Capacity Building Workshop for Community Learning Centres (CLCs) held in Harbin Municipality
On 16 June 2021, the 2021 Community Learning Centre (CLC) Capacity Building Workshop was held in Harbin with joint support of UNESCO Beijing Office, the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO and the China Adult Education Association (CAEA). The workshop was supported by the Harbin Municipal Education Bureau and Harbin Open University. The main objective of the workshop was to enhance the management skills of CLC managers to effectively manage the CLCs in the urban settings.
The Community Learning Centres have become the main centres to promote lifelong learning and for skills training. The rural and urban CLCs have been expanded in China. The workshop in Harbin was an opportunity for Harbin officials to be exposed to CLCs and expansion of the urban CLCs in Harbin. More than 120 officials from the Harbin local government, CLC coordinators around China, and education professionals and practitioners gathered at the event and exchanged experience, best practices, and innovations in CLC development and expansion.
The Deputy Mayor of Harbin, Mr. Chen Yuanfei welcomed the participants and opened the workshop. Ms. Bao Huaying from CAEA reaffirmed the strong commitment of CAEA to strengthen the urban CLCs. She recognized that the Harbin workshop is part of the on-going effort by CAEA to strengthen and empower urban CLCs. Ms. Jia Nan, Deputy Director of Education Department of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, reaffirmed in her opening remarks the solid support of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO to strengthen CLCs in China.
Mr. Robert Parua, Programme Specialist for Education from the UNESCO Beijing Office opened the workshop on behalf of UNESCO and delivered a keynote presentation on the role of CLCs in promoting Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in communities. He introduced the five priority action areas of the ESDfor2030 Roadmap: (i) advancing ESD policy, (ii) transforming learning environments, (iii) building capacities of educators, (iv) empowering and (v) mobilizing youth, and accelerating local level actions. Mr. Parua called for the integration of ESD in local CLC programming and emphasized the potential of CLCs in becoming a key driving force of individuals and societal transformation through ESD and community actions. The participants were informed of the ESD Global Conference concluded in May 2021 that issued the Berlin Declaration to guide institutions and experts to mainstream ESD at the formal and non-formal levels of the education. He further reiterated the ESD as a key enabler for the Chinese Government’s 14th Five-year plan and rural revitalization strategy aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (2021-2025) for China.
Following Mr. Parua’s keynote presentation, presentations were made by scholars and CLC experts. They had active discussions and dialogue focused on the main topics: serve the sustainable development of the CLCs in urban areas, promote key pillars of sustainable development goals, improve the recognition of the community education, role of CLCs in poverty eradication and enhance the capacity of management of urban CLCs.
The participants discussed the innovative practices in lifelong learning, societal response to the aging society, and the integration of community education into local governance mechanism. Practitioners from CLCs also introduced the progress and achievements of their work in various parts of China, and discussed the plans for the next phase of their activities.
Prof. Zhong Binglin, former President of Beijing Normal University, made a presentation on “the current status and the future of education development in the new era” which introduced to participants towards the construction of a lifelong learning system as key pillar for knowledge society and its significance to the achievement of SDG 4 and ED 2030 Agenda.
Rural Community Learning Centers (CLC) are recognized as an important vehicle to deliver quality lifelong learning, skills development and empower communities in both rural and urban areas. UNESCO launched the community learning centre (CLC) project in 1998. It was created to generate grassroots-based interest and participation in literacy and continuing education, especially for the disadvantaged and poor.
The activities organized by CLCs cover a wide range of community-based development programmes in health, agriculture, education and vocational skills. CLC foster a culture of lifelong learning, which is the key to addressing the challenges posed by fast-changing economic and social context, not to mention those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it has exacerbated.
Over the years, UNESCO Beijing has excellent cooperation with the Chinese Adult Education Association, together with the Ministry of Education and the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, provincial education bureaus, provincial adult education bureaus in promoting and strengthening Non-Formal Education and Life-long Learning and Education for All programme. The organizations and entities worked closely in capacity building, policy dialogue, research, promoting best practices and setting standards in non-formal education. Within the framework of the non-formal education and life-long learning, Sustainable Development Goal 4 and Education 2030 Agenda, UNESCO, in partnership with CAEA, established and strengthened the capacity of the CLCs across China and expanded the thematic programmes they provide, as a successful model to promote lifelong learning.