The 38th UNESCO General Conference adopted a new Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education, 2015. This Recommendation supersedes the 1976 Recommendation on the Development of Adult Education and is, therefore, the most up-to-date normative instrument in this important policy area.

It 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 – while building on the potentials of information and communication technologies. This Recommendation draws on the concept of lifelong learning, and underlines the overarching aim of adult learning and education, which is to ensure that all adults participate in society and in the world of work. It also takes into account the three key domains of adult learning and education: literacy and basic skills; continuing education, training and professional development; and education and learning opportunities with a view to promoting active citizenship (variously known as ‘community’, ‘popular’ or ‘liberal’ education), i.e. education measures that empower people to engage with a wide range of social issues.

Member States should now implement the Recommendation and further strengthen international cooperation with regard to ALE. The CONFINTEA process, which involves regular reporting in the form of the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), will be instrumental in monitoring activities undertaken by Member States to implement the Recommendation.


UNESCO Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education, 2015 (PDF 0,1 MB)

This Executive Summary provides the key messages espoused in the report, offering an overview of the development of adult learning and education in the world’, Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning.

The third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III) takes a holistic approach to education and lifelong learning to support countries in achieving the goals set in in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. With its title The Impact of Adult Learning and Education on Health and Well-Being; Employment and the Labour Market; and Social, Civic and Community Life., the report aims to guide policymakers and practitioners in how to devise programmes, policies and frameworks in adult learning and education (ALE) which fit their respective contexts. It also shares lessons from the two previous monitoring reports published since 2009 (GRALE I and GRALE II) and considers the implications for ALE in all the five main areas of action outlined in the Belém Framework for Action, namely: policy; governance; financing; participation, inclusion and equity; and quality.


Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (PDF, 2.5 MB)
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (Chinese) (PDF, 0.9 MB)
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (Russian) (PDF, 0.4 MB)
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (Arabic) (PDF, 2.7 MB)
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (Portuguese) (PDF, 0.3 MB)
Third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education – Key Messages and Executive Summary (Hindi) (PDF, 0.5 MB)

The Second Global Report on Adult Learning and Education is based principally on 141 national progress reports submitted by UNESCO Member States. Its objective is to review the implementation of the recommendations made by governments at the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) in Belém in December 2009.

The Report provides an opportunity for all stakeholders to assess progress in adult education vis-à-vis the recommendations contained in the outcome document of CONFINTEA VI, the Belém Framework for Action. This second Global Report has as its special theme “Rethinking literacy”. UNESCO hopes that this will contribute to the debate on how to strengthen literacy efforts, and help to position literacy as the foundation for lifelong learning.


Second Global Report on Adult Learning and Education: Rethinking Literacy - Summary and Recommendations (PDF, 0.3 MB)

This first-ever Global Report on Adult Learning and Education is based on 154 National Reports submitted by UNESCO Member States on the state of adult learning and education, five Regional Synthesis Reports and secondary literature. Its purpose is to provide an overview of the trends in adult learning and education as well as identify key challenges. It is intended to be used as a reference document and an advocacy tool, as well as input to CONFINTEA VI.

The Report is organised into six chapters which address key issues. Chapter 1 examines how adult education is considered in the international educational and development policy agenda. It indicates the need to situate adult education within a lifelong learning perspective and adopt a capability approach. Chapter 2 presents developments in policy and governance while Chapter 3 describes the range of provision of adult education and offers a typology for understanding the variety of provision in the sector. Chapter 4 reviews patterns of participation and access to adult education while Chapter 5 deals with quality in adult education. Chapter 6 appraises the current state of the financing of adult education. A concluding section provides an overview of trends and challenges.


Global report on adult learning and education: executive summary (PDF 0,3 MB)

The Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) closed with the adoption of the Belém Framework for Action. Held from 1 to 4 December 2009 in Belém, Brazil, with the participation of over 1,100 delegates, including including 55 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 144 UNESCO Member States, CONFINTEA VI continued a series of global UNESCO meetings on adult education and learning which have been held every twelve years since 1949. Building on the Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning and the Agenda for the Future of 1997, the Belém Framework for Action records the commitments of Member States and presents a strategic guide for the global development of adult literacy and adult education within the perspective of lifelong learning.

