Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education

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The fundamental purpose of the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) is to defend and advance the rights of adults throughout the Asia-Pacific Region to learn throughout their lives in order to gain control of their destiny.

Contents

ASPBAE's Vision Statement

ASPBAE's fundamental purpose is to advance and defend the right of all people to learn and have equitable access to relevant and quality learning opportunities throughout their lives, enabling them to cope, survive and transform their conditions and define their own destiny. It seeks to build a global order that empowers people, promotes equitable sustainable human development and a just peace. ASPBAE is committed to the transformative function of adult education, especially to promote the learning interests of the disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

Main Programme Areas

ASPBAE programme priorities are reviewed by the ASPBAE General Assembly every four (4) years. These programmes thus represent the issues and concerns the ASPBAE membership consider most important and critical for ASPBAE to address in given periods. These also reflect the varied interests and areas of involvement of ASPBAE members.

The current priority programme areas of ASPBAE are :

History

The Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) was established in Sydney, Australia on 30 January 1964 by a group of adult educators inspired by the idea of promoting liberal adult education in the region: close to forty (40) individuals participated in this founding meeting. From its inception and up till the 1970's, ASPBAE operated mainly as an informal clearinghouse on adult education. It functions were devoted primarily to the dissemination of information on events and developments related to adult education and on liaising with UNESCO and other international agencies especially in relation to planned workshops and seminars in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the late 70's, ASPBAE re-organised into a network of ‘national associations'. ASPBAE linked together existing national-level adult education associations and facilitated the formation of these in countries where they where then inexistent. It was through these national associations that ASPBAE pursued its programmes of exchange, networking, research and engagement with international bodies involved in adult education, notably UNESCO. Along with other NGOs, ASPBAE and its members played a significant role in introducing and lobbying for the adoption of the resolution on the "Right to Learn" during the 1985 UNESCO Adult Education Conference in Paris.

1991 was a watershed year for ASPBAE; the year of ASPBAE's First General Assembly (GA). ASPBAE's First General Assembly was convened on December 8-14, 1991 in Tagaytay, Philippines. This event signalled strategic shifts in the formation and function of the (then) 27 year old regional association for adult education.

From an exclusive, one-member per country structure, ASPBAE shifted to a multiple-member structure. The General Assembly mandated a change in the organisation's governing structures ensuring greater accountability. The Executive Council was reconstituted to ensure geographic and gender balances; and to ensure representation of special sectors e.g. indigenous people. Members of the Executive were elected by the ASPBAE membership.

ASPBAE also committed itself to a new mission. "…to advance and defend the rights throughout the Asia-Pacific region to learn, and be able to go on learning throughout their lives in order to gain control over their own destiny" (ASPBAE Vision and Mission). Subsequent General Assemblies reaffirmed ASPBAE's vision and mission.

In the year 2000, ASPBAE launched a broad-based set of national and sub-regional consultations on a strategic review and planning process coinciding with ASPBAE’s Third General Assembly. The results of the strategic review revealed that ASPBAE had grown into a network of significant depth and reach, advancing transformative adult education and learning in the region. The members however observed that to improve ASPBAE’s effectiveness and assure better impact in achieving its vision, goals and broader social objectives, ASPBAE had to play a stronger policy advocacy role.

In the period 2001-2004 therefore, ASPBAE's alliance and coalition building efforts were substantively motivated by campaign and policy advocacy imperatives. New leadership and capacity-building activities were designed to shore up policy advocacy competencies of ASPBAE at various levels; while retaining demand-driven capacity-building support to “enable the enablers” especially those working with marginal groups.

By far the most effective and useful space for policy engagement on education for that period was the Education for All (EFA) follow-up processes. The EFA commitments were reference points for donors and governments. Internationally, spaces were expanding for CSO participation in EFA processes – even from the South. EFA therefore provided the main platform for policy engagement and advocacy of ASPBAE. ASPBAE subsequently aligned itself strongly with the main EFA CSO formations globally: the Global Campaign for Education (GCE) and the UNESCO NGO Collective Consultation on EFA.

In 2003, ASPBAE began a collaboration with GCE in developing and implementing a capacity-building programme for education advocacy in the region. Called the Real World Strategies (RWS) programme, this was a response to the need to build stronger CSO capacities for policy engagement at national levels. ASPBAE currently works with and supports 11 national education campaign coalitions within this effort.

ASPBAE's fundamental commitment to advance the right of all - especially the most marginalized groups - to learn through-out life (lifelong learning) made ASPBAE a 'natural' participant and critical partner in the 'education for all' processes. Adult literacy, life skills education, HIV/AIDS education, education for marginalised groups, after all, formed part of the EFA goals and targets.

More critical, however, ASPBAE increasingly realized that to secure gains for adult education within the current policy context, it has been necessary to underscore within a rights perspective, the indivisibility of the 'education for all' (children and adults, men and women) agenda: that universal quality primary and secondary education cannot be achieved in the continued absence of safe, enabling learning environments for girls and boys in their homes and communities that literate, critically-aware parents can provide. Conversely, the potential for meaningful 'learning throughout life' for all citizens rests on a strong basic education foundation.

In a region where 45.5 million (GMR 2006) out of school children are located – the largest concentration of children who may never set foot in a school; or where very poor quality education and user fees leveled on poor students will guarantee that huge numbers of school going children will continue to be ‘pushed out’ of the system and join the burgeoning numbers of illiterate youth and adults – adult education advocates cannot but make the case of universal primary education their main business as well.

The Fourth General Assembly of ASPBAE which convened on December 2004 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, affirmed the importance of ASPBAE’s expanding attention to policy advocacy advancing the broad EFA agenda, within the commitment to advance lifelong learning.

The Assembly further endorsed continued priority to capacity-building support to NGOs and civil society groups, who - through adult education activities, strategies and programmes - assist peoples and communities improve their conditions, fight for their rights, combat discrimination and participate equally in decisions that affect their lives. With governments and donors increasingly retreating from state support to adult education work, NGOs and CSO work in this area provide the much needed recourse of the region's poor to beat poverty.

These expanded thrusts and work of ASPBAE, its new partnerships and terrains of engagement open new challenges and pose new options and directions for ASPBAE. The Executive Council has launched consultations and dialogues with ASPBAE members around these issues, with these discussions continuing through the General Assembly in 2008.

As before, ASPBAE knows that it is in drawing from the collective wisdom and experience of its membership, that its clarity of purpose, relevance and effectiveness can be best secured.

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