UNESCO Education UIL

ALADIN’s History

Creation of ALADIN

ALADIN, the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network, emerged in July 1997 from a CONFINTEA V workshop which focused explicitly on adult learning documentation and information.

A group of people representing both the potential users and the currently most active adult learning documentation and information centres took stock of the present situation in the different regions of the world and concluded that the organization of an interactive knowledge management system was urgently needed in this domain. What emerged from the workshop was the need for correcting the uneven distribution of documentation centres and networking; promoting the flow of information between both industrialized and developing countries, from South to North, from East to West and vice versa; and bringing in those centres that are not linked electronically. The Head of the Documentation Centre of the UNESCO Institute for Education, Ursula Giere, initiated and planned the workshop and was asked by participants to lead and co-ordinate such initiative.

Expert Seminar

From October 29–31, 1998 a 3-day expert seminar with 25 participants took place in Hamburg 'Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network'. ALADIN seminar participants shared their experiences and created an action plan that is founded on the free and global access to information and adult learning. The participants decided to call the Network ALADIN and developed jointly a set of ALADIN objectives:

Awareness Raising

To create and promote awareness in adult education documentation and information at national, regional, and international levels by:

  • providing users with reliable and urgently needed, high-quality information;
  • identifying reasons and motives for networks;
  • encouraging authorities, including researchers, educators, legislators, and decision-makers, to utilize the network;
  • identifying the need for information an documentation services.

Linking and Co-operation

To establish linkages between stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels in order to:

  • promote co-operation; and
  • build alliances with all of the existing adult education networks, particularly in the academic institutions.

Capacity Building

To create and / or stregthen the capacity of adult learning documentation centres and information services at the national, regional, and international levels by:

  • strengthening human resources;
  • assisting in securing educational materials, financial resources, and basic infrastructure; and
  • promoting the integration of new technologies with traditional means of communication.

Access and Equity

To develop a user-friendly adult learning resource which

  • is balanced in respect to geographical aspects, gender aspects, and to the needs of different users;
  • gives access to different organisational forms depending on user's need; and
  • includes continuous improvement of the collection and dissemination processes that integrates new technology with traditional methods.

Bank of Knowledge for Adult Learning

To develop a coherent picture of adult learning by linking / connecting the diverse pieces of documentation activities in order to facilitate sharing concepts, documents, information and experience by:

  • promoting the concept of adult education as a field of study and practice;
  • reconstructing the body of knowledge to achieve congruency with the CONFINTEA V definition of adult learning; and
  • enhancing knowledge of adult learning in national, regional and international organisations.                                                                                                  

Fellowship Programme

During Autumn 1998 a fellowship programme brought together five research fellows from Africa, the Arab States and Eastern Europe to draft proposals for regional action plans.


First ALADIN Directory of Members

In 1998 a worldwide survey was conducted and the first annotated Directory of Members has been published. It presented the profiles of 89 adult learning documentation and information services worldwide.

In the following years the Directory of Members was constantly updated and published as ALADIN Directory 2002, 2003/2004, 2005-2006 and 2007/2008.

ALADIN Task Force e-mail seminar 1999

From November 15–20, 1999 eleven members of the ALADIN Task Force were convened through an e-mail seminar, co-ordinated jointly by UIE's Documentation Centre and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education.

The e-mail seminar was done in two rounds. The first round served the purpose of updating Task Force members on ALADIN avtivities and clarifying administrative functions and the second round elicited information that can be used to guide future activities, including the activities for which support should be sought, topics for publications and types of publications.

Important Outcomes

Criteria for selecting ALADIN members:

  • Provides information services for adult learning (as broadly defined as in CONFINTEA V)
  • Willingness to network and share information with other ALADIN members and adult educators worldwide
  • Some level of bibliographic organization should be present

Responsibilities of ALADIN members:

  • Participate in ALADIN network by responding to inquiries from other ALADIN members and general users
  • Provide regular updates of information about their Centre
  • Willingness to disseminate information about ALADIN and promote its activities
  • Willingness to cooperate with other ALADIN members
  • Willingness to exchange information/documentation experiences
  • Willingness to exchange expertise
  • Willingness to share training and materials development programmes

ALADIN Website

In 1999 the ALADIN website has been launched with detailed information and online access to all ALADIN members.


Change of ALADIN Co-ordinator

The development of ALADIN has been stalled with the sickness and death of the first ALADIN Co-ordinator, Ursula Giere in the second half of 2000.


