ASEAN-UK SAGE is the UK’s flagship education programme in Southeast Asia, supporting girls and marginalised communities to access education and improve foundational learning.

MANILA, 26 FEBRUARY: On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, the UK Government in collaboration with the ASEAN secretariat proudly launched the ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships. This initiative aims to address gender disparities in STEM education and employment within ASEAN countries and Timor-Leste.

While girls outperform boys in mathematics and science in primary and secondary education across ASEAN countries, a gender gap starts to appear in tertiary STEM education with only 19.3% of women obtaining STEM degrees compared to 39.8% of men1. The 2022 UN progress report on SDG 5 – Gender Equality – reveals only 20% of jobs in STEM are held by women globally, and various studies highlight disparities in publication, pay, and career progression for women in STEM.

Recognising the importance of these issues, the UK, through the ASEAN-UK Supporting the Advancement of Girls’ Education Programme (ASEAN-UK SAGE), seeks to address gender disparities in STEM by providing more access to STEM education for women and girls in ASEAN and Timor-Leste. Emerging from the UK’s official Dialogue Partner status with ASEAN in 2021, ASEAN-UK SAGE is a pioneer initiative under the ASEAN-UK Plan of Action 2022-2026. Launched in 2023, ASEAN-UK SAGE is funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) with a commitment of up to GBP 30 million, through to 2028. The programme is implemented by the British Council, SEAMEO Secretariat, Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER), and EdTech Hub in its first phase, with a focus on three critical areas: (i) strengthening foundational learning, (ii) engaging out-of-school children and marginalised groups, and (iii) breaking gender barriers to digital skills and employment.

The newly launched, ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM scholarships will contribute to addressing underrepresentation of women in STEM by supporting access to UK education for women. The scholarships will support inspirational advocates in the STEM sector and promote role models for Women in STEM with viable, recognisable STEM careers.

ASEAN-UK SAGE Women in STEM Scholarships are open to women from across all ten ASEAN Member States and Timor-Leste, offering women a chance to transform their future and become pioneers in STEM fields across the region. 11 successful applicants from ASEAN and Timor-Leste will receive a fully funded one-year opportunity to complete a master’s degree at the prestigious University of Warwick or Imperial College London. The opportunity is open to women from ten ASEAN Member States, including Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Viet Nam as well as Timor-Leste.

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