The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) shared its expertise in lifelong learning, teacher training and preparing today’s young adults for the future of work at the Central Asia Symposium on ICT in Education, which took place on 6 and 7 October 2022 in Almaty, Republic of Kazakhstan, under the theme ‘ICT-enabled skills development in rural and remote areas’. The hybrid conference brought together over 50 participants, comprising official delegations from five Central Asian countries, civil society, development partners and private sector representatives.
The UIL session underlined that with its growing youth population and high level of low-skilled rural adult workers, the Central Asia region is urgently in need of holistic approaches to education that encompass the formal, non-formal and informal sectors. Moreover, it is of crucial importance that education stakeholders work collaboratively and coherently to offer youth and adults with quality learning opportunities and possibilities to develop twenty-first century skills. Timely and effective teacher training is an additional imperative for the region’s sustainable development.
The panel session was moderated by Ms Rakhat Zholdoshalieva, Team Leader of UIL’s Learning Ecosystems programme, and explored skills development from a lifelong learning perspective. More specifically, session participants debated what skills learners in the region would need in the future and how access to relevant learning and training opportunities could be widened.
Mr Raúl Valdés-Cotera, Team Leader of UIL’s Skills Throughout Life programme, presented ways to embed lifelong learning for future skills development in institutions, cities and national policies. He advocated for education policies that recognize lifelong learning as a human right, support for cities to implement lifelong learning at the local level, and for educational institutions to serve the community by providing lifelong learners with more flexible learning pathways.
The symposium, which took place in a hybrid format, also featured representatives from the Ministry of Education of Kazakhstan and BTS Education, an education stakeholder based in the country, who shared how, together, they are working to prepare the nation’s primary and secondary school students for the future through an online database of jobs and competences. In addition, the European Training Foundation spoke about the importance of promoting inclusion when expanding access to technology, providing teacher training, ensuring the recognition and certification of prior skills, and empowering educators and learners to be innovators in the digital transition towards more sustainable economies. The UNESCO Almaty Office, which works in four Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), presented UNESCO’s vision of education for the future and how a humanistic approach to education and learning was necessary to guide the inclusive design and use of information and communication technologies for learning.
Given the vibrant growth in technology for learning in Central Asia, UIL will continue to engage with the region to share technical advice on technological opportunities and risks as part of its policy development and capacity-building activities.