The Seventh International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII) closed on 17 June 2022 with the adoption of the Marrakech Framework for Action by the representatives of over 140 countries. Member states committed to transforming the vision of a right to lifelong learning into reality, reaffirming that adult learning and education (ALE) is a key component of this very concept. Moreover, member states undertook to significantly increase the participation of adults in learning and recognized the need for increased financial investment in ALE.
The CONFINTEA is a UNESCO intergovernmental conference for policy dialogue on ALE and related research and advocacy that has taken place every 12 to 13 years since 1949. More than 1,000 participants, among them heads of state, education ministers and high-level representatives of the United Nations as well as representatives from civil society attended CONFINTEA VII hosted by the Kingdom of Morocco and UNESCO from 15 to 17 June 2022 in Marrakech.
This global conference was the first of its kind since the adoption of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and therefore linked ALE to the 2030 Agenda. This is alongside UNESCO’s recent call for a new social contract and the corresponding fundamental report “Reimagining our Futures together”. Conference speakers and participants discussed in particular how to use the transformative power of ALE for sustainable development, in the context of global challenges such as the climate crisis, digitalisation and the rapidly changing world of work.
During the conference, UNESCO’s Fifth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 5) was launched. It puts special emphasis on the topic of citizenship education and its potential to “empower for change”. One of the key findings of the report and the conference was that participation rates must be improved, especially for disadvantaged people who need adult education the most. This was also reflected in a statement by UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay: “I urge governments and the international community to ensure that the right to education is realized for everyone – no matter their age, who they are, or where they live.”
At the end of the conference the new Marrakech Framework for Action was adopted unanimously by more than 140 UNESCO member states. The new framework stresses that ALE is a key component of lifelong learning and affirms that education, including ALE, is a fundamental human right, a public endeavour and a common good. Priority areas identified in the Marrakech Framework for Action include, among other things, literacy, ALE for climate action, the promotion of equal access of all learners to learning in digital environments and the preparation of adults for the future world of work. On the financial side, it was of crucial importance that the new framework commits to increasing public funding and resource mobilisation for ALE and to preventing regression in existing budget allocations.
DVV International participated through its global office network in the preparation and the implementation of the conference in concert with the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and other civil society stakeholders. The Institute developed an expert paper and a comprehensive publication on the topic of citizenship education and ALE, supported preparatory conferences at regional level and participated in the Consultative Group managed by UNESCO. Furthermore, the Institute co-organized ICAE’s Civil Society Forum in Marrakech, thus assuring that key concerns of our network partners were well articulated and considered in the corresponding declaration. Last but not least, DVV International organised – together with partners and experts from various world regions – one of the parallel workshops that took place during CONFINTEA VII, promoting “community learning centres as key structures for adult learning and education”. The hybrid workshop received a lot of attention and interest, underlining once more that the advancement of ALE needs sustainable structures and proper delivery mechanisms.