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National Qualifications Frameworks: Bridging Lifelong Learning, Skills Development and CLCs

Over 500 regional experts, policymakers, educationalists, Ministry officials, researchers, civil society representatives and other stakeholders representing 25 countries met in Bangkok, Thailand on 19-21 June 2013 to share experiences and discuss the linkages and mutually supportive aspects of community learning centres (CLCs), national qualifications frameworks, lifelong learning and skills development. 



Co-organised by UNESCO Bangkok, the Ministry of Education Thailand and the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) Japan, the theme of this year’s Regional Conference on CLCs was National Qualifications Frameworks for Lifelong Learning and Skills Development.

In his opening speech, Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director-General for Education of UNESCO, highlighted the role of NQFs in fostering lifelong learning in the Asia-Pacific. “In all these [regional and national qualifications] frameworks…it is essential to integrate a strong lifelong learning component by recognising non-formal and informal education.  In this sense, CLCs deserve special mention as they are at the heart of lifelong learning and skills development, catering to people of all ages and backgrounds in local communities,” said Mr. Tang. 

Day 1 of the conference allowed for presentations on effective national and regional qualifications frameworks that support lifelong learning and skills development, with a particular focus on the community level.

On Day 2, representatives from the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning and the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning spoke about global and regional guidelines and recommendations regarding lifelong learning and the recognition, validation and accreditation of non-formal and informal education. Speakers from Peace Child International and the International Labour Organization likewise apprised participants on the latest global youth employment trends. As well, successful country experiences in using CLCs as a delivery mechanism for lifelong learning were presented.

On Day 3, the Thailand Office of the Non-Formal and Informal Education (ONIE), organised a study visit to local CLCs offering skills development, equivalency and education for sustainable development programmes.

One of the key issues emerging from the conference was how to position CLCs within the broader context of regional and national qualifications frameworks. There was a general consensus that these frameworks would need to develop stronger mechanisms to recognise the non-formal and informal learning taking place at CLCs. As a follow-up to the conference, UNESCO is looking to create an online forum for CLC network members to continue discussions in this regard.   

All conference presentations and photos may be downloaded from