Art of Illustration for Education in Southeast Asia

SEAMEO-APCEIU Collaboration on the Development of Educational Material

Type: Forum and Exhibition
Date: 19 November 2012 for the Art of Illustration Forum


UNESCO Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU)


21-23 November 2012 for the Tree of Wisdom: Telling Tales from Southeast Asia and Korea Exhibition at the 16th UNESCO APEID International Conference: The Love of Education; Learning to Live Together, held in Bangkok, Thailand


SEAMEO and the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Center of Education for International Understanding (APCEIU) collaborated on the final phase of the development of teaching-learning materials on Southeast Asian and Korean folktales.  In this current phase, SEAMEO SPAFA coordinated the production of picture cards that can be used for story-telling sessions.  Illustrators and story-tellers from the region were tasked to illustrate one story each which have been compiled in a Picture Card Package for use in Southeast Asian and Korean classrooms.  Through this project, school-children will have better awareness and appreciation of their own countries’ folktales and the oral literature of the region, which is in line with SEAMEO’s and APCEIU’s shared goal of education for inter-cultural understanding.


These illustrators were invited to the forum to discuss relevant issues that they face when illustrating for children, such as:

1. Applying Asian Folktales and Fine Art Traditions to Picture Books

2.Across Borders – Picture Books for All

3. How Illustrations in Children’s Books Provide Contexts for Understanding Stories

4. The Creative Process in Illustrating Text

5. Challenges for Picture Books Illustrators in Developing Countries


In addition, the 16th UNESCO APEID International Conference: The Love of Education; Learning to Live Together was held in Bangkok, Thailand, and the illustrations were exhibited at the conference.

Background Information/Statement of the Problem

Since 2010, SEAMEO and APCEIU have collaborated on the project entitled ‘SEAMEO-APCEIU Collaboration on the Development of Learning Materials on Asian Folktales’.  The outputs so far are publications, ‘Telling Tales in Southeast Asia and Korea – Teachers’ Guide’ and ‘Telling Tales in Southeast Asia and Korea – Situation Analysis’, and a DVD of the stories that present the folktales of Southeast Asia and Korea in a more user-friendly audio-visual format.  This multimedia format allows children to absorb the tales more easily as well as assist teachers in their delivery of the tales in classrooms.  However, in consideration of the diverse technological infrastructure of the Southeast Asian region, the third and final phases of the collaboration between SEAMEO and APCEIU were focused on the development of Picture Cards for 12 of the stories.  This provided another mode of delivery for primary school teachers to tell the stories.  In fulfilling this stage of the collaborative project, SEAMEO SPAFA gathered illustrators from around the region, and in communicating with them, realized that they actually had few opportunities to meet and discuss issues they face.  The forum thus was an ideal platform to address this whilst at the same time provided the opportunity for them, after the forum, to exhibit their works and have further discussions with a wider audience attending the UNESCO APEID Conference.


  • Provides a platform for Southeast Asian and Korean illustrators to discuss issues of concern
  • Introduces a wider audience to the art of illustration
  • Highlights the critical role of stories and the accompanying illustrations in children’s education in the promotion of inter-cultural understanding

Methods to Achieve Objectives

The Forum comprised 3 parts, including inputs from 2 resource persons (one story-teller, one illustrator), discussion inputs from participants and publishers, and open-space workshop sessions.

Target Group/Beneficiaries

Southeast Asian illustrators, storytellers, and publishers of children’s books


  • An exhibition entitled Tree of Wisdom: Telling Tales from Southeast Asia and Korea
  • Documentation from the forum which may be used as a Guide on the Art of Illustration


  • Appreciation and awareness of the needs of school-children regarding folktales of Southeast Asia and Korea is enhanced amongst illustrators and publishers.
  • Educators viewing the exhibition and the SEAMEO-APCEIU Story-telling products are encouraged to confidently use story-telling techniques in the classroom.
  • Knowledge and techniques in using story books, picture card materials, and multi-media materials on folktales is exchanged among professionals, thus, also paving the way for more cooperation among them.


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