The Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO) was established to promote cooperation in education, science and culture in the Southeast Asian region. It is mandated to enhance regional understanding and cooperation and unity of purpose among SEAMEO Member Countries in order to achieve a better quality of life. These mandates are carried out through the establishment of networks and partnerships, the provision of an intellectual forum for policy makers and experts, promotion of sustainable human resource development, enhancement of the capacities of teachers and school managers, and collaboration with global and international organisations, and institutions.

The on-going setting up of the ASEAN Community brings challenges and opportunities that call for dynamic and comprehensive approach among governments in the region. As regional integration progresses, educational institutions are feeling the pressure of working together to bring their systems closer and develop a more comparable, complementary and harmonised programmes and curricula especially in higher education.

To face the reality of the inevitable scenario of regional integration, SEAMEO developed its Strategic Plan (2011-2020) identifying 12 priority initiatives to be pursued in order to achieve the Golden SEAMEO Vision by 2020. The vision is characterised by programme dynamism, excellence, greater prowess, deeper cooperation and enhanced international visibility yet increasing its internal capacity building and striving to create regional standard and social cultural responsibility. SEAMEO has 24 specialist centres called the SEAMEO Centres which carry out these initiatives encompassing capacity building and development, research and development, information and knowledge exchange and management, community work and extension.

SEAMEO RECSAM with its mandate to promote science and mathematics in the Southeast Asian region, led one of the 12 initiatives known as SEAMEO Basic Education Standards (SEA-BES) and Student Networking, which later became two separate projects. The SEA-BES project came into life in November 2014 through a regional consultative meeting back to back with the Southeast Asia Primary Learning Metrics (SEA-PLM) project with funding from UNICEF East Asia Pacific Regional Office (UNICEF EAPRO).

Under the new SEAMEO Education Agenda (2015-2035), SEA-BES project is re-aligned into Priority Area #7 “Adopting a 21st Century Curriculum” which states to pursue a radical reform through systematic analysis of knowledge, skills, and values needed to effectively respond to changing global contexts, particularly to the ever-increasing complexity of the Southeast Asian economic, socio-cultural and political environment, developing teacher imbued with ASEAN ideals in building ASEAN Community within 20 years.