East Asia: planning for the future

As we work to strengthen our cultural relations impact across the globe, the region of East Asia presents us with new challenges and new opportunities in the areas of education and society.

A number of large-scale, donor-funded projects in countries across the region have given us the opportunity to increase our engagement with key policy makers and influencers. These new partnerships are helping us achieve some impressive and sustainable outcomes.
 
In Burma, where we have had a presence since 1947, we are helping to strengthen areas of civil society such as the rule of law, HIV/AIDS networks, community forestry and the rice market chain through the Pyoe Pin and Amatae projects. Funded by DFID and SIDA, they are both part of the wider Burma Civil Strengthening Civil Society Project, which has just received an A+ rating at its mid-term stage.
 
In China, we are continuing to engage with policy makers as the country looks to collaborate internationally through the sharing of best practice. Through the EU-funded Access to Justice Programme, we are assisting the Ministry of Justice to strengthen legal aid services by assessing national policy, providing learning opportunities for legal aid practitioners and sharing best practice from the EU.

In Indonesia we recently completed the BP-funded Basic and Secondary Education Project, which has developed capacity to increase participation in basic numeracy and literacy and improve learning outcomes in West Papua. In Vietnam, we are supporting state institutions implement a national judicial reform strategy through the EU-funded Justice Partnership Programme.

As countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam achieve middle-income status, and bilateral grants from donors are being reduced, we are beginning to look for new avenues of co-operation. One such way is by using our EU-approved Indirect Centralised Management status to align EU planning with national government priorities. This allows us to develop projects that both meet the demand of beneficiaries and make the most of our own experience and expertise.

The development of the ASEAN partnership will also continue to offer new opportunities for co-operation. With an established presence in eight of the ten ASEAN member states, we are looking at ways of best joining up our operations to meet the needs of this emerging political and economic partnership.

As the focus for development aid shifts from the emerging economic markets, we are looking for new countries that could benefit most from our experience and expertise. In Papua New Guinea we are developing a project to build a national teacher training programme focussed on English. Following the signing of the peace accord between the Philippine government and Mindanao, we looking at opportunities to develop access to justice and civil society projects, building on the success of models we have implemented in other parts of East Asia. We are also building strategic partnerships with organisations operating in Cambodia and Laos – countries where we don’t currently have a presence on the ground.

In East Asia, we are moving from an approach of responding to donor tenders to influencing donor priorities and to designing programmes in consultation with national government partners and donors. It is this ability to adapt that will ensure we can continue to increase out impact in the region in the future.