Thailand ranks high in UNESCO adult learning report

Thailand is one of a handful of countries that devotes significant resources to adult learning and education, a progressive approach to the country’s aging population, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) said last week.

Adults and older people are significant resource that many societies do not value highly enough and often neglect. Investing in adult and senior education brings positive returns to the economy and the community, UNESCO and educators have said.

Adult and older Thais not enrolled in colleges or universities often access learning through Community Learning Centers and Senior Active Learning Centers. The Senior Active Learning Centers were launched in 2008, and today the country has 368 of them.

Several groups manage the Senior Active Learning Centers, including schools, colleges, civic groups, or municipal governments. UNESCO estimated that the percentage of older people participating in non-formal learning increased from 11 percent in 2008 to 22 percent in 2014, the latest year for which statistics from surveys were available. The percentage is most likely higher today.

UNESCO cited improvements in reforming curricula for older adults, as well as a significant expansion in the number of Community Learning Centers. Those centers are part of the non-formal education infrastructure. The report said their development has dramatically increased the number of rural learners in literacy, life skills, and various vocational programs.

UNESCO examined adult education in 159 countries, and this was the fourth edition of its annual report on the subject.

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