Dr Séamus Ó Tuama, Chair of ASEM LLL Hub Visits Asia


Following the success of last year’s mission to Asia, Dr Seámus Ó Tuama, Chair of the ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub, commenced another mission to Southeast Asia and South Asia in October 2023. The goal is to enhance educational connections and foster collaboration in lifelong learning and adult education within the ASEM community and to invite new members to participate in this diverse community. This journey serves as a vital bridge, facilitating the exchange of ideas, experiences, and expertise to advance educational practices in both regions. 

During this period, Dr Ó Tuama will engage with educators, policymakers, and learners, fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas, best practices, and innovations in lifelong learning. Join us as we document the Chair’s journey and become part of the ASEM lifelong learning mission. 

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Southeast Asia Mission

First part of The Chair's mission - Southeast Asia, including: Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Singapore, Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia


At this first visit, the Chair of ASEM LLL Hub, Dr Séamus Ó Tuama, met with the newly appointed South Asia Coordinator of ASEM LLL Hub – Dr Suwithida Charungkaittikul of the Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand.

Dr Ó Tuama attended the 8th International Conference, Lifelong Learning for All 2023, organised by the Department of Lifelong Education and the Faculty of Education at Chulalongkorn University. Dr Ó Tuama was one of three keynote speakers, including Mr Raúl Valdés-Cotera, Deputy Director at the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities and Mr Parit Wacharasindhu, Member of the House of Representatives, Move Forward Party, Thailand. The theme of the conference was “Ensuring inclusive and sustainable lifelong learning for all in cities”.

Dr Ó Tuama also delivered a public lecture, “Five Concepts of Lifelong Learning” at the Chulalongkorn University and he was Guest Speaker at a hybrid seminar on “Lifelong Learning: The Role of HIgher Education Institutions” at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University in Nonthaburi.

As part of this leg of the mission, Dr Ó Tuama was invited to join a field trip to Lerk Suk Som Community and Yaowarat to explore the life and culture of Thai people.


During this leg of the mission in Laos, Dr Ó Tuama participated in the 5th International Seminar on Education for Community Development at the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO) Regional Centre for Community Education Development. Dr Ó Tuama delivered a lecture on international research, policy, and practice in Asia and Europe for lifelong learning.

SEAMEO has 26 specialist institutions located in Southeast Asian countries that undertake training and research programmes in various fields of education, science, and culture. Each Regional Centre has a Governing Board composed of senior education officials from each SEAMEO Member Country. 


In Cambodia, Dr Ó Tuama was welcomed by Dr Songheang Ai, Centre Director of SEAMEO Technical Education Development (TED) and his  colleagues to start the cooperation between Asia and Europe on TVET.

Dr. Songheang Ai briefly highlighted the three key tasks of SEAMEO TED covering public relations and partnership, research and development, and technical education and training working for vocational and technical high schools in the ASEAN region including Timor-Leste. For capacity-building programs, SEAMEO TED concentrates on reskilling and upskilling technical education instructors, school management and supporting administrators to catch up with technological innovation. SEAMEO TED has cooperated with other national and international organizations to co-host research conferences on TVET.

Dr. Séamus Ó Tuama introduced the team to the ASEM LL Hub and the work of the research networks and opportunities for collaboration between SEAMEO TED and the research networks were discussed. Both parties discussed future synergies and the potential opportunity to co-organise a conference and forum on the future on TVET and lifelong learning.


