Programme Category: Collaborations
Date: 7-11 March 2016
Venue: Holiday Inn Sukhumvit, Bangkok, Thailand
Official 2nd SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum Website: http://www.seameo-spafa.org/YLF2016/
After having reviewed all the material, and you still have questions unanswered, please contact: Mr Quincy Tanner, 2nd SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum Project Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org
The World Bank estimates that globally there are 1.8 billion young people (defined as persons aged between 15 and 241), the highest number ever in history.2 As of 2013, it is estimated that more than 60 percent of the world’s youth live in the Asian region,3 with recent estimates suggesting 15 percent (or nearly 160 million) are in Southeast Asia.4 The so-called “youth bulge” presents opportunities for countries to maximize their human capital in pursuing their social and economic development goals. On the other hand, failing to prepare future generations of citizens – as workers, business people, community leaders, and parents – can have serious costs for governments.5 Not meeting youths’ expectations to secure gainful employment or participate in political decision-making runs the risk of fostering social discontent.
Societies today have to tap the enormous potential of young people in contributing positively to efforts in poverty reduction and socio-economic growth by harnessing youths’ interconnectivity, dynamism and idealism. Development efforts are not only effective but also more sustainable if youths have a sense of ownership of their societies’ futures. Moreover, for youths to participate fully in society, now and especially in the future, their values and skills must align with the vision of a society that is culturally sensitive, politically inclusive, and environmentally caring.
SEAMEO, as a leading organization in developing Southeast Asia’s human capital, has a critical role in ensuring that the region’s youth are equipped with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that prepare them to become leaders of the next generations. The Youth Leadership Forum will thus serve as one of the catalysts for the effective engagement of young people in steering the course of Southeast Asia’s future development.
In preparation for the launch of the ASEAN Community in 2015, SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization) aligned and intensified its initiatives to foster human and intellectual connectivity, which is also congruent with the ADB’s (Asian Development Bank) Regional Cooperation and Integration Strategy. SEAMEO and the ADB signed a memorandum of understanding in 2013 to facilitate the development of regional cooperation programmes, including assistance from the ADB to SEAMEO. The main initiative under this cooperation is SEAMEO College, a high-level policy and strategy forum among education leaders and practitioners. SEAMEO College focuses on three major regional and cross-cutting issues and concerns, namely: a) bridging regional divides; b) creating a ‘common space’ for education frameworks and standards in Southeast Asia; and c) social needs and market demand signaling systems for technical manpower.
SEAMEO College comprises four modules, one of which is the “Learning and Innovation Forum for Youth Leaders” (Module 4). This module focuses on developing ‘new leaders’ who will assume future leadership roles in education, science, culture and other fields within and beyond Southeast Asia. The SEAMEO Regional Centre for Archaeology and Fine Arts (SEAMEO SPAFA), the designated lead centre for Module 4, organized the first “SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum” in November 2014. Building on the success of the inaugural leadership forum, SEAMEO SPAFA will organize a second Forum in March 2016, in Bangkok, Thailand.
The SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum aims to provide a regional platform for youth representatives from Southeast Asia to build their leadership skills and strengthen their capacity to contribute to the ASEAN Community now and in the future. Specifically, it aims to:
1. Develop future Southeast Asian leaders through engagement with present leaders in various key professions, with a focus on good governance and civic responsibility.
2. Enhance youth representatives’ understanding of globalization, intercultural communications, and changes in the natural environment and social relations.
3. Provide a space for youth representatives to voice their unique views on the current and future state of their respective communities and of Southeast Asia.
4. Foster personal, professional, and cross-cultural networking among youths within and across the ASEAN region.
The forum will focus on four key themes covering leadership, professionalism, sustainable development management, and intercultural understanding. These themes only serve as broad guides for the discussion topics; therefore, rather than looking at them as distinct forum strands, they are in fact interwoven and complementary.
