Lifelong learning in Asia: a brief tour

Osborne, M. and Sim, S. K. (2022) Lifelong learning in Asia: a brief tour. In: Evans, K., Lee, W. O., Markowitsch, J. and Zukas, M. (eds.) Third International Handbook of Lifelong Learning. Series: Springer international handbooks of education. Springer: Cham. ISBN 9783030679309 (doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-67930-9_24-1)

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This chapter offers a brief glimpse into the origins of lifelong learning and analyzes its trajectories in key Asian countries, including China, Indonesia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand. It highlights the historic social roots of lifelong learning in Asia which led to the dominance of a collectivist approach in its development, morphing recently within economic imperatives. We begin by considering the dichotomy often presented between social and economic purposes when justifying programs and policies, and their funding base. This dichotomy is further analyzed via five dimensions: the role of legislation, the focus on credentialism, the importance of place, centralization, and top-down policies (and by contrast collectivist approaches), the targeting of particular groups, the impacts of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and of the COVID-19 pandemic. We suggest that such a dichotomy is misleading. The multi-faceted purposes of learning have allowed economic and social purposes to be logical bedfellows, where longstanding commitments to learning with a social purpose are segued into economically-driven lifelong learning policies and practices. This narrative of the critical role that lifelong learning plays in sustaining economic growth and social inclusivity has been echoed at key Asian regional fora and by IGOs, including APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), ASEAN (Association of South-East Asian Nations), ASEM (Asia-Europe Meeting), ILO (International Labor Organisation), SEAMEO (Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization), and, UNESCO, particularly, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL). The chapter considers the role of these organizations in shaping the lifelong learning agenda in Asia.

Item Type:Book Sections
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Osborne, Professor Michael
Authors: Osborne, M., and Sim, S. K.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Education > People, Place & Social Change

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