2008 International Conference on APEC Education Foundation Funded Projects

Lima, Peru, 09 June 2008
  • Remarks by Ambassador Juan Carlos Capuñay, Executive Director, APEC Secretariat
I would like to thank the APEC Education Foundation for their kind invitation to speak with you this evening and to share with all of you some views on the importance of education in APEC's work for the development of the Asia Pacific. The APEC Education Foundation has been a significant partner of APEC in its quest to promote the sustainable development of the region. And this is particularly true in 2008, as we consider the paramount importance of the social dimensions of the APEC agenda.
We know that by considering those sectors of society which have traditionally been marginalized, we will improve the regional economic capacity and this will lead to an improved quality of life for all of us.
This is particularly true with regard to education. Those economies who invest the greatest percentage of their national budget in education experience the highest GDPs.
Similarly, aware that education leads inevitably to health and prosperity, the United Nations has included education in the Millennium Development Goals - a blueprint of the world's leading development agencies, aimed to bring an end to poverty. Evidence shows that educated communities are less susceptible to disease and better nourished. Women who are literate are less likely to suffer physical abuse. And economic opportunities are more readily available to those who have received a formal education.
Today, we must congratulate the AEF on the successful conclusion of the 2008 conference. For it also marks ten years of AEF support to education and human resources development in the Asia Pacific region.
To date, the AEF grants program has provided over US$2 million in funding for research and scholarships and for initiatives that advance cooperation and exchanges among educational institutions in APEC on areas including professional development for teachers, distance learning and educational management. Its projects have brought the benefits of ICT to schools, to women, to small and medium enterprises and to other marginalized groups. In so doing, the AEF has contributed greatly to the bridging of the IT gap.
The digital divide is an enormous impediment to the ability of the people in the Asia-Pacific region as they seek to participate in and benefit from the digital economy. In a globalised world, access to internet, adequate infrastructure, appropriate policies on ICT and human capacity building through education and training are a fundament of success in all sectors. Those who are prepared to meet challenges will enjoy tremendous opportunities.
This year, at the Symposium on "Education to Achieve 21st Competencies and Skills for All: Respecting the Past to Move Toward the Future" held in Xi'an, China, recommendations focused on math and science, language and learning, career and technical education and ICT and systemic reform. Education is a definitive factor in the ability of people throughout the Asia-Pacific if they are to thrive in a globalized economy and to reap the benefits of free and open trade in 2010 and 2020 for developed and developing economies, respectively.
Education will be the single most important tool for sustainable development off the Asia Pacific. By acquiring language skills, developing the ability to think critically and innovatively, expanding ICT skills and adopting the very best practices in education, APEC will contribute to the development of the citizens of the new century.