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)

Adult education is a human right to be exercised by all. The case for adult learning and education corresponds to the case for lifelong learning: throughout the world, education is the indispensable foundation for creating and sustaining personal, social and economic well-being. Today, this is a lifelong and life-wide agenda both for empowerment and for the development of human resources. These two pillars bear equal weight; only together can they work effectively. Their combined impact can improve the quality of life for all citizens around the globe, generating and developing to the fullest extent the human capacities and dispositions needed to address old and new challenges – above all, those of poverty, hunger, inequality, intolerance, injustice and conflict.


Download: Living and learning for a viable future: the power of adult learning; Sixth International Conference on Adult Education, Belém, Brazil, 1-4 December 2009 (PDF 293 KB)


Also available in Arabic, Russian and Chinese

The Fifth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V), held in 1997, looked ahead to the world’s transition to the new millennium by identifyin adult learning as a key to the twenty-first century. The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning adopted there forcefully expresses the vital significance of adult education and learning by identifying its potential “for fostering ecologically sustainable development, for promoting democracy, justice, gender equity, and scientific, social and economic development, and for building a world in which violent conflict is replaced by dialogue and a culture of peace based on justice”. These are goals reflecting the fundamental role of education in instilling respect for human rights and basic freedoms, in supporting progress in the diverse spheres and dimensions of human life and in encouraging care for the natural world in which we live.

Download: Recommitting to adult education and learning: synthesis report of the CONFINTEA V Midterm Review Meeting, September 6-11, 2003, Bangkok, Thailand (PDF 55,4 KB)

Grasping the breadth of learning festivals around the world poses a real challenge. This alone is a good sign because it indicates that the scope and wealth of activities carried out globally to celebrate and motivate learners are immense. International Adult Learners Week embraces them all, be they adult learners Weeks or Lifelong Learning Days, Learning Festivals, or Literacy Weeks. Whether they take place at a local, national, or sub regional level, in March, May, September, or November of any given year, together they constitute an international network and movement to mobilize for learning and active participation.

Download: International Adult Learners Week: six years after CONFINTEA V (PDF 2,53 MB)

Youth and adult education (Educación de Personas Jóvenes y Adultas – EPJA) is frequently given a low priority on governmental agendas, which are sometimes forced to prioritize scarce resources and thus limit their areas of action to the standard education system. Nonetheless, increasing efforts are being made to provide educational opportunities to those who, earlier on in their lives, were unable to integrate successfully into the education system, and these efforts are being spearheaded not only by ministries of education, but also by a variety of institutions who have long been active in the field of youth and adult education.

Download: La Educación de jóvenes y adultos en América Latina y el Caribe: hacia un estado del arte; informe regional de América Latina y el Caribe para la Conferencia de Seguimiento a CONFINTEA V, Bangkok, septiembre de 2003 (Towards a State of the Art of Adult and Youth Education in Latin America and the Caribbean: Regional Latin American Report for the CONFINTEA Mid-Term Review Conference, Bangkok, September 2003) (PDF 1.56 MB)