APEC Education Ministers today pledged to decisively foster greater innovation and to strengthen cooperation in the region’s education systems to ensure that growth reaches all citizens.

Meeting in Gyeongju, the Ministers acknowledged the digital divide that exists within APEC economies, but stressed that enhancing information and communication technology (ICT) use in education will be key to achieving APEC’s education goals and to sustaining economic growth.

Chairing the 5th APEC Education Ministerial Meeting, Ju-Ho Lee, Korea’s Minister of Education, Science and Technology, and the APEC Education Ministers present, issued a joint statement that pledged to “fostering regional innovative growth, promoting future skills suitable for the global society, creating innovative instructional delivery systems, and fostering more collaborative policy decisions that provide for our common fulfillment.”

With Russia as host of APEC in 2012, fostering innovative growth has been identified as a key priority – together with expanding regional economic integration, strengthening food security, and establishing reliable supply chains.

“We are witnessing endless potential of ICT use in education,” said Korean Minister Lee in his keynote address when he opened the meeting.

“ICT is no longer confined as a method of efficient information exchange – it is now an essential tool for problem solving and critical thinking,” he added.

The Ministers also agree that “educational cooperation is an essential driving force for sustainable, secure, inclusive, innovative, and balanced growth” – the key attributes of the APEC Leaders’ Growth Strategy.

“Educational cooperation in the APEC region should not be limited to simple information exchange, but rather it needs to grow and expand to a deeper level of cooperation for all people and institutions in the APEC region,” explained Minister Lee.

APEC Education Ministers also recognized that increased cooperation among education providers, businesses, and other stakeholders is needed to overcome global and regional challenges, including reducing economic and digital divides.

Addressing the Ministers, Russia’s Deputy Minister of Education and Science, Sergei Ivanets emphasized that “cooperative education is an integral part of fostering regional innovative growth.”

“In order to have competitive economies and citizens, who feel comfortable in the modern world, we must unceasingly improve our educational systems,” he added.

The conclusions of the meeting will be reported to APEC Economic Leaders when they meet in September in Vladivostok, Russia. APEC Ministers of Trade and Foreign Affairs will also be provided with a report on the practical actions that will advance the educational goals set here on Wednesday.

Joint Ministerial Statement and Photos are available.

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For more information, please contact Augustine Kwan +65 9831 0717 at ak@apec.org or David Hendrickson +65 9371 8901 at drh@apec.org.

More details about APEC’s 2012 priorities and initiatives for the year can be found on www.apec.org or www.apec2012.ru

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