Final Report

Fifth International Conference on Adult Education

Hamburg, Germany
 14 - 18 July 1997


 Part I: Summary of the Plenary Discussions

 A. Introduction

 B. Opening of the Conference

 C. Work of the Conference

 Part II:

 A. Commissions

 B. Thematic Working Groups

 C. Public Round Tables

Part III: Documents issued by the Conference:

A. Report of the Conference by the Rapporteur-General

B. The Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning

C. Agenda for the Future

ANNEXES: (83 kB)

I Agenda

II Opening Address by Mr Henning Voscherau - First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

III Keynote Address by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina -  Prime Minister / The People's Republic of Bangladesh

IV Opening Address by Mr Roman Herzog -  The President of the Federal Republic of Germany

V Address by Mr Federico Mayor - Director-General, UNESCO

VI Address by Ms Rita Süssmuth - President of the German Parliament

VII Address by Mr Kim Howells - Minister of Lifelong Learning, UK

VIII List of Participating Thematic Working Groups

IX List of Participants of Public Round Tables

X List of Participants

XI Conference Secretariat and Local Supporting Personnel


Summary of the Plenary Discussions

A. Introduction

 1. The 5th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA V) was convened by the Director-General of UNESCO in pursuance of resolutions 1.1 (para 2.A.g) and 1.4 (para 3) adopted by the General Conference at its twenty-eighth session of the General Conference of UNESCO and in accordance with the work plan of the Approved Programme and Budget for 1996-1997 (28C/5 Approved, para 01507). At the invitation of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Conference was held at the Congress Centrum Hamburg from 14 to 18 July 1997. The Conference was organized with the following partners: FAO; ILO; UNAIDS; UNICEF; UNDP; UNFPA; UNHCR; UNIDO; World Bank; WHO; Council of Europe; European Union; OECD.

2. The Conference was attended by a total of 1507 participants including 41 Ministers 15 Vice-Ministers and 3 Sub-Ministers: 729 representatives from 130 Member States; 2 Associate Members; 2 Non-Member States; 1 Palestine; 14 representatives of Organizations of the UN System, and 21 representatives from Intergovernmental Organizations, 478 NGO representatives; and 237 foundation representatives (Annex X).

3. The CONFINTEA V was held on the eve of the new millennium and followed the four previous Conferences (Elsinore, 1949; Montreal, 1960; Tokyo, 1972; Paris 1985). A wide range of preparatory activities - five regional consultations, (Barcelona, Cairo, Dakar, Jomtien, Brasilia), a questionnaire sent to all Member States and 12 international NGOs and various meetings with different thematic groups - have been carried out in the course of preparing the Conference.

B. Opening of the Conference

4. The Plenary Session opened with the presentation of speakers by Ms Kasama Varavarn, Chairperson of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Education and by dance performance groups from Thailand, Brazil and Germany.

5. Mr Henning Voscherau, First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, welcoming all participants to the City of Hamburg, stressed that education and adult education are instruments which foster competence, values and behaviours to meet the challenges of tomorrow and to enable the nations of the world to live peacefully together (Annex II).

6. Her Excellency Ms Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of the Peoples' Republic of Bangladesh, in her keynote address, spoke on the importance of adult literacy, the close linkage between education and economic productivity and the need to ensure high quality adult learning in the perspective of lifelong learning. She stressed that "international co-operation will bring forth a prosperous world community - one in which even the poorer developing nations can begin to share in the new growth possibilities opened up by recent technological advances" (Annex III).

 7. The President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mr Roman Herzog, referred to his country's 46 years' commitment to UNESCO and pointed to the fact that "the UNESCO Institute was the first institution of the international community to be established in this country." Referring to CONFINTEA V, he, moreover, underlined the importance of a new form of growth supported by knowledge, lifelong learning and the role of adult education to promote peace (Annex IV).

