Partnership in action: GPE Asia and Pacific partner country meeting

The regional meeting held in Jakarta in May provided a space for partner countries in Asia and Pacific to discuss GPE policy and recommendations, and to exchange on bottlenecks they are facing in transforming their education systems.

June 27, 2024 by Michelle Mesen, GPE Secretariat, and Deepali Gupta, GPE Secretariat
4 minutes read
GPE Asia and Pacific constituency meeting
GPE Asia and Pacific constituency meeting
Credit: GPE/Suha Kaouk | Eric Noronha

In May, 22 countries from across Asia and the Pacific came together in Jakarta, Indonesia, for a 3-day GPE regional meeting. This was the first time a meeting of partner countries was held in Indonesia, which became a GPE partner in 2022.

What is a constituency meeting?

GPE is a multi-stakeholder partnership both at the country level, with partners coming together in local education groups, and at the global level, where GPE’s diverse constituencies are represented through its Board of Directors.

These constituencies include partner countries, donors, civil society, private sector, foundations, teachers, multilateral organizations and regional banks. GPE holds regional constituency meetings annually to provide a space for countries to discuss GPE policy and recommendations and have a strong voice in GPE’s governance structures.

These meetings are also an opportunity for countries to exchange on the bottlenecks they are facing in transforming their education systems and good practices to address them.

Sharing experiences, challenges and solutions

The Asia and Pacific constituency is a diverse group. The meeting in Jakarta provided an opportunity for countries at different stages of engagement with GPE to learn from each other. We also saw diversity reflected in the representatives from each country – with a veteran focal point from Papua New Guinea who has been part of the constituency for almost 10 years, bringing his deep knowledge of GPE processes to newer partners such as Indonesia and Sri Lanka, attending their second meeting and sharing fresh perspectives.

Countries shared how being part of GPE was valuable for them – bringing together stakeholders in local education groups, increasing the emphasis on sector planning, filling funding gaps, allowing the flexibility for countries to prioritize their own reforms, and placing gender and inclusivity at the heart of their education systems.

It was also a space to discuss bottlenecks – ranging from limited capacity to the availability of good data – and how they have been working to overcome these.

Countries were invited to share recommendations on what could be improved in GPE processes, and what they would like to see reflected in GPE’s 2030 strategy.

Constituency members in discussion. Jakarta, Indonesia. May 2024
Constituency members in discussion, GPE Asia and Pacific Constituency Meeting. Jakarta, Indonesia. May 2024
GPE/Suha Kaouk | Eric Noronha

Reflecting together and aligning on recommendations

The constituency meeting also provides a space for partner countries to have private discussions without the GPE Secretariat present in the room. Countries use this time to discuss issues that are relevant to the constituency and to align on recommendations that will be discussed at upcoming GPE Board meetings.

After constituency meetings, the constituency recommendations on the Board decisions are shared with the partner country Board representatives so that partner country interventions at the Board reflect the direct feedback from the constituency. By reflecting the views from the larger constituency, partner countries have a unified and stronger voice in board decisions that have implications, both at the country level, as well as for the whole partnership.

Learning from Indonesia, this year’s host

Indonesia shared reflections on its Merdeka Belajar or Emancipated Learning Reforms. The reforms aim to align various aspects of the education system towards the goal of improving student learning.

The reform comprises a new simplified curriculum with larger space for project-based learning, greater autonomy for teachers and principals, holding schools accountable for student learning, as well as identifying and supporting teachers to become leaders.

While it is still early to assess the full impact of the reform, emerging results show significant improvements in student literacy.

Fireside chat between Hon. Minister Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Indonesia and Nilse Ryman, GPE
Fireside chat between Hon. Minister Nadiem Makarim, Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Indonesia, and Nilse Ryman, Regional Manager, GPE Secretariat. May 2024
GPE/Suha Kaouk | Eric Noronha

During a fireside chat, Indonesia’s Minister of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, Nadiem Makarim, shared his advice on effectively rolling out education reform across such a large geography. He emphasized the importance of having a multigenerational and multisectoral team, including civil society and private sector.

Given the size of the education system, the use of technology is necessary for Indonesia to reach more teachers, but doing this right requires focusing on pain points, leveraging private sector expertise, and budgeting for a permanent EdTech team.

One of the biggest transformational changes involved creating a master teacher training program that not only focused on technical and pedagogical skills but also on changing mindsets.

Minister Makarim shared “Once you’ve cracked the growth mindset in teachers, they will go and learn those skills on their own, as long as you give them the resources to do that. One teacher after that is going to change a minimum of 5-10 teachers around them towards this mindset.”

Constituency member interacting with children at a school visit to SMP Regina Pacis, a junior high school in Jakarta, Indonesia
Constituency member interacting with children at a school visit to SMP Regina Pacis, a junior high school in Jakarta, Indonesia. May 2024
GPE/Eric Noronha

Constituency members were also able to visit schools to see the reforms in action, including speaking with administrators, principals and students.

Discussing GPE’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange

The team managing GPE’s Knowledge and Innovation Exchange (KIX) Europe, Middle East and North Africa, Asia and Pacific Hub shared a review of activities in the past year, as well as upcoming plans. These included national forums in the Maldives and Bangladesh bringing together practitioners from several countries.

While we all did our best to take these conversations online during the pandemic, we’ve learned there is no replacement for in-person exchange. Meetings like this, where the ministries implementing programs come together for country-to-country exchange are vital for GPE, and part of what sets its partnership model apart.

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I am Collins Urey from Liberia. I run a local NGO in Liberia mainly focused on Education. I write to know we are eligible to apply for the call for expression to apply?

We have done a lot of work on policy advocacy on our national
Policy on girl education, the education reform of 2011. Furthermore, we have been pushing SDG goal #4 that talks Quality education. We appreciate if given the opportunity to apply for this global partnership for transformative education.

In reply to by Collins Urey

Thanks for your message Collins. Please get in touch with the national coalition of NGOs supporting education in Liberia, through which you can learn more about their work, participate in policy dialogue and have your voice heard and activities known.  Chantal / GPE Secretariat

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