ASEAN underscores quality assurance in ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework implementation supported by AANZFTA

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MANILA, 13 July 2017 - The second meeting of the ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework (AQRF) Committee was held in Manila, Philippines from 12 to 13 July 2017 to discuss the important role of quality assurance in the process of referencing National Qualification Frameworks (NQFs) of participating ASEAN Member States to the AQRF.

The AQRF is a mechanism that enables comparison and eventual recognition of education qualifications across participating ASEAN Member States for student and worker mobility. The AQRF Committee is responsible for considering referencing reports submitted by each participating ASEAN Member State, promoting lifelong learning and quality assurance processes, addressing emerging regional and international qualifications framework issues, and capacity building.

"The Second Technical Workshop and Meeting on ASEAN Qualifications Reference Framework is very relevant, meaningful, and timely. The meeting allows all ASEAN Member States to work together, to integrate qualifications, and to make sure that each member country stands alongside with other member countries. Bear in mind that you are not just doing technical work, you are not just exchanging experiences, you are preparing the future of our learners, of our students who, once finishing basic education, will have to undergo the qualifications framework system. What you are doing right now is a major contribution and help to the Philippines, as well as to the other ASEAN Member States," stated Secretary Leonor Briones of the Philippine Department of Education in her welcome remarks.

Following up on its first meeting in February 2017, the AQRF Committee centred the technical discussions in Manila on quality assurance, an important element in the referencing process.

The Chairperson of the AQRF Committee, Mr. Julaihi Bin Mohamad, explained that the AQRF is supported by a set of agreed quality assurance principles given that a key objective of the AQRF is to build a zone of trust on qualifications issued across ASEAN. At this 2nd meeting and technical workshop, the discussions were focused on the quality assurance aspect of the referencing report, where ASEAN Member States are required to describe how they conduct a systematic review of its educational programs to ensure that acceptable standards of education and infrastructure are maintained.

The AQRF Committee meeting also serves as a platform for sharing of experiences and best practices, as well as identifying challenges in the referencing process and how to overcome them. A total of 38 officials from 6 relevant Philippine agencies attended the Manila meeting along with 43 officials from ASEAN Member States, Australia, and New Zealand representing the education, labour, and economic sectors.

The experiences shared by Australia on its national qualifications referencing with the European Quality Framework and by New Zealand on its referencing with Malaysia were particularly helpful to ASEAN Member States in crafting their own referencing reports. The Committee members participated actively in the Committee meeting proper and yielded agreements on the working arrangements of the Committee, especially on the areas of capacity building and the partial submission of referencing reports for the iterative procedures of peer evaluation.

The event was hosted by the ASEAN 2017 National Organizing Council, Government of the Philippines in coordination with the ASEAN Secretariat and support from the ASEAN-Australia-New Zealand Free Trade Area (AANZFTA) Economic Cooperation Support Program (AECSP).

The development of the AQRF has been supported by AECSP since 2013 and through key milestones such as the endorsements of the AQRF by the ASEAN Economic and Education Ministers in 2014 and subsequently by ASEAN Labour Ministers in 2015.

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