UIL in conversation with the Bundestag
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) and the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg hosted a meeting of German parliamentarians and other stakeholders in Berlin this week.
The meeting was an opportunity for UIL to share its work with a wider, highly influential audience, and to discuss the needs of adult learners, from basic education to global citizenship.
Ms Annette Tabbara, Plenipotentiary for Hamburg to the German Federal Government and European Union and for foreign affairs, and Mr Hartwig Lüdtke, Vice-President of the German National Commission for UNESCO, opened the event, at which UIL Director Mr David Atchoarena set out the main strands of the Institute’s current work, covering literacy, learning cities and adult education.
A panel discussion followed, involving Ms Anke Grotlüschen, Professor of Lifelong Learning, University of Hamburg, responsible for the recent LEO study on adults with low literacy levels in Germany, and Mr Walter Hirche, former Minister and Chair of the Education Committee of the German Commission for UNESCO, among others.
Ms Tabbara told the meeting: ‘The fundamental right to education, which UNESCO and its Hamburg Institute are committed to, is of central importance to our society. Education fights poverty, promotes social development, and strengthens democracy and sustainable development in our world.’
Emphasizing the place of education in the wider international policy agenda, Mr Hirche observed: ‘The point is to create images that show that there is such a thing as world integration. In the field of education for sustainable development, arresting images of how education is related to topics such as water consumption or economic development, are essential in linking lifelong learning to the SDGs.’
Ms Grotlüschen stressed the importance of literacy to UIL’s agenda: ‘For adults with low literacy levels we need to offer programmes that go beyond basic literacy,’ she said. ‘They need skills for online banking, filling out tax statements and understanding pension schemes, for example. Literacy components can be integrated there. It is good to see UIL promoting this sort of provision.’
Mr Lüdtke highlighted the importance of non-formal education, noting: ‘The impact of non-formal education is often underestimated. UIL plays a major role in promoting all forms of learning, and in supporting Member States in recognizing the outcomes of non-formal and informal learning.’
Mr Atchoarena agreed: ‘UNESCO is supporting the recognition of learning achievements, for example, through the new Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications, but also through mechanisms for the recognition, validation and accreditation of non-formal and informal learning achievements. This is relevant for countries like Germany, but also for countries in sub-Saharan Africa, especially with regard to addressing the needs of migrants and refugees.
‘Germany is a long-standing supporter of UIL and of lifelong learning, in general. There is, however, scope to do more, and, indeed, the challenges we face today – challenges to do with the rapid development of technology, changes in demography, economic inequality, migration and the climate crisis – make it imperative that we do. This meeting allowed us to discuss new partnerships and collaboration that will, we hope, make a real difference to people’s lives. As we move forward, it is crucial that we foster new approaches to lifelong learning to address the new challenges we face, while also building on and strengthening the achievements of the past.’