From 4 to 6 September, the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) in collaboration with the Institute for International Cooperation of the German Adult Education Association (DVVI) organised the capacity building workshop on Advocacy for Adult Learning and Education (ALE) in Bangkok, Thailand. Attending the event were representatives from 25 national and international organisations and offices, among which were UNESCO Bangkok, DVVI Regional Office for Southeast Asia, Office of the Non-formal and Informal Education of Thailand, and SEAMEO.
Mr Johann Heilmann, Regional Director of DVVI Office for Southeast Asia re-confirmed the close and growing long-established cooperation between DVVI and ASPBAE in actively advancing ALE. Ms Maria Lourdes Almazan Khan, Secretary General, ASPBAE, briefed on the context of ALE within the framework of lifelong learning and SDGs, and ASPBAE's determination to involve civil society organisations in this effort. Mr Khau Huu Phuoc, Manager of Research and Training, SEAMEO CELLL, presented on policy frameworks on lifelong learning in Southeast Asia (SEA), pointing out the absence of ALE in all current education laws of the 11 SEA countries. Mr Ichiro Miyazawa, Programme Specialist in Literacy and Lifelong Learning, UNESCO Bangkok, talked about ALE in the world of work and life, stressing the importance of work-life balance, and the happiness resulting from working with a goal, not just an immediate purpose of earning money.
The workshop aimed to build a shared analysis on ALE, understand main arguments on the importance of ALE and agree on core policy recommendations which call for advocacy for ALE at national and regional levels, specifically in SDG 4.4 and 4.6. The workshop was also intended to provide thought inputs for the 5th Asia Pacific Meeting on Education 2030 (APMED 5) to be held in early October this year. In a situation where ALE is considered "nice to have" but quite low on the education agenda, ASPBAE finds itself responsible for reviving ALE through different means and modes so that ALE can receive the attention it deserves for the realisation of SDGs. This workshop ended on 6 September with key advocacies to be considered for the agenda of APMED 5.
Schools and the quality of education in rural areas is generally poor and compounded by numerous factors such as remoteness, poor infrastructure and services, low household and community income, low human capacity and in the case of border communities, cross-border migration. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that significant attention be paid to actively improve and enhance the quality of education and health in rural communities in order to achieve the SDGs.
In this regard, SEAMEO Regional Centre for Community Education Development (SEAMEO CED) has launched the Border Schools Project which aims to enhance teaching capacity of primary and secondary school’s teachers in the borderland of SEAMEO Member Countries, strengthen the capacity of schools’ administrators in education development and the management of schools, strengthening the capacity of the community and community leaders in monitoring and evaluation of schools’ development and promote collaboration between SEAMEO Centres.
From 29 to 30 August 2019, an international seminar on education for rural community was held in Luang Prabang Province, Lao PDR. The seminar was attended by government officials of education, researchers and practitioners from Brunei, Cambodia, China, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. It focused on updating the current outcomes of the Border Schools Project, informing and seeking feedback on the new initiative on enhancing community partnerships in education development. It also aimed at exchanging knowledge about innovative approaches of non-formal education for ethnic groups in Mekong sub-region.
Representing SEAMEO Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELLL), Ms Tien Tran, Programme Officer, Reasearch and Training Department, contributed to the seminar with the findings from the centre's most recent research on indigenous education in Vietnam, within the framework of the project Lifelong learning for ethnic groups in the Greater Mekong Sub-region: Towards culturally responsive development. This project was initiated by UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Development (UNESCO INRULED) and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL).
The presentation focused on the interventions of Vietnamese government to promote education for ethnic minorities as a key to eradicate poverty. It also provided a case study on a CLC in Ha Giang Province, a mountainous province in the far north of Vietnam with 277km border with China. This CLC was chosen for study due to its innovative approaches to governance, financing and conducting programmes.
The seminar concluded with a discussion on the definition and scope of community education, from which SEAMEO CED will base its future research and training projects on. A field trip to Thapho village, a rural community, was also conducted to give insight to participants on how a CLC in remote area of Lao PDR was successful in helping its inhabitants improve their livelihood.