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Bangkok, 31 May 2024 - Following the success of the 2023 Field Trial, the SEA-PLM programme launched its 2024 Main Survey, with Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Vietnam leading the first batch of implementation.


More than 20,000 students and parents, along with over a thousand teachers from more than 500 randomly selected schools across these countries, are contributing to the comprehensive monitoring of student learning outcomes in basic education. SEA-PLM is supported by the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund.


Utilizing regionally-developed instruments on reading, writing, and mathematics including global citizenship, alongside contextual questionnaires, the 2024 Main Survey collects relevant information on students’ proficiencies and captures factors affecting learning in basic education in the region. Leveraging on strong collaboration between the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, partners, and the Ministries of Education, the 2024 Main Survey upholds stringent adherence to the SEA-PLM technical standards, embracing best practices gleaned from international large-scale assessments.


Photo Collage Student Participation in Main Survey

School personnel including SEA-PLM nominated school coordinator and test administrator, representative from the central, provincial, and district offices of the ministries of education, IQMs from ASEAN Secretariat, Korean Education Development Institute (KEDI), Korea Institute for Curriculum Evaluation (KICE) and the SEA-PLM regional secretariat in Lao PDR, Philippines, and Vietnam.


During the administration of the 2024 Main Survey in the three countries, representatives from esteemed organizations such as the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, ASEAN Secretariat, Korean Education Development Institute (KEDI), and Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) served as International Quality Monitors (IQM). Their presence was instrumental in maintaining rigorous standards and ensuring the high quality of data collection processes throughout the survey implementation.. 


The commencement of the SEA-PLM 2024 first batch of main surveys marks the initiation of a year-long data collection endeavor. As preparations unfold for the second batch, attention now turns to the remaining SEA-PLM participating countries, namely Cambodia, Malaysia, Myanmar, and Timor Leste. 

For media inquiries and more information, please contact:

Rizky Ashar (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.), SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat

Many Southeast Asian countries have made Global Citizenship Education (GCED) a national priority, incorporating it into policies and practices in basic education. This implies a deliberate and structured effort to make GCED a significant and integral component of the educational system. The integration, however, varies considerably in scale and approach. These are the major findings of the latest policy brief “Promoting Global Citizenship Education: Policies and Practices in Southeast Asia” produced by the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat 


The report examines the implementation of GCED across various countries, assessing its integration into basic education. The findings offer valuable insights into national practices and strategies, highlighting GCED's role in enhancing equity and quality in education. This report serves as a guide for further exploring GCED's impact and potential in improving basic education in the region. 


If you are a policymaker or educator in Southeast Asia looking to enhance your understanding of Global Citizenship Education (GCED) implementation, this policy brief offers invaluable insights and possibilities. Explore the details of the policy brief in the link below: 

SEA-PLM Policy Brief "Promoting Global Citizenship Education: Policies and Practices in Southeast Asia”

Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam | Rizky Ashar. The SEA-PLM highlighted its ongoing effort to address equity and quality issues in basic education at the recently concluded Centres Policy Research Network Summit 2024 held in Brunei Darussalam on 23-25 April.  This year's summit gathered education policymakers, researchers, and stakeholders from across Southeast Asia to discuss how to foster inclusivity in key sectors and prepare the region for a future-ready world. 


The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) programme shed light on the findings of the SEA-PLM 2019, focusing particularly on equity issues such as learning disparities between boys and girls, characteristics of low-performing readers, teacher workforce, and children’s well-being. Additionally, socioeconomic status exacerbates these disparities, with students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds performing better than those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. Regarding teachers, the SEA-PLM report identifies numerous challenges, including the need for professional development, improved pedagogical practices, and enhanced instructional strategies. Furthermore, the SEA-PLM findings revealed an intrinsic relationship between creating safe school environments and the improvement of learning outcomes.


These insights stemmed from regional thematic studies aimed at promoting equitable and quality basic education in Southeast Asia. The SEA-PLM programme, as the region’s large scale student learning assessment and capacity building initiative, emphasized the importance of using robust data and evidence to inform educational policies and practices.

