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Adult Learning and Education (ALE) can look back to a long history. It was a part of ancient cultures, from China to Rome. Thinkers of all times were aware that learning should not stop at an early stage, but learning is an integral part of life. “Once you stop learning, you start dying”, the great Einstein said.

The 20th Century was the glorious time of the adult education movement, with campaigns eliminating illiteracy in China, the Soviet Union, Cuba, Turkey, Yugoslavia and several other countries. The CONFINTEA was established as a series of high-level conferences in 1949. In 2015, the Recommendations on Adult Learning and Education (RALE) were adopted by the 38th UNESCO General Conference. ALE was widely recognized as an integral condition for human development, well-being and democracy.

In 2015, the Sustainable Development Goals and the education 2015 opened a new opportunity for ALE. Although not mentioned explicitly, it was considered as an integral part of the Lifelong Learning framework, which was declared to be the guiding concept for the education sector.

On 05-06 June 2019 the conference “Rethinking ALE – Asian Perspectives” was hosted by DVV International to explore the opportunities for ALE in the 21st century and reflect on the changes and innovations the concept needs to be understood and adopted by key stakeholders as well as by the people and the communities. Mr Mai Hong Quan, SEAMEO CELLL Deputy Manager of Research and Training was invited to joined nearly 50 ALE and LLL experts and officials from countries of Lao PDR, Cambodia, and organisations & institutions such as ASPBAE, DVV International, PRIA, SEAMEO Secretariat, UNESCO Bangkok in the two-day event in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The first day of the event was for thematic field trips in which participants were divided into three groups to visit: a CLC and a non-formal education development centre (Theme 1: The NFE system in Lao PDR); Faculty of Education, National University of Laos and SEAMEO CED (Theme 2: Training and research for NFE); and Lao Youth Union Training Center and Non-profit Association (Theme 3: Youth work). The second day, which was the main conference day, witnessed a series of interesting presentations by various keynote speakers of ALE and LLL. After lunchtime, the three themes of the previous day continued by the participants being divided into three groups where they attended detailed reports and sharing experience and good practices, followed by each group suggesting and presenting three recommendations to the conference. SEAMEO CELLL’s delegate took part in Theme 1 and shared the video clip about Xuat Hoa CLC in Hoa Binh province, Vietnam to illustrate a successful practice of CLC as a fundamental institution for ALE and LLL.

The conference concluded with a plenary panel discussion by Dr Johann Heilmann – DVV International: DVV South and Southeast Asia’s Regional Director, Assoc Prof Roberto Guevara – ICAE and RMIT Melbourne, Assoc Prof Suwithida Charungkaittikul – Chulalongkorn University, Dr Ethel Agnes Valenzuela – SEAMEO Secretariat director, and Dr Sunok Jo – NILE Korea. Afterwards, all delegates were invited to join a reception where the staff of DVV International Regional Office South-East Asia in Lao PDR paid tribute and said goodbye to Mr Uwe Gartenschlaeger and welcomed Dr Johann Heilmann as the new DVV International Regional Director.

May SEAMEO CELLL take this opportunity to sincerely thank Mr Uwe Gartenschlaeger for his continued invaluable support to SEAMEO CELLL during his tenure of office, and we wish him tons of happiness and success in the years ahead.

SEAMEO CELLL would also like to warmly congratulate Dr Johann Heilmann on his new position and we really look forward to having even stronger connection and cooperation with DVV International in your directorship.

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