The Forum’s Four Themes
1. Developing Future Leaders of Southeast Asia 2. Effective Professional Values and Skills 3. Managing the Development of a Changing World 4. Intercultural Understanding
Theme 1: Developing Future Leaders of Southeast Asia
This theme facilitates a conversation about young people’s understanding and definitions of leadership. It aims to underscore the complex processes of exercising good leadership skills such as how leaders should listen to, and take into account, multiple stakeholders’ interests and concerns. To illustrate that leadership is a two-way street, team-based collaboration will likewise be highlighted in this theme. Furthermore, twenty-first century skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and global citizenship will be introduced along with examples of pathways for such skills to be practiced by leaders. This theme will thus offer opportunities for participants to reflect on how they see themselves as leaders in an interconnected, dynamic, and collaborative ASEAN region. Plenary sessions in this theme include:
a. Concepts and Facets of Leadership
b. Team Leadership and Team Dynamics c. Leadership of 21stCentury Global Citizens
Theme 2: Effective Professional Values and Skills
While professionalism encompasses multiple traits, this theme will focus on ethical behaviour, which is deemed to be the foundation of professional integrity or professionalism. For youths at the cusp of transitioning from school to the workplace, it is vital that they have relevant values to navigate the professional world. Speakers from multiple fields such as education, the media, business, and information technology will expound on the desired professionalism and ethical conduct in their occupations. Plenary sessions in this theme include:
a. Professionalism in Practice
b. Professional Ethics and Responsibility
Theme 3: Managing the Development of a Changing World
Our changing world will generally be defined by rapid economic growth and increasing cultural interconnectivity. As future leaders, ASEAN’s youth should have a nuanced understanding of development linked not solely to rapid economic growth but also to cognizance of impact on communities and ecology. This theme attempts to provoke youths’ reflections on how economic growth should be guided by principles of sustainable development. It will also delve into how development can be inclusive and equitable. Plenary sessions in this theme include:
a. Sustainable Development Economics
b. Sustainable Environmental Management
Under Theme 3, the forum will have two site visits outside of Bangkok. They are sites of projects and initiatives that highlight sustainable practices and community participation: a) Chang Hua Man Royal Project, Phetchaburi Province (sustainable agriculture) and b) Khlong Phitthaya Longkorn School, Bangkok (mangrove conservation).
Theme 4: Intercultural Understanding
For youths to be effective in their professions in the context of an inter-connected ASEAN community, this theme will highlight models of effective intercultural communication. It will conclude by engaging the youth’s collective vision of an interconnected and integrated ASEAN pluralistic community. Plenary sessions in this theme include:
a. Multi-lingual Communication
b. Intercultural Appreciation and Understanding
Under Theme 4, the forum will have one site visit in the vicinity of Bangkok. This site visit will highlight intercultural community coexistence within the Kadi Chin multicultural community, Thonburi, Bangkok.
Three (3) participants from each SEAMEO-member country (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, and Vietnam) will be selected to join the SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum. We will also accept two (2) participants from each of the ASEAN+3 nations, specifically Japan, South Korea, and China. The desired participants are those who are at the junction of their education and professional career; therefore, priority will be given to senior university students or those who have recently graduated from university in the previous academic year. Preference will also be given to individuals who have demonstrated strong leadership characteristics while in school or as members of their community. A cross-section of different career fields such as law, engineering, science, arts, media, medicine, etc. – will be represented in the forum.
1. Enhanced leadership skills of youth representatives
2. Improved knowledge of sustainable development
3. Sustained cross-cultural networking among youth representatives for their communities’ benefit
4. Better understanding and appreciation of the ASEAN community
The 2nd SEAMEO Youth Leadership Forum (SYLF), which ran from 7-11 March 2016, brought together 41 youth leaders (32 participants from Southeast Asia, and 9 from ASEAN+3 nations of China, Japan and Korea) at Holiday Inn Sukhumvit, Bangkok, Thailand. The 5-day forum was aimed at helping provide the youths with the tools in becoming responsible and ethical leaders of tomorrow for the Southeast Asian region. To achieve this, the forum had specific and relevant themes for each of the five days:
Day 1’s Theme – Developing Future Leaders of Southeast Asia;
Day 2’s Theme – Managing the Development of a Changing World;
Day 3’s Theme – Site Visits to Royal Thai Projects;
Day 4’s Theme – Intercultural Understanding (with site visit to Kudi Chin Community); and
Day 5’s Theme – Effective Professional Values and Ethics.