In Singapore, the Chair, Dr Ó Tuama, met up with two organisations advocating for lifelong learning – the Institution of Adult Learning and the Asia-Europe Foundation (ASEF). ASEF is an intergovernmental not-for-profit organisation which brings together the peoples of Asia and Europe to address common global challenges

During this leg of the mission, Dr Ó Tuama was Guest Speaker at a hybrid event entitled “Successful Lifelong Learning through Autonomy and ‘Capitals”, organised by HEAD Foundation Dialogues. The HEAD Foundation, based in Singapore, is an International Charitable Organisation. It was set up to carry out philanthropic works in education but later extended its remit to include healthcare to improve lives in Asia, particularly in the less developed parts of Southeast Asia. Dr Ó Tuama was joined on a panel at the event by Prof Hong Hai, Chairman of U3A (University of the Third Age) and Emeritus Professor at  Nanyang University and Koh Chye Soon, Head of Ecole, 42 Singapore at Singapore University of Technology and Design. Ecole 42 has been committed to offering the best tuition-free IT training to all based on strong values of inclusivity, ethnics and excellence. Instead of teachers and lectures, it uses a unique peer-learning approach and offers 100% hands-on project-based learning in a gamified environment to develop technical and soft skills needed for the industry. 

Singapore has the highest number of ASEM LLL HUB researchers. 


In Vietnam, Dr Ó Tuama met with Khau Huu Phuoc, Manager of Research and Training at SEAMEO CELLL (Regional Centre for Lifelong learning Vietnam). 

Dr Ó Tuama participated in an online workshop, organised by SEAMEO CELLL, on “Learning Cities: What they are and How to register on UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities” (GNLC). Dr Ó Tuama presented on Learning Cities, outlining the concept, the criteria that need to be met, as well as sharing insights on successful learning cities around the world and lessons that can be drawn from these exemplary cases. He also gave a presentation on Cork City, using it as an example of a successful Learning City in Ireland, where he lives and works.

He presented alongside representatives from the Vietnam National Commission for UNESCO and leaders from the cities of Vinh, Sa Dec, and Cao Lanh – three Vietnamese cities that are part of the GNLC network. The event was hugely successful with the participation of over 90 leaders, experts, and esteemed educators from Departments and Offices of Education and Training, the Vietnam Association for Education for All (VAEFA), Provincial Study Promotion Associations, as well as from universities, colleges, and schools at all levels.

Ms. Tran Thi Lan Phuong, on behalf of Sa Dec City – one of 3 cities in Vietnam that has successfully registered to GNLC – presented about the how the city implemented the plan to build a learning city, as well as the learned experiences throughout the process.

The seminar concluded with a Q&A session where speakers engaged with the participants. Professor O’ Tuama and Ms. Lan Phuong helped address inquiries from Ms. Nguyen Thi Thuy (representative of VAEFA) and Dr. Tran Dinh Chau.


In Brunei, The Ministry of Education through the Lifelong Learning Centre (L3C) and in collaboration with Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL) held the third Annual Lifelong Learning Industry Engagement Day (ALLIED) 2023 at the Banquet Hall, Mulia Hotel. The event was attended by over 200 participants from both government agencies and private companies with this year’s theme “Cultivating an AI-Ready Workforce for Future of Work”. This year’s ALLIED aims to support the growth of the digital ecosystem in Brunei Darussalam which is firmly in line with the Digital Economy Master Plan 2025 by utilizing Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology.

Dr Ó Tuama delivered a special presentation at the conference on “Cultivating an AI-ready workforce for Future of Work: Navigating via Five Lifelong Learning Capitals?” and he also featured on a panel discussion with Dr Zaid Omar, Associate Professor of Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM); Freddie Ting, General Manager of Brunei Innovation Lab (BIL)and Faizal Mahmud, Data Scientist from Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sdn Bhd. Significant opportunities for collaboration were identified throughout the day amongst educational institutions and industries in the development of AI-ready workforce in local and international contexts. On the day, Dr Ó Tuama also had the opportunity to meet with Yang Mulia Ir. Awang Haji Mohammad Nazri bin Haji Mohammad Yusof, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport and Infocommunications, Dr. Sheikh Lukman bin Sheikh Abdul Hamid, Acting Director of L3C and Yang Mulia Dr. Zaid Omar, Associate Professor of Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM).


From Brunei, Dr Ó Tuama travelled to Yogykarta, a city on the Indonesian island of Java where he met with Dr Pujiyanti Fauziah, M.Pd Head of Nonformal Education Department Faculty of Education Universitas Negeri Yogyakarta (UNY). At the University, he delivered two lectures on ” Five Capitals of Learning/Recognition, Respect and Dignity”.

