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ASEC hosts forum on education for its partners

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The ASEAN Secretariat hosted the ASEAN Partners’ Mini Forum on Education on 17 November to update ASEAN Dialogue Partners and other partners on the current status, achievements and opportunities on ASEAN education cooperation.

The event offered a rare opportunity of a dialogue between education practitioners from ASEAN Member States and representatives from the ASEAN Dialogue Partners and invited international organisations.

The Mini Forum focused on how education and its sub-sectors synergise with other ASEAN pillars and sectors to create a more holistic action in support of overall purpose of the ASEAN Community.  The dialogue identified converging points between priorities of ASEAN and ASEAN Dialogue Partners on issues such as inclusive education, vocational and skills training, internationalization of higher education, teachers’ competencies, and ASEAN awareness through education.

Representatives from the Republic of Korea (ROK), Switzerland and Norway shared their priority areas of support to ASEAN.  Specifically, ROK has expressed interest to support a proposal on ASEAN statistical capacity enhancement for basic inclusive education. Responding to emerging needs for teachers’ development, the Teachers Association of the Republic of Indonesia proposed for ASEAN to convene discussions on common teacher standards in ASEAN. Many ASEAN Dialogue Partners expressed appreciation and found value in a dialogue such as this to keep everyone abreast on the work of ASEAN sectors especially education.

Participants include education specialists from ASEAN, representatives from ASEAN Dialogue Partners, ASEAN entities and UN agencies.

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ADB to Help Improve Water Governance, Develop Regional Urban Investment Plan for Mongolia

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The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has agreed to provide two technical assistance (TA) grants totaling $2.5 million to help the Government of Mongolia strengthen water governance at the river basin level and prepare a development investment program for aimag and soum centers in the country.

The agreements were signed by Batkhuu Idesh, Director General of the Development Financing Department of the Ministry of Finance, and Yolanda Fernandez Lommen, ADB Country Director for Mongolia, at a ceremony in Ulaanbaatar. First Secretary Hiroshi Fukasawa from the Embassy of Japan in Mongolia witnessed the event. Representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and the Ministry of Construction and Urban Development also participated.

“Mongolia’s future development rests heavily on how it manages its resources and achieve sustainable development driven by a multisector economy and ecological balance,” said Ms. Fernandez Lommen. “Both projects are aligned with ADB’s Country Partnership Strategy for Mongolia, which supports the government’s efforts to foster inclusive growth, improve people’s access to services, and strengthen environmental sustainability.”

The $1 million water governance TA grant aims to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of investments in the water sector and infrastructure in the country to provide socioeconomic benefits. The project will assess the current status of water governance standards, provide policy recommendations for legislative and institutional reforms, and develop and update management plans for river basins. It will strengthen and build capacity among government agencies, and assess the potential scaleup and replication of water security approaches for river basins.

The regional development TA grant for the aimag and soum centers is worth $1.5 million. It will help the government develop an investment program to improve basic urban services and promote the local economy in selected aimag capitals and soum centers. The program will focus on regional urban clusters that have the potential to build a more resilient and diversified economy to deliver inclusive and sustainable growth. The TA will support the preparation of the investment program, such as the formulation of economic and urban development strategies, feasibility studies, and measures that will enhance aid effectiveness and project readiness.

The two projects are funded by the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction. Over the past 19 years, the fund has supported projects in Mongolia in poverty alleviation, community development, improving livelihoods, and safeguarding the environment.

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Data USA adds more than 7,300 profiles of higher education institutions to visualization platform

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Data USA has released new data visualization profiles summarizing the costs, demographics, debt, acceptance rates, financial aid, and endowments of more than 7,300 universities and higher education institutions in the US. The visualizations make available data from the US Department of Education’s Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Systems (IPEDS).

Data USA is a free, open data platform created in collaboration between Deloitte, MIT, and Datawheel. Data USA integrates, visualizes, and distributes data from multiple public sources and has grown in its first two years to more than 300,000 monthly users, becoming one of the main sources for Americans to access public data.

