The consultation, organised by the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Office in cooperation with DVV International, was an important preparatory event allowing representatives of governments and the ALE sector to come together and identify current and future challenges, innovative practice and common issues and opportunities as they prepare for CONFINTEA VII, which will take place in Morocco in 2022. Over 130 participants, including representatives of the ministries of education and labor, civil society sector, educational institutions of Central Asia and Iran, joined the Consultation.
CONFINTEA, the International Conference on Adult Education, has taken place every 12 to 13 years since the 1940s, most recently in 2009 in Belém, Brazil. CONFINTEA VII will be the first since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the most significant event for the international ALE community in the lead-up to 2030, the target year of the United Nations’ sustainable development agenda.
This Sub-Regional Consultation was held in advance of a larger Regional Conference later in 2021 and allowed Member States to begin preparing a report on the key challenges and opportunities in ALE in their respective countries, as well as recommendations for renewed policies and action, taking into account unique needs, experiences and visions across the sub-region.
In addition to hearing presentations from each Member State’s delegation on the current status of ALE and lifelong learning (LLL) in their countries, the Consultation heard from civil society organizations including DVV International and the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic Adult Education. Delegates engaged in question-and-answer sessions with experts and, in its final phase, the Consultation undertook technical discussions to identify their priorities and recommendations for the upcoming Regional Consultation event.
Some of the priorities and recommendations included:
- Legislative work is required to define a clearer role for ALE at country levels;
- Expanding and improving funding mechanisms for ALE;
- COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated existing challenges in access and quality of adult education;
- Improving the quality of adult education programs, expanding access to them;
- Teachers’ professional development to ensure the quality of ALE services and products;
- Development of digitalization and ICT application can help mitigate risks and build capacity in countries;
- Expanding of sub-regional cooperation in the development of qualifications frameworks, mutual recognition and student mobility;
- The importance of integrating Global Citizenship Education into ALE programs;
- Mechanisms for cooperation on ALE should be developed both at the national and international levels;
- At the same time, there is a huge potential for ALE development in all represented countries: there are successful cases and examples at the legislative level, successful experience in the application of public-private partnerships with the local community, business sector, and government bodies for the institutionalization of ALE in the countries.
The outcome report of the Consultation is now being prepared based on the discussions and outcomes of the event and will be published in due course.
In her closing remarks to the Consultation, the Director of the UNESCO Almaty Cluster Officer, Krista Pikkat, thanked the ministry representatives, civil society organisations and other partners, saying “it has been very interesting to hear about the status of ALE in your countries as well as some of the issues … I have been especially pleased to hear about how much you appreciate sub-regional cooperation and this opportunity to share knowledge.”
The next event in preparation for CONFINTEA VII will be the Regional Conference for the Asia Pacific Region, taking place online in May/June 2021 (TBC). The global conference, CONFINTEA VII will play a significant role in assisting Member States to achieve the SDGs, particularly SDG 4 on education, by adopting a new framework for action that will replace the Belém Framework for Action, adopted at CONFINTEA VI in 2009, and the UNESCO 2015 Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education.
The fifth edition of UNESCO’s Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 5) is currently in preparation and will be launched at CONFINTEA VII. GRALE 5 will provide a worldwide overview of the current state and key developments in ALE from an international perspective.