The Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI), took place in Bélem (Brazil) in December 2009, and provided an important opportunity for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and literacy at a global level. The conference brought together UNESCO member states, UN agencies, international-cooperation agencies, civil-society organizations, the private sector, and learners from all over the world.
The Road to CONFINTEA VI
Canada's preparation for CONFINTEA VI began in 2008 with the publication of Canada's report on the state of the art of adult learning and education and with Canada's participation in the Regional Preparatory Conference for Europe, North America, and Israel in Budapest, Hungary, which had the theme of “Adult Learning for Equity and Inclusion in a Context of Mobility and Competition.”
The Budapest conference was one of five regional preparatory meetings organized by UNESCO between September 2008 and January 2009. Along with a comprehensive review of key issues and challenges in adult learning and education, it proposed strategies and recommendations to reinvigorate policies and action. These proposals were used inform discussion at CONFINTEA VI.
Preparations for CONFINTEA VI were further informed by the publication of a first-ever Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE). Based on national reports from 154 member states, GRALE analyzes trends, identifies key challenges and best practices, and recommends a course of action to improve the scope of adult education and learning vastly.
CONFINTEA VI: Living and Learning for a Viable Future: The Power of Adult Learning
The Canadian delegation to CONFINTEA VI, headed by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC), included representation from ministries of education, the federal government, and civil society. The delegation informed discussions and contributed to shaping the global dialogue on adult education and learning.
At the conclusion of the conference, the Belém Framework for Action was released. Included in the preamble were the following statements:
- Adult education is recognised as an essential element of the right to education, and we need to chart a new and urgent course of action to enable all young people and adults to exercise this right.
- We affirm that literacy is the most significant foundation upon which to build comprehensive, inclusive and integrated lifelong and life-wide learning for all young people and adults.
Guided by these statements, the framework for action included recommendations that address adult literacy, policy, governance, financing, participation, inclusion, equity, quality, and the monitoring of progress toward the Belém recommendations.