sidelines of the APEC Senior Officials’ Meetings. At the Annual EDNET Meetings, delegates from APEC member economies and other relevant multilateral organizations will convene to share education-related information and best practices, coordinating joint projects, activities and initiatives, as well as plan future work. The annual priorities of the EDNET meetings are shifted and directed in accordance with the theme of corresponding APEC Education Ministerial Meetings and the Leaders’ priorities.
Workshops aiming to push forward the joint projects, activities and initiatives of the network might be held periodically as needed with the participation of officials, academics and experts from APEC member economies and other organizations.
The APEC Education Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) is typically held every four years in the APEC host economy. At the meeting, education ministers and senior officials from APEC member economies meet to review the progress of joint activities, projects and initiatives undertaken by APEC member economies, survey the impact of current trends on education within the APEC region and chart future directions for cooperation in education. The preparatory work for the AEMM will be coordinated by the EDNET, and the priorities of the EDNET will be shifted and directed in accordance with corresponding AEMMs.
As one of the most active networks of the Human Resources Development Working Group (HRDWG), many collaborative educational projects have been implemented by the EDNET.
In recent years, the projects conducted by EDNET mainly fell under, but were not limited to, the following list of themes and topics:
- Culture Education
- Education Cooperation
- Information and Communications Technology (ICT)
- Teacher Quality
- Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
- Higher Education Quality
- Cross-Border Education
- Student, Researcher and Provider Mobility
- Higher Education
- Skill Development
- TVET and Qualification Framework
- Quality of Education and System-Wide Improvement
- Cross-Border Education & Academic Mobility
- Qualification Framework
- Skill Development and Career and Technical Education
- Education Innovation in the Digital Age
- 21st Century Competencies and Structural Education Reform, etc.
APEC Education Strategy
Faced with challenges posed by rapidly changing regional and global economic environments, especially what has been called the Fourth Industrial Revolution, APEC economies have reached consensus that there is a need for an overarching framework for engagement in education and training and lifelong learning among APEC economies.
The EDNET has been working on developing the APEC Education Strategy to guide future joint actions in the sphere of education in APEC region. Through the collective work of 21 APEC members and other multilateral organizations over more than one year of discussion and consultation, the strategy was finalized in 2016 and endorsed by the 6th APEC Education Ministerial Meeting (the 6th AEMM).
The APEC Education Strategy is the forum’s first education blueprint. The strategy reflects not only the importance given to education development and education cooperation by APEC member economies, but also the increasingly important role of education in economic growth and integration in the region. It creates a vision for education development leading up to 2030, spells out three objectives of education development in the coming years, and proposes nine priority actions as well as implementation levers to achieve these objectives.
The 2016 APEC Leaders’ Declaration highlights the initiative:
“We encourage our economies to collaborate on improving education in the Asia-Pacific region under the principles established in the APEC Education Strategy. This strategy outlines a path for achieving a strong and cohesive APEC education community characterized by inclusive and quality education that supports sustainable economic growth and social well-being, enhances competencies, accelerates innovation and increases employability.”
The strategy was also noted in the 6th APEC Education Ministerial Meeting Joint Statement:
“We endorse the APEC Education Strategy to be used as a framework to guide future projects and collaborative initiatives for the benefit of the region.”
Action Plan of APEC Education Strategy
The Action Plan of APEC Education Strategy is a follow-up to the APEC Education Strategy endorsed by the 6th AEMM and noted in the 2016 APEC Economic Leaders' Declaration. It elaborated a vision, approaches, targets and indicators, instruments and tools, and a monitoring and reporting mechanism to push implement and measure the progress of the APEC Education Strategy.
It was developed by all 21 APEC economies over eight months through thorough discussion at two workshops, several consultative sessions in Viet Nam; the United States; Russia; and China, respectively. It has also gone through 10 rounds of on=line consultations that involved 21 economies, which attracted 1812 comments and suggestions from 16 economies.
In 6 November 2017, the action plan was endorsed by the Concluding Senior Officials Meeting held in Da Nang, Viet Nam, and was noted in the 2017 APEC Ministerial Meeting Joint Ministerial Statement: “We acknowledge the progress made in implementing the APEC Education Strategy 2016–2030, and welcome its Action Plan to guide our work to promote competencies, innovation and employability in the APEC region.”
The action plan opens up new landscape of education collaboration by sharing the knowledge and information on the basis of nine substantive targets as well as thirty measurable and achievable indicators to develop a strong evidence base to underpin education work and inform the development of policy. It also marks a new approach to education collaboration by suggesting new tools and instruments. It suggests a new way to monitor the progress of education development at the economic or regional level. The action plan sets APEC apart as an example to the world of a multi-lateral platform facilitating education development and collaboration practically and relevantly.
The ENDET works with a wide range of partners in the sphere of education globally, which is firmly embedded in the network’s way of working at both the economy and regional levels. By joining forces with its partners, the EDNET could create a synergy of resources, expertise and competencies to promote its objectives.
EDNET has a long tradition of partnering with institutions, universities as well as other multilateral organizations such as the Association of Pacific Rim Universities, UNESCO, the OECD, the World Innovation Summit for Education, and the World Bank.
The way in which the EDNET works with its partners takes various forms, such as:
- Inviting partners to participate in Annual EDNET Meetings and participating in meetings and events held by partners;
- Co-hosting meetings, workshops and activities, etc.;
- Sharing relevant information and resources with partners to promote education development and to contribute to policy-making in the APEC region and worldwide;
- Combining expertise for project delivery through consultation, meetings and joint projects to support each other.
Alongside so many partners devoted to education development and increasing human capital, the EDNET aligns its goals with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and other key international education development plans. Moreover, a close connection between the EDNET and its partners makes an international education community a reality.