8. Mr Federico Mayor, the Director-General of UNESCO, welcomed all participants to CONFINTEA V and expressed the hope that the Conference would "define the new roles of adult education to meet the aspirations of women and men in all countries within the new world that is taking shape about us". He then requested participants to observe a one minute silence in remembrance of Paulo Freire who "revolutionalized" the whole concept of education by linking literacy and liberation. Mr Mayor posed a question "How will the Hamburg Conference be remembered fifty years hence?" He answered that it "depends on our vision and commitments, now and hereafter". He also reminded participants that CONFINTEA V is different from the previous ones in so far as it aims at reaching the outcome of the Conference through a close dialogue and partnership with NGOs. Finally, Mr Mayor interrupted his speech for a few minutes to give the floor to Ms Nonkosinathi Hathuku from Hanover in the Northern Cape Province of South Africa, a former adult illiterate, who has become literate through her participation in the Masakhane Literacy Project to present her personal experience and opinions on how useful and important it is to be a literate person (Annex V).

C. Work of the Conference

9. At the end of the Opening Ceremony, the Plenary meeting moved on to item 2 of the provisional agenda (Annex I) and elected Ms Rita Süssmuth, President of the German Parliament, as the President of the Conference. Stressing that "continuing education is an investment for the future", she asserted : "adult education must involve people as actors who decide for themselves in the societal process of change, and give them the knowledge they require for this purpose, together with the skill to apply this knowledge responsibly." She spoke on the opportunity and challenge of lifelong learning, the importance of open lifelong learning without frontiers and also the new alliances between the state, civil society, NGOs and private organizations.

10. Upon adoption of the Rules of Procedure, the Conference elected the following Members of the Bureau of the Conference:
President: Ms Rita Süssmuth President of the German Parliament
Vice-Presidents: Mr Ashk Sadeque Minister of Education, Bangladesh
Mr Emil Gheorghe Moroianu Director-General of International Relations 
Ministry of Education, Romania
Ms Pauline Marois Minister of Education, Quebec, Canada
Mr Abdul-Jabbar Tawfik Muhamad Minister of Education, Iraq
Ms Aissata Moumouni Minister of Education, Niger
Mr Jaime Nino Diez Minister of Education, Colombia
Mr Fenton Ferguson Parliamentary Secretary 
Ministry of Education, Youth and Culture, Jamaica
Chairperson of Commission I  Mr Luis Benavides  Director, Centro Internaciónal Prospectiva y Altos Estudios, México
Chairperson of Commission II Dato Haji Annuar Bin Haji Musa Minister of Rural Development, Malaysia
Rapporteur-General Ms Esi Sutherland-Addy, Ghana

The drafting committee, composed of persons from different regions, was created and worked closely with the Bureau of the Conference in order to examine and incorporate draft amendments into the draft Declaration and the draft Agenda for the Future. The drafting committee consisted of the following members:

Mr J Ellis (Chairman, Namibia); Mr A Manouaun (Ivory Coast); Ms S Correa (Brazil); Mr L E Lopez (Peru); Ms M L Doronila (Philippines); Ms T Marja (Estonia); Mr S Poulsen-Hansen (Denmark); Ms Al-Doy (Bahrain); Mr Daswani (India); Mr T Geer (Australia).

11. The Plenary of the Conference, after adopting the Organization of Work and of the Agenda, welcomed Mr Kim Howells, Minister of Lifelong Learning, Department for Education and Employment, United Kingdom. He declared: "Today is part of this new beginning for the UK - our first opportunity since we were elected to contribute to a major UNESCO conference as a Member". Expressing his Government's pledge to work with UNESCO closely, he concluded: "We have put education at the heart of our national agenda. I am proud that we are once again part of UNESCO because UNESCO too has education at the centre of its priorities" (Annex VII).

12. The Plenary meeting then dealt with oral reports on the results of the regional consultation meetings. In addition, one or two ministers from the regions were invited to address the Plenary, as well as representatives from regional organizations.

The following delegates addressed the Plenary on behalf of their regions:

