International Civil Society Forum (FISC)

On the fringe of CONFINTEA, representatives of various civil society organisations
met to develop recommendations for the final declaration of the conference.

From Rhetoric to Coherent Action

Civil Society Caucus Proposals to Strengthen the Belém Declaration

Civil society has a crucial role to play in rigorous monitoring and in being a critical partner of government in developing adult learning policy and practice.

  1. There needs to be a recognition of the enormous scale of the violation of the fundamental human and social right to education of adults and young people. As such CONFINTEA V1should declare a state of crisis, requiring urgent action. Basic Adult Education is already a justiciable human right and we urge all governments to pass legislation to make all Adult Education a legally enforceable right.
  2. The education of adults and young people is key to helping people, especially women, (who are worst affected) to cope with all types of crises (food, fuel, finance, conflict or climate), enabling them to shape a sustainable future and to work towards gender equality and justice. Popular education is key to the renewal of adult learning as a means to social and political transformation.

    Professional and amateur photographers
    Source: Claudia Ferreira

  3. A legal structure for the governance of the education of adults and young people should be present in all countries, specifying the involvement in decision-making of civil society, learner representatives and educators alongside government. The education of adults and young people should be inclusive and diverse, spanning all areas of human activity and fostering well-being rather than just economic development. As such it should be based on inter-sectoral and inter-ministerial action but with strong leadership from (and ultimate responsibility lying with) Ministries of Education.
  1. There should be no more collection of simplistic data or statistics based on the artificial division between illiteracy and literacy. All surveys, research and data collection or reporting should focus on a continuum of literacy levels appropriate to people’s life, work, cultural and linguistic contexts. All data should be disaggregated by gender and other bases of potential discrimination (e.g. race, ethnicity, class, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity, generation, disability, geographical location, citizenship status, imprisonment, etc.).
  2. The education of adults and young people should be recognised as the glue behind achieving all the MDGs and should therefore be prioritised in national plans and in the review of progress towards the MDGs. All governments should develop fully-costed policies, well-targeted plans and legislation for addressing adult literacy and Lifelong Learning by 2012. These plans should be based on credible evidence (e.g. new national surveys) on literacy levels and present participation rates in adult learning – and they should be seen as an integral part of any education sector or poverty reduction plan. These plans should recognize the role of education in transforming values and attitudes and in challenging all kinds of discriminatory practices, for example those based on gender. The plans must also address the new challenges of digital literacy, the urgent need for improving the capacity for research and evaluation as well as the need for quality training and better remuneration of adult educators.
  3. Governments should calculate the full cost of achieving quality education for adults and young people, and should agree to binding minimum targets for spending on Adult Education including at least 6 % of national education budgets being spent on youth and Adult Education (in countries with significant literacy challenges – where a minimum of half of this should be spent on literacy). An equally binding target should be agreed of at least 6 % of aid to education being spent on the education of adults and young people (premised on at least 0.7 % of GNI being spent on aid and 15 % of overall aid being earmarked for education). The international community and financing agencies should recognise Goals 3 and 4 from Dakar as equally important as other goals in all their education aid and should develop accurate projections on financing gaps for achieving these. At least $10 billion in new aid is needed by 2015 to make an impact on adult literacy.
  4. The Fast Track Initiative needs to be radically transformed into a Global Initiative on Education For All which explicitly requires sector plans to include credible action on, and investment in, youth and adult, especially women’s, literacy. This transformed initiative should be fully independent from the World Bank and much more ambitious than the present FTI in the scale of resources that it mobilises.
  5. The G20, which recently re-empowered the IMF, needs to challenge the restrictive macro-economic conditions imposed (and policies promoted) by the IMF that have undermined investment in education for all. There should be a clear requirement on the IMF to show sustained flexibility in inflation and deficit targets through to 2015 that will allow for significant increases in long term investment in education as a key part of the solution to the financial crisis.
  6. All governments have a responsibility to maximise the learning opportunities available for all people on their territory and so should ensure that sustainable investment is maximised from individuals, employers and the State to ensure no-one is left behind. All employers should invest at least 1 % of the payroll in work-related education and training. All resources should be well targeted to ensure they reach those who are most disadvantaged or excluded, especially women who often suffer from multiple marginalisation. It is important to recognise that no country has fully overcome the challenge of including all people and of transforming the profile of participation in adult learning. In all contexts adult learners themselves should have a voice in the development of policies and practices that affect them.

    Source: Fatima Rodrigues

  7. There need to be comprehensive and multi-agency monitoring mechanisms for ensuring that these commitments are delivered. At a national level this should include public institutions, universities and civil society. At an international level this should include, for example, OECD DAC requiring reporting on aid to Adult Education, UIS and GMR tracking government spending, WHO monitoring 5 % recommendation on health promotion, FAO tracking agricultural extension and so on. There need to be clear benchmarks established by 2012 in all areas so as to facilitate assessment of progress. There should be a global monitoring report with rigorous data on adult learning every three years, which will inform analysis of progress towards CONFINTEA commitments and feed into other UN processes (e.g. on climate change, financing for development, women’s rights, MDGs, population, migration, etc).
Adult Education and Development


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