HAVING grown in scope, scale and quality over the past five years, this year’s Asia Public Policy Forum (APPF) of the Ash Centre on Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard University was held in Malaysia for the first time in collaboration with the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia at Sunway University. APPF was held on Jan 18 and 19 at Sunway University, and it featured six panels covering a broad spectrum of topics focused on opportunities to further develop and improve the education industry in Southeast Asia. To address the critical and complex policy challenges for education in Southeast Asia, APPF brought together a mix of senior government officials, private sector and community leaders, academics, and public intellectuals from important ministries like Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education, and Indonesian Ministry of Finance and leading global research institutions like Harvard University, Sunway University, University of Indonesia, Fudan University (China), Thailand Development Research Institute, University of Malaya, Bandung Institute of Technology, Vietnamese Academy of Social Sciences, Fulbright University Vietnam, Myanmar National Education Policy Commission, Widya Mandala Catholic University Surabaya, and C-ASEAN. In his welcome address to the more than 300 attendees from all over Southeast Asia, Prof Anthony Saich from Harvard University said, “This year, we are turning to the second of the key factors around human capital and development, that is the challenges in education provision.” He went on to explain that the “The Growth Report” of the Commission of Growth and Development pointed out that growth strategies could not succeed without a commitment to equality of opportunity, with respect to education especially for girls. He emphasised that the education of girls was a very strong test of a government’s commitment to equality of opportunity where overcoming the obstacles produces a very high payoff. Educated women tend to have fewer, healthier children, and they have them at older ages. Their children tend to become more successful at school and this leads the way to break the intergenerational cycle of poverty. Tan Sri Dr Jeffrey Cheah, AO, Founding Trustee of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation and Founding Chancellor of Sunway University said the forum complements the mission of the Jeffrey Cheah Foundation in two objectives which is to provide world-class quality education in Malaysia and to democratise access to quality education.