Asia and Pacific Region:  Ms Kasama Varavarn, Director of Non-formal Education, Ministry of Education, Thailand; Ms Maria Lourdes A Khan, Secretary General, ASPBAE; Mr S R Bommai, Minister of Human Resource Development, India. 
European Region:  Mr Jürgen Rüttgers, Minister of Education, Science, Research and Technology, Germany; Mr Ole Vig Jensen, Minister of Education, Denmark; Mr Antoni Comas, Minister of Social Welfare of the Catalan Region of Spain; Mr Paolo Federighi, European Association of the Education of Adults; Mr Mait Klaassen, Minister of Education, Estonia. 
African Region:  Mr Mammadou Ndoye, Minister of Education, Senegal; Mr Albert Mberio, Minister of Education, Central African Republic; Mr Arnaldo Valente Nhavoto, Minister of Education, Mozambique. 
Latin American and Caribbean Region:  Mr Jaime Nino Diez, Minister of Education, Colombia; Ms Celita Eccher, NGO representative of CEAAL; Mr Renford Shirley, President, Caribbean Regional Council for Adult Education (CARCAE); Ms Josefina Bilbao, Minister for Women, Chile. 
Arab Region:  Mr Hamed Ammar, Ain Shams University, Egypt; Ms Nadia Gamal El Din Yousef, Director, National Centre of Educational Research and Development, Egypt; Mr Ibrahim Alsheddi, Assistant Deputy Minister of Education for Culture, Saudi Arabia.

13. Along with the presentations of the Regional Reports, the following representatives of Organizations of the United Nations System, Intergovernmental Organizations and NGOs delivered speeches:

OECD: Mr Thomas Alexander, Director of Education, Employ- ment, Labour and Social Affairs

UNDP: Mr Richard Jolly, Special Advisor to the Administrator

ICAE: Ms Lalita Ramdas, President

UNFPA: Mr O J Sikes, Chief, Education, Communication & Youth Branch

UNICEF: Ms Mary Joy Pigozzi, Senior Advisor - Education

World Bank: Mr John Oxenham, Senior Training Officier

European Commission: Mr Tom O'Dwyer, Director-General of the Directorate- General XXII

14. Included in the Plenary of the Conference was a Dialogue session with multilateral agencies and delegates on the theme "The future of co-operation in lifelong learning", in which the following persons participated:

Chair: Mr Boutros Boutros Ghali, former UN Secretary General

Moderator: Mr Wadi Haddad

Panelists: 1. Ms Huguette Labelle, President, CIDA

 2. Mr Ingemar Gustafsson, Director, SIDA

 3. Mr John Lawrence, Education-for-All, UNDP

 4. Mr Richard Sack, Secretary-General, Association for the Development of Education in Africa

 5. Mr Mohammad Ahmed Rasheed, Minister of Education, Saudi Arabia

 6. Mr Soedijarto, Director-General, Out-of-School Education, Youth and Sports, Ministry of Education, Indonesia

 7. Mr Johann Galtung, Professor of Peace Studies, Norway

 8. Mr Rafael Roncagliolo, World Association of Community Radios, Peru

15. At the Closing session of the Conference, Ms Süssmuth, President of the Conference, declared that the Hamburg Conference was a success in terms of the richness of the ideas and of the strong commitment manifested by participants. At the same time, the Conference addressed a range of problems which lie ahead of us. The Report of the Conference presented by the Rapporteur-General, Ms Esi Sutherland-Addy, the Declaration and the Agenda for the Future were adopted. There were short interventions by a ministerial representative from each of the four groups: Ms Gufu Ndbele, (Director of Adult Education and Training Department, South Africa); Mr Abdulazi Alsunbul, Deputy Director-General of ALECSO); Mr Abdellatif Fetni (Director-General of the National Office of Literacy and Adult Education, Algeria); Mr Devi Prasad Ojha (Minister of Education, Nepal); Mr Samuel Lichtensztejn (Minister of Education, Uruguay). A representative of the International Council for Adult Education also made an intervention, underlying the new co-operation between governments and civil society.

Mr Mayor, speaking for all the participants, thanked the Federal Government of Germany, the Free Hanseatic City of Hamburg, the University of Hamburg, and NGOs. He concluded: "It is our moment to seize this momentum, recover the basis for practice, and get to work. Rather than building a wall to keep out the wind, we must build a windmill and generate the tremendous human power that adult education and lifelong learning can bring."


A. Commissions

16. Two simultaneous Commission sessions were held with all participants and observers. Commission I dealt with the Declaration and Chapters I and X plus follow-up to the Agenda for the Future. Commission II dealt with the Chapters II to IX (incl.) of the Agenda for the Future. Commission I elected Mr Umaru Aji (Nigeria) and Ms Nora Rameka (New Zealand) as Vice Chairpersons and Mr Dominique Schalchli (France) as a Rapporteur. Commission II elected Mr Hussein Al Wad (Tunisia) as Vice Chairperson and Ms Vida A Mohorcia Spolar (Slovania) as a Rapporteur.

