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Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE)

The ASPBAE is a regional association of organizations and individuals engaged in both formal and non-formal adult education, working with and through government agencies, universities, NGOs, community groups, trade unions, indigenous people’s and women’s organizations, the media, and other institutions across the Asia-Pacific region. Established in 1964, the network currently comprises around 640 organizations and individuals as members, and operates in 30 countries of the region.

In addressing problems in areas related to adult literacy and education, the ASPBAE membership relies on three strategies: (1) policy research and advocacy for adult learning; (2) building strategic partnerships and collaboration; and (3) capacity-building and leadership development.

 

The ASPBAE is one of the few networks in the Asia-Pacific region working on policy advocacy for education, in general, and adult learning, in particular. The ASPBAE has also been committed to ensuring that different development and education policy frameworks are attentive to issues of adult education and learning, particularly for the most marginal groups in the region.

 

Over the years, the ASPBAE has organized study exchanges, workshops and conferences, training of trainers, research on adult education, and documentation of innovative practices, including the publication of case studies on adult literacy. In 2004, the Bureau continued to carry out these activities, many of which are related specifically to the promotion of adult literacy and, thus, contribute to progress during the UNLD.


As an example, from 29 September to 3 October 2004, the ASPBAE helped organize a regional training workshop in Chiang Mai, Thailand for adult education facilitators and trainers. The purpose of the training was to equip participants with simple tools to enable them to track progress on policy commitments to girls’ and women’s education and literacy. Although the programme involved both men and women, women trainers and facilitators at the country level were targeted as part of the focus to strengthen the leadership capacities of women and to expand the pool of women leaders in the ASPBAE.

 

The ASPBAE is also working with the UNESCO New Delhi and UNESCO Bangkok offices in coordinating a project titled, “Ensuring the Integration of Literacy and Continuing Education in EFA Programmes: Policy Dialogue among South Asian Countries.” The objectives of the project are to review literacy and NFE policies and practices, to train researchers to recognize relationships between gender, literacy and other variables, to publish and disseminate country case studies, to assist countries in developing policy related to literacy and NFE, and to develop indicators for tracking progress toward EFA goals.


Another project with ASPBAE participation has to do with information technology and NFE. A partnership between the ASPBAE and UNESCO, the project (supported by the Italian government) involves setting up a website for NFE practitioners. The site will have three main components: a UN Literacy 10 y Decade in Asia and the Pacific virtual library, an online NFE directory, and a forum to exchange views. The ASPBAE is contributing workshop reports, case studies and other materials to the virtual library, and will moderate ectronic discussions among community service organizations throughout the region.

 

In addition, the ASPBAE is updating a 1998 publication useful for describing measures to  promote the access of girls and women to education and literacy in South Asia. This publication, Bridging the Gap Between Intention and Action, will have more recent information included in the regional overview and country study sections. The Bureau is also preparing an “advocacy brief,” a booklet for facilitators based on the outcomes of the country studies. This booklet is intended to help community service organizations in South Asia to draw the attention of governments and donors to the 2005-2015 gender targets for girls’ and women’s literacy.

 

Finally, the ASPBAE organized the “Festival of Learning” held in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, during 11-16 December 2004, in commemoration of its 40th anniversary. Emphasizing the theme, “Learning is Freedom,” the festival showcased innovative adult education practices in the Asia-Pacific region, and served as a forum for discussion and debate about adult education issues, concerns and new forms of action.

 

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