South-East Asian countries prepare for national policy dialogues on lifelong learning
In recent decades, South-East Asia has undergone rapid economic growth and overall development. However, despite these positive macro trends, there are vast disparities between and within countries in terms of living standards and social and economic opportunities, resulting in a rise in inequality. Rapidly changing labour markets require constant up-skilling and re-skilling of the labour force. Moreover, the region has experienced significant population growth, with a substantial proportion of people under the age of 30 in some countries, and ageing populations in others. Against this background, the importance of lifelong learning is increasingly recognized, with advocacy and capacity-development in lifelong learning undertaken by the South East Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO).
It was in this context that experts from nine South-East Asian countries came together in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, from 5 to 6 October 2017, to discuss the advancement of a lifelong learning agenda in the region. Towards a Lifelong Learning Agenda in Southeast Asia is the vision set out by the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELLL) as part of a three-year project run in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL).
The project has just entered its second phase. A major component of this phase will be to facilitate national policy dialogue and exchange. The expert meeting was organized in anticipation of national policy dialogue on lifelong learning in participating countries, namely: Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR), Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste and Viet Nam.
Participating countries developed proposals for the further enhancement of government policies for lifelong learning and for national policy forums on this topic in their countries. Lao PDR provided particularly valuable inputs as it is has already gone through the process of drafting legislation on lifelong learning. It’s Minister of Education and Sports consulted on a draft decree with over 60 representatives from other line ministries, the national assembly and departments within the Ministry of Education and Sports. The decree is expected to be formally adopted in 2018.
With support from experts from UNESCO and DVV International (the German Adult Education Association), this meeting equipped participants with the knowledge and experience they need to undertake the next steps in developing lifelong learning policies in their countries.