B. Thematic Working Groups

17. Following the Plenary Session, the following half-day mixed thematic working groups (Annex VIII) were organized and attended by specialists from governments, IGOs, UN bodies, NGOs, research centres and universities, etc. to discuss together the various concepts, issues, and prospects on the following themes centring around adult learning:

- Literacy in the world and its major regions;

 - Literacy and Learning strategies;

 - Women's Education: The contending discourses and possibilities for changes;

 - Changes in the world of work and their impact on adult education and training;

- University-community partnerships: Links with the adult education movement;

- Monitoring of adult learning for knowledge-based policy-making;

 - Enhancing international co-operation and solidarity;

 - The multiplicity of research on "Learning for all, a key for the 21st Century";

 - Health promotion and health education for adults;

 - Cultural citizenship in the 21st Century: adult education and indigenous peoples;

- Literacy, education and social development;

 - Literacy research, evaluation and statistics;

 - Literacy and technology;

 - Literacy in multilingual/intercultural settings;

 - Raising gender issues in different educational settings;

 - Adult education and population issues in the post-Cairo context;

 - Museums, libraries and cultural heritage: democratizing culture, creating knowledge and building bridges;

 - The changing world of work: Implications for adult education programmes;

 - Global community of adult education through information and documentation: developing a network of networks;

 - Adult environmental education: awareness for environmental action;

 - Adult learning for prisoners;

 - Making education accessible and available for all persons with disabilities;

 - The politics and policies of the education of adults in a globally transforming society;

 - Literacy and basic skills for community development in industrialized countries;

 - Literacy for tomorrow;

 - Adult education and co-operation among majority and minority communities;

 - New information technologies: a key for adult leaning;

 - Adult environmental education;

 - Policy and social implications of the changing world of work;

 - Migrant education;

 - Adult learning, democracy and peace;

 - Adult learning and ageing populations;

 - Universities and the future of adult education in the 21st Century: the demise of the ivory tower;

 - The economics of adult learning: the role of government.

C. Public Round Tables

18. Three self-financed public round tables were held during the Conference on the following themes (Annex IX):

 - Learning gender sensitivity - practising gender justice;

 - Cities of learning;

 - Consequences of literacy: adult literacy and human-centred development.


Documents issued by the Conference

A. Report of the Conference by the Rapporteur-General

Madame Chair,

Members of the Conference Bureau,

Distinguished Delegates,

 Distinguished Participants,

 It is my very great honour to present to you the oral report of the Fifth International Conference on Adult Education.

What I have tried to do in this report with the help of a wonderful team from the Secretariat is to synthesize the main trends of our discussions, and to capture the general atmosphere of the Conference. I, however, take full responsibility for this presentation.

I will also be taking the liberty afforded me by this great opportunity to make a few, very brief, personal reflections on matters which have struck me profoundly during the Conference.

Oral Report Part I

The Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, with its tradition of openness, dialogue, creativity and hospitality, provided an exciting and dynamic scene for a wide and multiform exchange on adult learning for the twenty-first century.

 One ambition of this Conference, which has brought together about one thousand five-hundred representatives of governments, NGOs and international agencies, was to capture, reflect and promote the multi-layered concept of adult learning to which different actors, the state, the civil society and the private sector and social partners are contributing within a concerted and negotiated framework.

The motto of the Conference, Adult Learning as a right, a tool, a joy and shared responsibility, truly reflected the atmosphere which prevailed. CONFINTEA V created the learning environment and practised the learning culture which has always characterized the adult education movements. Inter-learning, co-operation and exchange have taken place, not only in the formal sessions, but also during the multi-varied gatherings, the media events which culminated in the teleconferencing dialogue with India. A moment of learning took place also through the dialogue on the rebuilding and revitalization of two former industrialized cities, Detroit and Windsor. More importantly, a wide range and thorough exchange of experiences in building sustainable gender justice in education and development, formed part of the learning process.

 On-going women caucuses, regional and subregional consultations, informal gatherings of all kinds, exhibits of colourful and symbolic art objects, freshly produced books, etc. played a constructive role in the Conference.

