CONFINTEA VI Fellowship Programme


For UNESCO, fellowship schemes are an important tool to promote sustainable human development, international understanding and a culture of peace. Fellowships help to achieve UNESCO’s strategic objectives and programme priorities. They help build the capacities of UNESCO Members States to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the targets of the Education 2030 Framework for Action.

The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) promotes the sharing of knowledge and expertise in its areas of work, and seeks to reinforce the capacities of Member States to implement stronger policies and practices for adult learning and education (ALE).

At the sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI), held in Belém, Brazil, in 2009, 144 countries adopted the Belém Framework for Action (BFA), which calls on countries to improve ALE in five key areas of action: policy; governance; financing; participation, equity and inclusion; and quality. Specific commitments include:

  • Developing and implementing fully funded policies, well-targeted plans and legislation for addressing adult literacy, education for young people and adults, and lifelong learning.
  • Designing specific and concrete action plans for adult learning and education that are integrated into wider national and regional development plans.


The CONFINTEA Fellowship Programme provides concrete support to Member States seeking to implement the BFA at national level. Through an intense one-month training programme, it develops the capacities of key stakeholders to design and implement ALE policies and strategies. The programme is targeted at senior government officials and civil society representatives who are responsible for ALE.

The Fellowship Programme has the following inter-related objectives:

  • Assist capacity-building in lifelong learning in Member States, especially in developing and least-developed countries.
  • Improve advocacy for adult education in participating Member States.
  • Support policy analysis and policy formulation in participating countries.
  • Reinforce cooperation between adult education stakeholders at country level.
  • Complement and support UIL’s research and development activities.
  • Strengthen cooperation and networking with research centres and universities worldwide.


Each participant in the Fellowship Programme is expected to draft a proposal for a national ALE policy or strategic framework that can be taken further and implemented at country level following the programme. Their proposals need to make a direct contribution to the implementation of the BFA in Member States.

The Fellowship Programme takes place in an interactive and participatory environment. It combines introductory presentations and workshops, peer exchanges and self-directed research under the guidance of UIL experts.

Distinguished experts in the field of ALE oversee programmes, which, depending on the year, last between two and four weeks.

At the end of the fellowship, participants present their draft proposals in a lecture at UIL, receiving feedback from peers and expert staff. After they return to their respective countries, fellows are expected to present their proposals to responsible ministers, and to provide regular reports to UIL on the implementation of their strategies.


UIL covers the costs of return flights and accommodation for the selected participants for the duration of their stay in Hamburg, Germany, where the Institute is located. Health and accident insurance are also covered.

UIL offers a fully equipped and networked workplace and the resources of its unique documentation centre and library. With 63,000 books, documents, non-print media and periodicals on adult education, literacy, non-formal education and lifelong learning, the UIL Library has one of the most comprehensive collections of its kind in the world. Started in 1952 by the UNESCO Institute for Education, it comprises English-language materials (some 60 per cent of the collection), as well as publications in German, French, Spanish and a variety of other languages.

UIL maintains effective working relations with the University of Hamburg, which is within walking distance. The university’s supportive infrastructure, such as its library and dining facilities, are open to fellows, as (in principle) are other research institutes in UIL’s research environment, including the German Institute of Global and Area Studies (GIGA).

UIL’s experts and colleagues are also on hand to provide general and need-based personal support for fellows.

Besides, UIL’s various experts provided general and need-based personal support for the fellows.


Participants are selected based on the following criteria in order to increase impact at national level:

  • Government officials and civil society representatives of developing or transition countries
  • Those involved in policy formulation or planning, implementation and follow-up of national policies and programmes in literacy, non-formal education, adult or lifelong learning
  • Applicants’ English- or French-language proficiency

Candidates are also assessed based on their curriculum vitae, and a short summary of the policy/strategy they seek to develop as part of the Fellowship Programme must be provided. Geographical (regional and national) and gender balance are also taken into account. Interested candidates are asked to submit a written application to UIL.

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