CONFINTEA VI Regional Follow-up Meeting for the Arab States
Increasing equitable participation in youth and adult education to enhance peace and sustainable development in the Arab States
Insufficient literacy skills, low educational attainments and low participation in youth and adult education continue to challenge development in many Arab States. It is currently estimated that more than 50 million adults, 60% of whom are women, lack basic literacy skills. Millions of young people are neither in school nor in training and are therefore missing out on opportunities to acquire useful and lasting skills for work and life. This means that these young people are unable to realize their full potential.
The need to increase equitable participation in youth and adult education was at the centre of discussions at the CONFINTEA VI Regional Follow-up Meeting for the Arab States, which took place from 26 to 28 October 2015 in Alexandria, Egypt. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), in cooperation with the UNESCO Regional Office in Beirut and ISESCO (the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization), planned and coordinated the meeting, which aimed to assess developments in adult learning and education in the Arab States since 2009.
Adult learning and education for peace and sustainable development
At the meeting, which was entitled ‘Six years after Belém: Assessing Adult Learning and Education for Peace and Sustainable Development’, participants gathered evidence on the progress of literacy and adult learning and education (ALE). In addition, participants assessed the vital role played by literacy and ALE in achieving the Arab States’ education goals, and they generated a concrete regional action plan for monitoring and implementing the recommendations of the Belém Framework for Action (BFA) at national and regional levels. The meeting brought together around sixty participants – comprising government officials and representatives from international and regional governmental and non-governmental organizations – from twelve Arab States.
Arne Carlsen, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), shared the Institute’s perspective in a presentation on the new Education 2030 Framework for Action, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the BFA (which has been translated into Arabic), the new Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (2015) and the preliminary results for the Arab States that have been gathered for the third Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE III).
The aim of UIL’s contribution was to situate the meeting’s discussions within the context of recent international and regional developments in ALE and to set the stage for regional follow-up projects.
Next steps: Implementing a Regional Action Plan
The meeting led to the adoption of a Regional Action Plan. This plan specifies projects based on the themes of the BFA at regional and sub-regional levels as well as responsible entities and tentative dates for each project. UIL, in cooperation with the regional UNESCO Office in Beirut and the UNESCO Office in Cairo, will support the development of the Regional UNESCO Category II Resource Centre (Sirs-el-Layyan) near Cairo. This centre will support national capacity-building activities by serving as a regional base and repository of good ALE practices and context-sensitive learning materials. It will also provide a regional exchange platform for Arab States by disseminating relevant research reports and information about good practice. Follow-up activities across the Arab States will also include creating a regional ALE glossary and translate and provide access to documents in Arabic so that Arab States benefit from global research and best practice and participate in international discussions. In addition, UIL will promote the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) in the Arab States by awarding prizes for learning villages in the Arab States and establishing equivalency frameworks to further the recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of all forms of learning across the region.
The BFA emphasizes that we need an inclusive, informed, literate and active citizenry to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. Youth and adult education are an integral part of lifelong learning and an indispensable foundation for creating peace and sustaining personal, social and economic well-being.