 A moving homage to two eminent adult educators and world citizens, Dame Nita Barrow and Paulo Freire, provided an inspiring testament to the refreshing and lasting validity of the goals, methods and spirit of adult education.

1. We saw the emergence of a New Vision of Adult Learning: A Call for a Shift

 Drawing attention to a politically, economically and socially transformed world, dramatically different from the realities of the Fourth International Conference on Adult Education held in 1985 the key speakers of the Conference called on the gathering to define the new roles of adult education which would take into account changes taking place.

They indicated that the challenges resulting from the ongoing process of globalization, the tension and risk of marginalization that characterize our present time that is pregnant of the hopes and fear of the nascent century, call for new and imaginative solutions. Therefore, the Conference was viewed and lived by many participants as a sounding board to construct a new vision, looking at adult learning as an integral part of a lifelong and life-wide learning process, promoting family and community learning as well as dialogue between cultures, respecting differences and diversity and thereby contributing to a culture of peace. Acknowledging the learners not as objects, but as subjects of their learning processes, adult education should more specifically contribute to:

- the struggle for social and economic development, justice, equality, respect for traditional cultures, and recognition of dignity of every human being through individual empowerment and social transformation;

- addressing human sufferings in all contexts - oppression, poverty, child labour, genocide, denial of learning opportunities based on class, gender, race or ethnicity;

- individual empowerment and social transformation.

A special call was made to the effect that adult education should target the educated powerful elites in society as much as those who are the so-called marginalized and illiterates, since the macro-policies such as globalization and structure adjustment which have affected the human condition so severely, are created today by the educated, the rich and powerful. This new vision of adult education calls for the creation of inclusive learning societies building on all the potential and resources of all the people and the environment.

 2. Travelling from CONFINTEA IV to CONFINTEA V

 The reports of the various regional consultations showed that while some progress has been made in adult education, the process since CONFINTEA IV (1985) has not been able to stimulate a major shift towards integrating adult education in the overall basic education country policies. The short accounts made, pointed to some trends and more specifically the regions reported in the following manner:

a. The African Region

Since 1985 an increasing number of adult illiterates have benefited from literacy programmes and numerous local initiatives; however, due to rapid population growth the absolute number of illiterates is still increasing.

Africa gives notice of the need to see adult education as a tool for development and indicates the need for politics of inclusion in the global management of information technology and world economies, particularly the debt burden, since the need for rapid modernization is as notable as they might be elsewhere in the world.

However, illiteracy is particularly high and human and financial resources for learning are difficult to mobilize due to civil wars, poverty and structural adjustment programmes. The mobilization of local communities and their commitment to the search for collective solutions to individual problems as well as their demand for more participation and responsibility in fostering sustainable development gives a ray of hope for the future.

The engine of this transformation is to be found in the emergence of an active civil society through associations, NGOs and other socio-professional and cultural movements. In response, African governments have undertaken reforms that seek to emphasize decentralization and grassroots empowerment for more significant participation in the national development.

b. The Asia and Pacific Region

- increasingly, policies and corresponding investments recognize adult education as a means to reach and empower the disadvantaged, to ensure equitable and sustainable development, to harness potentials for national competitiveness and to enhance lifelong learning opportunities;

- the vision and scope of adult education has expanded and created strategies developed as a result of partnership among educational institutions, NGOs, people's organizations, the media and the private sector as a whole;

- innovative models for mobilizing support for mass literacy campaigns and to provide alternative education for the out-of-school children were highlighted;

- greater concern for gender sensitivity, local responsiveness and quality are evident in many functional literacy programmes;

- closer linkages have been forged between education and sustainable development;

- new forms of vocational, technical and workplace education have been initiated.

c. The Latin American and Caribbean Region

There is pervasive evidence of NGO-government partnership in adult education which has led, for example , to innovations in curriculum development. In several countries women are increasingly seen as a priority group in education. However, educational policies do not yet respond to local realities and do not always go beyond conventional models of classroom teaching; building the largely desired multi-sectoral and inter-institutional co-operation has proven to be slow in taking the required foundation.

 The region reports a notable increase in the role of the media and the involvement of civil society; a stronger involvement of the government in the field of adult education and the need for revising national educational policies from the perspective of lifelong learning.

