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Regional Thematic Consultation in the Asia-Pacific


UNESCO Bangkok in partnership with Chulalongkorn University Department of Lifelong Education is organizing Rethinking Education through Imagining Future Scenarios, a Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratory (FL KnowLab), as part of UNESCO’s global efforts to rethink education. This workshop will engage community-based learning and non-formal education practitioners from Asia and the Pacific in a three-day learning-by-doing knowledge creation process. Inspiration for this event originates in the important discussions taking place around the Sustainable Development Goals 2030, the critical role of learning in creating sustainable societies, and UNESCO’s efforts to explore these issues as discussed in a recent publication Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?

Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratories invite participants to rethink the present by combining structured collective intelligence knowledge creation with a carefully designed role for anticipation. The design of this “FL KnowLab” starts with a deep appreciation of the significant societal role played by education, learning and training outside formal educational institutions. It recognizes the need for a more fluid approach to learning as a continuum, in which formal education institutions interact more closely with other less formalized educational experiences from early childhood throughout life (UNESCO 2015). The workshop design also incorporates the premise that the delivery of lifelong learning through flexible and need-specific approaches by practitioners of community-based learning and non-formal education can play a central role in the discovery and realization of opportunities to promote sustainable development.

Given these points of departure, the workshop has two overarching goals: firstly, to generate new insights into the attributes and role of community-based learning and non-formal education in societal transformation and the search for greater sustainability, and secondly, on the basis of these insights, to search for ways to enhance the capacity of community-based non-formal learning to contribute to sustainable development. To achieve this objective the workshop will be conducted using an innovative learning-by-doing methodology that takes advantage of the specific ways that thinking about the future shapes both sensing and sense-making. The workshop is designed to facilitate participant’s efforts to understand how and why the way they think about the future influences their views on nature and role of community based non-formal learning in societal change and the search for sustainability.

The overall workshop process and the selection and customization of specific tools for thinking about the future are designed collaboratively to respect the uniqueness of the context and participants. An international team of expert facilitators will work with participants as the learning-by-doing process moves through the theory and practice of futures thinking as applied to the challenges of learning, transformation and sustainability. Participants will use their in-depth knowledge of community-based learning and non-formal education to explore new perspectives and invent new questions that can drive innovation and improvements in how learning contributes to sustainable development.


The objectives of the workshop are the following:

  • To develop the capacity of participants to use foresight tools and become what UNESCO calls Futures Literate;

  • To encourage the development of a range of communities of practice amongst community-based learning and non-formal education practitioners capable of understanding and using anticipatory systems and processes for learning and sustainability;

  • To generate new insights into the attributes and role of community-based learning and non-formal education in societal transformation and the search for greater sustainability;

  • To generate new ideas, questions and policy options that might enable community-based learning and non-formal education to make a more powerful contribution to meeting the challenges faced by the world today.

Expected Outcomes

  • Stronger foresight/anticipatory thinking skills among leaders of community learning centres and non-formal education programmes in Asia and the Pacific.

  • Foster the conditions that allow for dynamic networks/communities that ebb and flow based on people’s need for collaborative thinking and action.

  • New perspectives and policies leading to innovative initiatives that enhance both the functioning of community-based learning and non-formal education and its contribution to the creation of sustainable societies.

A Brief Introduction to the Futures Literacy Knowledge Laboratory

One way to rethink education is to use the future. Thinking about the future changes what people see and do now. An obvious example is something as simple as our morning routine. If someone expects it will rain there is a good chance they will search for their umbrella or raincoat before going outside. This is a simple illustration of how something that we imagine might happen, but that has not happened yet and in the end may not happen, influences both what we pay attention to and the choices we make. For humans such conscious anticipation is one of the main ways that the future (the not-yet-existent later-than-now) plays a role in the present. The use of anticipatory systems and processes is also a very effective way to rethink or reevaluate aspects of the world around us. That is why this workshop will introduce participants to UNESCO’s Futures Literacy approach to using the future.

The starting point for this workshop is the recognition that changes are taking place in the learning “eco-systems” around us. Some of these changes are the familiar ones related to education reform, efforts to improve existing school systems and advance along the path of 20th century development models. Some of the changes take a cue from opportunities opened up by new tools, like the internet, that invite both substitution type changes – such as the one-to-one replacement of a teacher by an on-line video – and complementarity type changes – when an MOOC enlarges the range of content and participation. But some of these changes are less obvious, outside the existing formal systems or in spaces that do not quite fit into the conventional economic or social reference points like on-the-job or trade based skills.

Workshop Report

Detailed information on the activities and outputs of the workshop sessions can be found in this report. Click on the thumbnail to download.



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Further Information

For inquiries and further information, please email esd.bgk(at)

In this video, non-formal education practitioners from across Asia and the Pacific share different visions of the future of education as well as lessons learnt from the workshop.