The EAEA is an NGO with 128 members in 42 countries, representing non-formal Adult Education and learning on European level. EAEA itself and many of its members have been engaged in development.
EAEA highly welcomes the initiative of the European Commission to start a policy dialogue about the concepts and the framework of the future development policy. In a period where the EU 2020 strategy provides a new vision for the next decade, development effort should be closely linked to this overall approach. From the perspective of the non-governmental Adult Education sector, the following aspects should be stressed:
The main focus of the GREEN PAPER is on economic growth. From our experience in Europe and beyond, we feel an urgent need for a more balanced approach, which reflects the request for a “inclusive and sustainable growth” not as one of several separated topics, but as the overarching aim for all development efforts. The danger of dividing societies into those who have and those who are excluded is virulent in all parts of the world. Economic growth alone does not eradicate poverty.
It is disappointing that education plays a minor role in the GREEN PAPER. “No development without education” should be a fundamental principle of the EU’s development policy. As it is a European reality since the Lisbon strategy, these efforts should be embedded into a Lifelong Learning approach, taking into account the right of every human being for education. EAEA would very much like to see the recognition of the power of Lifelong Learning and Adult Education for development. We cannot understand why a concept which was identified as a key factor for the future of Europe is totally ignored for Europe’s interaction with the global South. Lifelong Learning for the North and basic education for the South is not a sustainable vision. EAEA supports CONCORD’s call for a benchmark of 20 % for basic health and education, as well as the call of the “Belém Framework of Action” of UNESCO’s CONFINTEA VI conference on Adult Education to consider “new, and opening up existing, transnational funding programmes for literacy and Adult Education, along the lines of the actions taken under the EU Lifelong Learning Programme”.
We appreciate the intention of the Commission to coordinate Europe’s development activities. It would not only give Europe as the biggest donor globally a better visibility, but mainly avoid double structures and shape the engagement. It will clearly help recipient countries to manage the diversity of development projects and actors. However, coordination should not mean that projects should be managed or money should be delivered only through the Commission. As a civil society platform, we value very much a decentralised approach, based on the principles of subsidiarity. Many projects can be managed better in a dialogue with national or even regional ministries than with a centralised Brussels-based structure.
EAEA suggests a revision of the management tools used by the Commission today. We are highly sceptical of the existing bureaucratic procedures, which capture too much of the energy and resources in administrating projects. A special problem exists with regard to the numerous large scale projects, implemented within a tender procedure, which favour commercial consulting companies. Our partners from Africa, Asia and Latin America reported to us that many of these projects are implemented rather with a view on margins and profits for the implementing companies than on partnership, mutual understanding, capacity building and sustainability with the development counterparts. Unfortunately, this form of project design often excludes civil society actors.
The notion of “development education and awareness raising” should be replaced by a wider understanding of “global learning”. It is our task to set up a dialogue with the European citizens about the challenges of our interdependent worlds, the impact of globalisation and global warming. To develop an understanding of all living on one earth is the challenge, rather than to “gain the support of European citizens for development cooperation”, as the GREEN PAPER narrowly poses the question.
As stated in the Accra Agenda, civil society organisations from the North and South should play the important role of a watchdog, raising public awareness in both parts of the world for misuse of development funds. Adult Education actors do have a specific role in this setting, as they provide channels for dialogue with the population.
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