We, the participants in the Midterm Review of the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V), have come to the conclusion that despite the commitments made in 1997 in The Hamburg Declaration and The Agenda for the Future, adult education and learning has not received the attention which it deserves in major education reforms and in recent international drives to eliminate poverty, achieve gender justice, provide education for all and foster sustainable development. Our Midterm Review of the worldwide situation of adult education and learning – conducted thematically, globally, regionally, nationally and locally by governments, non- governmental and civil society organizations, engaged net works, social movements and other partners – has, in fact, revealed a disturbing regression in the field.
For we have seen a decline in public funding for adult education and learning, even as the minimal adult literacy goal set in the Dakar Framework for Action is achievable – requiring just US $ 2.8 billion per year. Furthermore, support by various international agencies and national governments alike has concentrated on formal basic education for children to the detriment and neglect of adult educa tion and learning.
The ability of adult education and learning to contribute to a world in which people live together in peace and democracy and its potential to contribute to build ing learning societies in support of the struggle against poverty and overcoming global strife, violence, HIV/AIDS, environmental destruction, demographic tensions and a myriad of other ills have not been adequately realized. We are particularly concerned that its potential to enable people to live in a world with HIV/AIDS is not being exploited, as millions of vulnerable young persons and adults are exposed to the consequences of the pandemic.
We are alarmed that the confident perspective documented by CONFINTEA V has given way to a situation which, due to global tensions, conflict and war as well as the weakening of the United Nations, is dominated by fear and insecurity.
Nonetheless, there is yet a chance for creative action. Despite the daunting realities now confronting us, we are witnessing the birth of a new global consciousness which itself, insisting on equality and diversity and calling for universal respect for ethics, rights and laws, spawns the hope that another world and another kind of education and learning are still possible.
For our Review has also highlighted numerous innovative policy and legisla tive changes, an increased tide of participation in adult education and learn ing, significant advances in the empowerment of women and the expression of new learning demands by groups with special needs attended by pioneering inclusive educational responses serving these groups. The joy of learning is celebrated in Learning Festivals and Adult Learners Weeks in more than 50 countries worldwide. In view of these developments, we, the participants in the CONFINTEA V Midterm Review, reaffirm our commitment to The Hamburg Declaration and The Agenda for the Future. We wish to remind the world that adult education and learning is a fundamental human right and therefore must remain a collective responsibility shared by all learners, adult educators, gov ernments, non-governmental and civil society organizations, the private sector, international bodies and the entire family of the United Nations. All of these actors and partners must work with UNESCO and UN agencies to propel, monitor collectively and account for the endorsement and implementation of lifelong learning made at CONFINTEA V.
We believe that the political will to achieve the goals of The Hamburg Declaration and The Agenda for the Future must now be backed with resource allocation, outfit ted with a concrete course of action and new equipped with new partnerships.
Today, more than ever, adult education and learning comprises an indispen sable key to unlocking the creative forces of people, social movements and nations. Peace, justice, self-reliance, economic development, social cohesion and solidarity remain indispensable goals and obligations to be further pursued and reinforced in and through adult education and learning.
We therefore call upon Member States, bi- and multilateral agencies, non-governmental and civil society organizations, social movements and the private sector
We call in particular upon the industrialized nations to align their aid agencies and education ministries with the bi- and multilateral agencies they support in order to harmonize domestic and international policies for lifelong learning.
We call upon UNESCO
Finally, we call upon Member States, UN agencies and non-governmental and civil society organizations as well as social and private partners to organize the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) in 2009 as a case of accountability in adult education and learning, one based on collective monitoring and evaluation.
Source: Adult Education and Development, Number 61, 2004, pp. 125 –148
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