Testimonial Jose Roberto Guevara

My experience of Curriculum globALE stems from having facilitated the Training of Master Trainers in Non-Formal Education (ToMT) in Lao PDR from 2015-2017, which helped me realise the potential that Curriculum globALE (CG) has to be a truly empowering adult learning and education (ALE) curriculum.

CG encouraged educators to adapt it to the local context. We adapted and contextualised CG locally in terms of both content and approach. Instead of beginning with theories of adult learning and education, the ToMT began with an understanding of the local context and practice of adult learning and education. This was aimed at providing the facilitators with a better understanding of ALE in Lao PDR, but it was also about acknowledging the knowledge and experience that the participants brought into the ToMT – a glass half-full rather than a half-empty approach.

However, our unique experience in Laos highlighted how this local adaptation was not limited to a curriculum development process. I have described this localisation of CG as a story of emergent partnering, or a process whereby partnerships are initiated and nurtured not merely to facilitate delivery of the curriculum, but also to ensure that we also help to establish a local context in which our ToMT graduates have the opportunity to apply and deepen their new knowledge and skills when they graduate.

The most visible evidence of this emergent partnering was how the facilitation team grew. The initial partners were the Ministry of Education and Sports, Lao PDR, the Non-Formal Education Development Centre (NFEDC), and DVV International. By the time the ToMT was launched in 2015, the team also included UNESCO Bangkok, the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), and RMIT University. By 2017, the team had expanded to include the Australian Volunteers for International Development.

The second illustration of emergent partnering was how the conduct of the ToMT resulted in stronger links between formal and non-formal education sectors in Lao PDR. More often, it is the formal education curriculum that is contextualised to be implemented for the non-formal education sector. However, CG made possible a partnership with the National University of Laos (NUoL), with lifelong learning and non-formal education concepts and practice being included within one of the introductory courses for pre-service teacher training.

Another example of this link between formal and non-formal education is how some of the graduates of the ToMT became involved in the Basic Education Quality and Access in Lao PDR (BEQUAL) project, where they helped build up the capacity of primary school teachers to better implement the new primary school curriculum. This was based on the recognition that ToMT graduates, aside from being located in many of the rural and remote areas in Lao, had the basic knowledge and skills to engage teachers as adult learners.

While the ToMT in Lao PDR received the Grundtvig Award in 2018 from the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) for excellence in international partnerships, the true evidence of sustained outcomes is how our graduates have continued to advance their ALE work through establishing new partners. For example, our graduates are working at local level with the Lao Youth Union on ALE for soft skills, and with the Swiss Red Cross in Laos on ALE for health.

This practice of emergent partnering might be unique to the experience of the ToMT in Laos, but I would argue that this was motivated by the very unique characteristic of CG that encouraged local adaptation, not just as a curriculum development process.

Jose Roberto Guevara, President, International Council for Adult Education

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