Education in South-East Asia: Disruptions Are Happily at Hand

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The first Asean-Australia Education Dialogue was held in Penang in March this year. Dato’ Dr Ooi Kee Beng, Executive Director of Penang Institute, presented the keynote speech, reproduced here.

I am very happy that the first Asean-Australia Education Dialogue (AAED) is held here in Penang, my hometown. We like to think of Penang as the spot in South-East Asia where much of what we today recognise as “Modernity” first landed. This happened in 1786, 16 years after Captain James Cook landed in Australia for the first time.

I wish to draw your attention to certain factors – certain concepts and dynamics, in fact – which anyone studying South-East Asia and worrying about its future, or in fact anyone studying any single country in the region, should consider. I will try to describe South-East Asia in a historical fashion, and through that, I hope to project to you a broad understanding of the region’s challenges and self-image, and of Asean’s significance today.


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