The SEAMEO Centres Policy Research Network CPRN Summit 2024 participants and speakers Group Photo

 The SEAMEO Centres Policy Research Network (CPRN) Summit 2024 participants and speakers


Mr Alejandro Ibanez, SEA-PLM Project Manager, encouraged the participants to leverage SEA-PLM datasets, methodologies, and tools to advance research and policy initiatives in basic education. He underscored the importance of regional collaboration in tackling the learning crisis and challenges related to education quality and inequities within basic education across Southeast Asia. As the participating countries continue to collaborate through programmes such as SEA-PLM, the region gets closer in accelerating foundational learning through a a fair and inclusive education for every child. 

Pattaya, Thailand | Rizky Ashar & Alejandro Ibanez. The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, alongside the programme Co-chairs from the SEAMEO Secretariat, represented by its Director Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim, and UNICEF EAPRO’s Regional Education Advisor  Ms Mitsue Uemura, gathered to  craft the next strategic plan for the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) programme, underpinning its continuous growth and impact on learning outcomes and educational policies throughout Southeast Asia  on April 29-30, 2024.


With funding support from the UK International Development through the ASEAN-UK SAGE programme, the workshop brought together key stakeholders to engage in comprehensive discussions, review past achievements, and set the way for future developments. The workshop underscored SEA-PLM’s unwavering commitment to enhancing educational quality and equity across the region. 

Mr. Li Kai Chen Facilitated the session                    Participants have a group discussion


The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat and its programme co-chairs from SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF discussed the strategy development and sustainability framework.


Facilitated by Mr Li Kai Chen, a seasoned consultant with prior experience at McKinsey, the two-day planning workshop in Pattaya was designed to review the current strategic plan while shaping a forward-looking agenda. Through comprehensive discussions, the workshop assessed the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the current program, providing a robust foundation for future enhancements. Visioning sessions on strategy development and sustainability framework facilitated in-depth conversations among participants, leading to the review and development of the revitalised Theory of Change and sustainability framework to ensure alignment with regional educational commitments. Furthermore, the workshop prioritised the identification of key areas and the development of initial work plans for new program pillars.


The 2021 - 2025 plan laid a strong foundation, and it is an important step to make continuous adaptation and improvement. The new plan will build on past successes, address existing gaps, and ensure the SEA-PLM programme remains relevant and effective in the evolving educational landscape.


Looking ahead, the forthcoming strategic plan will build on the successes and lessons learned from the current and previous cycles. It will navigate challenges posed by post-COVID-19 context, while steadfastly accelerating the advancement of foundational learning in Southeast Asia. The insights from the workshop will inform the development of the strategic note, laying the foundation for the sustainability of the programme. With this direction, the outcomes of the workshop will entail enhancing the regional structures of the programme to better align with the long term vision in elevating basic education quality in Southeast Asia. 

The Technical Standards serve as the guiding principles for survey activities within the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) assessment, 2024 cycle, aimed at generating a high-quality regional dataset. These standards establish a reference point for assessing the compliance of data quality and project implementation procedures by participating countries and technical organisations involved in SEA-PLM 2024, enabling effective monitoring.

The Technical Standards have been updated and approved by the SEA-PLM 2024 bodies drawing upon the SEA-PLM 2019 regional and national experiences, as well as the latest programme developments. The standards promote the need for consistency, precision and generalisability of the collected data, while also acknowledging the necessity of a certain level of variability inherent in a regional assessment of this nature.

Dili, Timor Leste | Anieluz Pastolero: Timor Leste has firmed up its plans and preparations for the administration of the Main Survey after embarking on the critical in-country planning workshop facilitated by the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, in collaboration with Timor Leste's National Team. Timor Leste is part of the second batch of countries to conduct the Main Survey beginning in August 2024.

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Members of the National Technical Team from the Ministry of Education participating during the workshop discussions.

