UNESCO holds international consultative meeting to look at the governance of lifelong learning


18 October 2018

Shanghai, China, 18 October 2018 – High-level officials from universities and research institutes, national and local governments from 20 countries as well as representatives of international agencies have come together to discuss approaches to effective governance of lifelong learning in an international consultative meeting on ‘Lifelong learning as a fundamental approach to sustainable development: Concepts, policies and strategies’ in Shanghai. The meeting, which runs from 18 to 19 October 2018, is discussing new forms of governance to promote lifelong learning. In addition, it will review a Handbook for Lifelong Learning: Policy and Practice, developed by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and scheduled for publication in 2019.

A lifelong learning approach goes far beyond the formal education sector; it also comprises non-formal and informal learning environments and extends into other policy fields such as the labour market and social affairs. The conditions of traditional education governance do not suffice to meet the complexity of lifelong learning, which calls for an integrated governance approach: sector-wide, cross-sectoral and multi-level.

Mr David Atchoarena, Director of UIL, highlighted the importance of UNESCO’s human rights-based understanding, and made a case for participatory, collaborative forms of governance involving all levels of government and taking lifelong learning ‘beyond the public sector, beyond schools, beyond education’ when opening the event.

The international consultative meeting will address strategic issues to guide UNESCO Member States in integrating lifelong learning into their education and national development policies. Country representatives will provide insights into emerging issues related to lifelong learning and the implications for governance. The discussions will also address how lifelong learning can enhance gender equality and how it can support an inclusive digital transformation as well as elaborating on the importance of establishing flexible learning pathways. The results will be consolidated in a policy brief addressing the purposes, functions and effectiveness of integrated governance in the field of lifelong learning.

Participants will also discuss the Handbook for Lifelong Learning: Policy and Practice, which has been developed to guide professionals in ministries of education and other ministries, national agencies and stakeholders from different sectors to integrate lifelong learning into their national policies and to translate them into workable strategies and plans. The handbook provides important insights into key concepts of lifelong learning, practical approaches for mainstreaming lifelong learning into education and development policies, implications for governance as well as implementation strategies. Following the consultative meeting, the handbook will be piloted in a two-week training workshop on Developing lifelong learning-oriented education systems in UNESCO Member States, also taking place in Shanghai.

This important initiative to advance the integration of lifelong learning into national policies is a joint effort by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, East China Normal University and Shanghai Open University, with the strong support of the National Commission of the People’s Republic of China for UNESCO.

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