Developments 2007 – 2008

Once again, in keeping with the practice we initiated some years ago, we are publishing an activity report that provides an overview of DVV International’s goals, methods, work focuses, and partners, as well as a summary of our activities during the preceding two years. Despite the rapid pace of global developments and the profound changes that are taking place on local and national levels, we choose to issue a biennial rather than an annual report considering the continuity that characterizes the work of DVV International in terms of its objectives and its collaboration with its partners. The practice reflects our conviction that it requires patience, perseverance, and time to master challenges of the type facing our partners in their work.

Origin and Tasks

DVV International got its start forty years ago as a separate unit of the German Adult Education Association (DVV). From the very beginning, the function of this Depart ment for Developing Countries (Fachstelle für Entwicklungsländer) was to draw on decades of experience in German adult education and to assist partners in other countries where the need for adult education was just as great as in Germany, but where conditions for its development were far more difficult.

Over the years, DVV International has become a major instrument of development cooperation and a key player in the arena of international adult education. It is a reliable partner for adult education providers which lack sufficient resources of their own and are accordingly in need of support. But it is also a leading advocate for the field in general in the constant struggle to maintain a place for adult education in the broader context of evolving education policy.

This course of development has only been possible because the Institute itself has always been able to count on the support of an effective network of partners. Among those partners are the Volkshochschulen, Germany’s public adult education centres, many of which have a strong international commitment characterized by openness to other countries and cultures and interest in the issues and difficulties facing the people who live there. They have consistently supported the Institute’s international work. They have facilitated exchanges and training programmes for adult educators from all over the world. With a wide range of creative and interest ing programmes, they continually seek to increase public awareness on develop ment issues and generate understanding for the vital importance of the sustainable and peaceful development of our one world. In like manner, support from DVV International has also been a necessary instrument for the Volkshochschulen in the implementation of their commitment.

The decisive factor for the development of DVV International, however, has always been the support it has received from the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. This will be discussed in greater detail at a later point in our report.

Partners have changed over the years, and the shape and content of international cooperation differs from what it was forty years ago. But the Institute’s essential task remains the same: helping partners throughout the world build sustainable structures of adult education that empower people to improve their lives and in crease their autonomy.

The radical transformations that came with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of “real socialism” in the late 1980s and early 1990s opened up new areas of activity for the work of the Institute. The events were regarded by most as the liberation of Central and Eastern Europe. At the same time, the countries formerly under Soviet control experienced a drastic shift in the perception of fur ther training. It was suddenly no longer considered the responsibility of the state to provide training for its citizens so as to ensure their integration within the social system. Adult education became a matter that was regarded as best left to market forces. That meant a new set of conditions for learners. There were no regular programmes of continuing education and vocational training, nor any standards or controls to guarantee the quality of further training. Providers came to be governed by the “profit principle”, which excluded many people from access to qualified training programmes. Even the traditional providers that had managed to survive the transformation process found themselves obliged to mobilize resources to cover their operation costs. As older qualifications no longer met the needs of the changing labour market, these providers faced the dilemma of delivering quality, cost-effective programmes while at the same time remaining open and accessible for everyone who needed training.

In response to this situation, DVV International provided support to ensure public responsibility for continuing education and further training. It assisted its Central and Eastern European partners in the mobilization of advocacy efforts to influence educational policy and legislation so as to secure the place of continuing educa tion and further training in public budgets. It helped providers of adult education organize themselves into associations. It supported their capacity building and training measures to prepare executive-level staff in the design and development of training programmes suited to meet the needs of the labour market. It facilitated training for instructors in the use of modern teaching methods. And it stepped up its efforts to promote networking among European providers of continuing education and training.

This final point is particularly important in view of still another very substantial change facing the adult education and training sector, a change which, in turn, has significant bearing on the work of DVV International. The continuing education and training sector, namely, can no longer develop exclusively within a national context according to national criteria. The field is becoming increasingly globalized and internationalized, particularly in Europe, because of the normative power of the European Commission and its education policy requirements, as well as its promotional programmes such as Leonardo da Vinci, Socrates, and Grundtvig.

Guiding Principles for the Work of DVV International

DVV International is worldwide the only organization in the sphere of international cooperation that is exclusively devoted to the promotion of adult education and life long learning. This sets it apart from donor organizations and makes it a respected partner not only for the dependable support it lends to adulteducation in concrete, mutually agreed arrangements, or for its dedicated advocacy work in the interest of continuing educa tion on the national, regional, and global level, but also for its expertise as a specialist in the field. The work of DVV International is guided by prin ciples that were formulated and agreed upon by the Association many years ago and that still retain their fundamental validity today

Adult Education Development Cooperation

For DVV International, adult education is not a narrowly defined field restricted to formal learning situations in which knowledge and know-how are passed on in traditional manners from people who have learning to others who do not. It is rather an all-encompassing area that includes every formal, non-formal, and informal learning process that takes place as people strive to shape and improve their lives. Very often it occurs in structured learning situations involving the teaching and learning of knowledge or skills of the type that satisfies the minimum requirements of a basic education – in foreign language or computer science courses, example given, or in courses that teach the letters of an alphabet, or the basic history of a people or a nation. Learning can also take place, however, as the members of a community organize projects in the interest of their own progress – in the planning and building of a water supply system or school, for instance, or the organiza tion of combined efforts to purchase basic staples, market agricultural produce, or plan a savings cooperative. Such projects involve countless learning processes in every conceivable area of cognitive and affective learning. Individuals acquire knowledge and become acquainted with social processes. They learn how to take action, make decisions, recognize problems, find solutions, and much more. Learning of this type stems from the need on the part of individuals to improve their own existence. It is the best guarantee that the skills and know-how acquired in the process will be assimilated, practiced, and put to use. It ensures the kind of learn ing that is tailored to the needs of the learners as defined by their particular living situation. In this process, people require assistance and support of the type of that non-government organizations are best suited to provide – the type that respects and does not compromise their autonomy. This is the kind of informal learning that is fostered in the concept of “Educación Popular” as developed and practiced especially in Latin America. In Africa, learning methods that grow from community interests have been systematized in the so-called “REFLECT” concept that is being successfully used in numerous projects.

