While a few gifted individuals step easily into leadership roles, for others the process is more of a learning exercise that develops over time and with experience and exposure to a range of opportunities.

Robbie Guevara and Peter Foaese, co-led a workshop session at the 2023 ACE conference that explored the challenges of developing and sustaining leaders within our Adult and Community Education Movement, based on ASPBAE’s Basic Leadership Development Course (BLDC). The BLDC is a six-day residential training programme, specially curated to empower adult education practitioners and education policy advocates to promote Transforming Adult Learning and Education in the Asia Pacific region. Robbie is a graduate of the original BLDC, where he developed his passion for promoting and expanding the ASPBAE leadership base.

“The BLDC builds capacity, and it builds movement. It addresses some of the key challenges that we face around expanding our leadership base and recognising that leadership is an essential quality for a good adult educator. Leadership needs to be developed via ongoing learning and reflective practice and embedded within local cultural contexts.”

Key objectives of the BLDC include:

  • Development of a critical understanding of the contexts in the Asia Pacific region and the inequalities in education, specifically those of adults and young people.
  • Provision of an orientation on policy frameworks, specifically those that enable building of transformative approaches and systems for lifelong learning.
  • Facilitation of a structured reflection and exchange towards developing a basic understanding of adult learning principles and lifelong learning perspectives
  • Enhancement of skills and attitudes on processes that support networking to mobilise leadership.
  • Gaining a better understanding of ASPBAE’s work and strengthening the core of educators and policy advocates.

“Leadership succession is at the core of the course. The training programmes provide learners with a consistent language that facilitates contextual sharing and that builds a succession movement.”

Robbie was joined in his workshop session by four graduates of the BLDC, including ACE Aotearoa Director Analiese Robertson, Peter Foaese, Hannah Pia Baral and Jason Tiatia.

While each of the graduates attended a different course, their shared experiences were similar.

They each told of the privilege of citizenship that they experienced in attending alongside fellow delegates who faced significant hurdles just to access basic education as a human right.

Analiese remembers the course vividly, as it was held in Bangladesh and the cultural change was so unique that it had a profound impact on her.

“Wealth and poverty disparity bring so many challenges in the education and learning space. I realised that I am part of a global agenda and a global citizen and the Building Leadership Development Course brought home the realities of this. It made me start thinking about how I could support and ensure others had similar opportunities when I returned to Aotearoa. The policy and advocacy skills I learnt at BLDC are the ones I still apply today in my decision making. I learnt how to focus on the big picture and to have a voice that I could use for the right opportunities. I learnt to listen, take notes and then apply my listening and my knowledge.”

For Hannah, who is a Kiwi/Filipino, the opportunity to attend BLDC in Manila added to her extremely personal journey.

“I was able to reconnect with my roots and explore who I am. The sense of being part of a global community was significant and BLDC provided me with the ability to reflect and better understand the next level of personal growth.”

The 2023 BLDC will be in Malaysia on 16–23 Oct and the thematic focus will be Feminist Leadership for adult learning.