The second “Central Asian Adult Education Forum”, which took place on 7-9 September 2017 at lake Issyk in Kyrgyzstan, dealt with “Community Learning Centres: international trends and best practices”. The Forum explored the role of Community Learning Centres (CLCs) in the provision of lifelong learning and offered a discussion platform for Central Asian and international specialists working in the fields of adult education and lifelong learning.
The Forum was organised by DVV International in close cooperation with the UNESCO Cluster Office for Central Asia and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). More than 50 policy- and decision-makers, experts and practitioners from governmental and non-governmental sectors from over 20 countries participated. Besides participants from Central Asian countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Afghanistan – the Forum welcomed international experts from countries such as Armenia, Bangladesh, Ukraine, Germany, Japan, the Palestinian territories, Thailand and many more.
Over three days, the Forum offered plenary sessions, panel discussions, group work and other interactive formats dealing with the SDG 4 agenda, global and regional questions of lifelong learning, adult education and CLCs. Country studies from each Central Asian country, as well as successful examples from other countries, were presented and discussed at the Forum.
All Central Asian countries have assumed responsibility for fulfilling the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In order to attain Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), which aims to “Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning”, it will be necessary to implement fundamental reforms in the education systems in Central Asia. One of the key elements of such reforms is to encourage and enable state and non-state actors to develop a range of diversified educational offers, forms and institutions that can flexibly react to citizens’ needs and ensure their access to education/learning, particularly in remote regions.
In this context, many education sector stakeholders consider the Community Learning Centre model to be attractive for Central Asian countries. CLCs bring education and learning “closer to home”. They can contribute to economic development by making a location more attractive in terms of human resources for potential investment projects. CLCs can contribute to mainstreaming 21st century competences by providing education for sustainable development, global citizenship education and multicultural dialogue. They can further develop ICT education, entrepreneurship and TVET skills to strengthen a link with the labour market, and they can pass national heritage experience from the old to the young generation.
Replication and adaptation of the CLC model can ensure access to learning and education for different groups of the population, covering all age groups. The CLC approach can be adapted by providers such as local cultural centres, youth centres, entrepreneurship support centres, etc., and can stimulate the development of non-formal education, learning and culture, thus leading to more effective use of existing funding.
The Forum participants from the Central Asian region adopted a Call for Action as an outcome document of the event, which will be handed over to decision-makers in the respective countries.