Over the course of the four-day workshop, the National Team, in close collaboration with the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, strategised and planned for the successful execution of the Main Survey. Together, they identified standard national activities and necessary resources essential for the seamless implementation of the Main Survey. Throughout the workshop, intensive discussions centred on understanding SEA-PLM 2024 technical standards, aiming to refine and tailor these standards into Timor Leste's unique context. Likewise, emphasis was placed on the effective allocation and utilisation of resources, ensuring that each component of the Main survey operations was meticulously planned and executed.

IMG 20240315 WA0007

The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, National Team, and ACER during the culmination of the workshop sessions discussing the Field Trial psychometric results in reading.

In addition to the comprehensive planning sessions, discussions delving into Timor Leste's national psychometric report from the Field Trial were also conducted by the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat alongside its technical collaborator, the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The session served as a capacity building opportunity for the National Team to unpack the results in reading and the implications of these results in terms of curriculum reform, teaching and learning enhancement, and classroom assessment strategy. 

The event garnered positive feedback from the National team highlighted by Mr Abraão Ribeiro Mendonca, the SEA-PLM National Project Manager, who conveyed the teams’ commitment in leveraging the acquired insights and information from the workshop. They aim to enhance the planning and execution of the Main Survey and extend these strategies for the refinement of their national learning assessments. 

Beyond the tactical planning, the workshop facilitated stimulating discussions and knowledge exchange sessions, fostering a deeper understanding of the intricacies involved in developing and managing international large-scale assessments. 

Siem Reap, Cambodia | Anieluz Pastolero: Back-to-back with the 14th SEA-PLM Regional Steering Committee, the High-Level Regional Conference on Foundational Learning, collaboratively organised by the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, SEAMEO Secretariat, UNICEF EAPRO, and the ASEAN Secretariat, spotlighted the enduring crisis in foundational learning as well as the progress, gaps, and opportunities for accelerating foundational learning across the region. Drawing from the findings of SEA-PLM 2019 and other international comparative large-scale assessments, substantial gaps in literacy in reading, writing, and math among primary school students have persisted even before the pandemic, underscoring the urgent need for concerted efforts to support learners across the region.

Several themes and issues were unpacked by the Ministries of Education in the region and foundational learning experts throughout the discussions, ranging from empowering teachers, supporting learners, transforming curriculum, early childhood learning, and financing primary education. The platform provided a rich set of perspectives to key actors in the education arena on the bottlenecks and opportunities to improve the learning crisis, particularly on cultivating foundational learning of children in the region.

Regional Strategy Snapshot

The conference concluded with the formulation of the regional priorities for action on foundational learning, aligning with the strategies identified during SEAMEO’s 6th Strategic Dialogue for Education Ministers in February 2023, as committed by the 11 SEAMEO member countries. The outcome document of the Conference will be released upon final consultation with countries. The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, with its technical collaborators, is also gearing up for the launch of the SEA-PLM regional reports focused on improving foundational learning across the region, with topics ranging from early childhood learning, equity factors, learning trajectories, and the exploration of global citizenship education.

The event was held on 23 February 2024 and attended by delegates from the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund and the Ministries of Education of Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Viet Nam. Representatives from the Global Coalition on Foundational Learning also took part in the panel discussions, including the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, USAID, UNESCO, UNICEF, and World Bank, together with the education and policy experts from the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, Korean Educational Development Institute, Association of Southeast Asian Teacher Education Network, SEAMEO CECCEP, ACER, and British Council.

Siem Reap, Cambodia | Anieluz Pastolero: The SEA-PLM programme kicked off 2024 with the convening of its 14th SEA-PLM Regional Steering Committee meeting, engaging countries and partners in achieving milestones outlined in the SEA-PLM 5-year Strategic Plan. As the programme is poised to begin its second round of assessment, 2024 Main Survey, the meeting focused on the final stages of preparation.

