On 14 November, the 2023 National Lifelong Learning Activity Week commenced with its opening ceremony in Chongqing.

This event marks a significant step in the Ministry of Education (MOE)'s effort to fully implement the strategies outlined at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). These strategies focus on advancing digitalisation in education and fostering a learning-oriented society and nation, where lifelong learning is a pursuit for all residents. This initiative is a key component in transforming the country into a leader in education and continually enhancing mechanisms that promote lifelong learning nationwide. The National Lifelong Learning Activity Week acts as a pivotal platform for lifelong learning activities across the nation.

Since 2005, the National Lifelong Learning Activity Week has been consistently held for 18 consecutive years. The theme for this year's activity week is "Making Learning a Way of Life." During the main opening ceremony, Peng Binbai, director of the Department of Vocational and Adult Education at the MOE, put forward a four-point initiative. The first point is to enhance the mechanism for promoting lifelong learning for everyone; the second is to develop an education system that supports lifelong learning for all; the third is to establish a more accessible and convenient learning service network; and the fourth is to create a conducive environment for lifelong learning. This initiative aims to further the development of a learning society and nation where lifelong learning is embraced by all. Xie Li, deputy director of the Department of Vocational and Adult Education at the MOE, chaired the main opening ceremony.

Wang Qiming, secretary of the Party Committee and president of the Open University of China (OUC), together with Fan Xianrui, a member of the Party Committee and vice president of the OUC, participated in the grand opening ceremony.

Wang Qiming discussed the OUC's contributions to the national lifelong learning initiative through practical actions, highlighting advancements in enhancing continuing education, education for the elderly, and community education via digitalisation. He emphasised that the OUC aligns with the lifelong learning and sustainable development ethos, rigorously following the national strategic action for digitalisation in education. The university is committed to aiding the development of a learning-oriented nation and has made significant strides in six key areas of lifelong learning. These include establishing a new model of lifelong education, creating a new operational system for educational entities, reshaping the lifelong learning environment, opening up new resources for all-age learning, offering new experiences of intelligent and convenient learning, and setting a new standard for international service in education.
Looking ahead, Wang Qiming shared that the OUC aspires to transform into a digital university grounded in the open education movement. It aims to spearhead teaching reforms in both degree and non-degree continuing education through digital innovation. By fostering integrated innovation in continuing, senior, and community education and adhering to its educational philosophy of “virtue, learning, health, happiness, and accomplishment,” the university plans to develop a distinguished Seniors University of China (SUC). Its objective is to provide intelligent, personalized, and targeted lifelong learning support, driven by data analytics, to facilitate the establishment of learning-oriented cities and community learning centers across urban and rural areas. Ultimately, the OUC is striving to forge a more equitable and sustainable high-quality ecosystem for lifelong learning.

The OUC, along with Peng Binbai, director of the Department of Vocational and Adult Education at the MOE, inaugurated the new online "Community Lifelong Learning Website and National Senior Education Public Service Platform." This launch was a collaborative effort involving 10 provincial-level open universities from Chongqing, Shanghai, Sichuan, Tianjin, Qinghai, Hebei, Jilin, Zhejiang, Fujian, and Hubei.

Fan Xianrui participated in the Second Seminar on the Construction of Learning-Oriented Cities within the Chengdu-Chongqing Economic Circle on the afternoon of 14 November. She reflected on the progress of the SUC since its inauguration on 3 March, highlighting developments in building the educational system, enhancing platform functionalities, creating course resources, and organizing distinctive activities. She outlined four strategic directions for the SUC's future endeavors: Firstly, to guide the elderly in contributing positively, aligned with the political directive of “fostering virtue for self-improvement”; secondly, to address the varied learning needs of the elderly by expanding the availability of high-quality resources; thirdly, to forge a "Chinese model" for the innovative advancement of elderly education, focusing on the innovation of institutional mechanisms and development models; and fourthly, to narrate the "Chinese story" of senior education, considering research in this field as a crucial support.

The OUC has recently launched a dedicated "Live Open Class" channel on its community lifelong learning website, created specifically for this activity week. This channel spans various fields, including science and technology, economy, and culture. In the "Thousands of Courses for Community and Senior Education" section, approximately 80,000 high-quality micro-courses and specialized courses tailored for community education are now available for public access. Additionally, the "National Book Reading in China" Online Learning Activity Zone has been inaugurated, featuring a collection of over 10,000 e-books.

The recently launched national public service platform for senior education is structured into five major sections: "Virtue, Learning, Health, Happiness, and Accomplishment." This platform has undergone a reorganisation of its course resources, now offering approximately 436,000 courses totaling 4.089 million minutes. To ensure accessibility, the platform has introduced elderly-friendly modes, making learning resources easier to read, listen to, and view.

The OUC's lifelong education platform has launched over 700,000 online resources, serving more than 32 million lifelong learners. With 4 million registered users globally, this platform is a key component of a nationwide connectivity initiative, collaborating with 26 provincial lifelong education platforms. Moreover, it integrates with the National Credit Bank for Vocational Education, enabling users to continuously record and store their lifelong learning achievements.


By Du Ruo and Wei Peng, OUC