Austerity policies are marginalizing adult education

The World Assembly of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), which meets in Montreal in mid-June, takes place in a highly strategic context which makes it particularly important to bring together representatives from all regions of the world. In Quebec and Canada, as in many other countries, governments are adopting policies of fiscal austerity. The World Assembly, while it will put forward a broad vision of adult education, can be an opportunity to promote the important impact of learning as a support to economic activity, to the promotion of socio-professional integration and to the reinforcement of an individual`s capacity for action and autonomy.

Citizens, especially those who are vulnerable, are directly affected by the cuts to public services and by the economic insecurity that flows from these budgetary policies. In this context, the education and training of adults are always at risk of being marginalized, either through resources being prioritized to initial education of the young, or by the reduction of the broad concept of adult education to literacy.

The education of marginalized adults in the program of action for the post-2015

In this international context of austerity, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is in the final stages of the adoption of its new global platform on education. The two major framework documents on education on the international stage are Education for All (EFA) and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). These documents, adopted in 1990 in 2000 respectively, both expire this year.
To replace them, the United Nations and UNESCO will adopt a new action plan for the post-2015 period. This preparation has resulted in a large global consultation and the active participation of many countries.

In proposals that UNESCO has submitted to its member states in the area of education, there has not been a recognition of the important roles that adult education and training play in individual and social development. For example, the proposal for a new education framework (the Muscat Accord), it does not explicitly refer to adult education, although some of its targets concern adults. The World Assembly will be a time to express the importance of including adult education in the priorities of the new UNESCO action plan for post-2015 period.

Montreal 2015: a strategic meeting of the global movement for adult education and training

In Quebec, in Canada and around the world, uncertainty still surrounds the recognition of adult education and training. National fiscal policies make little room for adult learning. Internationally, the new framework in education for the post-2015 period is silent on adult education. If this trend continues, this lack of recognition will constitute a decline in relation to its current importance.

The June 2015 World Assembly on adult education and training in Montreal thus becomes a strategic event which can mobilize against such a deterioration. A key function of the World Assembly will be to reaffirm the need for adult education and training and to define action strategies for the international movement to promote the right to adult education and training.



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