Projects, Processes, Politics
Edited by Susan L. Robertson, Kris Olds, Roger Dale and Que Anh Dang
Chapter 5: Harmonization of higher education in Southeast Asia regionalism: politics first, and then education
Regionalism exists in many different forms and contexts (IPPTN, 2008). Following Olds and Robertson (2011), regionalism is a state-led initiative to enhance integration among countries within a defined region towards better security and trade. Since the end of the Cold War, however, the areas in which regionalism seems most salient have included institutional structures, relationships between institutions and national governments, the academic profession, and student mobility (Forest, n.d.). Based on the post-Cold War situation and European experience, it is argued that educational policy has become linked in many specific forms to economic policy, and thus must follow in the direction economic policies go (ibid.). But politics has not featured in recent discussion on regionalism in Asia, though in reality, regionalism is also about politics, followed by economic justifications and then other concerns. Such has been the development of regionalism since the 1950s. In this respect, it is important to examine the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok, Thailand, as a case study to illustrate the relationship between regionalism and higher education development. ASEAN was established with the signing of the ASEAN Declaration (Bangkok Declaration) by the founding states of ASEAN, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. It is important to note that ASEAN was established when communist ideology was spreading in Indochina during the Indochina War, and the fall of South Vietnam to North Vietnam led to the idea that the ‘domino theory’ would become a reality in Southeast Asia. Furthermore, in the 1960s, communist parties were also very active in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, lending credence to the ‘domino theory’ that after Indochina, Malaysia and Thailand would be overwhelmed by communist insurgencies.
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