Read EAEA’s full statement: https://eaea.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/CONFINTEA-statement_December-2021_final.pdf
CONFINTEA VII, the International Conference on Adult Education, is expected to take place in Morocco in June 2022. The conference, held every 12 years, brings together governmental, intergovernmental and non-governmental stakeholders from across the globe and is the only global process that is focused on adult learning and education (ALE). Throughout 2021, EAEA has followed up with its members on the preparations for CONFINTEA VII, and is concerned that there has been relatively little involvement of civil society at the national level in Europe.
EAEA has drafted a series of recommendations to improve the preparatory process for CONFINTEA VII and to advocate a global political commitment to ALE:
- Civil society needs a seat at the table at CONFINTEA VII. In many European Member States of UNESCO, civil society organisations lack information about the preparatory process for CONFINTEA at the national level and they were not consulted, or informed, when national surveys were being drafted. Civil society representatives in ALE can provide a comprehensive picture of what has been achieved since the last CONFINTEA and offer concrete recommendations on how ALE can be improved. They should also be invited to join national delegations to the conference.
- The CONFINTEA process should become more transparent to allow all stakeholders to have insight into ongoing developments and actively provide input. More information about the CONFINTEA process on UNESCO websites, including at national level, would be desirable, as well as the possibility of a hybrid conference to allow online participation of those who cannot travel to the conference, while giving CONFINTEA more visibility through greater participation and engagement.
- Non-formal adult learning and education needs political recognition to make a lasting societal and economic impact. In spite of the commitments made in the Belém Framework for Action in 2009, this is still not the case in many European countries, with some EAEA members reporting outdated legislation, inadequate funding and information gaps. A political commitment to adult learning and education needs to be reflected in structures that support civil society, in a commitment to quality and professionalisation of ALE provision, in adequate funding mechanisms for ALE, in binding and updated legislation, and in comprehensive data collection.
- While many of the commitments made in the Belém Framework for Action have stayed relevant, new issues have emerged in the past years, not least because of the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming CONFINTEA must recognise the complexity of adults’ personal and professional pathways and make a strong case for supporting learners in transitions. Adult learning and education should foster a wide set of life skills, such as learning to change, critical thinking, as well as health, civic, digital and environmental capabilities. More holistic approaches are needed to ensure that adult learning is not reduced to providing a skilled workforce in times of an economic crisis.
- The ongoing pandemic has also clearly demonstrated that vulnerable groups remain the first ones to lose out on learning opportunities. CONFINTEA VII must urge UNESCO Member States to identify adults who are consistently left behind and to offer a targeted strategy to reach them. Recommendations on effective guidance and validation systems, as well as on outreach strategies should be part of an overarching set of commitments to improve adult learning and education in Europe and globally. Learner-centred approaches and learner representation should also be encouraged to ensure that learning provision remains relevant.