Professor Asha Singh Kanwar, one of the world’s leading advocates of learning for development, is the President and Cheif Executive Officer of the Commonwealth of Learning (COL) since 2012. Before joining COL, Professor Kanwar was a consultant in open and distance learning at UNESCO’s Regional Office for Education in Africa.
Her keynote is titled “Achieving Lifelong Learning for All: How far have we come and what next?”. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) position lifelong learning as a key component in the blueprint for achieving peace and prosperity by 2030. Three years into the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, governments have made important strides toward achieving SDG4, which aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning opportunities for all’. It is an ambitious goal that covers the entire spectrum of formal, non-formal and informal learning and explicitly focuses on quality, equity and including people with disabilities. Despite the significant progress made by governments, there is still a lack of conceptual clarity about what lifelong learning means, how it can be achieved and how it will be measured. This presentation provides an overview of progress toward SDG4 at a global level, highlighting the status of lifelong learning in five regions of the world. Specific countries include Australia, Malta, Singapore, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago. What are the strategies, challenges and best practices that can be drawn from their specific experiences? The lessons learned have implications for policy and practice at a global level. Current trends indicate that the targets listed in SDG 4 will not be met by 2030. There is a pressing need for a paradigm shift where open, distance and technology enabled approaches will have a key role to play if lifelong learning opportunities for all are to become a concrete reality.