Heribert Hinzen

Prof.(H) Dr. Heribert Hinzen, Director of the IIZ/DW, gives a brief historical overview of the development of the ICAE, from the UNESCO International Conference of 1972 in Tokyo and the foundation of the ICAE in 1973, to the 7th World Assembly in January 2007, and high-lights key figures who have determined its history.

The Links between Julius K. Nyerere and the ICAE: From the First World Assembly in 1976 in Dares Salaam to the Next in 2007 in Nairobi

The 1972 UNESCO International Conference on Adult Education in Tokyo, the forerunners and successors of which took place in Helsingör in 1949 (the first), in Montreal in 1960, and then in Paris in 1985 and Hamburg in 1997 under the banner "The Right to Learn", brought together for the first time a large number of adult educators from non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and adult education associations alongside representatives of government. It was in Tokyo that the idea of establishing an International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) was first mooted, energetically proposed by the triumvirate of Roby Kidd from Canada, Helmuth Dolff from Germany and Paul Mhaiki from Tanzania. An ICAE was intended to combine the many voices of NGOs at national, regional and international level into one specialist body that would be heard at international level. The UNESCO Secretariat lent support and encouragement through the person of Paul Bertelson.

The ICAE was then formally set up in 1973, and the first Secretary was Roby Kidd, who established the headquarters of the Secretariat in Canada, where it remained for the first 30 years before moving to Uruguay. Delegates were invited to a first World Assembly in Dar es Salaam in 1976, where the President of Tanzania, Julius Nyerere, made a ground-breaking speech subsequently widely published as the Dar es Salaam Declaration under the titles "Adult education and development", "Development is for man, by man, and of man" and "Liberated man - the purpose of development". Nyerere became the first Honorary President of the ICAE, followed later by Paulo Freire.

This speech, which we reprint here, is an important historical document that is still completely relevant, stressing that "the first function of adult education is to inspire both the desire for change, and an understanding that change is possible". And since recognition and support are often meagre, it ends:

"But there is a saying that nothing which is easy is worth doing, and it could never be said that adult education is not worth doing! For it is the key to the development of free men and free societies. Its function is to help men to think for themselves to make their own decisions, and to execute these decisions for themselves."

The UNESCO General Assembly was held in Nairobi in that same year, 1976, and it adopted a set of Recommendations on adult education that are still worth reading. The influence of the NGOs and of the discussions at the Dar es Salaam World Assembly is unmistakable.

The ICAE plans to hold its next World Assembly in Nairobi in 2007, this time in association with the World Social Forum, in the aim of going "back to the roots" and recalling the historic Conference of Dar es Salaam. We take this opportunity to reprint the main outcomes of that Conference, partly as a tool for clarifying what has and what has not been achieved. In retrospect, the "Design for Action" reveals that changes have taken place in the meantime, although some problems have remained the same or similar. It is difficult to say whether adult education is really in any better situation.

Education According to Nyerere

Julius Kambarage (Rain Spirit) Nyerere (1922-1999) came from a rural background. His father was a minor chief, and he had 25 siblings. He was successful at school and university, where he studied history and economics. He became a teacher, and was politically involved in the anticolonial movement. He became the first President of Tanzania, which was created by the union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, an office which he held until he stepped down in 1985.

Nyerere wrote no books. But his many speeches fill several, especially his three-volume collection entitled "Freedom and Unity; Freedom and Socialism; Freedom and Development", which contains all his major politicy Statements up until 1972. These include "Ten Years after Independence", the "Arusha Declaration", "Socialism and Rural Development" and "Education for Self-Reliance".

In his speeches on education he dealt explicitly with school, university and adult education. In all these fields he stressed the vocational aspect. Schools needed to give children and young people skills, principally for work in agriculture: primary schooling should therefore Start at seven and last for some years, being complete in itself and not merely a means of selection for secondary schools. Universities must always provide preparation for a career.

