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Wednesday, 03 August 2022 | Merina Cahya Anggraeni

Bangkok, Thailand: The second SEA-PLM Project Steering Committee (PSC) Meeting took place on 25 July 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. Key members of the SEA-PLM programme attended the in-person meeting. Attendees included Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director and Dr Xayapheth Chaphichith, Deputy Director of Programme and Development of SEAMEO Secretariat, Dr Roger Yap Chao, Jr, Assistant Director and Head of Education, Youth, and Sports Division, and Ms Amalia M. Serrano, Senior Officer from the ASEAN Secretariat. The ASEAN-Republic of Korea Programme Management Team (AKPMT) was represented by Mr Jae Hwan Kwon, Team Leader, and Mr Anggiet Ariefianto, Manager.

Co-Chair of the SEA-PLM Secretariat, Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, articulated SEA-PLM’s continued contribution and monitoring of education quality in the region through the programme’s next assessment round, SEA-PLM 2024. Dr Xayapheth Chaphichith highlighted SEA-PLM’s support for CMLV (Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam) towards building learning assessment capacities in the greater Mekong region. Dr Roger Yap Chao, Assistant Director and Head of Education, Youth, and Sports Division, ASEAN Secretariat, concurred on strengthening and building capabilities at institutional and individual levels as vital to increasing regional technical expertise in international assessment.

Mr Antoine Marivin, SEA-PLM Senior Project Manager, and Mr Alejandro Sinon Ibanez, SEA-PLM Project Manager, discussed the role of the SEA-PLM Secretariat and provided an overview of activities planned, challenges and opportunities for effective planning, and implementation of the SEA-PLM project. During this PSC Meeting, Mr Jae Hwan Kwon and Mr Anggiet Ariefianto from ASEAN-ROK Project Management Team provided strategic guidance on project implementation strategies. They emphasised the significance of continued dialogue and communication to ensure the smooth implementation of the SEA-PLM activities.


Wednesday, 03 August 2022 | Merina Cahya Anggraeni

Bangkok, Thailand: The Southeast Asian Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) 2021-2025 Strategic Plan was launched during the Diplomatic Briefing on SEAMEO’s Strategic Plan and Action Agenda on 25 July 2022 in Bangkok, Thailand. This launch also marked the official commencement of SEA-PLM Main Survey 2024. Seventy-one representatives from SEAMEO regional centres, associate and affiliate SEAMEO members, international organisations, members of the diplomatic corps, and other regional partners attended the high-level diplomatic briefing.

The Director of the SEAMEO Secretariat, Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, underscored how the SEA-PLM 2019 Main Survey has created a marked effect as the first regional large-scale assessment in Southeast Asia and continuous commitment and active participation in SEA-PLM 2024 is vital to ensure educational equity in the region. Regional Education Advisor Ms Mitsue Uemura of UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) echoed Dr Ethel’s statement and reaffirmed that through the valued and strategic partnership between UNICEF EAPRO and SEAMEO, the former will continue its commitment to supporting educational priorities and the successful implementation of SEA-PLM 2024.

Mr Alejandro Sinon Ibanez, SEA-PLM Project Manager, shared the programme’s enhanced model with its three key pillars that will underpin learning equity and help attain the SDG 4 education agenda. The model of the new assessment cycle will help advance student learning outcomes, measure learning loss, strengthen peer learning and knowledge sharing, and improve technical capacity to use evidence. He also shared a provisional calendar of SEA-PLM 2024 with the first set of technical activities to begin in August during the first Annual Regional Technical Workshop. Field trial testing is projected to commence in 2023, and the main survey data collection in 2024.

Regional partner ASEAN-ROK Project Management Team (AKPMT) expressed the Republic of Korea’s commitment to supporting the SEA-PLM Programme through financial support from the ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF). Dr Roger Yap Chao Jr, Assistant Director and Head of the Education Youth and Sports Division of the ASEAN Secretariat, acknowledged the financial support of the ASEAN Secretariat and AKCF as pivotal to guaranteeing sustainable learning recovery in the region post-Covid-19 pandemic. Encouraging ASEAN countries to participate, benefit and build capacities through the SEA-PLM Programme is critical to achieving equitable and meaningful education in the region, Mr Myo-Zin Nyunt, Deputy Regional Director, UNICEF EAPRO, noted.