This broad understanding of adult education implies a similarly broad spectrum of focuses in the work of DVV International. Considering that the problems tackled in our partnerships are the kind that require long-term solutions, the areas on which our projects concentrate have changed little over the years. New focuses are only necessary and appropriate where they serve the needs of learners in their efforts to improve their lives and livelihood.

Accordingly, we continue to concentrate our efforts on

  • basic and in-service training for adult educators
  • the development of curricula for university careers in adult education and upgrading the professional qualifications of teaching personnel through distance education
  • the organization of national and international conferences around technical or professional aspects and policy issues in adult education
  • the design, production, distribution, and application of printed, audio-visual, and electronic publications, documentations, and learning media
  • the strengthening of the institutional and material infrastructure of partner organizations
  • grassroots work to improve living situations in urban and rural areas by providing learning opportunities in essential areas such as basic education and health
  • vocational training and promotion of cooperative forms of work to improve income situations
  • community development as an integral approach to adult education encompassing the spheres of family, health, farming, crafts, trades, and culture
  • dialogue and experience exchange among adult educators on local, national, and regional levels, and
  • civic education, particularly intercultural education, conflict resolution, and education for tolerance.

Over the past two years, DVV International has stepped up its lobbying efforts. While continuing to support the advocacy work of its partners, especially the regional adult education associations, it has also expanded its own advocacy efforts, in particular within the framework of national and regional Preparatory Conferences which are paving the way for the 6th UNESCO World Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) that is scheduled to take place in Brazil in 2009. Further education and training, and non-formal and general continuing education in particular, still do not enjoy priority status anywhere in the world. Consequently, it is crucial for adult education organizations and associations to rally on behalf of the sector, especially now, at a time when governments will be called upon to make commitments at the coming World Conference.

It is a fundamental part of the philosophy of DVV International cooperation to hon our the principles of partnership. Unlike many types of international cooperation, our modus operandi is not to conduct our own projects or to impose our ideas on our partners, but rather to support our partners in the planning and implementation of their project activities, and to respect their ideas and opinions without disregard of our own criteria. This is also a requirement of sustainability considering that no measures can be expected to have a lasting impact unless our partners and focus groups fully identify with the aims of the projects and the strategies followed to achieve them.

A critical element of cooperation in practice is the commitment on the part of each partner to recognise the equal value of the other. A partnership of the type concerned here consists, on the one hand, of the organization in need of help, support, and, above all, financial resources, in return for which it is prepared to comply with the wishes and requirements of its potential sponsor. On the other hand, there is the sponsoring organization that can mobilize the required resources, but that naturally also sets the terms and conditions – terms and conditions that often enough are not its own, but rather those imposed by the bodies from which it, in turn, procures the funds.

Finding the right balance between condition-free funding and allocations that are distributed according to a fixed and detailed plan in which the partner is merely instrumentalized to carry out a project of the sponsor’s design is – and has always been – a difficult process that requires a great deal of sensitivity and tact.

As a result of increased calls in recent years for transparent planning and measurable results based on stated objectives and performance indicators in the application, monitoring, and reporting processes, it has become even more difficult to maintain truly horizontal partnerships and to ensure that our partners participate fully in project planning and implementation. DVV International is a valued partner throughout the world last not least because we have always tried to keep this bal ance while at the same time maintaining high standards for precision and compli ance once a common agenda has been developed and contractually secured.

A relationship based on mutual trust and reliability is essential for cooperation in this type of partnership. It is characteristic for DVV International to allow sufficient time for us to become well acquainted with potential partners before entering con tractual arrangements. Once the basis for a solid partnership has been established, however, our commitments are long-term. As a rule, our agreements are designed not merely to lend assistance for separate measures, but rather to accompany proc esses that develop and evolve as the cooperation process progresses.

Funding Sources

Mutual trust and reliability are essential qualities not only in the relationship be tween DVV International and its partners, but also between DVV International and its funding agencies, the most important of which continues to be the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). All signs indicate that the BMZ will remain the main funding source of our work in the future, provided that the field of international cooperation does not experience drastic reductions in funding in the wake of the current financial crisis. The level of trust which the BMZ places in our work has to be constantly maintained and renewed. We discuss our medium and long-range plans at regular meetings with Ministry officials, and are grateful for their feedback and perceptions. Our participation in the Social Structure Working group gives us further opportunities for dialogue with the BMZ.

Although we continue to count on consistent financial support from the BMZ, this source alone does not suffice for DVV International to secure stable operations and develop its work in the field. As DVV International does not receive any institutional support, the extent of its resources heavily depends on the prevailing political climate. Austerity measures directly influence the volume of available funding and consequently the number of commitments that DVV International can assume in its cooperation with international partners. Reliability towards our partners requires us to ensure a stable budget and to diversify our financial base so that we can cushion or even offset shortfalls and at the same time retain sufficient liquidity to take on responsibilities that cannot be financed with conventional BMZ subsidies.

