Shaping Adult Education

Many adults around the world, particularly women, do not have access to education. In order to promote social cohesion, it is essential to reach vulnerable adults who never had the opportunity to go to school or who dropped out early. Furthermore, to match the rapid pace of technological change, skills must constantly be updated; adults therefore need to enhance their existing skills or develop new ones aimed at maximizing their potential. Other pressing issues, such as migration, demographic shifts, climate change and conflict, similarly require adults to learn and relearn to ensure sustainable development.

Monitoring learning needs in countries around the world helps to determine the right approach to lifelong and adult education in each case. Consequently, one of UIL’s key areas of action is to establish standards and monitor progress in adult learning and education (ALE). The 2015 Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education and the Belém Framework for Action set out a vision and plan for Member States to promote and strengthen ALE. To monitor their efforts, UIL produces the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) and organizes the International Conference on Adult Education and Learning (CONFINTEA), which provides a platform for policy dialogue, exchange and collective action.

The regular Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) monitors whether countries are fulfilling their commitments to strengthen ALE. It brings together latest data, analysis, country reports and policy recommendations. GRALE 3 was published in 2016, while GRALE 4 was published in 2019.


UIL organizes global and regional conferences and helps forge and monitor global commitments to ALE, including the 2009 Belém Framework for Action and the 2015 Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education.


Special scholarship programmes provide policy-makers, practitioners, activists and researchers with new knowledge, skills and networks to improve ALE policies and practices in UNESCO Member States.


Research projects explore specific ALE policies and practices. A recent report on the Impact of Distance Education on Adult Learning (IDEAL) examines how to make the most of new technologies.


To learn more about the strategic goals of UIL’s work on ALE in the Medium-Term Strategy 2014–2021, please contact the ALE team at: uil-ale@unesco.org