Every year ASPBAE (Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education) holds a Basic Leadership Development Course (BLDC) to give adult and community education emerging leaders the skills and knowledge required to foster transformative adult and community education in their own countries and regions.

In November 2018, for the first time, the course was held in Auckland, hosted by ACE Aotearoa. The theme was Advancing the SDGs and the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The objectives were to provide information and foster discussion on: the global context for developing transformative adult and community education; the principles of adult learning and lifelong learning; gender and rights-based education; policy and advocacy; engaging youth; and leadership.

Participants came from as far away as Mongolia, India and China, as well as the biggest ever group from the South Pacific, which included three New Zealand ACE practitioners. Each writes about their experience of the BLDC.

Jason Tiatia: Senior Academic, Sāmoan Language Educator & Pasifika Advisor, Ara Institute of Canterbury

My experience at the ASPBAE leadership course was amazing. I felt enriched. I was humbled to know that there are so many educators and advocates from around the world who may look and sound different to me but who have similar issues or who share the same challenges and triumphs.

It was inspirational to learn about ASPBAE – why it is important to keep doing the fantastic mahi that we are doing here in Aotearoa NZ and how our mahi impacts generations of learners of all ages.

All aspects of the programme were brilliantly constructed and also organically deconstructed, from the warm welcome of the pōwhiri to the keynote speakers and workshops. We also had fun time building strong relationships.

The opportunity to listen, observe and participate in such a forum has given me more confidence and self-belief. Now I am even more determined to keep on pushing the envelope and stand up for the rest of the 90% who don’t own the wealth of this world.

Melissa Lama: PYLAT (Pacific Youth Leadership And Transformation)

My experience of ASPBAE was one close to home as we were able to showcase the rich Māori and multicultural country that is Aotearoa, NZ.

Meeting people from Asia and the South Pacific who are working in our sector ignited my passion for adult community education. Hearing the things that work in their countries allowed for rich practice sharing and genuine passions to be passed on amongst the group. It was clear that we were all there for the love of education and our communities.

My growth in awareness about the struggles and successes in other countries has encouraged me to do more reaching out and learning from others.

The highlight of the course for me was seeing how other groups from around the world work in such pragmatic spaces, where they do not let their limited resources limit their service delivery. Inspiring and thought-provoking is what I took away from it all. Malo ‘Aupito!

Richard Hape: ACE Kaitautoko Mātauranga, Far North REAP

We learned about the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how to embed these goals into SDG 4 – Quality education: all SDG’s link together. The focus was on how to use these SDGs and quality education to create resilience. The next step for ourselves was to identify how we implement the SDGs in our own community.

We discussed topics such as gender equality, youth and adult education and global citizenship. We also shared our Māori tikanga values including powhiri, whānaungatanga, manaakitanga and poroporoaki.

We were put in groups and visited organisations around Auckland like Do good, Feel Good Mangere, the MATEs programme at AUT, Deaf Aotearoa, and E Tū Whānau.

The conference was such an awesome learning space and it confirmed for me – Education is for Everyone – and that is the kōrero we need to encourage.