One might perhaps say that he was not really thinking of an education System with four pillars, in which school, university, vocational and adult education were equal Partners that built on each other. Rather, he was calling throughout his writings for learning and knowledge to be of practical use in everyday life and work, as can be seen in his frequent use of the terms "purpose" and "function". Nonetheless, all of these fields were conceptually bracketed together, in what may be seen as an early vision of lifelong learning.

In his New Year addresses of 1969 and 1970, later published under the title "Education never ends" or "Education has no end", he stressed the importance of adult education as a crucial integral element of lifelong learning. He repeatedly said in his Speeches that "education is something that all of us should acquire from the time we are born until the time we die."

He gave particular attention to adult education: "The importance of adult education, both for our country and for every individual, cannot be over-emphasized". What other President or minister of education has ever said this as clearly? Its practical purpose was repeatedly stressed: adult education must motivate (adult) people, must give them training and orientation. But enough has already been said about the text - readers may check it for themselves.

However, it is worth pointing out that Nyerere valued universities, of-ten castigated in the post-colonial era as ivory towers, and expected them to support education and development. At first, Tanzania had no university of its own, Makerere College in Uganda serving all three countries in the East African Community. The University of Dares Salaam was formally inaugurated in 1970, and in his opening speech, "Relevance and Dares Salaam University", Nyerere spoke of what he saw as two great dangers and three important functions:

"... can we avoid the twin dangers, on the one hand, of considering our university in the light of some mythical 'international Standard) or, on the other hand, of forcing our university to look inwards and isolate itself from the world in which we live...A university is an Institution of higher learning; a place where people's minds are trained for clear thinking, for independent thinking, for analysis and problem solving at the highest level...a university has, in my opinion, three major and important social functions. From one generation to the next it transmits advanced knowledge, so that it can serve either as a basis for action, or as a spring-board for further research. Second, a university provides a centre for the attempt to advance the frontiers of knowledge: it does this by concentrating in one place some of the most intellectually able people who are not preoccupied by day-to-day administrative or professional responsibilities, and through its possession of good library and laboratory facilities. And third, a university provides, through its teaching, for the high-level manpower needs of the Society." (Nyerere1973, p. 192)

Until the end of his life, Nyerere fought for the cause of the Third World, pinpointing and attacking the injustices of the world as a member of the North-South Commission. His oft-quoted remarks such as "We must run while others walk", referring to the need of developing countries to catch up, or "The poor are still making the rich richer" linger in the memory.

The ICAE can be proud that Julius Nyerere was its first President. The speech that he gave in Dares Salaam in 1976 was a testament to his commitment to adult education and lifelong learning.

ICAE - A Global Lobbying Body for Adult Education

It is not out of nostalgia that we reprint the "Design for Action", or at least not purely on that account. Rather, this is an impressive Statement of the breadth and depth with which the 500 participants in the first ICAE World Assembly analysed the Situation of adult education and development, and formulated plans, programmes and projects to achieve the goals that were set.

For the first time, significant questions were raised about the role of national organizational NGOs in adult education, organizational issues were discussed, and funding options were examined. Alternative approaches to teaching were also considered, aims and contents were clarified, and the role of the media was debated. Readers may discover more about this for themselves.

Since then the ICAE has had a chequered history, which has not yet been fully recorded, although Budd Hall has done much in this direction. He worked at the Institute of Adult Education in Dar es Salaam in the early 1970s, and then moved to the ICAE in Toronto, taking over as General Secretary from Roby Kidd, remaining there until the early 1990s, shortly after the significant ICAE World Assembly in Thailand. Now, Paul Belanger is President and Celita Eccher is General Secretary. Convergence, published by the ICAE, is one of the most important adult education Journals in the world, while the electronic newsletter Voices Rising provides regular information for members and anyone else interested in global issues of adult education.

The regional associations ASPBAE (Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education), CEAAL (Latin American Council for Adult Education) and EAEA (European Association for the Education of Adults) are now important pillars that can provide Support for the ICAE. The associations covering Africa, North America and the Caribbean, on the other hand, are not yet as well developed and have not emerged clearly as leading forces in their respective regions.

