Saturday, 19 August, 2017

CONFINTEA VI: International Conference on Adult Education

Living and Learning for a Viable Future: The Power of Adult Learning

The Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) was held from 1 to 4 December 2009 in Belém, Brazil, with the participation of over 1,100 delegates, including 55 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 144 UNESCO Member States. The Conference closed with the adoption of the Belém Framework for Action, which records the commitments of Member States and presents a strategic guide for the global development of adult literacy and adult education within the perspective of lifelong learning. Moreover, CONFINTEA VI saw the launch of the first Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE).

To download the Final Report click here.

To download the Executive Summary of the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education click here.

All of these documents and the full version of GRALE are also available for download on the CONFINTEA VI website.


- It is an UNESCO intergovernmental international conference on adult learning and education
- It is a platform for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and education
- It is held approximately every 12 years.

What are the objectives of CONFINTEA VI?

- To create commitment and action on adult learning and education
- To push forward recognition for adult learning and education as an important element of and factor conducive to lifelong learning, of which literacy is the foundation
- To highlight the role of adult learning for the realisation of international policy frameworks
- To renew political momentum and commitment and to develop tools for implementation in order to move from rhetoric to action.

Why is it important for you?

- A renewed international movement will raise awareness about the value of adult learning - use it in your lobbying work
- Learn about adult learning and education from other countries
- Become part of a global adult learning and education movement.


1. Youth and adult education must be recognised as enforceable human rights (see comment 13 on the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights) and discrimination in provision must not be tolerated.

2. Youth and adult education should be seen as the invisible glue, essential for the achievement of MDGs and national development goals; requiring inter-ministerial collaboration and active participation of civil society at all levels. Participation is essential to ensure that programmes take into account the specific needs of marginalised groups, and encourage development of active citizenship, improved health and livelihoods, and gender equality.

3. Literacy must be seen as a continuum and the old polarized dichotomy of literacy and illiteracy must be abolished. New national surveys are needed that collect data on a spectrum of literacy levels to show the real scale of the challenge and to end the myth of there being a magic line to cross from illiteracy into literacy.

4. There should be no more short term campaigns to eradicate adult illiteracy. Rather, sustained investment is needed in programmes that work with learners for at least two or three years, with continuity into programmes of lifelong learning.

5. There is an urgent need to develop qualified and professional adult education facilitators, teachers, administrators and researchers - and to ensure they are properly paid.

6. The International Benchmarks on Adult Literacy, published by GCE (see Writing the Wrongs GCE 2005), should be used as a starting point for new national dialogue, for the design of effective programmes and as a basis for monitoring and evaluation of existing provision.

7. States should commit themselves to allocate a minimum 6% of their GNP to education and, within the education budget, to assign a minimum of 6% for Youth and Adult Education, with a priority given to literacy.

8. Donors should pay their fair share of the external financing requirement for Youth and Adult Education. At least 6% of aid to education from all donors should go to Youth and Adult Education in order to fill the financing gap in this area, which is at least two billion dollars a year.

9. The EFA Fast Track Initiative, and any future global financing mechanism for education, should actively require education sector plans to include credible strategies and investment to address adult literacy.

10. The International Monetary Fund macro-economic conditions that undermine investment in education should be challenged, especially in the present context of global recession, so that States can adequately invest in the full EFA agenda. The G20 should not give the funds they have pledged to the IMF until there is real reform of the conditions that block investment in education.

Learn more about CONFINTEA VI

To learn about the Global Report on Adult Education and Learning


Each country was required to submit a report on the State of the Art of Adult Education and Learning. The Irish report is available for download here. It gives a overview of adult and community education in Ireland.

There is a global movement of people working in the area of adult education and learning. The International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) has consulted with non-govenrmenal organisations globally and have set about to highlight four themes for united lobbying.The key areas for debate and decision on adult learning and education during the CONFINTEA VI conference are:

1. Poverty and growing economic, social and cultural inequality

2. The right of education and learning for migrant women and men.

3. The priority of adult education, including literacy, as both part of the Education for All - EFA goals and a critical tool for reaching them.

4. The need for new policy and legislation to ensure the right to learn without discrimination based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, class, sexual orientation, religion and disabilities and national status.

To learn more about these key issues please click here


For more information on the involvement of AONTAS in CONFINTEA VI please contact Niamh O'Reilly