What is the state of adult learning and education in the Arab States?

17 September 2018

From 24 to 25 July 2018, around 20 adult-education experts from 12 Arab countries came together in Beirut, Lebanon, to review existing strategies and monitoring tools for adult learning and education in the Arab States.  

Country representatives from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Iraq, Sudan, Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria shared their experiences of implementing and developing adult learning and education practices and policies, in the context of the key international policy documents, the 2009 Belém Framework for Action (BFA) and the 2015 Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education. Common challenges were identified by the 12 countries, including the lack of coordination mechanisms among ALE stakeholders, inadequate human resources, insufficient funding for ALE, the high drop-out rate of learners and the absence of mechanisms for assessment.  

The workshop also highlighted the progress that has been made in some countries since the adoption of BFA. Most participants reported that ALE programmes have been diversified to cover several areas of learning, such as vocational training and active citizenship. However, the quality of these programmes needs to be improved.  

The workshop shed light on the credibility and availability of ALE data. Most Arab States rely on qualitative and unreliable data that can mislead ALE policymakers and stakeholders. To address the monitoring challenge, the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), produced by UIL, aims to track developments in adult learning and education, not only globally, but also at national and regional level. The report is based on a survey of UNESCO Member States, which requires data collection at national levels.

Delegates agreed on the importance of Member States filling out the survey accurately and submitting it on time. Access to reliable data is critical in the development of policies and strategies that address the key challenges in each country, as is the support of good governance mechanisms involving relevant stakeholders.

So far, 17 out of 20 Arab countries have submitted their survey with full answers to all the questions.