Collectively examining the power of adult learning and education across the globe
The power of adult learning can only be fully realized through a shared global vision. Adult learning and education (ALE) is dynamic; and, despite a growing focus on the acquisition of basic literacy and numeracy skills in recent decades, a wider understanding of the value and usefulness of ALE has been reflected in recent policy development. If we are to achieve a more inclusive, sustainable world, we must examine the progress made thus far in the field of ALE and find ways to respond to the outstanding challenges, taking into account local and regional context.
Creating space for dialogue
This has been the purpose of CONFINTEA, the International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA), first held in 1949 in Elsinore, Denmark. Subsequent conferences (1960 in Montreal, Canada; 1972 in Tokyo, Japan; 1985 in Paris, France; 1997 in Hamburg, Germany; and 2009 in Belém, Brazil) have all contributed significantly to the global advancement of ALE. CONFINTEA VI, the sixth International Conference on Adult Education, in Belém, Brazil, in 2009, closed with the adoption by 144 UNESCO Member States, of the Belém Framework for Action (BFA). The BFA sought to guide Member States in harnessing the power and potential of ALE for the wider benefit of all, and identified five key areas on which progress needs to be based: policy; governance; financing; participation, inclusion and equity; and quality.
Evaluating Progress: The current state of ALE
Given the fast-changing world in which we live, it is imperative that we regularly review the implementation of ALE across the world. It is time to join all our efforts once again, this time through participation in the Mid-Term Review of CONFINTEA VI. This review comes eight years into the implementation of the 2009 BFA and aims to take stock of achievements and challenges since then. This review comes at a critical and opportune time, being the first such meeting since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the related Education 2030 Framework for Action in 2015. The Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (RALE) was also adopted in 2015 by the UNESCO General Conference, superseding the foundational 1976 Recommendation on the Development of Adult Education, also known as the Nairobi Declaration.
Looking ahead: 2030 and beyond
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), the UNESCO entity charged with the responsibility for monitoring the BFA, has done so through the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE). Three reports, published in 2010, 2013 and 2016, have provided a picture of the state of ALE around the world based on analyses of national progress reports, survey data, policies and cases studies. The GRALE reports have also provided policy recommendations and examples of best practice.
The Mid-Term Review, which takes place in the Republic of Korea from 25 to 27 October 2017, will critically examine progress against the 2009 commitments in order to create more opportunities for youth and adults across the globe and, so, build societies in which fewer adults lack adequate literacy and numeracy skills.