Friday, 01 July 2022 | Merina Cahya Anggraeni

SEA-PLM was featured in a virtual side event for the 2nd Asia-Pacific Regional Education Ministers’ Conference (APREMC-II) 2022 on 03 June 2022. The leading discussion during the virtual side event was accelerating learning recovery to tackle the learning losses in the region caused by prolonged school closures. International and regional education experts discussed key thematic areas concerning the pre-existing learning crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and how the findings of SEA-PLM and comparative regional learning assessments can inform decision-makers in the region to achieve learning recovery. 

In her opening remarks, Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat, and Co-Chair of the SEA-PLM Programme, asserted SEA-PLM's continued contribution to ensuring inclusive and quality education for sustainable development in the region. Ms. Mitsue Uemura, Regional Education Advisor, UNICEF EAPRO, spoke about the significant role of partnership in supporting the program's sustainability to help attain a resilient school policy and practice system. 

Education experts Mr Antoine Marivin, SEA-PLM Senior Project Manager, and Ms Jeaniene Spink, Research Director, Education and Development, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), presented the SEA-PLM 2019 findings in response to the learning crisis and shared valuable insights and suggestions toward an effective learning recovery. Dr Benjamin Blevins, Education Researcher, and Ms Ghalia Ghawi, Education Research Manager from UNICEF Office of Research - Innocenti, shared new evidence from SEA-PLM 2019 secondary analysis on learning loss, global citizenship, and students’ wellbeing. Ms Ghalia recommended practices that facilitate students' resilience, motivation, engagement, and achievement. 

Regional experts Dr Hyowon Park (Korean Education Development Institute, KEDI), Dr Mikyung Kim (Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation, KICE), and Dr Richard DLC Gonzales (Inno-Change International Consultants, Inc., Philippines) offered further insights and guidance for transformative and sustainable education policies and practices in the region.

The SEAMEO Secretariat Director, Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, and the Secretary of Education, Philippines, H E Dr Leonor Magtolis Briones, signed the Memorandum of Understanding to spearhead the implementation of activities under the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) 5-Year Strategic Plan, including the SEA-PLM 2024 Survey. The MoU signing ceremony took place in the Office of the Secretary Building at the Department of Education in Manila on Monday, 02 May 2022.

“SEA-PLM 2024 will provide new opportunities for engagement with countries and partners, as well as promoting capacity building in the region,” explained Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela in her remarks. “Through the support from our partners, ASEAN Secretariat, and ASEAN-Republic of Korea Cooperation Funds (AKCF), the programme’s implementation will proceed in 2022, and trial testing will be conducted in 2023,” she continued. Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela further emphasized that the MoU will provide significant support for the programme’s implementation, both in the top-level commitment and for mobilizing national activities.

Meanwhile, the Department of Education, Philippines is committed to join the next SEA-PLM cycle, as learning assessment proves to be critical in assessing the learning loss among 5th grade students brought by the impact of COVID-19 pandemic. Furthemore, Dr Leonor Magtolis Briones expressed that the “involvement in SEA-PLM is an effort to continuously improve the quality of education in the country.” She hopes that the SEAMEO Secretariat, through the SEA-PLM Secretariat, will provide sufficient guidance to ensure the successful implementation in the country, especially to address challenges and recovery in the post COVID-19 pandemic era.

The momentous signing ceremony was held in the presence of key officials and partners such as the Assistant Secretary for Curriculum and Instruction, Undersecretary for Bureau of Human Resource and Organizational Development, Director of Bureau of Education Assessment, and Director of International Cooperation Office, Philippines, UNICEF Philippines Chief of Education, and SEA-PLM Secretariat Project Manager.

As Southeast Asian countries continue to manage the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in education, continuing investment in global competencies and academic learning data and system and school policy exchange is critical to improving the quality of education and learning across the region.