There was also an over-arching theme of “Sustainability” to complement the daily themes with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
At the first day’s opening ceremony, the youth leaders heard from keynote speaker, H.E. Vonthep Arthakaivalvatee, Deputy Secretary-General of ASEAN for ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, who highlighted the importance of recognising and respecting the myriad of cultures within the Southeast Asian region, especially if one were to become a good leader of the region.
Participants also actively engaged in two workshops in the first day, which were: Workshop 1 – ‘Leadership in Action’, led by the Right to Play Thailand Foundation; and Workshop 2 – ‘Leadership and Engaging the Sustainable Development Goals’, led by the 2nd SYLF Project Coordinator, Mr. Quincy Tanner.
But it wasn’t all serious business on the first day, with participants being treated to a Welcome Dinner whilst being entertained with a traditional Thai “Khon” masked-dance whereby classically-trained Thai dancers performed a scene from the “Ramakien” (the Thai version of the Indian Hindu epic, the “Ramayana”).
On the second day, participants were made aware of current environmental issues, to equip them with the knowledge in better managing the development of a changing world. They also heard from Dr. Sue Vize, Regional Adviser for Social and Human Sciences in Asia-Pacific, UNESCO, on ‘Understanding and Engaging the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’; and Mr. Jim Enright, ASIA Co-ordinator for Mangrove Action Project (MAP) on ‘Mangrove Conservation’.
To allow the youth leader participants to see “Sustainability” in practice, they were brought out of Bangkok, Thailand on the third day of the forum to Phetchaburi province to visit the Chang Hua Man Royal Project, where they were given a study tour of sufficiency economy project with organic farming and green energy; Khao Krapook Project – under the Royal Patronage of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn – where they gained valuable insights on sustainable agriculture and livestock farming; and The Sirindhorn International Environmental Park.
The SEAMEO Youth Leader participants also had the opportunity to visit the Kudi Chin Community on the fourth day of the forum, where they were able to see first-hand multi-culturalism and multi-religious faiths living harmoniously within a small area, which tied in with the day’s theme of ‘Intercultural Understanding’. At Kudi Chin, the youth leaders heard from leaders of the Islam, Christian, and Buddhist faiths.
Before being awarded their certificates on the fifth and final day of the 2nd SYLF, the youth leaders heard from speakers who made presentations on ‘Effective Professional Values and Ethics’ in: a) Education – by Mr. Hasanain Juaini; b) Corporate world – by Ms. Prae Piromya of Environmental Resources Management; c) Arts, Culture & Entertainment – by Mr. Witwisit Hiranyawongkul, a famous Thai actor; d) Business – by Ms. Lishan Soh of IDEO Singapore; and e) Information Technology – by Ms. Aliza Napartivaumnuay of Socialgiver, Ms. Anyapat Kovitchaileardkrai from Google Singapore, and Mr. Andrew Kamthong of MAQE Bangkok. They were also tasked with coming up with a community-based project, which they would implement upon return to their home countries.
Overall, it was a knowledge-filled, arduous five days for the participants but in the end, they were equipped with the tools and insights in paving their paths to becoming tomorrow’s leaders of Southeast Asia. Furthermore, they had lasting memories and formed strong connections with their fellow youth leaders.
* Some speakers’ presentations will be made available soon as PowerPoint files.
** Video documentation of the 2nd SYLF will also be available soon on SEAMEO SPAFA’s YouTube channel.
*** Note that this summary report only mentions some speakers and does not cover the extensive list of speakers who participated and contributed to the success of the 2nd SYLF.