One of the strongest recommendations of the region is that adult educators pay attention to the young adults as a key strategy. Latin America and the Caribbean strongly echoed the need for a creative management of the debt burden in favour of crucial programmes such as the programme of adult learning.

d. The European Region

Residual functional illiteracy is also a reality in this region and efforts are being made to monitor and control the circumstances that have brought it about. However, the concern for Europe is to move towards an expanded vision of adult education as an integral part of lifelong learning. There is recognition of the implications for education with regard to the diverse patterns of development in the region. The report put a new emphasis on lifelong learning with the Declaration of 1996 as European Year of Lifelong Learning.

 One of the defining features of adult education is the growth outside the formal systems, initiated by a variety of popular movements ranging from trade unions to rural development organizations to temporary movements. Experience in Europe sharpened awareness of the rich diversity which exists not only of structures, but also of content and even of understanding.

The report emphasized the role of education in promoting the concept of active citizenship which comprises the ability to interpret experience, to make individual decisions, to participate in political processes and the fulfilment of individual dignity.

Europe calls for a radical change of attitude on the part of educational institutions and organizations, including the school system, universities, enterprises and all the social partners. An extended form of dialogue between institutions is therefore necessary to allow for mobility between different learning environments and to promote new kinds of learning for the acquisition of new knowledge. A dynamic lifelong learning environment cannot be directed from the top down, but presupposes a high degree of participation from adult citizens.

The region shared the following proposals for action:

- an hour a day of learning to create a culture of a learning society;

- the announcement of a world day of Adult Education.

 e. The Arab Region

 During the last 12 years the number of literate adults has increased significantly. Today, two third of the adult population of the region are literate. Beyond this general achievement, the literacy rate of women remains still significantly lower than that of men. To continue to correct this imbalance and to intensify the effort is a challenge for the years to come.

In the Arab region, a new trend is taking place where the priority of adult literacy is increasingly seen as an integrated part of the larger objective of education throughout the adult life. The first priority of 3 Rs for all is redefined in the larger version of the 3 Ls (lifelong learning for all).

Oral Report Part II


Let me now attempt the ambitious task of sharing with you the gist of the 33 working sessions of the thematic groups.

The richness of the panel discussions cannot be captured in a series of brief notes and I am sure all of us will be awaiting the publication on the proceedings and messages of this Conference as early as possible . We say in Ghana that when you want to speak to God you speak to the wind.

Governments were urged to give more recognition and support with regard to the following points raised in the different Working groups:

The Conference managed to stimulate a process of redefining literacy stressing the need to move away from the deficit approach. Literacy acquisition is concerned with the making of and participation in a literate culture at individual, local, national and regional levels. Apart from being considered a condition for economic development, literacy does contribute greatly to the facilitation of the lifelong learning process of adults and children, but at the same time, it can only be sustained, if embedded in a literate culture. Literacy has many faces and the diversity of literacies today has to be acknowledged and built upon. Literacy as a social practice has to build upon the existing capitals of local languages, cultures and knowledge - thus serving, inspiring and strengthening civil society and social justice.

The intricate relation between literacy and mother tongue was greatly emphasized; consequently in multilingual societies the broad and rapid promotion of literacy and education cannot be channelled through one official and foreign language; the participatory approach which is a key to adult education also means taking into consideration mother tongues. What then emerges is that multilingualism is not an obstacle, but a potential for literacy.

Literacy has recently become an issue also in the industrialized countries. They have come to acknowledge the fact that in spite of a range of experiences with alternative and successful literacy and basic skills programmes, exclusion from learning opportunities based on race, gender, social background is still rampant. The need for participatory approaches, recognition of cultural diversity, networking, partnership and flexibility were key issues raised. A young Canadian Inuit told us: "Everyone in Canada and everyone in the world has a part to play in ensuring that I keep my culture and my language."

Much has been said about the significant gap that often persists between what is claimed to be a literacy success and the actual result from the perspective of the grassroots. The quality and transparency of information has to be greatly improved. A better information base with better knowledge of what works, with whom and in what context, is the prerequisite for developing sustainable literacy policies and may result in increased financing. Monitoring adult learning is of essential importance provided that this does not limit creativity; a standardized module for adult education data collection, covering qualitative and quantitative elements, could be a precious tool for the community of adult educators and researchers. It is my sense that the Conference would like this to be further explored.

