By Claudia Pioli, Argentina and Kamil Gerónimo, Puerto Rico
On April 25, the ICAE and UNESCO-Paris held the Regional Consultation with Civil Society on the document Rethinking Education: Towards a global common good?, published by UNESCO. The event held in Brasilia also allowed to question the strategies, programs and practices that can enable the realization of Development Goal 4 on lifelong education and learning. Initially, Rosa María Torres, from Ecuador, and Timothy Ireland, from Brazil, made critical comments in relation to the approaches, strengths and weaknesses of UNESCO document. Then, representatives of civil society of Latin America and the Caribbean subdivided into three working groups to discuss current challenges to youth and adult education.
The first group discussed how to re-conceptualize the right to education of youth and adults from the perspective of lifelong learning for all. This Working Group noted that while the approach to the commodification of education in the document is important, it becomes a priority to framing (lifelong) education as a human right. It is imperative to reconceptualize literacy and basic education, and retake the position of youth and adult education. The knowledge society should be replaced by the learning society which, in turn, should be responsible for training those who learn and those who teach. It was also seen as necessary to unify the agenda of the Right to Education. Setbacks are noted in public policies regarding education and the intention to extend standardized tests even to youth and adult education becomes a concern because there is no doubt that these economic moves commodify education. Greater political will, adequate funding and participation of the society and the learners in the formulation of educational policies is necessary, integrating the needs and avoiding marginalizing sectors by gender, age, etc.
The second group discussed the role and practices of civil society to ensure equity and quality of learning opportunities for youth and adults. It was said that Civil Society does not concern only NGOs but also social movements, churches, civil nonprofit associations, unions, political parties and others. Somehow, they are all participating in some actions of youth and adult education, especially in literacy and other topics of community interest. Secondly, it was indicated that some points of tension between the State and Civil Society arise when the State determines goals for youth and adult education that scarcely adjust to the reality of people and to meeting their expectations, and how they are limited to literacy and basic education, neglecting other equally important aspects for the development of people as visibility and sharing of positive experiences. Thus, the ambition of Latin America is to achieve an inclusive and quality education for young people and adults, whose method is incorporated into the priority educational agenda of the countries. This requires a clear and accurate definition regarding education and learning within the framework of youth and adult education and Lifelong Learning in a humanistic and transformative vision. In it, the teaching staff should have a solid and continuous initial training; pedagogical proposals and curricula should be integrated and contextualized and, finally, methodologies should enable cultural, educational and communicational mediation and adequate funding. In some national ministries of education of certain countries, youth and adult education does not have the proper prestige, assessment or recognition. When recognizing its priority it will be necessary to promote work between Civil Society organizations and universities. Similarly, States must update their statistics. Youth and adult education in the region has shown sensitivity for early childhood education and elderly people-oriented continuing education.
The third group discussed about the bridges between formal and non-formal learning. This group discussed that not only the State educates, but there are multiple learning spaces outside the formal sphere and linked to it. Formal, non-formal and informal education imply a coordination between school and other learning spaces from CSOs, NGOs, etc. For example, Popular Education in Brazil has a very strong presence. The recognition of certain knowledge that come from non-formal areas is seen as a necessity as they certainly train and empower the person. Perhaps the biggest challenge is how to do this. In view of this a question is asked: is it necessary to certify all? The bridge between formal and non-formal education was always popular education.
After the event, the ICAE joined the ambitious agenda of CONFINTEA + 6 that included the International Seminar on Lifelong Education, the Brazilian Technical Meeting of mid-term review of the Belém Action Framework and the Meeting of international agencies of technical cooperation to the planning and preparation of the Midterm Global CONFINTEA Mid Term Review, which were held between 25 and 27 April. A total of six audiovisual interviews on the expectations of Latin American networks and UNESCO itself facing the CONFINTEA Mid Term Review will be posted on Voices Rising soon.
Versión en español: http://www.icae2.org/index.php/es/novedades/523-resena-consulta-a-la-sociedad-civil-en-torno-al-documento
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CONFINTEA+6: International seminar in Brazil evaluates ALE developments in Latin America and the Caribbean: http://www.uil.unesco.org/adult-learning-and-education/confintea6-international-seminar-brazil-evaluates-ale-developments