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Nine steps to reverse education disruption in Southeast Asia

London, 7 June 2022 – Today, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Secretariat and Cambridge Partnership for Education (Cambridge) reveal nine recommendations to tackle the biggest problems in education in Southeast Asia.  The Cambridge-ASEAN policy brief is being launched at an event hosted by British Expertise International in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training Viet Nam, represented by the Viet Nam Embassy in London.

Megan Thomas
School children in Thailand

In 2021, ASEAN reported that Covid-related school closures affected the quality of education for more than 152 million children across its member states. Separately, public opinion poll specialists Gallup estimated education satisfaction in Southeast Asia fell from 85% to 63% in the first year of the pandemic – the largest drop of a region worldwide. Southeast Asia had been on top for education satisfaction.

Cambridge-ASEAN’s policy brief responds to the latest discussions with Ministers of Education to suggest tangible action to reverse disruption to quality education.

Not all countries experienced the same education challenges or experienced them to the same degree in the wake of Covid-19. However, the ‘Recover Learning and Rebuild Education’ roundtable with ASEAN Ministers of Education on 16 March found significant common ground – including the varying definitions of learning loss and possibilities for ‘smarter’ curriculum compression.

The roundtable discussion is summarised in the Cambridge-ASEAN policy brief. It provides the bases for recommendations which focus on learning loss, access, and resilience. They include:

  • Nations must build on recent digital transformation to increase access to education. Though Southeast Asia made strong progress in increasing internet and device access and developing education technology over the past two years, there is still a long way to go.
  • National learning loss solutions need to consider mental health and wellbeing of people in schools to ensure effective learning. Through the disruption to school life created by the pandemic, people have lost more than knowledge and skills.
  • Governments and organisations should prioritise addressing learning loss for younger students, vulnerable students, and people on vocational pathways. School closures have had a more significant impact on these groups. Cambridge and ASEAN suggest governments need targeted approaches to offset this.

Jane Mann, Managing Director of Cambridge Partnership for Education, said that:

there is a strong appetite among ASEAN leaders to transform education – to reverse the challenges of the pandemic, and build the foundations of a more sustainable and resilient future. International dialogue and strong partnerships are key to support governments in achieving their goals.

On his part, Dato Lim Jock Hoi, Secretary-General of ASEAN, added that

we must acknowledge the digital divide that exists in many countries in the region. In ensuring inclusiveness, we need to provide more equitable access to technologies and services for citizens and geographical locations that market often overlooks such as remote, rural and underserved areas.

Derrick Sanyahumbi, CEO of British Expertise International commented:

our members were honoured to engage with Ministries of Education in the ASEAN region around the ‘Recover Learning, Rebuild Education’ report back in March – and it gives us great pleasure to host the launch of the policy brief as a direct follow up to this engagement. British companies provide unrivalled expertise in the education space, and it’s great to continue to build on our positive relationship with the ASEAN member states.

At today’s launch, ambassadors considered how they can use this policy brief to support teachers and learners in their home nations. The recommendations have also been shared with Ministers of Education and their teams. Read all nine recommendations in the report.


Megan Thomas, PR & Communications Manager, Cambridge Partnership for Education (

Cambridge Partnership for Education

Part of the University of Cambridge Cambridge Partnership for Education works with governments, ministries of education and international development organisations to improve the quality of education systems. The Partnership combines expertise from Cambridge University Press & Assessment to work on education from every angle – from systems analysis and policy recommendations to curriculum to teacher training. They seek to co-design evidence-based solutions with partners which effect sustainable change, supporting learners around the world to reach their goals and find their place in a modern, inclusive society.  


The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the Founding Fathers of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand.

Brunei Darussalam then joined on 7 January 1984, Viet Nam on 28 July 1995, Lao PDR and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999, making up what is today the ten Member States of ASEAN.  One of the aims set out in the ASEAN Declaration is to accelerate the economic growth, social progress and cultural development in the region.

British Expertise International

British Expertise International is a unique business development organisation dedicated to supporting their members to explore, assess and win business opportunities globally in all forms of infrastructure, capacity building and international development. BEI’s particular focus is the dynamic and growing markets of Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America and Southeast Europe.

BEI members range from some of the UK’s largest companies, to some of the smallest. They work across a range of sectors from infrastructure to education, health and international development, but all share a common goal of exporting the best of UK expertise in professional services.

Within the membership of BEI there are a number of organisations who provide education services. These members are part of the BEI Education Working Group, which aims to incubate collaborative approaches and facilitate information sharing.

They offer a wide range of expertise, knowledge and products designed to bring the best of UK-based expertise in teaching and learning, support services, content creation, consultancy, training and capacity building to the international market.