Education for All, in short EFA, which was proclaimed at the Dakar World Forum in 2000, is the common framework within which we currently look at developments in education, learning and training. There are six Dakar EFA goals directly linked to youth and adults, but just two of them provide a succinct summary: “3. ensuring that the learning needs of all young people and adults are met through equitable access to appropriate learning and life-skills programmes;” and “4. achieving a 50 per cent improvement in levels of adult literacy by 2015, especially for women, and equitable access to basic and continuing education for all adults.”
The EFA Global Monitoring Report is an attempt to provide the necessary follow-up by checking whether policies and programmes, people and participants, and national and international funding, are on track to achieve these goals. Every year a substantial compendium of up to 500 pages is published, assessing achievements and giving the best available data on the subject. There were reports on gender in 2003 and on quality in 2004, and now we have “Literacy for life”, which was presented to the public in November 2005. In it, we read of success stories, especially in respect of progress towards universal primary education, but completion of education for all seems to be much more difficult. We also learn about a reduction in the number of illiterate adults by 100 million, although this relies heavily on a fall of 94 million in China alone. So we still have 771 million illiterate young people and adults in the world, for whom programmes and provision are not yet adequate in either quantity nor quality. Readers will find more information at the website www.efareport.unesco.orgwhere reports can be accessed online, printed copies can be ordered in full or summary form, and the background papers written by experts from different perspectives can be read.
The first two sections of this issue of the journal look at literacy within the context of EFA and the Millenium Development Goals, the famous MDGs. Interestingly, some of our authors contributed to the EFA report, and they now assess how far we have come in respect of literacy and gender – “why girls can’t wait”. However, the debate on achieving the MDGs relates not only to gender and schooling, but also to the key issue of poverty reduction, which is not possible without the involvement of young people and adults, or without skills for and throughout life.
Capacity building – the training of adult educators in and outside universities – has been an important area of discussion for our partners, often together with this Institute. In preparation for a new phase of our “training of trainers programme” we have commissioned several case studies covering regions in Africa and Asia, we have held a major conference with partners in Cape Town, and we have organized two regional follow-up conferences in West and East Africa. All of these activities are currently being collated so that a report can be published in our series on International Perspectives in Adult Education. This can be accessed, and copies ordered, via our website.
The last issue presented several articles on adult education in Latin America, looking especially at recent developments in popular education. This time the discussion is taken a little further, into other important themes and additional countries.
It is now one year since the tsunami hit large parts of Asia, leaving vast areas destroyed, huge numbers of people dead, and others uprooted. We knew that adult education could play only a small role in re-building these societies, but we felt that we had to do whatever we could, together with our partners, to help people cope with the effects on their minds, to give them new hope, and to create educational and training opportunities. This issue contains reports on what has been done so far, although many more efforts are needed in the future.
Prof.(H) Dr. Heribert Hinzen