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UIL Policy brief 10 “Adult education and the challenge of exclusion”

  • March 2020

A large and growing number of people worldwide are excluded from participating in the economy and society, which poses a problem not only in achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education, but also in making progress on the other goals of the 2030 Agenda, spanning issues from climate change to poverty reduction.

The fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4) shows that raising participation in adult learning and education (ALE) is pivotal for reaching these goals. Countries must review their ALE policies and progress in the light of evidence on participation, and invest in sustainable provision of access to all learners throughout their lives, and in all the different contexts in which adults learn.

GRALE 4 calls on Member States to put adult learning and education at the centre of their efforts to achieve sustainable economies and societies and to recognize ALE’s key role in developing integrated, holistic solutions to today’s challenges. These include technological, demographic, economic and environmental problems. Not only are ALE participation rates too low but, where progress is being made, it is insufficient.

Adult learning and education remains underfunded. Where interventions do make a positive impact on participation, in too many cases they are not widely shared or properly understood. At a very basic level, we simply do not know enough about who is participating and who is not, particularly in poorer countries and among disadvantaged and marginalized groups.

Turning this situation around, and realizing the potential contribution of adult learning and education to SDG 4 and the wider 2030 Agenda, will require a major act of political will, backed by smart, cross-sectoral policies and increased investment.

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  • Policy brief “Adult education and the challenge of exclusion”
  • UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, 2020
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