As the realisation of the Asean community draws closer in 2015, member states are putting the finishing touches on years of preparations for integration within a new regional context. Their focus has been mainly on building stronger economic relations through closer transport, trade and investment ties, with an eye to gaining from the free flow of goods and labour.
But amid all the AEC hype, little attention has been paid to how educational and cultural institutions are responding to regional integration. According to Romano Prodi, a former president of the European Commission and former prime minister of Italy, social cohesion and human capital development are essential for regional cooperation to succeed.
“Getting a country ready for regional integration is an ongoing process that has to be done step by step. We need to begin with changing the common perspective and interest of the people,” Mr Prodi told Asia Focus during a recent visit to Bangkok.
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