For many years the German Foreign Office was a source of funds for DVV Inter national, in particular to support the international exchange programmes for adult educators that are sponsored by the Volkshochschulen and their regional associa tions. In a policy shift at the Foreign Office two years ago, such measures were regrettably reclassified as falling outside the Foreign Office’s concept of foreign cultural work. The determination all but excluded adult education from the priority areas of German foreign cultural and education policy. Recently, however, the Foreign Office has tempered its stand, particularly considering that in a medium-term perspective it is totally inconceivable for German foreign cultural and educa tional policy to disregard the work of the Volkshochschulen, the largest provider of continuing education in Germany with their extensive network of international contacts. Accordingly, the Foreign Office once again occupies a place on our list of potential and actual funding sources.

Recognizing the broad impact that the work of the Volkshochschulen and the adult education organizations in our partner countries have by reaching a wide range of focus groups, and not merely society’s elite, the Foreign Office has granted DVV International funds within the context of its Africa initiative to support a number of activities conducted by a certain few Volkshochschulen in partnerships with select African organizations.

In addition to our continued negotiations with the Foreign Office, we are seeking to sensitize the members of the Cultural and Education Committee of the German Parliament to the importance for Germany to encourage and support not just academic or artistic activities abroad, but also mutual interchange and learning between the citizens of our country and those of others so as to build and strengthen better and more durable relations between peoples of different cultures. The Ger man Volkshochschulen can significantly contribute to the achievement of this aim.

For initiatives within the framework of the Stability Pact Agreements for South Eastern Europe and Central Asia, DVV International was also able to secure funds from a special budget allocated by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development to the Foreign Office. The subsidies help to support projects conducted by partners in South Eastern Europe as well as in Afghanistan.

A number of opportunities provided by favourable constellations have led to positive results. A literacy training and basic education programme commissioned by the government of Guinea, example given, is being conducted very successfully with funds from the World Bank. And with funds from the Netherlands provided through the Dutch embassy in Ethiopia, DVV International’s regional office in Addis Ababa has been able to subsidize an effective long-range project for the education and empowerment of women.

Procuring funds from outside sources is becoming increasingly important for the work of DVV International. At present the European Union is financing projects in a number of countries to build civil society structures and organizations, to anchor democracy, and to promote the development of continuing education structures. In many cases, the European Union awards so-called service contracts to qualified organizations by way of competitive tender. As a rule, organizations interested in entering such contracts form a consortium and take part in the tendering process as a group. For the most part, participating organizations are commercially-oriented consulting companies which are in the tender business for profit. This notwithstand ing, DVV International has also begun to systematically participate in such tenders as a consortium partner or leader. Its aim in doing so is not to boost its income, but to increase the range and impact of its efforts in the various countries. Working for profit is not compatible with the statutes of the German Adult Education Associa tion. As a service organization that does not operate for profit, the Association’s public benefit is subject to regular evaluation and certification by the responsible fiscal authorities.

Funding by the European Union from the programmes of the Directorate General for Education and Culture is sporadic and granted on a case-to-case basis. Much has been written about the advantages and disadvantages of these programmes. Despite all the cumbersome bureaucracy involved, they are relevant for DVV Interna tional, if only because of the chance they offer for partners in Central and Eastern Europe to participate in Europe-wide networks.

Many of our partners are meanwhile very proficient at negotiating with the Com mission and have pursued applications very successfully both as lead organizations and project partners. However, organizations from a number of European countries remain excluded from the possibility of participating in European partnerships. Belarus, Russia, Ukraine, Moldavia, Albania, Macedonia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan or Turkey would beeager to participate in European-wide cooperation, since they share the European Union’s conviction about the value of lifelong learning. And yet, either they are not eligible to participate, or they would need to finance their participation on their own – with resources that they simply do not have. This leaves a tremendous gap in the structure of European education. Support to national governments in the development of vocational training and further education structures within the context of service contracts alone will not suffice to bridge that gap.

Partner Countries and Organizations

Developing countries remain the focus of DVV International’s international cooperation. The largest amount of financial assistance from our overall budget goes to Africa, where the Institute has three regional projects that cover Southern, Eastern, and Western Africa. In addition, the greater part of the Institute’s budget for the sectoral project “Initial and in-service training for adult educators” is allocated to African partners. DVV International also collaborates in two projects that are not funded by the Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development: one in Guinea, where the Institute organizes literacy and basic education work with World Bank funds, and the other in Ethiopia, where a nationwide programme for the empowerment of women is being implemented with funds from the Netherlands.


Source: DVV International


In the region of Latin America, our partners in Chile and Argentina are meanwhile in a position to carry on their work without our support, and the partnerships are accordingly in the process of winding up operations. Already in the two years covered by this report, our work has mainly concentrated on the regional Central American project and on the project in Bolivia. Cooperation with Cuban partners, although on a significantly smaller scale, is particularly significant with a view toward possibilities for cooperation in the future.

The expansion of our cooperation in Asia is currently in the preparation stage. In 2009 we will be opening a DVV International office in charge of a regional project there.

In Europe we are in the process of phasing out arrangements of cooperation in countries that meanwhile belong to the European Union. This in part is unfortunate considering how many people in the new member states, especially in rural areas, still do not benefit from the positive developments. On the other hand, through sources such as the European Social Fund, these countries now have considerable more financial support for their development than was previously available to them. Under these circumstances, a continuation of bilateral support no longer seems justified, especially considering the enormous need for support that exists in other countries and parts of the world.