 It was emphasized that in a dramatically changing world context the need for qualitative research is more important than ever. However, state policies are slow to change and most funding goes still to quantitative research.

There is a strong need for a network of networks of documentation and information services. In spite of the explosion of knowledge and new media, equitable access to information and knowledge on adult learning today remains a dream for many individuals and groups.

Adult education has always been confronted with the world of work, which is today rapidly changing. We need to redefine the concept of work, which has to go beyond the idea of paid work and pay tribute to every area in which productive and reproductive responsibilities are taken; this notably concerns women's activities. The new paradigm of work should inform adult and continuing education policies and inspire lifelong learning programmes in the work place. Those countries which do not have integrated adult education in their lifelong learning policies are urged to do so applying a participatory approach .

Furthermore, the 21st century will witness increasing migration which is likely to be linked with oppressive working and living conditions. There is a need for collaborative and sustained efforts to promote migrant education from the perspective of empowerment. This can be best achieved through a participatory learning approach integrating social and life skills, education for citizenship, human rights, consciousness-raising, as well as multi cultural and anti-racist education.

So-called minorities are often discriminated against, institutionally or in a subtle manner and hence are often deprived of many rights including the right to education. Feelings of deprivation create tensions that can easily escalate in armed conflicts. The uniqueness of minorities has to be respected and valued; actually it is the majority who has to unlearn discriminatory concepts, acquire knowledge and develop empathy and compassion in order to respect the diversity of cultures; it is the obligation of the educational authorities to see that teaching methods, learning approaches and curricula for adult and non-adult education reflect and enhance all these elements.

There is a positive trend of change in Government directives and policies towards indigenous people. The four "pillars of learning" from the Delors commission can be referred to indigenous people as follows:

- learning to be or the right to identity

 - learning to know or the right to self-knowledge

 - leaning to do or the right to self-development

 - learning to live together or the right to self-determination

The reality of an ageing population was brought home to the Conference. More than 25% of the world population is over 60; this proportion in the population will rise constantly while societies are still ill prepared to face those historically new demographic conditions. Adult education can make a difference by promoting a new vision of older adults as autonomous, responsible persons and a productive force in society, giving them access to new knowledge and new learning. 1999 , the international year of the older people, is a strong symbol of our changing world, and demography.

Women and youth have been brought back to the centre of population issues from a human rights and a development perspective; this requires listening to their point of views and respecting them as active subjects, finding appropriate creative imaginative methodologies to educate a whole range of diverse groups in different situations.

In a plea for gender-sensitive lifelong learning, the need to recognize women's knowledge and potential was emphasized, particularly in an environment in which women's work tends to be devaluated. Although there are many excellent policy documents in place, the implementation is lacking. As women, including those of us who have achieved influential positions, we have the responsibility to use our power and competence to advance the education of girls and women.

While formal schooling in certain contexts has contributed to the emancipation of women, it is also true that it has resulted in the reproduction and reinforcement of gender inequalities and stereotype gender roles. Some non-formal education programmes have successfully addressed the issue of women's empowerment by building on their family and community experiences, but much remains to be done to implement programmes geared towards making both men and women gender-sensitive, thereby narrowing the existing social and economic gender gaps.

One of the hottest topics at the eve of an era of a world wide high tech web is new technology, and while it is true that technologies bear great potential for and can contribute to adult learning, given that there is the political will and support for the active appropriation of these tools, it is however important to remain critical about why how and for whom the technologies are being used.

We need to further explore ways in which new technology can be appropriately used for literacy and learning. Technology is a tool. We need to invest more time and money to train people in how to use technology for their individual development and that of their communities and to engage them in defining what technology means. This investment may be more crucial than investing more in the actual hard or software.

 Our world is going through a process of great and rapid transformations deepening the processes of inequalities and widening the poverty gap amongst the global community. Education and learning, of which adult learning is indeed an equally important part, can contribute to responding to and shaping this transformation process for the good of the people. Many examples were provided a variety of strategies adopted by learning groups to overcome the present obstacles, be they structural, functional or concern the purpose and funding of their education. It was strongly emphasised that there persists a missing link between these rich experiences and constructive initiatives through networking.

