Switzerland is a member of the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM), which has served as a forum for exchange between Europe and Asia to address economic, political, educational, cultural, environmental and climate issues. Education and training has been one of the priority areas on the agenda since 2006 and has been discussed in detail at regular ministerial meetings since 2008. State Secretary Martina Hirayama represented Switzerland at the recent ASEM Education Ministers’ Meeting (ASEMME; Asia-Europe Meeting of Ministers for Education) in the Romanian capital of Bucharest on 15 and 16 May, where she had constructive discussions with various government representatives.
ASEM is designed to serve as an informal platform to foster dialogue between European and Asian states. The aim of the ministerial talks and biennial summits is to exchange views on the challenges and problems facing both continents. ASEM currently comprises the 28 EU Member States, Norway, Russia, Switzerland and the European Union as well as 20 Asian States and the ASEAN Secretariat. The 7th Education Ministers’ Meeting in Bucharest on 15 and 16 May was opened by Romanian education minister Ecaterina Andronescu. Romania holds the presidency of the EU Council until the end of June.
Themed under ’Connecting Education: Inclusion, Mobility & Excellence in Support of the Sustainable Development Goals’, the meeting aimed to foster future-oriented dialogue and the exchange of good practices and to support efforts in the interests of both continents. The meeting highlighted the role of the ASEM education process in ASEM dialogue and cooperation. In light of current developments on the global stage and their impact on education policy in the ASEM countries, discussions focused on mobility in the digital age and the contribution of ASEM education cooperation on the path towards meeting the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Among other things, the ministers reaffirmed their desire to further develop and strengthen cooperation in the four key policy areas already defined. These include quality assurance and recognition, the inclusion of business in education, balanced mobility and lifelong learning, including occupation-oriented education and training.
Over the course of the ASEM gathering, State Secretary Martina Hirayama, accompanied by Ambassador Arthur Mattli, held numerous meetings, including with Romanian research and innovation minister Nicolae Hurduc, and Latvian education and science minister Ilga Župlinska. Ms Hirayama also visited the New Europe College in Bucharest, a renowned research institute for the humanities and social sciences supported by Switzerland.
The next Education Ministers’ Meeting will be held in Thailand in 2021.