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UP Open University (UPOU) Chancellor, Dr. Melinda dela Pena. Bandalaria, was among the participants in the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization Regional Centre for Lifelong Learning (SEAMEO CELL) Expert Meeting held on 5-6 October in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Geared toward Phase 2 of SEAMEO CELL’s initiative “toward a lifelong learning agenda in Southeast Asian countries,” the meeting gathered experts and representatives from various stakeholder organizations. Chancellor Bandalaria attended the meeting as the Philippines focal point.

The two-day meeting was a pivotal step in the advancement of the project. Having achieved significant outcomes since the first phase, including the compendium “Lifelong learning in transformation: Promising practices in Southeast Asia,” the meeting gave way for the discussion and organization of in-country policy forums, through which the findings of the compendium will be disseminated in national contexts. Along with seven other focal points from Southeast Asian countries, Chancellor Bandalaria provided input into discussions of initial plans for policy dialogues which will be implemented in the period of 2017 to 2018.

According to the report on the meeting published on SEAMEO CELL’s website, plans for a tentative national policy forum in the Philippines were drafted in Session 3 of the meeting. Themed “From Agenda to Action: First Philippine Forum on Lifelong Learning,” the forum seeks to achieve the following outcomes: to consolidate lifelong learning initiatives for different sectors; to identify gaps; and to draft the Philippine Action Plan on Lifelong Learning. These goals echo Chancellor Bandalaria’s statement during the meeting on “the need to harmonize lifelong learning initiatives, especially in the Philippines, and to make sure that no lifelong learner was left behind.” (Arielle Megan Flores, OC)