SEA-PLM Secretariat, co-chaired by the UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and Pacific (UNICEF EAPRO) and the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat, will organize the virtual side event "Tackling the Learning Crisis: Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics"during the Asia-Pacific Regional Education Minister’s Conference (APREMC-II) on Friday, 3 June 2022, 11:30–13:00, (Bangkok time, GMT +7).

The event will bring together experts to present and discuss the findings of SEA-PLM 2019 main regional reports, the new evidence on Low Performing Readers, Boys and Girls Learning, and Supporting Teacher, as well as ongoing national policies and plan for supporting primary learning in Southeast Asia.

The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) is a regional learning assessment and capacity-building programme designed by and for Southeast Asian countries to improve relevant and equitable learning outcomes for students in basic education. The SEA-PLM programme provides a unique space for experts from participating countries and programme’s mentors to discuss system and school level implications to address the learning crisis (short, middle, and long term) to build better resilient, equitable, and inclusive systems.

Invitees can attend the side event virtually via Zoom Webinar.


Concept Note and Provisional Programme

Speakers presentations

Webinar Proceedings [to be updated]

SEA-PLM 2019 Latest Evidence in Basic Education: Supporting teachers to improve learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries

This publication is the third in a series of regional thematic studies initiated by the SEA-PLM Secretariat—SEA-PLM 2019 latest evidence in basic education.

This paper highlights the diversity of the Southeast Asian teacher workforce, their classroom conditions, and their level of preparation and training upon entry to the profession.
The findings recommend the development and implementation of policies and programs to strengthen the teacher workforce and redirect the focus to ensure teachers have supportive working conditions, and comprehensive training and professional development aligned with the teacher workforce’s needs.

This document has been published and is available for download

Appendix A: Further reading

Appendix B: Statistical tables

Appendix C: Stata syntax

Powerpoint presentation

Recommended citation: UNICEF & SEAMEO. (2021). SEA-PLM 2019 Latest Evidence in Basic Education: Supporting teachers to improve learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries. United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).

Wednesday, 27 April 2022 15:14

Announcing SEA-PLM 2024

What is new in SEA-PLM 2024? Building on the success of SEA-PLM 2019, the new round of assessment SEA-PLM 2024 will continue to transform into a more sustainable programme for delivering comparative students' learning trends over time through cyclic rounds of implementation and boosting policy exchange and collaboration. SEA-PLM 2024 will present new opportunities for engaging stakeholders, forging partnerships, motivating new countries to participate and improving the efficiency of the operating model. It will include additional activities for CLMV countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar and Vietnam.

Furthermore, the complementary nature and interrelatedness of the programme's Pillars 1, 2 and 3 will support regional policies and practices in basic education and produce substantial links between evidence with policy formulation, design, and implementation.

For more details regarding the new phase multi-year plan, participation conditions and registration, please get in touch with the SEA-PLM Secretariat through email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


SEA-PLM is designed by and for Southeast Asian countries 

Since its inception in 2012, the SEA-PLM programme has grown into a recognized regional learning assessment and capacity-building programme designed by and for Southeast Asian countries. The SEA-PLM programme is designed to support and address the different needs of each participating country—to help countries strengthen their learning assessment systems and facilitate evidence-based decision-making to improve learning outcomes. 

SEA-PLM 2019, the programme's first assessment cycle, has played a vital role in creating informed decisions at the country and system-wide levels. The SEA-PLM programme is competent with knowledge, capacity-building tools, support for policy dialogue, and technical staff expertise to assist partners.


SEA-PLM 2024 is timely

The role of SEA-PLM's learning assessment programme is critical in the post-COVID-19 era. Learning assessments such as SEA-PLM are vital in evaluating students' learning, supporting learning recovery and achieving better learning outcomes by enhancing the capacity to measure learning outcomes, use evidence and data, and allow for peer exchange on policies and practices.


