Taking lifelong learning for youth and adults in the Caribbean from rhetoric to action

4 July 2016

Ministers of education, representatives of related ministries, education specialists and civil society representatives from seventeen countries in the Caribbean came together in Montego Bay, Jamaica, for a major sub-regional meeting on youth and adult learning and education. The purpose of the two-day ministerial meeting, which took place on 30 June and 1 July 2016, was to follow up on the implementation of the action areas agreed upon in 2009 at the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) in Belém, Brazil. Participants affirmed their countries’ commitment to making lifelong learning ‘a necessity and not an option’. They agreed that this will involve developing contextualized policies and strategies that address the specific learning and education challenges facing the Caribbean sub-region.

We must cultivate a culture of education and learning that includes everyone so that we can progress as one,’ said the Honourable Ruel Reid, Minister of Education, Youth and Information in Jamaica, in his keynote address.

This was the first meeting of Caribbean States to take place as part of the follow-up to CONFINTEA VI. It was organized in response to calls from Caribbean States for contextualized frameworks and policies of youth and adult education and learning that reflect their particular needs. The meeting was organized by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in cooperation with the Jamaican Foundation for Lifelong Learning, the UNESCO Office in Kingston and the Jamaican Ministry of Education. It was also supported by the UNESCO Regional Bureau of Education for Latin America and the Caribbean (OREALC). The following UNESCO Member States participated in the meeting: Antigua and Barbuda; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Jamaica; Saint Kitts and Nevis; Saint Lucia; Suriname; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines; and Trinidad and Tobago. The following UNESCO Associate Members also took part: Anguilla; British Virgin Islands; Curaçao; Montserrat; and Sint Maarten.

Based on the five areas of action detailed in the Belém Framework for Action – policy; governance; financing and participation; inclusion and equity; and quality – the meeting’s participants adopted a draft list of priorities that will be sent to the governments of all seventeen participating countries for their feedback and approval. The objective is to establish common policy frameworks in the countries of the Caribbean, most of which do not have legal instruments based on lifelong learning principles in the field of youth and adult learning and education.

UIL will work with these countries (…) to build a Caribbean Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning, which will be part of the Global Alliance for Literacy within the Framework of Lifelong Learning (GAL),’ said Arne Carlsen, Director of UIL, in his closing remarks. Mr Carlsen added that UIL will also work with countries in the Caribbean region ‘to build a Caribbean network of learning cities that will be part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities. UIL will provide research that will help in linking national governments’ policies and strategies to the new 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.’