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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Lifelong learning in least developed countries : the case of Nepal Regmi, Kapil Dev


The seventieth session of the General Assembly of the UN declared that the promotion of ‘lifelong learning opportunities for all’ as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. The idea of lifelong learning was first proposed by United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization during the 1970s to mitigate the global educational crisis observed during the 1960s. However, until 2015 it was never taken as an educational policy strategy for the economically poor countries of the global South, known as Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Major supranational organisations such as the World Bank have encouraged LDCs to reorient their national educational policies and practices towards the framework of lifelong learning. This is an important breakthrough; however, almost no attention has been paid to what understandings of lifelong learning are being promoted by the supranational organisations that are increasingly involved in educational policy making and governance of LDCs. Drawing on major theoretical constructs informed by Habermas (lifeworld and communicative rationality) and using critical policy sociology as a methodological tool, this study analysed educational policy documents and interviews undertaken with key educational policy makers of Nepal. This study found that the World Bank has promoted a neoliberal understanding of lifelong learning that takes investment in learning as the responsibility of individuals, promotes privatisation in education and advocates for the decentralisation of educational management to promote global governance in education. This limited notion of lifelong learning is partially adopted in LDCs like Nepal. The study concluded that the neoliberal understanding of lifelong learning has almost no potential in addressing the multifarious problems faced by LDCs such as poverty, illiteracy, and inequality. This study recommended that the international organisations should not limit lifelong learning to an economic strategy aimed at increasing competitiveness and the production of flexible labour force; rather lifelong learning should be taken as the principal means for an inclusive and harmonious form of human development led by community-based initiatives. Providing lifelong learning opportunity for adults, especially those living in rural communities, should be the responsibility of the governments of LDCs for which international organisations may play a complementary role, when needed.

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