|A teacher instructs her first-grade student how to read in the northern mountainous province of Dien Bien's Nam Nhe Primary School. — VNA/VNS Photo Quy Trung
HA NOI (VNS) — The 47th Council Conference of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (SEAMEO), which opens today in Ha Noi, will focus on lifelong learning.
This has been defined as a tool for developing people's knowledge and skills to adapt to changes in society and environment at every period of life.
According to Arne Carlsen, director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, the very nature of learning and the spaces within which learning occurs are changing. There is a need to move beyond the classroom towards a more open approach to learning.
He said a main factor for the development of lifelong learning societies is the recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of the outcomes of all kinds of learning — formal, non-formal and informal.
A system for non-formal and informal learning recognises qualifications, skills and competencies developed at all levels, including the workplace, Carlsen added.
Le Huy Lam, director of the SEAMEO Centre for Lifelong Learning, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has just approved a decision to build a learning society by 2020.
Lam said that under this decision lifelong learning activities in out-of-school educational institutions – including mass media, libraries, museums, cultural centres and clubs – will be organised for all.
Distant and online education, the use of information and communication technologies (ICT) in teaching and learning and other support to improve the quality and effectiveness of lifelong learning will also receive attention, he said.
Lam said it is necessary to raise people's awareness about the purpose, meaning, role and benefits of lifelong learning.
According to Professor Sumalee Sungsri of Thailand, lifelong learning there aims to provide, promote and support educational activities that reach all groups regardless of age, sex, educational background, occupation and individual interests.
She said there is a need to encourage participation from all sectors and to create and promote lifelong learning partnership networks for continuous co-operation and development.
These networks may include individuals, families, communities and organisations. They can help organise or support lifelong education.
According to Carlsen, UNESCO's Guidelines on Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning affirm that access to lifelong learning for all can be strengthened by better guidance and counselling, developing more ICT-supported learning and using libraries and museums as lifelong learning arenas.
Awareness-raising measures such as learning festivals, media campaigns and inter-sectoral co-operation should be promoted.
Tran Ba Viet Dung, director of the International Co-operation Department, said SEAMEO, which was established in 1965, really suppors its members to implement their lifelong learning initiatives and build a learning society.
Dung said the organisation has put forward a lot of projects related to this issue such as Quality and Equity in Education and Promoting Values-based Water and Sanitation in Education.
The organisation has 20 specialist institutions undertaking training and research programmes in various fields of education, science and culture, he said.
SEAMEO has financed more than 2,000 Vietnamese workers with sought-after skills to attend short and long courses.
Viet Nam has boosted its co-operation not only with the 11 SEAMEO member countries but also hundreds of representatives from the seven SEAMEO associates – Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway.
At the two-day conference the education ministers and representatives of international organisations will have a round-table discussion on building an ASEAN learning society by 2015. — VNS