Throughout the meeting, the national technical teams from the seven participating countries, namely, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste, and Vietnam, along with the SEA-PLM technical collaborators, cApStAn LQC and ACER, shared insights from their Field Trial experiences and provided updates on their Main Survey preparations.

Moreover, the meeting also served as a platform for presenting the main findings and policy directions from SEA-PLM regional studies contributed by the UNICEF Innocenti—Global Office of Research and Foresight and De La Salle University. The research presentations showcased the depth of insights gleaned from SEA-PLM 2019 data, enriching the understanding of various equity factors affecting student learning.

Beyond the Main Survey, several dialogues with key partners and technical collaborators were facilitated by the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, aimed at sustaining and enhancing existing partnerships as the programme enters a critical phase in the implementation of its second cycle.

The conclusion of the 14th Regional Steering Committee meeting saw the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat providing guidance and direction to participating countries regarding the schedule of activities for the upcoming year, emphasising commitments to the work plan designed to promptly deliver the results of the SEA-PLM 2024 assessment.
ROK Ambassador and KH Minister

Notably, the steering committee meeting welcomed the esteemed presence of His Excellency Lee Jang-keun, Korean Ambassador to ASEAN, who reaffirmed the Mission’s continued support for SEA-PLM’s vital work in monitoring and enhancing the quality of learning across the region. His Excellency also lauded the strong partnership between the programme and Korean educational institutions, KEDI and KICE, which plays a crucial role in bolstering the region’s capacity to leverage evidence in improving basic education in Southeast Asia.

In addition, the meeting was honoured by the attendance of His Excellency Dr Hang Chuon Naron, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education, Youth, and Sport of Cambodia, who emphasised the significance of the SEA-PLM 2024 Main Survey. He shared insights into Cambodia’s policy reforms and efforts within the Ministry, guided by the SEA-PLM 2019 data and findings. These reforms encompassed enhancements in teacher training, curriculum development, textbook revision, expansion of pre-school facilities, and fostering parental involvement in schools.


The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat with its co-chairs, SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF EAPRO, and funding partners, the ASEAN Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund and the ASEAN Secretariat

The 14th Regional Steering Committee Meeting also provided an opportunity for programme co-chairs, SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF EAPRO, to convene with the ASEAN Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF) and the ASEAN Secretariat for the 4th SEA-PLM Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting.

In this PSC meeting, the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat presented an overview of the progress made in fulfilling the SEA-PLM project workplan within the broader SEA-PLM programme regional workplan. As the culmination of the initial phase of the AKCF project draws near, deliberations centred on strategic planning and measures to seamlessly conclude the second cycle and transition to the third cycle, including the 3rd round of assessment, SEA-PLM 2028.

With the guidance of AKCF and ASEAN Secretariat, the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat has indicated its readiness to manage forthcoming processes and protocols to ensure the continued commitment of SEA-PLM in monitoring and improving student learning outcomes in the region.

Among the distinguished participants of the regional steering committee meeting were representatives from the SEA-PLM Core Member countries of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Timor Leste, and Vietnam. Additionally, Honorary Member countries of Brunei Darussalam and Thailand were in attendance, alongside delegates from the ASEAN Secretariat, ASEAN-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund, ACER, cApStAn LQC, British Council, Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, Korean Educational Development Institute, UNICEF, and UNESCO. The events took place from 21st to 22nd February 2024 in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Seoul, Republic fo Korea | Apiradee Treerutkuarkul: The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) Regional Secretariat has advanced the preparation for the Main Survey in 2024 by hosting the 3rd SEA-PLM Regional Technical Workshop from 11 to 15 December 2023, in collaboration with the Korea Institute for
Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE).

This collaborative effort engaged participating countries and partners in active discussions surrounding the psychometric results of cognitive and contextual instruments. National experiences gleaned from the Field Trial operations showcased best practices and lessons learned that can help inform the Main survey operations. Guided by the SEA-PLM technical standards, countries deliberated and agreed on the final selection of test items, instruments, procedures for the upcoming assessment scheduled for next year.