SEA-PLM 2024 partners

For SEA-PLM 2024, the programme has mobilized substantial technical and financial regional resources through the ASEAN Secretariat and the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF), UNICEF EAPRO, SEAMEO Secretariat, and the official support from Southeast Asian Ministers. These partnerships are paramount in strengthening SEA-PLM's relevance and sustainability in fostering regional cohesion and improving assessment, learning, and equity in basic education in the region.


combined logos


Download introductory note

The first SEA-PLM Project Steering Committee Meeting was held on 23 March 2022. The gathering, held virtually, was jointly organised by the SEA-PLM Secretariat, the SEAMEO Secretariat, ASEAN Secretariat (ASEC), and ASEAN-Korea Cooperation Fund (AKCF). Representatives from the SEAMEO Secretariat, the Human Development Directorate and Education, Youth & Sports Division of ASEC, and the ASEAN-Republic of Korea Programme Management Team (AKPMT) attended the meeting. Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat, officially convened the SEA-PLM Project Steering Committee Meeting as a viable platform for close coordination and collaboration with partner organizations for the success of the SEA-PLM project.

Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela expressed the benefit of convening steering committee meetings that stress the importance of synergy between the project proponents and project funders in project conception, revision, and implementation. Mr. Anggiet Ariefianto of AKPMT stressed the importance of project accountability and sustainability and highlighted adhering to ASEAN's project criteria and guidance.

Discussions included formulating the steering committee structure and meeting modalities and advocating the SEA-PLM programme to diplomatic communities of the region. The project's progress and planned activities were presented during the meeting, and modifications to adapt to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic were also proposed to navigate the current situation in ensuring the success of program implementation.

The SEA-PLM  Project Steering Committee Meetings will enable partners and stakeholders to convene and discuss the programme's critical strategies, such as mitigating financial and technical issues, providing the required resources, and reporting project progress and changes. The next SEA-PLM Project Steering Committee Meeting is proposed to be held in November of this year.

On March 24, the SEA-PLM Secretariat convened a virtual roundtable to discuss existing challenges and gaps to inform policy discussions for effectively recruiting, training and managing teachers. The roundtable drew together 90 participants to discuss the findings of the new evidence SEA-PLM 2019 latest evidence in basic education: Supporting teachers to improve learning in 6 Southeast Asian countries, published by the SEA-PLM Secretariat. In his opening remarks, Mr Francisco Benavides, Regional Education Advisor, UNICEF EAPRO, spoke on the urgency and relevance of the webinar. He underscored teachers as "critical drivers to children's learning and are the basis of a better education system."

Mr Antoine Marivin, SEA-PLM Manager and Ms Jessica Bergmann, Education Researcher, UNICEF Office of Research – Innocenti, presented the new SEA-PLM evidence. Mr Antoine highlighted the importance of the latest findings to "encourage countries to share successes, experiences and challenges to increase teachers' workforce capacity, support school reopening and building a resilient academic system." Ms Jessica Bergmann pointed out that "countries should create opportunities to build teachers' confidence and competency and invest in ICT support to strengthen resilience for unforeseen disruptions in education systems." She added that judiciously designed programmes would help teachers acquire core competencies and skills according to each country's context.

The new evidence is particularly relevant. As countries speed up learning recovery post-COVID-19, teachers' competency and supportive working environment are crucial to accelerating the learning recovery to advance learning for all students, especially the most marginalized. Dr Faryal Khan, Programme Specialist for Education, UNESCO, commented on the report's significance following the COVID-19 crisis, which compromised children's learning. She also stressed how the "SEA-PLM programme's research and evidence are critical to advancing transformative education and has implications for informing UNESCO's policy and practices to support teachers."

Dr Tara Béteille, Senior Economist East Asia Pacific region, World Bank, asserted that the report with robust evidence "forms a solid basis for approaching governments" and decision-makers. This is evident in participating countries such as Cambodia. Findings and recommendations from the SEA-PLM 2019 study have influenced educational policy reforms, and reforms are in the pipeline to improve pre-service education of teachers, ICT support and preparing teachers' data management systems.

