Exploring how community learning centres can foster effective virtual lifelong learning environments
Community learning centres (CLCs) are very active hubs for lifelong learning throughout the Asia-Pacific region, providing non-formal and informal learning opportunities for all community members. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) recognizes that CLCs have a crucial role to play in achieving the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (‘to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’) and has therefore been supporting their work in different regions of the world.
While CLCs continue to serve as important spaces for traditional learning, community engagement and exchange, they also offer online learning platforms. CLCs are increasingly utilizing online technologies to support the learning of disadvantaged youths and adults, in particular, and to stimulate the growth of new, virtual communities of learning.
The Changwon/UNESCO Asia-Pacific Regional Education Conference, which took place in May 2016 in Phuket, Thailand, examined how community learning centres (CLCs) and online opportunities can continue to enhance lifelong learning in the region. The conference was organized by the UNESCO Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education in Bangkok, the Korean National Commission for UNESCO, and Changwon City in collaboration with the Republic of Korea’s National Institute for Lifelong Education (NILE), the Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau and the Municipality of Phuket. During the three-day conference, 170 participants from 30 countries in the region discussed experiences of how online learning platforms offered by CLCs and institutions supporting them in their countries are promoting lifelong learning and skills development.
Using online learning platforms to foster lifelong learning
Participants represented governmental and non-governmental institutions, UN agencies, development partners and academic institutions as well as CLCs, many of which are UIL partners. Participants devised a set of recommendations providing guidance on how CLCs can use and benefit from new information technologies. The recommendations will be published soon.
In addition, participants visited two of Phuket’s seventeen CLCs and got to see first-hand how CLCs are harnessing the potential of online learning while continuing to provide traditional learning spaces. For example, at the CLC in Kathu Municipality, older people have a safe space to participate in lifelong learning and improve their quality of life.