Download: Belém Framework for Action (PDF 744 KB)

“From literacy to lifelong learning” is the great challenge which this Regional Conference poses for us.

In other words, the challenge is to advance from initial literacy – which is the way in which literacy for young people and adults continues to be understood in many countries of the region to a vision and a broader educational provision which includes teaching but also recognizes and validates learning acquired, not only as adults, but also throughout our life: in the family, in the community, at work, through the media, through social participation and by the very exercise of citizenship.

Download: From Literacy to Lifelong Learning: Towards the Challenges of the 21st Century; A Statement from Latin America and the Caribbean (PDF 91,3 KB)

We, the representatives of 33 countries in the UNESCO Pan-European Region at this preparatory conference for CONFINTEA VI, declare our commitment to strengthening learning and education as a priority for all adults in the region. We meet at a time of financial crisis across the region and the wider world, and in the context of continuing conflicts, accelerating demographic change and environmental changes. We reaffirm the importance of adult learning in enabling people to deal with economic and social change, to participate actively in civil society, to foster cultural action and to enrich their lives. We note the trend in many countries in the region to concentrate increasingly on vocational education for employability and on developing skills at work, and we ask how far the present crisis invites a review of this trend. We believe that adult learning is now more important than ever and has a larger role to play, both to support people in making a living, and for their wider lives.

Download: Pan-European statement on adult learning for equity and inclusion in the context of mobility and competition (PDF 89,5 KB)
Available in Russian: Общеевропейское заявление по вопросам обучения взрослых в интересах справедливости и инклюзивности в условиях мобильности и конкуренции (PDF 179 KB)


Contexts and challenging issue

The resurgence of adult learning and education

1. The new millennium has brought about a renewed appreciation of adult learning and education (ALE) as central in addressing the critical development challenges in Asia and the Pacific. The rapid pace of change, and the rise of knowledge economies and learning societies in a globalised world, highlight the importance of ensuring that all adults have access to high-quality learning and education opportunities.

2. At the same time, unresolved socio-economic problems, in particular extreme poverty, unemployment and exclusion, and the challenges created by internal and cross-border migration, as well as massive environmental degradation, are best addressed with a holistic education framework based on a human-rights approach which promotes social transformation and peace.

3. ALE is a core element of lifelong learning, and contributes enormously to the generation of creativity, innovation and new ideas necessary for building equitable and sustainable societies. ALE is central to advancing individual and community well-being, social justice and gender equality and to propelling productivity and economic growth.

4. ALE has indeed assumed a new urgency in Asia and the Pacific, flourishing with a multiplicity of learning pathways. We hereby reaffirm the critical role of adult learning and education in expanding human capabilities, freedom and choice.


Download: Asian Statement on Building Equitable and Sustainable Societies in Asia and the Pacific (PDF 99,2 KB)

Also available in Chinese: 关于在亚太地区建设公平和可持续社会的亚洲声明 (PDF 395 KB)


This conference is being held within the framework of the Millennium Development Goals, the United Nations Literacy Decade, the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development, the Arab Plan for the Development of Education in the Arab World and the Islamic Programme for Literacy and Basic Education for All.

Download: Statement on Investing in Adult Education: Building Learning and Knowledge Societies in the Arab States (PDF 138 KB)

Also available in Arabic:  (PDF 375 KB) بيان بشأن الاستثمار في تعليم الكبار: بناء مجتمعات التعلّم والمعرفة في الدول العربية



We, the representatives from 46 African countries at this preparatory Africa regional conference for CONFINTEA VI, declare our commitment to make youth and adult learning and education a right and a reality for all our people. New challenges and demands are made on Africa to master new and old situations and we voice Africa’s call to CONFINTEA VI: join and support us in this struggle for lifelong learning, sustainable development and a culture of peace. Such societal change evolves as a product of conscious citizenship and increased livelihood skills. Youth and adult learning and education are the vehicle of such change as they enable youth and adults to actively participate in this development process.


Download: African Statement on the Power of Youth and Adult Learning and Education for Africa's Development (PDF 74,5 KB)