The new UNESCO Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (2015)
The 2015 UNESCO General Conference adopted a new Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (2015) to replace the 1976 Recommendation on the Development of Adult Education. At the last two International Conferences on Adult Education, CONFINTEA V (Hamburg, 1997) and CONFINTEA VI (Belém, 2009), as well as the 2013 UNESCO General Conference, the international community had requested a revision of the 1976 Recommendation to ‘reflect current educational, cultural, political, social and economic challenges’.
Defining adult learning and education in detail
The new Recommendation provides a more detailed definition of adult learning and education (ALE), distinguishing three core areas of skills and learning: (a) to equip adults with literacy and basic skills; (b) to provide continuing training and professional development, and (c) to promote active citizenship through what is variously known as community, popular or liberal education. The Recommendation calls upon Member States to take action in the areas already defined in the Belém Framework for Action (BFA) – i.e. policy, governance, finance, participation, inclusion and equity, and quality – and stresses the importance of enhancing international cooperation. One way in which the new Recommendation can be monitored is through the established mechanisms of the CONFINTEA process, especially the triennial Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), which tracks progress achieved in implementing the BFA in UNESCO Member States.
The Recommendation refers directly to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and highlights that the ‘aim of adult learning and education is to equip people with the necessary capabilities to exercise and realize their rights and take control of their destinies. It promotes personal and professional development, thereby supporting more active engagement by adults with their societies, communities and environments. It fosters sustainable and inclusive economic growth and decent work prospects of individuals. It is therefore a crucial tool in alleviating poverty, improving health and well-being and contributing to sustainable learning societies.’