MANILA, Philippines – It is a wish list of sorts by 100 youth leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) region who spent 2 straight days in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to craft a “genuine” statement.

The Asean Youth Statement 2012, which the youth leaders finalized at the start of the Philippines’ summer break, included a call for a regional education standard, among others. The 3-year-old Asean Youth Movement crafted this statement.

In the statement disseminated in late March, the movement acknowledged common education-related issues in the Asean region, such as few teachers, poor school facilities, unequal opportunities for schooling, and few programs to hone the youth for their future careers.

“Young people in Asean must be empowered to access free and qualified basic education so that they can address their needs in order to find their own solutions, make their own decisions, and realize their own choices,” the Asean Youth Statement (AYM) said.

PH reforms

By recommending a “regional education standard,” the youth leaders want states to come up with an agreement to address common education-related problems. These include drop-out rates, students’ poor performance in math and science subjects, explained AYM Philippine country representative Joel Barredo in an e-mail to Rappler.

Would the Philippines’ K+12 program address these concerns? Not quite, Barredo said.

“It will not feed the hungry student of Payatas before he comes to class. It will not increase the morale of a teacher with 80 students in a class. It will not improve the situation of dilapidated classrooms in Baseco,” he explained.

“It must first solve the most fundamental problems such as poor student performance, high drop-out rates, poor classroom instruction, etc,” Barredo added.

The Asean Youth Statement also tackled key issues like reproductive health and peace.

The statement teaches young Filipino citizens “to be more sensitive to the issues of the youth from other parts of the region,” Barredo said.

“At the end of the day, we are all involved in each other’s problems,” he explained in Filipino. – Rappler.com, Paterno Esmaquel II