DVV International cooperates with both national and non-government institutions and organizations. Creativity, social commitment, and a strong sense of community on the part of civil society organizations have always been a valuable basis for the development and implementation of socially-oriented concepts and projects. Only government agencies, however, can guarantee nationwide provision and create the basic legal conditions for further training. DVV International works together with universities in the development of training programmes for adult educators and further education research. In the area of education policy, DVV International cooperates with other continuing education organizations as well as with national and regional adult education associations. Moreover, when it comes to organ izing regional and global adult education conferences, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) can always count on our collaboration. Our list of partners would not be complete without mentioning the national agencies of the European Union, both in Germany and in our partner countries. We and our partners share many interests with these agencies above and beyond our direct participation in European Union projects.

DVV International Project Activities


Developing Countries

In developing countries, adult education continues to be understood as a means to combat poverty. All over the world, the gap between rich and poor is widening. Neoliberal recipes intended to bring about growth and prosperity may have led to wealth for some, but they have not benefited the broader masses of society. On the contrary, the privatisation and commercialization of commodities – and even of such vital resources as water, gas, and electricity – have meant that large sectors of the population are no longer able to afford the basic essentials of life. Another social tragedy that rarely receives attention is the patenting and monopolization of seeds. Seeds belong to the basic tools of traditional agriculture. Since the beginning of civilization, farmers have been breeding and improving seeds and saving them from one crop to plant the next. Denying small farmers the right to save seeds for replanting threatens their food security.

It is common knowledge that more than a billion people in the world have no access to clean drinking water, that diseases such as malaria are increasing at alarming rates, that millions of people lack access to treatment for AIDS because of the exorbitant cost of appropriate medicines, that agricultural subsidies in Europe and the USA are responsible for swamping Africa’s food markets with surpluses and destroying domestic production in the process, that oceans are being depleted of fish, that rainforests are shrinking, and that deserts and arid steppes are expand ing. As climate changes become more visible and natural disasters accelerate, the poorest are hit the hardest. And as the number of wars and armed conflicts keeps climbing, more and more people are left uprooted and caught in the cycle of poverty.

This report does not intend to offer a comprehensive analysis of the world situ ation or identify causes and consequences of global issues. But the basic social conditions that provide the setting for continuing education and training are obvi ous. Large parts of the population are obliged to live in precarious conditions. The search even for partial solutions to their plight is difficult. It requires major efforts to help people in their fight for survival, to make it easier for them to master their crises, to enable them to gain new perspectives. We have always said that adult education is not a universal panacea for the world’s problems, but that no dura ble solutions are conceivable without learning of the type that proceeds from the needs that people experience where they live and work, that involves the learners throughout the entire process, and, in so doing, empowers them to master their lives on their own.

Adult education in every form that it occurs is therefore a lifelong necessity. It includes possibilities to obtain formal school-leaving equivalency certification as well as vocational and livelihood training in techniques of a trade or the basics of running a small shop or a home-based business. Learning about nutrition and healthcare in conditions of poverty is just as important as learning the skills needed to organize mutual neighbourhood support schemes or community action. Learning to define and publicly defend personal and collective interests is relevant if com mitment to participation in community development is expected to amount to more than just lip service. It is important everywhere to empower people in general, and women in particular, to play their role in social development.

Adult educators must be trained to carry out the tasks of socially-oriented educa tion in an integrated approach and with suitable methods. Training programmes in the field need to be professionalized. Appropriate teaching materials have to be developed, and workshops and classrooms outfitted. Local and national education policy must be shaped to ensure the availability of facilities and resources for learn ers to learn and instructors to teach. All this makes the work of DVV International and its partners in developing countries vast and varied.


Serious deficits exist in Africa’s education systems. Most of the continent’s countries will not succeed in meeting the basic targets of the “Education for All” initiative (EFA) that were set at the World Forum in Dakar, Senegal in 2000. Millions of African children are excluded from education. There are far too few vocational training facilities, and a university education is still out of the question for most of the population.

Very little attention is given to the promotion and development of adult educa tion. Many governments, and even donor organizations, still fail to recognize the significant role that non-formal education can play in fostering development. As a result, it is often left to civil society organizations to provide at least rudimentary non-formal learning opportunities.

The work of DVV International in Africa is subdivided into four separate projects according to region – Northern, Western, Eastern, and Southern Africa. Regional offices under the direction of adult education specialists, who are responsible for developing the work concept in each of the respective regions and overseeing the implementation of project activities, are maintained in Conakry, Addis Ababa, and Cape Town. Our project in North Africa is in the initial stages of development.

In Western Africa the Institute’s project serves the French-speaking countries of Guinea, Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad. The project office covering this region, which has been operating in Conakry since 1999, has two primary fo cuses:

  • literacy instruction combined with training of skills for livelihood and income generation, and
  • community prefect training and citizen-awareness building to strengthen participation in local autonomy.

It is not uncommon for African men to lead a migrant life in search of work in mining districts and urban areas. As a result, many African women are left on their own to secure the survival of their families. In response to this situation, programmes that offer livelihood training and activities geared to generating income are frequently designed specifically for women.

Basic and further training of adult educators and social facilitators in francophone Africa is the main focus of our co-operation with partners in Benin and Burkina Faso. Mali is the seat of a network of organizations that work with the REFLECT method. The work in Chad concentrates on supporting self-help groups. Our 25-year-long partnership with NGOs, ministries and universities in Sierra Leone was brought to a close during the reporting period.

