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International Foundation For Adult Education

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The Necessity For Creativity in 21stCentury Education

Sir Ken Robinson makes an entertaining and profoundly moving case for creating an education system that nurtures (rather than undermines) creativity.



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UNESCO's Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) will be hosted by Brazil in 2009. The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), as the UNESCO unit in charge of adult learning, non-formal education and lifelong learning, is coordinating the preparation of the conference, in cooperation with UNESCO Headquarters and Regional Bureaus and the CONFINTEAVI Host Country.In line with the tradition, GONFINTEA VI will be a UNESCO Category II intergovernmental conference. The conference itself as well as the preparatory and follow-up processes will provide platforms for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and education within and across countries at global level, with a large participation of UNESCO Member States, United Nations agencies and international development partners, civil society, research institutions, and the private sector.

The previous five CONFINTEA conferences took place in Helsingor (Denmark) in 1949, Montreal (Canada) in 1960, Tokyo (Japan) in 1972, Paris (France) in 1985, and in Hamburg (Germany) in 1997. CONFINTEA V, which was considered a landmark conference, established a holistic understanding of adult learning and education within the perspective of lifelong learning. Adult learning and education were recognized as key tools to address current social and development challenges all over the world. However, the recognition and strong commitment expressed in 1997 did not lead to the corresponding integration, policy prioritization and allocation of resources for adult learning and education, either nationally or internationally.

Overall Orientation and Objectives

CONFINTEA VI aims to renew international momentum for adult learning and 
education, and to redress the discrepancy between the insights and discourse on the one hand and the lack of systematic and effective policies and conditions for adult education and learning on the other hand.

The CONFINTEA VI preparatory process, conference and follow-up will enable a 
global review of the state of the art of adult education and learning, and will serve as a sounding board for the most relevant and emerging political, cultural, social and economical issues in relation to international education and development. 
CONFINTEA VI will offer the opportunity to articulate adult education and learning 
with the major current international policy frameworks in relation to education and development: the Education for All (EFA) goals and the Millennium Development Goals (MDG5), as well as the United Nations Literacy Decade (UNLD), the Literacy Initiative for Empowerment (LIFE) and the United Nations Decade of Education for Sustainable Development (DESD). Finally, CONFINTEA VI will engage in producing the tools (e.g. benchmarks) to ensure that previous and future commitments to adult education and learning are implemented.

  • to push forward the recognition of adult learning and education as an important element of and factor conducive to lifelong learning, of which
    literacy is the foundation
  •  to highlight the crucial role of adult learning and education for the realization of current international education and development agendas (EFA, MDGs, UNLD, LIFE, and DESD);
  • to renew political momentum and commitment and to develop the tools for implementation in order to move from rhetoric to action.

                                Expected Outcomes

In pursuance of the above objectives to advance the recognition as well as the 
horizontal and vertical integration of adult learning and education and the shift from rhetoric to action, CONFINTEA VI will aim at accomplishing the following results and products:

advocacy, political momentum and commitment for adult learning and education within and across countries generated

synergies with the EFA, UNLD, LIFE, DESD agendas and the MDGs at national and international levels ensured;

 links and interfaces with other areas (e.g. health, agriculture) created

national and international cooperation (between governments and civil society, bi-lateral organizations and UN agencies) increased;

new national and international financing possibilities (e.g. commitment of international development organizations and south-south cooperation 
developed and applied;

professional growth and quality in adult education improved

empowerment of all actors (policy makers, professionals/practitioners researchers, and the private sector, and adult and out-of-school learners) 

internationally applicable/adaptable tools (e.g. benchmarks) to measure progress and to ensure implementation produced; and

a final conference document (e.g. "framework for action") which includes the tools adopted