June 2019

Perspectives for adult education in Southeast Asia – regional conference in Laos

Participants of the conference in Vientiane

At the invitation of DVV International, some 70 experts in adult education from Laos and Cambodia, as well as from other Southeast, East and South Asian countries, met on 6 June in Vientiane, Laos, under the title “Rethinking Adult Learning and Education – Asian Perspectives”. In lectures, working groups and panel discussions they identified positive examples from adult education practice and discussed how these can be transferred to other countries, especially Laos and Cambodia.

Dr. Khampay Sisavanh, Lao Deputy Minister of Education, in his welcoming speech, emphasised the importance of adult education in achieving the goal of reaching particularly disadvantaged population groups. Maria Khan, General Secretary of the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), then pointed to possible ways out of the structural disadvantages suffered by adult education through donor organisations and national governments. She appealed for new self-confidence with respect towards the past successes of adult education. 

The focus of the conference was the official launch of the publication “Rethinking Adult Learning and Education – Asian Perspectives” published by DVV International in Laos, in which numerous experts from the region contributed their views. Uwe Gartenschlaeger, outgoing DVV International Regional Director for Southeast Asia, stressed that adult education is probably the education sector that achieves the greatest benefit with the least exertion. Ichiro Miyazawa from the UNESCO office in Bangkok pointed out that, particularly in the digital domain, there is a great deal of new room for manoeuvre for adult education.

“The power and joy of adult learning and education” was the title of the concluding plenary session, in which representatives from Thailand, South Korea and the Philippines described how the positive experiences from practical adult education work in their countries could be transferred to the often difficult contexts in Laos and Cambodia. Ethel Valenzuela, new Secretary General of the Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), pledged her support toward lobbying activities with national governments. 

The conference was a building block for the efforts of DVV International to promote the establishment and expansion of sustainable adult education systems in its partner countries Laos and Cambodia. In Laos, in 2019, an official lifelong learning decree is planned to be issued, the development of which was actively contributed to by DVV International.  

Download the publication Rethinking Adult Learning and Education – Asian Perspectives (PDF). The volume is part of the International Perspectives in Adult Education series.

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