Even during the most difficult years, the ICAE has always taken significant initiatives: through position papers (as in the case of the Delors Commission) it has raised the profile of adult education as an equal partner with the other areas of education, it has related adult education and poverty reduction more closely to one another through its involvement in the World Social Forum, and it began early on to provide initial and continuing training through IALLA summer courses for the next generation of younger people who will assume responsibility for adult education.

The next ICAE World Assembly will be held early in 2007 in Nairobi. The document printed here shows the direction in which the discussions should go. The work is being prepared thematically by ten commissions focusing on adult education as both a social movement and a specialist profession. The first documents from the commissions are already circulating and are published in Voices Rising (www.icae.org.uy).

The Midterm Review preparing the way for Confintea VI, the next UNESCO International Conference on Adult Education, was held in Bangkok in 2003. Perhaps the most significant document there was the "ICAE Report. Agenda for the Future Six Years Later". This might be described as an example of an education watch or global monitoring by the civil society of the extent to which the right to learn through adult education has truly been extended to all. Much progress was observed in relation to literacy, environmental education and health education. However, as the indicators show, we are still a long way from meeting targets:

"...the Report has been able to substantiate both the limited achievements and the important shift that must take place if the right to learn throughout life for all and a tool for participatory development [are to be achieved]. With such uneven advancements in universal literacy and in opportunities for adults to have access to full basic education for all adults, with such a low level of cover-age of programmes in relation to the total population, especially for the deprived groups, we are still far from accomplishing the CONFINTEA V and Dakar goals for adults." (ICAE 2003, p 127)

The way in which the ICAE sees its new role can be seen clearly from this education watch approach:

"It is ICAE's mandate and public responsibility to inform world public opinion on the necessity to Support individual and collective empowerments of humanity: the best tool to build another possible world... With this report, a process of systematic 'watch' on development of the right to learn of adults and on a sustainable and equitable development of collective intelligence has already started." (p 128)

The adult education movement is rapidly heading for the next CONFINETA VI, which will be held in 2009 in either Brazil or South Africa. Regional preparatory Conferences will take place in 2008. We need to be prepared for this process, professionally and organizationally. The Nairobi World Assembly is thus an important milestone in a wide-ranging series of Conferences. These include the German Adult Education Conference of May 2006, the Montevideo Conference of July 2006 and the China Conference of October 2006, which had differing purposes and thematic emphases but all led towards the next CONFINETA.


Hall, Budd L. / J. Roby Kidd (Eds.) (1978): Adult learning: A design for action. Oxford: Pergamon Press

Hinzen, H. / V.H. Hundsdörfer, (Eds.) (1979): Education for Liberation and Development. The Tanzanian Experience. Hamburg: Unesco Institute for Education, London: Evans Brothers

ICAE (1994): Adult Education and lifelong learning: Issues, concerns and recommendations. Submission to the International Commission on Education and Learning for the Twenty-First Century. In: Adult Education and Development, 43, p 418-424

ICAE (2003): Agenda for the Future Six Years Later. Montevideo: ICAE

Nyerere, J.K. (1966): Freedom and Unity/ Uhura na Umoja. Aselection from writings and speeches 1952-1965. Dares Salaam etc.: Oxford University Press

Nyerere, J.K. (1968): Freedom and Socialism/ Uhura na Ujamaa. Aselection from writings and speeches 1965-1967. Dares Salaam etc.: Oxford University Press

Nyerere, J.K. (1973): Freedom and Development / Uhuru na Maendeleo. A selection from writings and speeches 1968-1973. Dares Salaam etc.: Oxford University Press

Mayo, P. (2001): Julius K. Nyerere (1922-1999) and Education - a tribute. In: International Journal of Educational Development, 21, p 193-202.

Smith, K. Mark (1998): Julius Nyerere, lifelong learning, informal education. www.infed.org