“Community Learning Centres (CLCs) are becoming more and more important providers of adult learning and education (ALE) – the number and their geographic spread increased over the past few decades”, reported Christoph Jost, Director of DVV International. His comments came at a parallel workshop organised by DVV International along with its international partners at the CONFINTEA VII World Conference on ALE in Marrakech, Morocco in June 2022. At the workshop, good practices and insights from countries around the globe were presented, including from Uganda, Georgia, Peru, Germany and Thailand. Additionally, Sonja Belete, expert on ALE in Africa, presented the findings of a study commissioned by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning UIL on “CLCs in Africa – Preconditions and good practices”.
CLCs need sustainable structures
All speakers agreed that ALE – like any other sector of the education system – needs reliable institutions with permanent premises and its own staff. A close connection to the local community was mentioned as another key success factor. Sustainable funding is essential and can be provided either by the government alone (as in Thailand) or from a mixture of sources, including participants’ fees, private sector and the donor community (as in Georgia, Germany or Uganda).
The names of the ALE centres vary and are often linked to local or national traditions. In Germany, for example, the CLCs are called “Volkshochschulen”, with most of them having been established about a century ago. Despite the differences, all the presentations illustrated the potential of CLCs to respond to various needs of the local population as well as their ability to deliver a wide range of educational services, including literacy courses, vocational training and civic education.
At the end of the session, four policy messages were adopted:
- Governance and financial support: “We commit to strengthening ALE at the local level and recognise that ALE needs its own institutions, such as community learning centres (CLCs). CLC systems need proper governance structures across sectors and spheres and public financial support that should be adequate, predictable and sustainable.”
- Multifunctional and transformative: “Community learning centres (CLCs) are multifunctional and innovative institutions supporting inclusive and transformative learning. They cater for education and training, community information, counselling, and act as social and cultural meeting places.”
- Flexibility and Resilience: “Community learning centres (CLCs) provide a broad variety of learning opportunities allowing for flexible responses to changing societal needs and resilience building in case of crisis. They range from basic education, literacy and languages to income-generating activities, vocational training, life skills and citizenship education.”
- 2030 Agenda: “Community learning centres (CLCs) are local hubs to provide education and lifelong learning for all, leaving no-one behind. They support the sustainable development goals, with positive impacts on other sectors such as health and well-being, conflict prevention and promotion of peace as well as gender equality and climate justice.”
The more than 150 participants confirmed the essential role local ALE centres, like CLCs, can play to ensure needs-oriented lifelong learning opportunities are available for all youth and adults. They expressed their interest in continuing the exchange about the successes and challenges of implementing the CLC concept.