Issue: January – June 2005
Foreword: In this issue, we look at the gains as well as the difficulties of implementing life skills education in Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Mongolia and the Philippines. These reports, presented during the Sub-Regional Strategic Planning Workshop for Developing Effective Partnership for Life Skills Education Programmes held in June 2005, provide a glimpse at the work that remains to be done to ensure that life skills education attains its goals. The workshop was jointly organized by the Asia/Pacific Cultural Centre for UNESCO and the Bureau for Alternative Learning System, Department of Education of the Philippines, in cooperation with the National Commissions for UNESCO of the Philippines and Japan. The first article from the Philippines describes a project for out-of-school children and youth who benefited from such project components as accreditation and equivalency systems, vocational skills and enterprise development, and micro-lending. This example shows what is possible through a strong partnership between an NGO and other stakeholders.
The Mongolian report comes up with several recommendations for effectively implementing life skills education with the framework of non-formal education. Singled out were the importance of a guiding national policy, needs assessment, and linkage between formal and non-formal education institutions. From Lao PDR, one can glean the significance of partnerships with international organizations in teaching life skills in both the formal and non-formal education sectors. These partnerships help ensure the continuity of efforts to make life skills a stable component of the education system by integrating them in the national curriculum.
Indonesia presents another case of a life skills program embedded in the non-formal education system. This set-up allows for learning that is linked to self-employment and work opportunities. The report identifies the government, non-goverment organizations, the media, and private companies as the main actors whose roles can make or break the success of life skills program. In Cambodia, equivalency similarly figures as an important feature in undertaking life skills education. The country implements a non-formal primary education curriculum that covers literacy, vocational skills, health education, and life skills. Students who complete the program receive a certificate equivalent to formal primary education level.
This issue also features a special article that deals with problem-based learning (PBL) in medical education in Malaysia. Although most of the first users of PBL were medical schools, it has since been adopted in basic education and by other disciplines because of evidence that PBL’s small-group approach (i.e., learner-centered, teacher-facilitated) leads to deeper understanding and, thus, to more effective learning. PBL goes beyond content knowledge and promote skills in interpersonal communication, problem-solving, and self-directed learning–areas which are popularly referred to as “life skills.”
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