SEAMEO and UNICEF commit to provide better learning outcomes for millions of children across Southeast Asia

25 March 2022

Bangkok, 25 March 2022 - The Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) and UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (EAPRO) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to renew and strengthen its partnership to co-lead the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) Programme. Dr Ethel Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat and Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, signed the MoU. This continued collaboration is significant for the SEA-PLM programme as it prepares for the second cycle of assessments—SEA-PLM 2024.

"This is a good example of commitment and partnership, and it's not a one-way street, but it's always two ways, and in the end, the countries benefit from our partnership," said Dr Ethel Valenzuela, Director, SEAMEO Secretariat. "Co-management of SEA-PLM is what we are signing today for the second round [SEA-PLM 2024], which will run from today up to 2025, and we are delighted that the Ministers of Education also approved our strategic plan of 2021-2025. This day will not be forgotten. It will be in the history of our organizations that even during a pandemic, we can collaborate, we can talk, and we can sign this memorandum of understanding."

"This MoU illustrates the productive collaboration between SEAMEO and UNICEF and the importance we jointly place on the education of children in Southeast Asia. Our teamwork has already helped countries in the region to strengthen their policies and practices to improve learning for all children, especially those who are hardest to reach. You are champions to drive education in Southeast Asia, and we look forward to our ongoing partnership," said Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific. "The MoU formalizes our respective roles at the [SEA-PLM Regional] Secretariat, and UNICEF is again committed to providing all the support we can, including at the technical level."

Since 2012, SEAMEO and UNICEF EAPRO have collaborated to assess, monitor and improve the quality of primary education in Southeast Asia. Together, they launched the SEA-PLM 2019 assessment—the first large-scale learning assessment by and for Southeast Asian countries—culminating in 2020 with the SEA-PLM 2019 Main Regional Report. The report presented rich data, findings, and recommendations to develop robust learning assessment systems and inform practices in key policy areas to the six participating countries: Cambodia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, and Vietnam.

The partnership between SEAMEO and UNICEF and member countries is a core principle of the SEA-PLM programme. The SEA-PLM Regional Secretariat co-managed by SEAMEO Secretariat and UNICEF EAPRO coordinates the programme's day-to-day management, including technical, administrative, communication, and strategic activities under SEA-PLM programme pillars to support long-term programme goals.

Through this MoU, SEAMEO and UNICEF EAPRO agrees to commit and work towards a shared objective — to provide better learning outcomes and equity in education for millions of children across the region.

Media contacts

Shima Islam
Regional Communication Specialist
UNICEF East Asia and the Pacific
Tel: +66 (0)23569407


The Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) is the first regional large-scale learning assessment programme specifically designed by and for the Southeast Asian region to assess the learning outcomes of Grade 5. It aims to improve students' foundational learning, inform policy-making to achieve meaningful learning and monitor ASEAN performance to attain equitable and quality education for all. For more information about the SEA-PLM Programme, visit



The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) is a regional intergovernmental organization established in 1965 among governments of Southeast Asian countries to promote regional cooperation in education, science and culture in the region. The organisation's highest policy-making body is the SEAMEO Council, which comprises the 11 Southeast Asian education ministers. The SEAMEO Secretariat is located in Bangkok, Thailand. For more information about the SEAMEO Secretariat, visit



Stretching from Mongolia in the North to Tonga in the South, UNICEF's East Asia & Pacific Regional Office covers one of the world's most diverse and dynamic areas. UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child. Together with partners, UNICEF works in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children to the benefit of all children.

For more information about UNICEF East Asia & Pacific and its work for children, visit

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