UNESCO’s fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4) has spotlighted the progress made by Thailand for strengthening the education of its elderly people and promote their learning, health and well-being. The report reveals that Thailand has spent more than 4% of its education budget on Adult Learning and Education (ALE) and is one of only 13 countries that identified older adults as one of their target groups – reflecting the seriousness with which it views the challenges of an ageing society.
Adult education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. However, in almost one-third of countries fewer than five per cent of adults aged 15 and above participate in education and learning programmes. Disadvantaged groups, in particular, are often deprived of their right to education. Adults with disabilities, older adults, refugees and migrants, and minority groups are among those losing out, according to the report.
The report found that In Asia, community learning centres (CLCs) have come to play an essential role in providing the rural population with appropriate Adult Learning and Education opportunities. Bangladesh, Bhutan, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam have all significantly increased the number of CLCs, which has dramatically increased the number of rural learners in literacy, life skills and various vocational programmes.
The report also spotlights Thailand’s Senior Active Learning Centres (SALCs), first launched in 2008 in response to a 2006 white paper titled Towards the Aged Society: Policies for Older Adults. Today 368 SALCs are being managed by schools, colleges, civic groups or municipal governments, and offer:
- Policy-related lectures, for instance issues of an ageing society, gender equality, drug-abuse and suicide prevention, family violence prevention;
- Self-organized interest courses, for instance healthy diet, exercise, singing, painting and handicrafts;
- Contribution and service activities, for instance volunteer and service delivery in schools or communities.
Overall, the GRALE report warns major change in adult education participation is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The report calls for a sea change in approach, backed by adequate investment, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and benefit from adult learning and education and that its full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realized.
The findings of the global report are based on data submitted by 159 countries.