Claiming spaces to ensure quality lifelong learning for all – A blog by Sashi Kiran, ASPBAE Executive Council Member from the Pacific

Festival of Learning – array of cultures, communities, colour, traditions and music…. yet in harmony. Various community and country representatives brought each with them richness of their experiences, sharing issues, dreams and goals …. from different contexts, different challenges but no matter what geographical location the Vision is Same.

Claiming spaces to ensure quality lifelong learning for all, having the peoples voices heard in each of the global agenda to ensure inclusion and quality – it’s an on-going fight but achievable with so much civic commitment.

The space created at the festival called on the actors to re-look at strategies in a forever changing climate. Are there new ways of being? New ways of engagement? New partnerships to engage with to achieve our objectives?

As difficult as it may seem, we do have to re-look at our ways of engagement in an ever-changing political scenario. Not only how we engage with new players in the development world, but how we engage with each other. There is much lessons learnt around us – are we sharing, are we embedding emerging issues or fighting each other in spaces where solidarity is important? With limited resources around us, integration of the thematic areas and issues are key to holistic development. The realisation has been very validating to us as an organisation.

Participants shared their success stories as they visited NGOs around Jogjakarta advancing towards empowerment. We went to Apikri, a body that has enabled marketing of crafts from Indonesia in many global markets. We surely have a lot to learn. Knowledge exist within our own sector, only if we can reach out to each other across oceans to share.

There has been much talk over the years of Private Public Partnership, of course there is need for engagement with these important stakeholders, including the Government, faith-based bodies etc., but in order to advocate, there is a need for strong research to prove our case. We in the Pacific are quite weak with our data and research. Isn’t it time we looked at actors in our region who have the capacity for research and building of capacity of our sector – the universities? FRIEND has been partnering with universities in various outreach but research is a key area where we need to seek out partnerships. We also have many civil society organisations with strong research ability- Action research –  like Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA). Maybe time to look at how we can engage other civil society in building the capacity of the sector. There is much work to be done in our ocean region to build our capacity to engage.

For the Pacific Islands to have its voices heard, we have to re-look at the way we communicate internally within the region, can we speak with one voice?

We are custodians of the largest ocean and hence a resource base much desired by various super powers. What are we doing to claim this space of ours? Only collectively can we hold stakeholders accountable in the region. Can we revalue our ocean resource and demand that this be valued? Can we look at new technologies and utilise these to ensure protection of our resources for sustainability of generations to come?

So as we learnt from each other, from various spaces created, it was time for reflection for me, in my own journey, the journey of our organisation, and the lag we still have to go through as a sub region guarding the largest ocean.

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