Training attendees

Crucial to this regional event was the annual gathering of national technical teams, essential for aligning and synchronising national and regional calendars and expectations. The alignment aimed to ensure a seamless and timely execution of programme activities both at the regional and national levels.

Field trial in the Philippines presentation

Present during the event were the national teams of Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Timor Leste, and Viet Nam, co-chairs of the SEA-PLM programme—SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF EAPRO, key partners from AKCF and ASEAN Secretariat, technical experts from ACER and cApStAn LQC, among other collaborators of the programme.

Dr. Jimin Cho, Vice-President of KICE, acknowledged the significant milestones achieved in preparing for the 2024 assessment. Dr. Cho also articulated a vision of transforming the program into a sustainable and robust mechanism for monitoring student learning outcomes in the region.

Training completion certification

The SEA-PLM Co-chairs, led by Datuk Dr. Habibah Abdul Rahim, Director of SEAMEO Secretariat, and Ms. Mitsue Uemura, Regional Education Advisor of UNICEF EAPRO, commended the diligent efforts of participating countries and the guidance provided by technical partners. They emphasized the foundational work undertaken to facilitate the successful execution of the Main Survey the following year. Furthermore, they urged all workshop participants to not only focus on assessment plans but also to recommit to the core objective of the programme – collectively enhancing the quality and equity of education across the region.

The Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) is at the forefront, providing invaluable technical assistance to the SEA-PLM participating countries, namely Cambodia, Lao PDR, and Myanmar (CLM), as a contribution to the pillars of the SEA-PLM programme.

The core mission of the partnership between the SEAMEO Secretariat, through the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, and KICE supports the fulfilment of one of SEA-PLM’s guiding pillars, empowering CLM countries in analysing assessment data and developing capacities to improve national education policies and practices through the co-implementation of contextualised capacity-building workshops.

Delegates from Myanmar Delegates from Myanmar (left) and Cambodia (right) participated in hands-on activities on item development aligned with Math-based curriculum during the first day of the workshop

As part of the capacity-building component of the SEA-PLM programme, KICE meticulously crafted a comprehensive face-to-face training programme for the CLM countries, taking place on 9-10 November 2023 in Seoul, South Korea. This two-day workshop will build upon the foundations laid in the online workshops, enhancing competencies in utilising evidence derived from the SEA-PLM learning assessments.

A series of online capacity-building workshops have been conducted, focusing on developing essential skills in analysing large scale assessment data and utilising evidence to elevate education policy and delivery. In the first online workshop held from 25 November to 05 December 2022, 54 CLM delegates engaged in discussions about curriculum alignment and were introduced to test development for school and classroom-based assessments. The second online workshop, held from 12 to 29 June 2023 and attended by 82 CLM delegates, provided in-depth and sustained training on assessment theories and data analysis. This was achieved through the analysis of SEA-PLM 2019 data and further aggregation at the country-level.

Dr Jimin Cho, Vice President of Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE) Dr Jimin Cho, Vice President of Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE)

In her opening address, Dr Jimin Cho, Vice-President of KICE, highlighted the Korean education experience, emphasising the pivotal role of assessment in shaping curricula and enhancing teaching and learning as crucial components for educational improvement.

Tailored for educational experts and practitioners within the Ministries of Education from each CLM country, the training programme focused on key topics tailored to their unique education contexts.

Delegates preseting at the workshopDelegates from Cambodia (left), Lao PDR (middle), and Myanmar (right) presented workshop outputs in reading and writing on the second day of the workshop

The training programme, designed by KICE in collaboration with the SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat, is part of the SEA-PLM programme’s main objective, which is to leverage the use of evidence in improving technical capacity of participating countries on assessment in order to monitor learning outcomes and enhance the quality of basic education in their respective countries.

Delegates from Cambodia and MyanmarDelegates from Cambodia (right) and Myanmar (left) doing hands-on activities on data analysis on the second day of the workshop

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