Later in this leg of the mission, Dr Ó Tuama visited the Indonesia Cyber Education Institute (ICE Institute) where he delivered a talk at a Seminar themed ”Digital Transformation, Microcredential, and Lifelong Learning”.  Dr Ó Tuama discussed Lifelong Learning for Digital Transformation: Accumulating and enhancing Five Capitals of Learning, exploring five concepts of lifelong learning capital: seed capital, identity capital, cultural capital, social capital, and human capital in a context of both reflexivity and the challenges of digital transformation. Also speaking at the event were Dr. Rijanto Purbojo, S.Psi., M.Sc. (Universitas Pelita Harapan) and Kurnia Endah Riana, S.E., M.com of Universitas Terbuka. 

South Asia Mission

Second part of The Chair's mission - South Asia, including: India, Bangladesh and Nepal


Starting the second part of the Asian mission to South Asia, Dr Ó Tuama travelled to Delhi to meet Dr Shalini Singh – the South Asia Coordinator of ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub. In Delhi, Dr Ó Tuama delivered the James Draper Memorial Lecture titled “Letting No One Behind: The Importance of Five Capitals of Learning in Reflexive Modernity” at the International Institute of Adult & Lifelong Education, Delhi. He also met Dr Paval Duggal, Chancellor of Cyber Law University to discuss links with ASEM LLL Hub and leadership of Cross-Cutting Issues on AI and Super Intelligence.

From Delhi, Dr Seamus visited Kanpur and attended the International Conference at Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University (CSJMU), where he delivered three lectures on “Why implement lifelong learning at all?”, focusing on the crucial fundamental purpose of lifelong learning.

After Kanpur, Dr Ó Tuama travelled to Bengaluru to meet Dr. Marsaline Beno – Dean of Research, Dr. Maheswaran, Rev. Fr. Maria William from Christ Law College and Miss Rajula Vethanayagam from Globethics. Here is where he joined the discussion as a speaker on “Lifelong Learning and Ethics in Education”, to share several approaches to ethics in lifelong learning from Adult Continuing Education (ACE) at University College Cork, Ireland.

For the last leg of this mission, Dr Ó Tuama visited Kolkata and joined the International Conference on Education, Communication and Lifelong Learning: Thoughts and Ideas of Grundtvig, Tagore and Freire organised by the Global Network for Folk High School Research (GNFR) together with the Association of Folk High Schools in Denmark. Here, Dr Ó Tuama with many other world experts focus on the great strides made by the international community in the field of education and enlightenment and tries to seek implementation of some of this epoch. 


After India, Dr Ó Tuama travelled to Bangladesh to meet representatives from the Daffodil International University. The university provided our Chair with great opportunities to deliver his workshop on Lifelong Learning, insightful discussions and a deeper look into the culture of Bangladeshi people. 

Bangladesh is also where the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was created and signed between the Daffodil International University and ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub. Through this MoU, both organisations hope to build and enhance this partnership with many more collaborations on research, events and tighter bonds between researchers.


The last destination for this Asian mission is Nepal, where Dr Ó Tuama met Professor Bhola Thapa – the Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University and Professor Uddhab Pyakurel – the Director of the Global Engagement Division of Kathmandu University. discuss future collaboration with the ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub. At the university, Dr Ó Tuama delivered his public lecture on “Recognition, Respect & Dignity: creating a rights-based educational framework and Five Capitals”. 

In Nepal, Dr Ó Tuama also met the President of Weifang Environmental Engineering Vocational College (China) Professor Huang Guanzhu and a delegation from the college including its Founder Chairman, Mr Xie Baojian to seek future collaboration with ASEM Lifelong Learning Hub and strengthen ties between China and Ireland.

See you next year

The Chair's mission to Asia is now complete.
For queries, please contact asemlllhub@ucc.ie