A new Co-ordinator, Lisa Krolak has started in May 2001. Organizational commitment from the UNESCO Institute for Education made sure that ALADIN survived.


ALADIN Workshop at the ICAE World Assembly

During August 9–12, 2001 an ALADIN workshop took place at the ICAE World Assembly in Jamaica: 'Adult Learning Documentation and Information: Building the Network', focusing on strengthening ALADIN.

Conclusions and General Recommendations

1.  Develop a comprehensive training approach that includes:

  • Fellowship opportunities to enable persons to set-up adult learning documentation centres in their own countries;
  • Training of trainers who can provide training in setting up adult learning documentation centers and documenting grassroots activities;
  • Development of training materials on setting up documentation centers and documenting grassroots experiences that can be adapted to local situation.

2.  Create an e-Mail Listserv of ALADIN members to provide a forum to exchange ideas, pose questions, and share experiences.

Recommendations to the ICAE

3.  Cooperate with UIE in strengthening ALADIN, particularly by:

  • Using existing ICAE networks to identify additional ALADIN members, especially in those areas where none have yet been identified;
  • Linking to National Adult Learners’ Weeks to raise awareness about ALADIN and the need to increase grassroots documentation efforts.

4.  Raising awareness about existing grassroots documentation efforts through articles in ICAE and ICAE member publications.

ALADIN e-Mail Listserv

An ALADIN e-mail Listserv has been set up in January 2002 to enable ALADIN members and friends of ALADIN to communicate with each other on a regular basis. It can be used as a forum to share ideas, comments, concerns and requests.

ALADIN Task Force Meeting 2002

From April 11–13, 2002 seven members of the ALADIN Task Force met at the Coady International Institute to discuss general ALADIN issues and capacity building approaches.

Main Outcomes of the Meeting

A new design for the ALADIN website has been developed and it has been agreed to enhance the ALADIN website by making it a knowledge platform for information and research on adult learning. The ALADIN application form has been simplified. For assisting ALADIN members that need institutional support ALADIN wants to concentrate on the training of their human resources. In 2003 at least one ALADIN member of each region shall be sent on a scholarship to the next ‘Managing NGO Resource Centers’ course that will run at the Coady International Institute from May 13 to June 7, 2003. The mid-term vision is to develop a training manual on how to document and organize information (in English, Spanish and French) and a training strategy at regional level.


ALADIN Adult Learning Links

In November 2002 nearly 200 annotated Adult Learning Links have been added to the ALADIN website.

The Adult Learning Links have been added to the ALADIN website as a result of the ALADIN Task Force decision earlier this year to make the ALADIN website a knowledge platform for information and research on adult learning. The links were mainly collected and annotated by ALADIN Task Force member Eva Kupidura and organized for the ALADIN website by ALADIN Co-ordinator Lisa Krolak.

ALADIN Scholarships

Five ALADIN members received a full ALADIN scholarship to attend the 'Managing NGO Resource Centres' certificate course, which run from May 12–June 6, 2003 at the Coady International Institute in Antigonish, Canada.


ALADIN Annual Meeting 2003

The ALADIN Task Force held its annual meeting from September 5–7, 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand to prepare for the CONFINTEA V Mid-Term Review Conference that took place in Bangkok from September 8–11, 2003.

The overall aim of the international CONFINTEA Mid-Term Review Conference was to create the momentum to bring adult learning back on the agenda of national governments, of UNESCO and of other international agencies. The ALADIN workshop was one of 20 thematic reviews.

Its aims were:

  • To discuss developments and accomplishments since 1997;
  • To re-evaluate ALADIN's objectives and vision for the future;
  • To identify emerging trends, challenges and innovative ideas;
  • To prepare for the CONFINTEA VI assessment in 2009 by setting concrete future objectives;
  • To identify benchmark indicators.


From February 23–March 5, 2004, ALADIN Task Force members William Evans of the Norwegian Association for Adult Education (NAAE) and Glen Arendse from the University of the Western Cape/Division of Lifelong Learning (UWC/DLL), South Africa, met with the ALADIN Co-ordinator, Lisa Krolak (UIE) to discuss various ICT issues relating to ALADIN and to create a new ALADIN e-mail Listserv.

ALADIN Pilot Country Study for India

ALADIN member Prof. S.Y. Shah carried out an ALADIN Pilot Country Study for India during the first half of the year 2004. The study collected in-depth information on adult learning documentation centres from 207 organizations all over India. By May 2004, 47 centres had responded. The results were listed and evaluated in an extensive country study that was published and distributed as the ALADIN-India Directory of Members in August 2005.