Workshop in Bandiagora, Mali

Workshop in Bandiagora, Mali 

Source: DVV International


The DVV International office in Addis Ababa is responsible for coordinating activi ties with our Eastern Africa project. It works together with partners in Ethiopia and Uganda. Ethiopia, one of the Institute’s oldest partner countries, was among the first countries from which adult educators participated in a one-year adult education diploma course at the German Adult Education Association’s Residential Volks hochschule, Göhrde. By 1973 and 1974, further training seminars were already being conducted in Ethiopia itself. Today the project focuses on the promotion of non-formal basic education programmes, practical training at community training centres, and initial and inservice training for specialized educators in various spheres, including on the university level.

A crucial factor in the fight against poverty is training in livelihood skills, i.e. teaching people the know-how and skills they require to produce or acquire the food, water, clothing, and shelter they need for survival. In Ethiopia, one of the poor est countries of the world, this approach is relatively new. The livelihood-centred concept supported by DVV International proceeds from, but also expands on, the cultivation of basic reading and writing skills, the traditional approach to literacy training that is still commonly practiced in Ethiopia. The idea is to make literacy learning “functional” by combining it with the learning of practical skills that allow people to secure their livelihood.

After lengthy negotiations with the Ethiopian government, an agreement has been concluded to implement a nationwide programme of women’s empowerment. Funded with resources from the Netherlands, the programme seeks to capacitate women to take action on their own behalf and to provide them with opportunities to improve their livelihood skills.

Our efforts in Uganda focus mainly on the fortification of an adult education system that seeks to improve the living situation of the country’s citizens by secur ing their basic needs and enabling them to improve their income. Especially in the area of literacy training, the initiative has model character and enjoys international recognition. DVV International supports the Functional Adult Literacy Programme (FAL), which mainly benefits women, and the Uganda Adult Education Network (UGAADEN), which represents the different voices and interests of the adult educa tion sector in Uganda. By fortifying the efforts of NGOs, the Institute helps them demonstrate the valuable contribution that non-formal learning can make toward enriching the national system of Universal Primary Education (UPE) and Universal Secondary Education (USE).

Cape Town, the seat of our regional office for the countries of Southern Africa, cooperates with partners in South Africa, Angola, Lesotho, and Madagascar.

Southern African basic education programmes generally do not place special emphasis on the rural population, the poor, and people affected by HIV/AIDS, as is the case in a holistic approach to adult education. The stress in basic education schemes is rather on the attainment of elementary and secondary schooling equiva lency certificates with a strong focus on the urban sector population. To address the lack of coverage in these vital areas, DVV International cooperates directly with the teaching and administrative staff members of adult education institutions, NGOs, universities, and umbrella organizations.

Our main partner in South Africa is the Adult Learning Network (ALN) with its seven provincial associations. ALN is one of the country’s largest providers of education services, and is meanwhile registered in this capacity with the South African Education and Training Authority (SETA).

Through intensive lobbying efforts in the form of debates, workshops, and demon strations for a holistic approach to adult education in South Africa, ALN has called public attention to the lack of provision in the area of adult basic education and training. Existing programmes in South Africa can only satisfy a small part of the demand for education on the part of the country’s adult population. Since 2006, ALN has provided 600 social workers with training in a programme commissioned by the Western Cape Provincial Government and developed with assistance from DVV International.

An extensive national literacy training programme was launched in 2008 with the expectation of reaching approximately 7.5 million functional illiterates. ALN is helping to plan the content and the structure of this mass campaign.

Between 1995 and 2000, DVV International maintained its own project office in Angola. During this period, one of the main goals was to build an effective system of adult education with capable providers and qualified instructors. Since January 2001, after closing its project office in Luanda, DVV International has been supporting its partners in Angola directly through its headquarters in Bonn. The Institute supports functional literacy programmes, civic education, health education, and ecology education as well as the development of learning materials and the production and broadcasting of educational radio programmes. Special attention is given to AIDS prevention, gender issues, and environmental education.

Our cooperation in Lesotho concentrates on support for the Lesotho Association of Non-Formal Education (LANFE). LANFE organizes regular training workshops to build the capacity of its member organizations and offers courses in practical skills in the various regions of the country. It also maintains a fund to provide members with micro loans for investments intended to secure their income.

In 1987, DVV International began cooperating with partners in Madagascar. It has maintained a small office in the country staffed by a national team of Malagasy adult educators since 1996. Support through this office concentrates mainly on the training of adult education trainers, functional literacy activities for adults, and the production of educational material.

Southern and Southeastern Asia and the Pacific

In the Asia-Pacific region, DVV International supports model approaches to educa tion geared to adults, and to disadvantaged sectors of the population in particular. Fostering and strengthening self-help groups is a central focus of our work. Self-help groups are emerging in many areas in an effort to combat ignorance, suppression, injustice, poverty, and environmental degradation, but also to empower people to formulate their own definition of development and participation, to represent their common interests, and to translate their aspirations and demands into action. Pro moting women-specific projects and supporting ethnic minorities also have high pri ority for our partner organizations in India, Nepal, the Philippines, and Indonesia. Assistance from DVV International is channelled into income-generating measures, lobbying efforts, and the elaboration of diverse materials for a wide range of focus groups to enhance information and facilitate teaching and learning.

A process of networking among adult education organizations in the various project countries has facilitated arrangements of cooperation that are serving needs well beyond local arenas. This applies in particular to DVV International’s partner, the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE), a network of adult education organizations which is active throughout the region. International col laboration fostered by ASPBAE is yielding positive results across national borders and is contributing significantly toward engaging civil society organizations in regional education policy discourse leading up to the Sixth International Confer ence on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) organized by UNESCO.

