CONFINTEA

Workshop on Theme 10:
Enhancing International Cooperation and Solidarity

Report and Recommendations from the Workshop on Theme 10:
Enhancing International Cooperation and Solidarity

The more than 30 members of the Theme 10 review were not buoyant about progress since CONFINTEA V. The situation is bleak, mainly because of the impact of the negative aspects of globalism in its economic and political manifestations (widening poverty gaps, 9/11, the war on terrorism). As a result adult and nonformal education (ANFE) is not obviously flourishing. It is often still marginalised and displaced by competing priorities in a context of competitive sectoral thinking. Failure of a collaborative and whole-of-government approach is a multi-layered problem. Five negatives are summarised as schizophrenia within the World Bank and other institutions over ANFE/lifelong learning; ‘elitisation’ of ANFE; bureaucratization; failures of implementation; and failure of interagency cooperation. There is no room for ‘more of the same’. A breakthrough is essential.

The invisibility of ANFE implies a call for EfAA (Education for All Adults). The tension between embedding ANFE into all international collaboration programmes and its invisibility and under-resourcing is unresolved. Planning for sustainability is short-cycle (e.g. 3 years) whereas many trends and learning cycles span 20 years or more (for example World Bank swings for and away from ANFE; addressing the AE and poverty connection).

There is also continuing essential solidarity, optimism and collaborative struggle across agencies and levels; and unresolved dialogue to be had between NGOs and social movements. Dichotomies between children and adults, formal and nonformal, government and NGOs/ CSOs, must be transcended in building integrative partnerships. Strong States are needed to ‘hold the ring’ for the celebration and support of diversity. An abiding test of success and well-being remains the situation of the poorest and most marginalised in all societies.

Bright spots include the fresh and open approach of JICA, the breadth of approach of the EU, and the willingness of the World Bank to reconsider its stance on ANFE. In making priority recommendations for the coming period, the great diversity of purposes of international cooperation must be recognised (e.g. European enlargement or North-South partnerships). Confusion and corruption of language require unswerving vigilance.

The Hamburg Agenda and commitments for Cooperation remain important and unfulfilled. New urgencies include its emphasis on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as the key guide to promote international cooperation, solidarity, and the culture of peace, also respect for diversity. It committed to treating adult learning as a tool for development, and assessing all projects in terms of their contribution to adult learning and priority given to local expertise. The meeting recommended strengthening this to require that a mandatory lifelong learning dimension be built into every development initiative.

The Agenda called for strengthening national, regional and global cooperation, organisations and networks of adult learning, especially inter-agency and inter-sectoral cooperation and network development, and creating a good environment for international cooperation. The meeting calling for a whole-of-government approach and for effective collaboration between agencies to ensure that adult learning is embedded in all programmes. It stressed multi-layering in collecting, sharing, disseminating and learning form our experience, success and failures, and dialogue and policy coherence between professionals in departments responsible for education and development cooperation within each agency/government. More bottom-up participation is required.

The meeting also resolved on the following additional priorities for action.

  • To adopt specific forms of inter-regional as well as intra- regional knowledge sharing, and to put an end to the separation between lifelong learning for a knowledge society in the North and literacy and ANFE for the South, treating these as an integrated spectrum for all societies and equally valuing and sharing local experience, knowledge and wisdom wherever these are generated.

  • To argue for higher priority to be given to ANFE, while ensuring reciprocity and reinforcement between the learning of children and of adults.

  • To work to longer time frames for projects and for capacity building and sustainability.

  • To find more effective means of converting policy initiatives for cooperation into sustained action, reflecting the energy of social movements from beneath and the exercise of political will from above.

To support a sequence of activities building capability for international cooperation and learning as follows:

  • A study of experiences in enhancing cooperation, partnership and solidarity in adult education, learning and training on the lines of the tabled draft Terms of Reference (TOR)

  • An observatory for a continuing process of monitoring and learning, including its use for

  • An online debate to support an active exchange on these issues, which is more open and democratic than an international conference limited to a few senior members, leading to

  • A policy dialogue between all the major donors and players including multi-laterals and NGOs to critique the outcomes of this work in face-to-face conference in 2004 or 2005, and also contributing to

  • A better and more useful questionnaire to go to Member States for Confintea VI in 2009 than was prepared and used in the preparation for Confintea V.

In view of the urgency to strengthen cooperation and give new priority to ANFE and education for all adults, Confintea V + 6 is urged to forward an Executive Summary from this meeting to Member States in time to inform the October General Conference Mid-Term Review and Plan for 2004-2009, in preparation for Confintea VI in 2009.