Education plays a crucial role in human resource development and is a backbone of national economic progress.

All its forms, whether through formal, non-formal, and informal systems, are effective means of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education, and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Socioeconomic, political, environmental, cultural, industrial and information communication technology (ICT) changes require the updating and revision of a lifelong learning programme, which focuses more on technical and vocational skills, career skills and non-physical skills.

Learners can acquire these skills anytime, anywhere and by any means, especially by using ICT to support learning activities.

This article will look at the “National Policy on Lifelong Learning and Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023”.

To ensure that all Cambodians have access to basic, quality education, the Cambodian government defines Non-Formal Education (NFE) as an official system.

This contributes to achieving education for all, allows access to lifelong education and helps build a learning society with equality, fairness and social development.

The Cambodian government defines the strategy of the NFE policy as:

• To create opportunities so all people have access to lifelong learning;

• To promote literacy and continuing education by creating links to provide acknowledgement, vocational skills and employment;

• To regularly provide information and knowledge on vocational skills training and technical and scientific subjects to all.

The NFE policy aims to impart vocational skills. MOEYS

Along with the Education Strategic Plan 2019-2023, the non-formal education sub-sector has set three objectives:

• Increasing the number of the literate and the enrolment in non-formal education programmes for children, youth, the out-of-school and adults to receive full non-formal education services within the framework of lifelong learning of knowledge, practical skills and morality;

• Strengthening the management system, based on the results of non-formal education programmes, to be fully operational;

• Enhancing the capacity of non-formal education officials at all levels.

To achieve the first objective, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS) has set out a number of strategies, such as:

• Developing and improving non-formal education programmes;

• Promoting adult literacy programmes;

• Transforming community learning centres (CLCs) into lifelong learning centres;

• Encouraging private sector, stakeholder and NGO support for non-formal education programmes within the framework of lifelong learning.

MoEYS and other stakeholders have focused on developing CLCs and promoting mechanisms to transform them into lifelong learning centres in response to societal and regional trends, and the digital economy.

In the plenary session on June 7, 2019, MoEYS initiated developing the National Policy on Lifelong Learning aimed at developing potential human resources towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The vision of the National Policy on Lifelong Learning is to develop every Cambodian through the gaining of knowledge, skills, attitude, physical fitness and values to contribute to economic growth and promote individual and social harmony through the provision of lifelong learning opportunities in all contexts and conditions.

The vision of the national policy is to provide lifelong learning opportunities. MOEYS

To achieve this, a number of strategies have been set:

• Developing a legislative framework and mechanisms;

• Providing lifelong learning services to all;

• Developing comprehensive and flexible lifelong learning programmes in response to the demand for education;

• Developing learning centres, infrastructure and appropriate learning venues;

• Providing capacity building for lifelong learning programme facilitators to become more professional;

• Recognising, validating and accrediting the knowledge, skills and competence acquired from the LL programme, ensuring transparency, fairness and consistency;

• Encouraging ministries and other relevant institutions to support lifelong learning;

• Promoting a culture of global citizenship;

• Promoting gender equality, equality and inclusion;

• Encouraging the private sector, development partners and NGOs to participate in providing lifelong learning services;

• Promoting education through technology.

Cambodia is one of the 11 member countries of the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) established in 1965.

SEAMEO is responsible for training various skills such as teaching methods, mathematics, science, English, management, leadership, higher education, vocational skills, agriculture, industry and medicine, among others.

SEAMEO consists of 26 centres in the ASEAN region that help develop human resources and professionals in education, health, culture and tradition, ICT, poverty reduction, environment, agriculture and national resources.

Among them is the SEAMEO Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning in Vietnam.

This aims to cater for the regional needs in promoting lifelong learning and provide opportunities for cooperation in the field of lifelong learning among SEAMEO member and associate member countries.

It also helps strengthen relationships and increase mutual understanding among the educational researchers, practitioners and policy makers of the region, in a spirit of mutual respect and partnership.

In order to cultivate the spirit of the people to receive education in all forms and to contribute to the development of human resources, the Ministry of Education, development partners and stakeholders are actively working to promote and disseminate lifelong learning.

Lifelong learning encourages Cambodians to become global citizens in line with social needs and evolving global trends, especially in the context of the labour market, which requires the strengthening of skills, morality, physical fitness and values.