Our partners in India work primarily together with underprivileged and margin alized groups. The Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) is engaged in fostering self-help initiatives, processes of democratization, and community development in general. It also addresses specific concerns such as job-related health care and environmental issues. Besides providing training measures and advisory services, and conducting research and lobbying activities, PRIA has developed a network of support organizations that provide educational offerings suited to the particular conditions of the communities they serve. Other partners in India include the Organization for Development Education (UNNATI), the Centre for Collective Learning and Action (SAHAYI) and the Centre for Women and Education (NIRANTAR).

In Nepal, DVV International provides the women’s NGO DidiBahini with assist ance for a project entitled “Political Empowerment of Women through Development Education”. The project seeks to help disadvantaged women organize themselves into groups, and to prepare them through training to assume village and district leadership roles, in particular as members of village and district development committees.


Source: DVV International


The most important tasks in which we collaborate with our partners in the Philip pines and in Indonesia include educational measures for the members of self-help groups, community development, health care programmes, development of small businesses and savings and credit cooperatives, training to develop the executive ability of young women, organic farming, conflict management, intercultural dia logue, and environmental education. Here, as well, women are the main benefici aries of project activities. The approach used by DVV International and its partners corresponds completely with the changing paradigms in the Philippine education system. In a new and broader approach to education, a concept of continuous learning in the community under the designation “Alternative Learning System” has been launched alongside the formal school system.

On the Salomon Islands, we promote functional literacy training, which also seeks to revive and preserve the traditional cultural values of the learners, or “criti cal literacy training” as it is sometimes called by the programme’s organizers. This small atoll in the British Indian Ocean territory is endangered by climate change and over-exploitation of natural resources by foreign companies. The promotion of vocational training in some forty centres on the various islands of the Melanesian island nation of Vanuatu is the most important part of our project work.

Central Asia

There are fundamental differences between the societies of Southern and South eastern Asia and the Pacific and those of Central Asian Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan, which were once part of the Soviet Union. These Central Asian countries are finding it difficult to emancipate themselves from the system formerly dominated by European Russia. The Soviet system was always foreign to the peo ple of Central Asia, whose inhabitants live in cultures basically rooted in Islam. At the same time, they are also experiencing a transformation of economic structures similar to that which is taking place in Central and Eastern Europe. And just as in Europe, the changes in Central Asia are creating a tremendous need for vocational training and retraining.

Our project in Uzbekistan, which works out of Tashkent, is designed to respond to this situation. The activities cover a wide range of very diverse themes including prison courses in Uzbekistan, training for community nurses, a project for coming to terms with recent history, vocational retraining centres for unemployed persons in 21 cities of Uzbekistan, vocational training programs for rural subgroups in Kyrgyzstan, courses to upgrade the qualifications of migrant workers in Tajikistan, and the organization of a training course for adult educators in Uzbekistan. Conditions for implementing measures are difficult due to fluctuating positions in the various ministries involved toward foreign donors. The work requires a great deal of tact and diplomacy, but it also demands perseverance in representing the positions developed together with our partners.

Latin America

During the past two years, DVV International efforts in Latin America have concentrated on our regional project in Central America through our office in Mexico, as well as our national project in Bolivia through our office in La Paz.

The main focus of the project in Central America is to support indigenous groups in the improvement of their living conditions while preserving their cultural identity. It is worth highlighting that this is still not a priority issue on the official education agenda of Mexico, a country with an indigenous population of more than 10 million. Neighbouring Guatemala, where the majority of the population is indigenous, does have a number of programmes and basic education materials in Maya lan guages, but even here there is still too little intercultural sensitivity to the cultures and values of the country’s indigenous peoples.

Vocational training in Uzbekistan 

Vocational training in Uzbekistan
Source: DVV International


For education of the kind that is culturally sensitive, however, an uppermost concern is the satisfaction of basic human needs. In addition to assisting small farming cooperatives engaged in the production and marketing of products such as coffee, small livestock, poultry, eggs, and honey, the project supports families in the cultivation of fruits and vegetables and the raising of small livestock for their own personal consumption. Efforts during the reporting period were devoted to helping women organize themselves into groups to produce and market handicrafts and other wares. Models for intercultural dialogue were developed and tested. Such instruments are important above all for the staff members of the government and non-governmental organizations who work with indigenous communities. Overall, there was a very positive response to courses that were held to analyze gender roles in traditional societies and to examine possibilities for change. Participants found the courses valuable for their personal progress and acknowledged that they made it easier for women to initiate their own projects and become more active in their communities. Young indigenous people, who very often are not seen as valuable members of their own communities, face double marginalization. Lack of personal recognition is one of the main factors that motivate them to leave their communities. Consequently, all our projects pay special attention to youth-specific initiatives.

For many years, DVV International has been supporting the Ministry of Education in Bolivia in the organization of a national adult education system that combines general education with vocational and job-oriented further training and is adapted to the needs of learners.

After winding up the last phase of work, which was devoted to basic educa tion curricula development, the project turned its attention to the preparation of integral, diversified, employment-oriented curricula for the secondary school level. Instructors were trained to use the new curricula. In addition, the project recently initiated efforts to develop education and training measures for prison communities in Bolivia. DVV International belongs to a multi-institutional Bolivian committee on education and works with other organizations in the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education. These instruments enable civil society organizations to advise and monitor the government in the implementation of official education plans and programmes that are intended to benefit the entire population.