The webinar also brought in expert commentaries from Dr Miyoung Hong, Vice President, Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation (KICE). Dr Miyoung Hong shared efficacious practices and examples in Korea that can be tailored to the needs of each country, such as Korea's process-oriented evaluation, to apply revised curriculum successfully.

Following the presentation from key experts, SEAMEO member countries presented different perspectives and approaches to the table. They shared their experiences and reflection on the study, existing policies and challenges in supporting teachers to improve learning in their respective countries.

Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat, ended the roundtable on a hopeful note. "Listening to extraordinary thought leaders of the region, the recommendations and analysis made during this policy roundtable will be considered, and satisfactory progress can be expected," said Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela in her closing remark.

The virtual roundtable was part of the policy dialogue series organized by the SEA-PLM Secretariat, the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Secretariat and UNICEF Regional Office for East Asia and Pacific (EAPRO). It explores compelling new evidence based on the results and data of the SEA-PLM 2019 report. Through such policy discussions, the SEA-PLM programme aims to establish a policy community in the region where partners, experts and countries can come together and exchange robust dialogue to advance children's learning, especially learning recovery post-COVID 19.


Download full proceeding

The Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to renew and strengthen its partnership to co-lead the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) Programme. Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat and Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, signed the MoU. This continued collaboration is significant for the SEA-PLM programme as it prepares for the second cycle of assessments—SEA-PLM 2024.

"This is a good example of commitment and partnership, and it's not a one-way street, but it's always two ways, and in the end, the countries benefit from our partnership," said Dr Ethel Agnes Pascua-Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat. "Co-management of SEA-PLM is what we are signing today for the second round [SEA-PLM 2024], which will run from today up to 2025, and we are delighted that the Ministers of Education also approved our strategic plan of 2021-2025. This day will not be forgotten. It will be in the history of our organizations that even during a pandemic, we can collaborate, we can talk, and we can sign this memorandum of understanding."

"This MoU illustrates the productive collaboration between SEAMEO and UNICEF and the importance we jointly place on the education of children in Southeast Asia. Our teamwork has already helped countries in the region to strengthen their policies and practices to improve learning for all children, especially those who are hardest to reach. You are champions to drive education in Southeast Asia, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership," said Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific. "The MoU formalizes our respective roles at the [SEA-PLM Regional] Secretariat, and UNICEF is again committed to providing all the support we can, including at the technical level."

Since 2012, SEAMEO and UNICEF EAPRO have collaborated to assess, monitor and improve the quality of primary education in Southeast Asia. Together, they launched the SEA-PLM 2019 assessment—the first large-scale learning assessment by and for Southeast Asian countries—culminating in 2020 with the SEA-PLM 2019 Main Regional Report. The report presented rich data, findings, and recommendations to develop robust learning assessment systems and inform practices in key policy areas to the six participating countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam.

The partnership between SEAMEO and UNICEF and member countries is a core principle of the SEA-PLM programme. The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat co-managed by SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF EAPRO coordinates the programme's day-to-day management, including technical, administrative, communication, and strategic activities under SEA-PLM programme pillars to support long-term programme goals.

Through this MoU, SEAMEO and UNICEF EAPRO agrees to commit and work towards a shared objective — to provide better learning outcomes and equity in education for millions of children across the region.

The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) is the first regional large-scale learning assessment programme specifically designed by and for the Southeast Asian region to assess the learning outcomes of Grade 5. It aims to improve students' foundational learning, inform policy-making to achieve meaningful learning and monitor ASEAN performance to attain equitable and quality education for all. For more information about the SEA-PLM Programme, visit https://www.seaplm.org/

The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) is a regional intergovernmental organization established in 1965 among governments of Southeast Asian countries to promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture in the region. The organisation's highest policy-making body is the SEAMEO Council, which comprises the 11 Southeast Asian education ministers. The SEAMEO Secretariat is located in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information about the SEAMEO Secretariat, visit https://www.seameo.org/w5

Stretching from Mongolia in the North to Tonga in the South, UNICEF's East Asia & Pacific Regional Office covers one of the world's most diverse and dynamic areas. UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children to the benefit of all children. For more information about UNICEF East Asia & Pacific and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/eap

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