“Adult learning and education to create the world we want” was the title of the IX World Assembly of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), which took place in Montreal, Canada, 11 to 13 June 2015. More than 400 delegates from all the regions in the world discussed the state of affairs [of adult education and the strategic challenge the adult education community is facing at the moment and will face in the next four years.
In his speech, ICAE’s outgoing president Alan Tuckett underlined the importance of equal access to quality lifelong learning for all and ICAE’s commitment to the marginalised. Far too many women, girls and indigenous people are still excluded from education. Literacy remains a challenge. The growing gap between the rich and the poor, tendencies toward the privatisation of education and the exclusion of elderly people (even from main education statistics) are worrying. The declaration of the Assembly reaffirms ICAE’s position that lifelong learning, including adult and non-formal education, is a human right. Governments have the obligation to finance this sector adequately and to ensure a fair and decent payment for all teachers and trainers.
In the past four years, ICAE, with its partners in civil society, UNESCO and some governments, succeeded in securing a lifelong learning perspective within the future global development agenda, the so-called Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This marks a major shift from the exclusive focus on primary education, which was chosen for the Millennium Development Goals back in 2000. However, it remains a struggle to transfer this gain into concrete support for the sector on the national and global level and within the donor community, where tendencies toward reducing education to the classical formal sector can still be witnessed.
Katarina Popovic, General Secretary of ICAE, in her speech, highlighted the work of ICAE’s Academy for Lifelong Learning Advocacy (IALLA), which became a well recognised format for preparing the next generation of LLL advocates. Many IALLA alumni were present in Montreal and inspired the conference with fresh thinking.
The IX Assembly marked a period of transition in ICAE. The delegates expressed their deep respect and gratitude to the outgoing President of ICAE, Alan Tuckett, and to Celita Eccher, who served as a General Secretary between 2002 and 2014. The contribution of both was highly valued and regarded as a commitment for the future. The delegates voted and elected Sandy Morrison from New Zealand as the new President of ICAE. In her speech, she invited all members to work jointly as a team in shaping the future of the Council and the global adult education movement. Aminata Bolly from Burkina Faso was elected as Treasurer, Uwe Gartenschlaeger from DVV International as the Vice-President for the European region.
At the end of the conference, delegates and leadership of the ICAE expressed their gratitude to the Canadian hosts and all supporters, including the main co-funders of the event, the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC) and the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL).
For more information, please, consult the website of ICAE: www.icae2.org, and the website of the World Assembly: www.waam2015.org