As part of its work in Colombia, DVV International supports two partner organi zations with different approaches to sustainable, ecology-based farming. In the Department of Nariño, which is located in the mountainous region of southwestern Colombia near the Ecuadorian border, sustainable farming techniques are being practiced on private farmland that has been converted into nature preserves. The farmers have also formed cooperatives to market their surplus produce. Twelve such nature preserves have meanwhile joined forces in a common association. In an effort to ensure the future viability of farming while conserving natural resources, our Colombian partner, the Asociación para el Desarrollo Campesino has developed a school concept under the title “Escuela de disoñadores para el Bienvivir local” (School of “Realizers of Dreams” for Good Local Living), which has meanwhile earned the recognition of the Ministry of Education.

Disaster management in Cuba

Disaster management in Cuba
Source: DVV International


Located south of the metropolitan city of Cali, the Department of Cauca, a region with a very mixed population of indios, mulattos, blacks, and mestizos, is a stronghold of guerrilla and paramilitary forces. Our partner, CISEC (Fundación para el Desarrollo Rural Comunitario Alternativa Comunitaria – Centro de Investigaciones y Servicios Comunitarios), has been working with the people of this region, who face constant violence and insecurity, to organize community projects in the interest of ecology-based farming, healthcare, justice, and education. The core of CISEC’s work is a boarding school in which young people from indigenous communities have the opportunity to learn together with boys and girls from the surrounding areas. In addition to the material taught in general education courses, the students learn ecological farming techniques and crafts that they, in turn, can teach their families and put into practice at home. Many of the school’s students go on to become village facilitators. Our long and successful partnership with CISEC has now entered its final stage and is drawing to an amicable close.

During the reporting period, we continued to lend our national partners in Cuba support in the development of education programmes associated with the coun try’s community-organized disaster management scheme and the use of methods designed to encourage community participation and self-initiative by capacitating community members to recognize and articulate their needs and interests.

Within the framework of smaller partnerships that we maintain in Chile and Argentina, we provided funding for civic education as a measure to strengthen civil society. Assistance was also channelled into initiatives that foster ecological farming, the establishment of cooperative marketing systems, the introduction of a recognized seal of quality for biological products, as well as the design and use of appropriate technologies. Activities are accompanied by supporting education measures and advisory services.

In view of the level of development that has been achieved in Argentina and Chile, and the possibilities that exist to mobilize national resources and funds from European Union programmes, DVV International has decided to phase out cooperation agreements in these two countries, and to use the funds freed up in this way to initiate new partnerships in other parts of Latin America, and in the Andean region in particular.

In addition to its bilateral partnerships in the various Latin American countries, DVV International also supports the Latin American Council for Adult Education CEAAL (Consejo de Educación de Adultos de América Latina), the General Secretariat of which is currently located in Panama. The Association’s most recent efforts have concentrated on ensuring that the organizations that promote and provide continu ing education and training, the civil society advocates of lifelong learning, have a voice and representation in the preparations in progress in Latin America for this year’s World Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) in Belem, Brazil.

Central and Eastern Europe

During the early 1990s, adult education in Eastern Europe was caught up in the tides of change. Today the sector faces new challenges and opportunities. Issues that have meanwhile become more central include the stabilization of democracy and political participation, social free-market economy and stability, as well as cultural and ethnic unity. Another important issue is European integration and how best to assist people in this difficult, fascinating and often dramatic process. Integration implies cooperation, and cooperation involves networking on every level – local, regional, and global.

Vocational training in Yugoslavia

Vocational training in Yugoslavia
Source: DVV International


It is important for our sector to include Eastern European continuing education and training organizations in existing networks and to help them build networks of their own. It is crucial for us as adult educators to see to it that adult education be understood everywhere as a key component of lifelong learning and a public responsibility. We must demand legislative steps in this direction and monitor the progress and implementation of provisions to ensure the required budget allocations.

In line with current developments, we have consolidated our work in Eastern  Europe into four regional projects:

  • Adult Education in the Accession Countries of Central and Eastern Europe (the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, and the Slovak Republic). Project activities are organized and implemented through our regional office in Warsaw. When they joined the European Union, these countries made the commitment to allocate sufficient domestic resources to ensure their citizens access to basic social services. This also includes ac cess to educational opportunities. As a consequence, the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is no longer prepared to invest federal funds in the new member states for the development of continuing education and training structures. After a transition phase that is set to end in 2009, financial support for this purpose will no longer be available for our partners.
  • Adult education in Southeastern Europe (Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bul garia, Croatia, Macedonia, Romania, and Yugoslavia). Project activities are organized and implemented through our regional office in Sarajevo.
  • Adult education in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and in the Russian Federation, Belarus, and Ukraine in particular. Project activities are organized and implemented through our regional office in Saint Petersburg.
  • Adult education in the Caucasus (Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan). DVV International maintains an office in each of these three countries under the direction of national teams.

Cooperation in all four regional projects covers a broad spectrum of areas, including:

  • strengthening democracy and political participation
  • cultural and ethnic unity and diversity
  • national identity and European orientation, and
  • social free-market economy and stability

Our efforts are geared toward adult education practitioners, organizers, scholars, policy designers, and adult education umbrella organizations, but also toward participants in continuing and advanced education and training courses.

Since the process of European enlargement was initiated, a central task of adult education has been to inform and educate people about the structures of the Euro pean Union and the impact of accession. This will continue to be an important area for a considerable time to come. Efforts must be maintained to promote realistic discussion and to reduce irrational fears and exaggerated expectations.

