Sixth International Conference on Adult Education – CONFINTEA VI

Sixth International Conference on Adult Education – CONFINTEA VI

CONF Nat deleg 1Belem, December 2009. As UNESCO states in its report, the document notes that adult learning and education remain chronically underfunded and undervalued and says that greater political recognition following CONFINTEA V has not paved the way for effective political action in terms of policy prioritization, integration and allocation of adequate resources, either nationally or internationally. Belém Framework for Action also draws attention to a lack of professional training opportunities for adult teachers, as well as insufficient monitoring, evaluation and feedback mechanisms. It also emphasizes the need for strengthened international cooperation and call upon UNESCO and its structure to support the implementation of the recommendations of CONFINTEA VI and to enable the regular follow up. The input of the civil society to the document is obvious and relevant. As a result of civil society action and support from many governments, there were some significant gains and acknowledgements – it includes the main ton of the document and numerous concrete issues such as participation (especially focusing on women, disadvantaged groups, migrants…), quality, literacy, data collection and many others. Important contribution is related to the fact that the document commits countries to scale up investment for youth and adult education to at least 6% GNP, while promoting new and establishing alternative financing mechanisms. Still, the role of the civil society was not unanimously accepted and discussions on some topics were dominated by the refusal to discuss deeper the suggestions from the civil society. For example, the recommendation to call upon increasement of the investment in adult education to 6% of the educational budget was refused. Therefore, the civil society caucus developed a document which can endorse the full implementation of the Belém Framework for Action and provide a strong framework for achieving real progress on adult education. The conference omitted to discuss the issue of the 12-year rhythm of CONFINTEAs and the suggestion to shorten this period, but there is an initiative for UNESCO to convene on a yearly basis a CONFINTEA follow up meetings at UNESCO HQ in Paris to discuss the implementation of the Belém Framework for Action. Since the Belém Framework for Action had to be adopted unanimous, representing the common base for all the countries and continents, many other issues were discussed with quite a different approach and understanding. Some of these issues are: The role of the state in adult learning and education, governance and legal structures and their role; further on the question if literacy should be the fundament and one of the priorities, or should it be taken as equally important concept as adult education and adult learning; disputable was also the definition of adult, because it is “youth and adult” in some UNESCO regions, which brought back the discussions to the were fundamental issues; the same happened to the question if education is “fundamental” human right or not (by international low for example…); setting up indicators and benchmarks was also disputable and not accepted by all countries. Although the whole process of negotiations was prepared through UNESCO regional conferences and feed-back after them, some of the fundamental issues of adult learning and education were again raised at CONFINTEA VI. But the general acknowledgement of the importance of adult learning and education, as well as the commitment to work more intensively in order to achieve faster progress, remain on of the most important outcomes of the document. As Davidson Hepburn said about the Belém Framework for Action – it is „marked by solidarity in the belief that we, despite our differences and priorities, share a common belief that the 21st century will leave no adult behind.”