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A week of "Strengthening Teacher Education Program (STEP)" training and forum has concluded, during which individuals with a shared vision and admiration for educational development gathered to discuss "how to produce tangible plans and implementations in response to nurturing more adept teachers."

As STEP (a program established by SEAMEO STEM-ED with Thai and international partners to foster more competent in-service and pre-service teachers) became more visible and coalesced with Indonesia and the Republic of Kazakhstan, Southeast Asian education standards started to see a glimpse of a promising future. A clearer path emerged as a result of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Thailand, Indonesia, and the Republic of Kazakhstan on 19 July 2023 at Avani Sukhumvit Bangkok Hotel. The MoU has bound SEAMEO STEM-ED, SEAMEO Regional Open Learning Centre (SEAMOLEC, Indonesia), and Caravan of Knowledge (Republic of Kazakhstan) together to ensure a shared commitment to educational reform.

 

Why STEP and why pre-service and in-service teachers?

In Southeast Asia, the need for education is apparent, as recent research conducted by the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) reported that high percentages of Thai students were failing to reach proficiency in literacy and mathematics by age 15.

Consequently, the results of national assessments in grades 6, 9, and 12 confirm this conclusion. The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) programme, which assessed 5th graders in five SEAMEO countries in 2021, has found similar patterns of performance. However, only Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam have shown patterns of student performance in mathematics and science that approach or surpass the OECD average PISA score.

A similar occurrence in Southeast Asian countries of inadequate teacher practice and practicum underdevelopment can tarnish education as a whole. More importantly, inefficient pre-service and in-service teachers not only lead to poor student performance but also hinder the production of future talents.