Latin American ALADIN Meeting

ALADIN members Gonzalo Gutiérrez (REDUC/CIDE NGO Network, Chile), Gloria Alberti (UNESCO/OREALC, Chile) and Victoria Latapí (INEA, Mexico) met with three information professionals (from CREFAL, Mexico among other organisations) from 28–30 July 2004 at INEA in Mexico City to discuss common information management issues, particularly guidelines and necessary steps for preparing an ongoing Joint Bibliography on Adult Learning for Latin America. In April 2005 OREALC/UNESCO Santiago published  a revised and annotated Bibliography on Adult Learning in Latin America and the Caribbean, as part of La Educación de Jóvenes y Adultos en América Latina y el Caribe: Hacia un Estado del Arte (The Education of Young People and Adults in Latin America and the Caribbean: Toward a State of the Art).

ALADIN Lecture at IALW 2004

An ALADIN lecture was held on 9 September 2004 at the 2004 International Adult Learners' Week in Cape Town, South Africa on the topic of “Overcoming barriers: Reaching out to Excluded Learners”. Forty international and local participants attended the workshop, which was facilitated by William Evans from the Norwegian Association for Adult Education. The general introduction was given by Lisa Krolak, the ALADIN co-ordinator. This was followed by a presentation by Elaine MacLean from the Coady International Institute in Canada on the role of adult learning documentation and information centres in advocacy and social change. A further presentation was given by Glen Arendse from the University of the Western Cape, South Africa on developing dedicated and integrated adult learning information and documentation facilities in the Western Cape province.

ALADIN Toolkit Workshop

An ALADIN Toolkit Workshop took place from 13–14 September 2004 at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa to discuss in depth the development of an ALADIN Toolkit for setting up basic documentation centres on adult learning. Five international ALADIN members and three local information professionals compared various toolkits on educational subjects, looked at various training manuals on information management and discussed the implications for IT management of standardizing and linking ALADIN information centres.

National Workshop on ALADIN-India

A national workshop on ALADIN-India took place at the India International Centre in New Delhi from March 29–30, 2005. 45 representatives of ALADIN-India met in the workshop to discuss various presentations on the national and international context of ALADIN, look at how to strengthen and professionalise ALADIN centres in India, consider examples of networks in India, and discuss the possibilities for organizing, managing and sharing information in the future. ALADIN-India was launched with Prof. S.Y. Shah as its National Co-ordinator.

ALADIN Toolkit Website

From September 19–October 5, 2005, ALADIN member Eva Kupidura, Organization and Policy Consultant at the Toronto Adult Student Association (TASA), worked with ALADIN Co-ordinator Lisa Krolak (UIE) on the content for a website for the ALADIN Toolkit for setting up basic documentation centres on adult learning. The ALADIN Tookit website was launched in October 2005.

ALADIN Meeting 2005

Seven ALADIN members from all regions of the world met before and after the International Adult Learners Week (IALW), which took place in Oslo from October 24–26, 2005. They discussed regional ALADIN activities and made plans for future developments.

PALDIN Workshop

In March 29–30, 2006 an international workshop was held in New Delhi to discuss and design a “Framework of a Curriculum for an E-learning Course for the Capacity Building of Adult Educators”. ALADIN members William Evans (Norway) and Sue Adams (Canada) gave key presentations. The workshop named the proposed course as Participatory Adult Learning, Documentation and Information Networking (PALDIN). In the following months, 16 experts and renowned scholars from academic institutions and NGOs were commissioned to prepare 31 units of course materials for the PALDIN learning package.

ALADIN Task Force Meeting 2007

The ALADIN Task Force met from January 9–11, 2007 at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, Germany. They discussed past, present and future ALADIN activities. The main outcomes of the meeting were a re-visited Strategic Plan for ALADIN and a Work Plan for 2007-2009.

National PALDIN Workshop

On March 22, 2007, a national workshop on PALDIN was held at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. It was attended by 35 participants comprising the course writers, course co-ordinators, subject experts and representatives of selected institutions interested in pilot testing PALDIN. The objectives were to review the two volumes of the draft PALDIN learning package, discuss and finalize the evaluation form and formulate strategies for pilot testing the material. Between July and November 2007, PALDIN was pilot-tested by students of the Adult Education Department at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and by a group of 30 learners drawn from different adult learning organizations in India.