“The new university profiles will allow students, parents, and school counselors, to understand the cost, demographics, and career opportunities of thousands of US universities,” said César Hidalgo, director of MIT’s Collective Learning group and a co-founder of Datawheel.

“Whether you are a student or parent, researcher, journalist, employer, or curious citizen, these new data visualizations offer greater insights into the composition of colleges and universities around the country and the integral role they play in the overall job market,” said Matt Gentile, principal, Deloitte Transactions and Business Analytics LLP, and one of the Data USA project lead sponsors. “With the vast amounts of open government data, we’re closing the gap in making that data useful, understandable, and actionable.”

“IPEDS data is extensive, but to most individuals who are not thoroughly familiar with the intricacies of the formats involved, translating the raw data into useable information is a daunting task,” said Jeff Bradfield, National Practice Leader for Higher Education, Deloitte Consulting LLP. “With this new interface, the data is now more accessible to people inside and outside the higher education community.”

The new higher education profiles provide a robust amount of data visualizations, including:

  • Admissions and financial aid
  • Majors, time to complete degrees, and jobs of graduates
  • Diversity of student and faculty populations
  • Staffing, expenses, and operations

Additionally, the individual institution profiles that also include automatically generated comparison data from peer institutions.

Data USA is the most comprehensive visualization engine for shared US government data to date, aggregating and visualizing publicly available data from multiple sources including the Department of Labor, Department of Commerce, the Census, and Department of Education, among others.

Data USA is freely available and users can browse the data and gain insights using filters or target their view using search tools. The code is open source, and the platform is scalable, allowing for new data to be added. Application developers can build on the Data USA platform using the API and integrate additional data for custom use.

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Strong outbound tourism demand from both traditional and emerging markets in 2017

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Virtually all source markets reported higher tourism spending in 2017, reflecting continued strong demand for international tourism across all world regions. Both emerging and advanced economies fuelled growth, led by the United States which spent US$ 12 billion more on travel abroad. China spent US$ 8 billion more, consolidating its leadership as the biggest spender in the world. The Russian Federation spent US$ 7 billion more and Brazil US$ 5 billion more, both rebounding from weaker spending in previous years. Strong tourism expenditure reflects enhanced connectivity, increased visa facilitation and a global economic upswing.

All top 25 source markets reported higher spending on international tourism in 2017, as highlighted in the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer. China consolidated its leadership as the biggest spender in travel abroad in 2017 with US$ 258 billion in expenditure (+5% in local currency).

The other three BRIC economies all substantially increased expenditure in 2017. The Russian Federation (+13%) rebounded after a few years of declines, to reach US$ 31 billion, climbing three places to re-enter the top ten at number 8. Brazil (+20%) also recovered strongly and moved up eight places to number 16 with US$ 19 billion in expenditure. India continued its rise with 9% growth in spending to US$ 18 billion and moved up four places in the ranking to 17th.

“Emerging economies play a key role in tourism development and we are very pleased to see the rebound of the Russian Federation and Brazil, and the ongoing rise of India, as these key emerging outbound markets contribute to growth and market diversification in many destinations”, said UNWTO Secretary-General, Zurab Pololikashvili.

Advanced economies also performed robustly in 2017, led by the United States (+9%), the world’s second largest outbound market. US travellers spent US$ 12 billion more on international tourism to US$ 135 billion. Expenditure from Germany (3rd largest market) and the United Kingdom (4th) both increased 3%, and from France (5th) 1%.

Australia (6th) reported 7% growth and Canada (7th) a 9% increase. Completing the top ten are the Republic of Korea (9th) where expenditure grew by 9% and Italy (10th) where it increased by 6%.

Beyond the top ten, tourism spending also grew notably in Sweden (+14%) and Spain (+12%).

These strong results in outbound tourism are consistent with the 7% increase in international tourist arrivals in 2017. Demand for travel was particularly high in Europe, where arrivals increased 8% last year.

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