CONFINTEA VII: Publication of UNESCO's "5th Global Report on Adult Learning and Education"

The presentation and publication ceremony of UNESCO’s “5th Global Report on Adult Learning and Education” (GRALE 5) took place on Wednesday in Marrakech, on the occasion of the 7th International Conference on adult education (CONFINTEA VII).

Presented by the Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Mr David Atchoarena, during a ministerial table organized within the framework of this conference (15 to 17 June in Marrakech), GRALE 5 combines survey data, policy analysis and case studies to provide policymakers, researchers and practitioners with an up-to-date picture of the state of adult learning and education in UNESCO Member States, as well as a review of citizenship education, including global citizenship education.

This report also provides a series of recommendations aimed at strengthening developments in adult learning and education and promoting active and global citizenship.

According to this new UNESCO report, the main global challenge for adult learning and education is to reach those who need it most, including indigenous minorities, rural populations, migrants, seniors, people with disabilities or the prison population – who often remain deprived of access to learning.

The report further highlights that almost 60% of countries saw no improvement in the participation of people with disabilities, migrants or prisoners, while 24% of them indicated that the participation of rural populations has decreased. . Similarly, the participation of older people has declined in 24% of the 159 countries surveyed.

In this sense, “GRALE 5” calls on Member States to improve their approach by relying on appropriate investments that guarantee every adult educational opportunities.

In the foreword to this report, the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, calls on “governments and the international community to combine their efforts and take the necessary measures to make the right to education a reality for all, regardless of age, identity and place of residence”.

And to continue that “the rapidity of technological and social changes as well as the scale of global challenges require that citizens have access to new learning throughout their lives”, considering that “the requalification and improvement of skills through adult learning and education must become common practice. The ability to learn is the ultimate skill of the 21st century”.

The report also indicates that more than half of countries have reported an increase in participation in adult learning and education programs since 2018. However, challenges remain: while the participation of women and young people has improved significantly , overall participation in adult learning and education remains insufficient, the report says.

GRALE 5 reported that although its importance is increasingly recognised, and despite growing awareness of the value of adult learning and education, lifelong learning life suffers from detrimental underinvestment, noting that nearly half of countries invest 2% or less of overall education budgets in this area.

The report also notes that the governance of adult learning and education is increasingly shared between different national ministries, local authorities and other stakeholders, and countries have seen stronger partnerships and cooperation between different ministries, the private sector and civil society, and confirm the well-established dynamic of decentralization.

Furthermore, GRALE 5 recognizes that the spread of distance and online education has brought adult education within the reach of a greater number of people, noting that the promotion of quality requires a solid formation of the teaching staff and the development of professional standards for adult educators.

The “GRALE 5” also reveals significant progress since 2018, in terms of citizenship education, which is proving to be an essential tool for facing current challenges.

Regarding the consequences of Covid-19 on adult learning and education, the report highlights that most countries are reporting rapid transitions to online/digital and distance learning (including television, radio and telephone) or the development of face-to-face learning devices.

The widespread use of digital technologies during the Covid-19 pandemic has enabled millions of people to continue learning and training during lockdown, adopting new policies and regulations to support this process, or adjusting standards of quality and the programs that already exist, notes the document. However, the Covid-19 pandemic has also led to a worsening of the situation for certain regions and certain population groups, especially in parts of the world where resources and infrastructure are scarce, concludes the same source.

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