“Transforming lives through Education” – The World Education Forum in Korea

Representatives of adult education networks and organisations at the NGO Forum in Korea

The World Education Forum was held in Incheon, Korea, from 19 to 21 May 2015. Government delegations from more than 100 countries, as well as representatives from civil society, UN agencies and other international institutions, debated there on how to bring the Global Education Agenda forward.

The Forum’s final document, the “Incheon Declaration”, defines the following goal: “Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030”. This goal confirms the expansion of the education agenda that had been called for in the preceding period, particularly by civil society, establishing a holistic understanding of education. Such an approach looks at people in all their circumstances, regardless of their age, status, gender or ethnic affiliation. Education must become a companion of life as a whole. On the basis of a human right to education, the Declaration particularly stresses the need for inclusion and equal opportunities as well as the significance of quality education.

The World Education Forum was a major milestone with regard to the formulation of the education-related goal in the “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, which are to be adopted at the UN’s General Assembly in September 2015. Unlike in 2000, when the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were accompanied by a parallel educational agenda which paid little attention to networking, this time the “EFA (Education for All)” process has taken an integrated approach. What is more, the framework is to be valid worldwide and is not to be restricted to the developing countries alone.

The Conference was preceded by an NGO forum at which civil society representatives discussed their demands. The participants especially called for serious implementation of the concept of lifelong learning, which also encompasses non-formal and informal learning. The delegates furthermore agreed that quality in education can only be guaranteed by deploying well-paid, well-trained teachers and educators in all sectors of education. There is frequently a lack of the necessary support here, in particular when it comes to non-formal youth and adult education. The trend towards accelerating privatisation in education, also in the formal sector, was registered with great concern, given that this leads to growing inequalities in many countries.

DVV International was represented in Korea by Prof.(H) Heribert Hinzen, Senior Policy Advisor, and Uwe Gartenschlaeger, Regional Director for South and South East Asia. Together with civil society partners such as the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE), the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) and the Global Campaign for Education (GCE), it was possible to further embed the new appreciation of youth and adult education which had already been emerging in the preceding period. Individual governments and major donor institutions however still have some catching up to do in this regard, particularly when it comes to the financial resources made available for these activities.

Many participants were impressed by the presentations given by the Korean hosts, who presented education as a central factor for their country’s past and future development, and in doing so especially stressed global responsibility as an educational goal for the future.  

Further information:

The Declaration of the NGO Forum can be retrieved via the following link:
Towards the Right to Inclusive Quality Public Education and Lifelong Learning Beyond 2015

The final document, the “Incheon Declaration”, can be retrieved from the website of the World Education Forum: https://en.unesco.org/world-education-forum-2015/incheon-declaration

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