Gunsan, for the first time in Korea, opened a Lifelong Learning Center for the exclusive use of adults with developmental disabilities.
The most fundamental element for a sustainable society is the construction of educational infrastructure to nurture capacity of people who will be responsible for the future of the region.
Why Promote Lifelong Learning Center
People with developmental disabilities have distinct characteristics that their abilities of living get regressed when education discontinues. It is, therefore, indispensable to provide continuous education for their activities as members of society. In Korea, however, there was no lifelong learning facilities for the people with developmental disabilities who graduated from schools with special-education.
Moreover, severely disabled children need 24-hour care a day, meaning these children should also receive intensive care even after school time. However, most of them do not get the intensive care needed because their parents have to work to get a living and, thus, cannot take care of them.
The non-disabled people have the ability to remember, systemise and keep what they have learned for a long time. But, people with severe developmental disabilities are rapidly deteriorated and the condition gets worse when their learning process is stopped. People with developmental disabilities do need lifelong learning.
First time in Korea: opening of a Lifelong Learning Center for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
In 2001, Gunsan City joined the National Lifelong Learning City to solve the problem on lack of lifelong learning center for adults with developmental disabilities. The city decided to tackle the situation by establishing a new division to push forward lifelong education policy and began the projects to support the related non-profit institutions for people with developmental disabilities including Sandol School.
Since 2011, Gunsan has promoted a project to construct a lifelong learning center dedicated for adults with developmental disabilities. It started site building for the center in 2011, established a plan to construct a lifelong education facility for the disabled in 2012, concluded service contracts for the basic and executive designs and commenced the construction of a gymnasium and a lifelong learning center respectively for the disabled in 2015.
The center was completed on April 20, 2018 after 2 years and 4 months of construction. Then on June 22, 2018, finally, Korea has opened for the first time its lifelong learning center dedicated for adults with developmental disabilities.
The newly opened lifelong learning center dedicated for adults with developmental disabilities consists of a gymnasium and lifelong education facilities in a three storey building with total area of 4,679 m2m² constructed on the land area of 9,660m2. A total of KRW 17.2 billion was invested in the project. The center will provide the disabled not only with the services for physical function restoration and rehabilitation but also with the integrated welfare service for their lifelong education.
On the first floor, the Lifelong Learning Center for adults with developmental disabilities is located. The center was designed to allow the disabled to freely pass under the upper floor, ensuring convenience and openness. On the second floor is the multipurpose gymnasium and auditorium. And on the third floor is exercise room. The center was built as space to secure user-centered convenient accessibility and to put the top priority on safety.
Trial Operation of Education Courses for the Adults with Developmental Disabilities
This lifelong learning center was constructed embracing the spirit of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that everyone is equal in terms of dignity and rights and deserves equal rights and without discrimination. The center plans to conduct continuous lifelong learning to meet the unique characteristics of the people with developmental disabilities.
At the second half of this year, the center will run a pilot operation taking care of 1,247 adults with developmental disabilities residing in Gunsan City. The center will start offering regular courses next year.
This institution is also complete with facilities similar to other educational institution: CCTV installed in all classrooms to ensure safety of the disabled, music room for the cultivation of psychological emotion, bookstore shelter functioning as a library, art room and art exhibition hall in which the disabled are allowed to exhibit their own paintings.
In addition, vocational training facilities are additionally installed in shared spaces such as lobby and restaurant to operate training courses for career transition including the courses for baking, confectionery, coffee barista and cooking trainings. The Gunsan set up a “Steering Committee for Lifelong Education for the Adults with Developmental Disabilities” composed of 10 experts in the area of developmental disorders to operate the center more efficiently and to evaluate the lifelong learning programme. In addition, Gunsan established a new team in charge of the efficient operation of the center, which is also the first time in Korea.
The Gunsan City Lifelong Learning Center for the adults with developmental disabilities is expected to take a pivotal role not only in improving the life quality of the disabled but also in providing continuous lifelong learning for them. It will ensure the lifelong learning policy continues to create a society in which no one alienated. The center will play its role as a strong supporter to help adults with developmental disabilities take lifelong learning and move towards their ultimate goal of self-reliance.