Strategic action is needed to more firmly secure public responsibility for continu ing education and training. Initiatives must be developed and implemented to advo cate appropriate educational policy in the various countries, but also in the region as a whole. Intensified efforts will be required to achieve the same standard levels in practice and legislation in Central and Eastern European countries that already exist in the Western EU states. What is more, if the processes of economic and social transition are expected to be lasting and sustainable in these countries, the full potential of continuing education and training must be effectively harnessed.

European Partnerships and Projects

Through the “Leonardo da Vinci” and “Socrates” support schemes, and the “Grundtvig” Action for adult education in particular, the European Union encour ages cross-country cooperation among continuing education organizations and institutions. These programmes support and fund the development and implemen tation of innovative contents and methods and lay the groundwork for continuing education and training organizations within the sphere of civil society to build multi-lateral networks with future-oriented perspectives.

DVV International encourages participation in such projects on the part of its Central and Eastern European partners, and participates itself in a number of select projects. It coordinates the Network for Intercultural Learning in Europe – NILE, the European Union, funding for which ended last year. Adult education institu tions from 21 European countries are meanwhile participating in this initiative. In a cooperative effort, they have elaborated a basic conceptual framework for the development of a common understanding around the themes of migration, integra tion, human rights, and tolerance, as well as on the potential of adult education to foster intercultural coexistence.

Between 2005 and 2008, DVV International also coordinated the INTERtool programme, an EU Grundtvig project conducted together with partners from Italy, Romania, Austria, Switzerland, and Finland. The aim of the project has been to develop intercultural tools to aid in the coordination of European projects and to facilitate their highly complex management requirements.

Together with partners from Belgium, France, Denmark, England, and Bulgaria, DVV International participated in the EU project “Religious Diversity Training” from 2005 through 2007. A five-day training module was developed on religious and philosophical diversity building on the tradition of the “World of Diversity” ap proach and focusing on religious diversity and other spiritual approaches.

Last not least, in 2007, DVV International coordinated the project “Europe with Method”, in which adult education organizations and initiatives for the homeless in Germany, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Poland, and France developed various innovative methods and modules for acquainting young people and adults with information about European policies.

Global Learning

The project entitled Global Learning at Volkshochschulen is geared to Germany’s nearly 1.000 community adult education centres, the Volkshochschulen, and their associations at the state (Land) level. Subsidized by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the project seeks to support the Volkshochschulen in the provision of education for sustainable development and in the fostering of learning and understanding of the global connections and in terdependencies that exist in our One World. For this purpose, the Institute is able to draw on its decades of cooperation with partner organizations in the field of adult education in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and in Central, Southeastern, and Eastern Europe, and to use its experience to the advantage of the Volkshochschulen in their efforts.

It is our firm conviction that development education

  • arouses interest in developing countries and countries in transition, and helps people realize global interconnections and the impact they have on the personal level
  • builds awareness about the need for sustainable development, and promotes willingness on the part of people to work toward a sustainable world, and
  • fosters active participation in a socially responsible society, while helping to create personal commitment toward the developing world.


Information and Communication

Over the past two years, our wide and varied programme of information and com munication has continued to accompany and underpin our cooperation efforts. Our more recent activities in this area are described in greater detail below. We are constantly developing our use of the internet as a medium where adult educators throughout the world can share their experiences, reports, and analyses and ob tain documents and information pertaining to adult education. However, as large parts of the world still do not have reliable access to electricity, and the majority of adult educators, especially those in developing countries, only have limited or sporadic access to the Internet, it remains important for us to maintain our informa tion and communication services in the traditional, printed form. Accordingly, DVV International will continue in the foreseeable future to utilize both conventional and electronic media for its publications.


The extent and severity of the global financial crisis continues to grow more serious by the day. A sheer unfathomable amount of capital assets have been wiped out in just a year’s time, and the worst is by no means over. The fear is more than warranted that this situation will undermine solidarity with the poorest countries of the world. Those mainly responsible for the crisis – the USA, Europe, and Japan – are preoccupied with their own fiscal dilemmas and are funnelling billions of dollars of public funds into ailing businesses and industries in an attempt to somehow stimulate their economies and ward off complete collapse. International solidarity, which was never a popular issue on political agendas anyway, has dropped to the bottom of national priority lists. Economic growth has come to a halt in the so-called newly industrializing countries, especially in China and India. Global demand for commodities of all types has deteriorated. But it is the poorest countries of the world which are suffering the most. They have no safety nets and no reserves to fall back on. There is a declining demand compounded by falling prices for the little they have to offer. Their people are losing their jobs as well as their access to public health and education services, which at the best of times are precarious. They have nothing, and no one to turn to. This is a high price to pay for an economic fiasco they had no part in creating – a price that will continue to burden them for a long time to come.

Europe on the Street

Europe on the Street
Source: DVV International


The recent setbacks in social development have made continuing education all the more urgent. Self-help initiatives need to be mobilized. People must be given the skills they require to take concerted action. Unremitting efforts are necessary to identify and represent the interests of the underprivileged on the political front and to monitor elected officials at all levels. Now more than ever, our partners need support in their efforts to address crises and work on solutions to help the common people, the poor, and the marginalized members of society.

Over the decades, DVV International has built a closely-knit international network of socially committed and technically competent partners. On behalf of the German Volkshochschulen, we are well prepared to make a contribution to international solidarity and to assist our partners in carrying out their work. Fears have not mate rialized that the economic crisis, with its accompanying pressing domestic demands and increased social expenditures, would prevent the German government from maintaining its level of commitment to economic cooperation. At least for the time being, the contrary is the case. The Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation re cently announced an increase in DVV International’s budget, which we understand as a sign of confidence in the competent quality and concept of our work. We see many possibilities for justifying this confidence in the future.

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