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CONFINTEA VII: Adult learning and education for sustainable development – a transformative agenda

Seventh International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII): Adult learning and education for sustainable development – a transformative agenda

Governments, international partners, CSOs, and other stakeholders gathered in Morocco for the Seventh International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII), 15-17 June 2022, to shape the global agenda and guidance for Adult Learning and Education (ALE). CONFINTEA VII aimed to examine effective ALE policies within a lifelong learning perspective and within the SDG framework. Over 1,000 participants attended the event.

UNESCO called for a new social contract for education and discussed how the transformative power of adult education and education for sustainable development can be used in the context of challenges such as the climate crisis, rapid technological progress, and the changing world of work.

ASPBAE and its member DEAR Japan participated as delegates in CONFINTEA VII. Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) Bangladesh, Nirantar Trust (India), E-Net Philippines, and KAEA (Kyrgyzstan) participated online. ASPBAE actively engaged in the CONFINTEA VII processes and recognised the Conference’s strategic importance in strengthening country-level ALE policy and provisioning.

The 5th Global Report on Adult Education (GRALE 5) was also launched at CONFINTEA VII. The review of civil society organisations (CSOs) of the progress of ALE in the Asia Pacific was conducted through Spotlight Reports. ASPBAE and its members in 10 countries across the region developed Civil Society Spotlight Reports for GRALE 5. The Spotlight Reports:

– Presented the progress of ALE, the impact of the pandemic on ALE, and on CSO participation in ALE policy processes and provisioning.

– Shared good practices of CSO collaboration and engagement with governments on ALE programmes.
Put forward CSO analysis, agenda, and recommendations for ALE at the country level and in the CONFINTEA VII-related processes.

Pacific States called for renewed commitment towards advancing ALE and a recognition of its role in “contributing to achieving the SDGs in economic, justice, cultural and social life of the States” in the Pacific Regional CONFINTEA VII Consultation Report on the Overview on adult learning and education in the Pacific – progress and status.

Sandy Morrison, Associate Professor at the University of Waikato and former ASPBAE President, and Timote M Vaioleti, Director of the Indigenous Māori and Pacific Adult Education Charitable Trust (IMPAECT*) and former ASPBAE Executive Council Member, played an important role in the ALE Consultations with Pacific Heads of Education Services. You can read the full Pacific Regional CONFINTEA VII Consultation Report by clicking here. ​​

DVV International, with the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and the Georgian Adult Education Network (GAEN), organised a parallel workshop on ‘Community Learning Centres (CLCs) as key structures for adult learning and education – preconditions and good practices.’ The workshop shared lessons from good practices in CLCs in Uganda, Georgia, Peru, and Thailand, and the impact of the work of CLCs in ALE provisioning. Uwe Gartenschlaeger, Deputy Director of DVV International, moderated the session.

ASPBAE Secretary-General, Helen Dabu, moderated the Plenary session on ‘Literacy – The Foundation for Lifelong Learning at CONFINTEA VII. The session featured representatives of Burkina Faso, Nepal, Egypt, and Canada who shared ways in which they advanced youth and adult literacy and enhanced cooperation across Ministries, improved sustainable and multi-sectoral financial planning for literacy, and ensured comprehensive and reliable data on literacy.

“We must listen to the voices of the people – the voices of youth and adults – and hear their diverse contexts, knowledge, experiences, languages, and aspirations”, stressed Nelsy Lizarazo, National Coordinator of the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE) at ASPBAE’s parallel workshop on ‘Transformative ALE for Inclusion, Participation and Sustainability’ at CONFINTEA VII. The workshop provided an opportunity for a rich sharing of experiences and lessons on ALE for participation, inclusion, and equity. Representatives from the Asia Pacific, Arab, and Latin America gathered to assert ALE as a human right and called for more robust and transformative ALE policies, sufficient and transparent financing for education, and participatory approaches to ALE.

The Marrakech Framework for Action – Harnessing the Transformational Power of Adult Learning and Education – was adopted at the conference. It sets out the main areas of action needed to realise this vision over the next decade. Click here to access the document.

ICAE and ASPBAE strongly advocated for CSO positions in the Drafting Committee and secured important wins, particularly in strengthening commitments to –

– Increasing public funding and resource mobilisation for ALE and preventing regression in existing budget allocations, as well as progressively meeting the international benchmarks of an allocation of at least 4-6% of GDP and/or at least 15-20% of total public expenditure to education.

– Working towards filling the funding gap to meet the SDG 4 adult literacy targets and to integrate skills training through the fulfilment of existing commitments related to official development assistance (ODA), including the commitments by many developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7 per cent of the gross national product (GNP) for ODA to developing countries.

CONFINTEA VII encouraged UNESCO Member States to put in place policies, incentives, regulatory frameworks and institutional structures and mechanisms to contribute to a human rights culture, social justice, shared values and sustainability. In recognition of continuing advancements in artificial intelligence, special attention was paid to using information and communication technologies to promote access to adult learning and education and inclusion.