In discussing the economics of adult learning the benefits of adult education and the issue of funding were considered. Adult education must be seen as a productive investment. Investing in adult education should result in positive returns not only in terms of economic growth but also improved quality of life and the overall development of society. Governments should guarantee a basic investment in adult education while developing a wide range of partnerships with other actors in the field. It was observed that there are hidden social costs resulting from non-investment. More research on cost benefit relationships in this domain is an urgent need particularly in order to guide and encourage a shift from supply driven education to demand driven systems of learning.

This Conference brought up the issue of adult education and the environment. It was found to be a crucial catalyst and facilitator in addressing the world's environmental problems, since adults are the current decision-makers of the world. Environment is projected as a key issue in adult education for the 21st century; it should ensure effectiveness of indigenous knowledge and develop a participatory approach to learning.

While universities should maintain their independence to retain their capacity to create and be innovative, institutions of higher learning should respond to the needs of societies to rethink education in a world of global change, establish links between research, training and services to the community, and implement international research and co-operation in the field of adult education.

Culture is of the utmost importance in a process of adult learning, and also an inalienable right. Cultural agencies and their resources such as libraries, museums, theatres, ecological parks and traditional community organisations, play an important role in this respect. The role of the cultural agencies is to contribute to personal and collective identity and creativity; the democratisation of their access, their networking and co-operation need to be pursued.

Adult education for democracy and peace needs to be critical, creative and compassionate, to develop capacities to feel, learn and act, locally, nationally, and globally. A real challenge for adult educators in many countries is to learn how to move from the politics of resistance to the politics of participation, how to move, while carrying hopes and dreams in a slow and fragile process of democratisation, towards strategies of economic development

Health education appears for the first time on the agenda of an international adult training conference. Discussions indicated that it should be an integral and significant part of adult education, as the level of education is reflected in health status; adult education being a process of enabling people to increase control over their life condition and welfare. This is of special significance to women who can gain control over their reproductive health and capacities: Health literacy is thus critical to empowerment.

I would like to conclude this report on the working group discussions by reminding our forum of our consistent reference made to NGOs dedication and know-how in the fields of adult learning; I should also stress the sense I had of a need to enhance, within a framework of partnership, international co-operation and solidarity. The key words are partnership versus assistance, participation, mutual giving and taking and networking. International co-operation and solidarity should seek to develop human development programmes to

 - enable adult learning throughout life within and across sectors;

 - maximize opportunities for adult learning by integrating adult learning components into all programmes and projects;

 - increase capacity of all the non-traditional actors to participate actively in adult learning opportunities.

Oral Report Part III



The major and forward looking outcomes of the Conference, namely, the Declaration and the Agenda for the Future were divided between the two Commissions formed for each of them to address specifically clearly defined sections of these documents.

We were informed about 400 amendments which were received by the drafting committee. This high number reflects less a fragmentation, a tension than an enthusiastic effort to improve these documents to capture the booming reality of adult learning in all its political, socio-cultural, personal dimensions and its place and contribution to sustainable development, gender justice, peace, democracy, empowerment, economic growth and social transformation.

It was felt that in spite of the high dedication and the titanic work done by the drafting committee, on account of time constraints, the amendments submitted by some delegates were not fully reflected in the final documents. However, there is a general agreement that a consensus has emerged in respect to some key issues addressed by the Commissions and the Conference as a whole. These related in particular to:

- the transversal and all-pervasive dimension of gender and the need to build on the decisions and commitments made in Beijing, Cairo and Copenhagen, among others;

- the issues of minorities, disabled people and ageing populations and their overarching implications for educational policies;

- the transforming world of work and its impact on adult learning;

- the call for a shift and reconceptualization of literacy;

- the strong call for government commitment and shared responsibilities with civil society and private sector in investing in adult learning;

- the need to mobilize additional resources for the LDCs, through debt swap, transfer of resources from arm purchase and other modalities to be invented;

- the critical place of the civil society and national governments in the monitoring follow-up and watch of the implementation processes;

- the challenging idea put forward by the Minister of Education of Denmark to establish an 'International Academy for Education and Democracy', the main purpose of which would be to bring together people from all over the world to learn how education can activate the development of democracy and contribute to a sustainable culture of peace;

- the launching of a UN Week on Adult Learning to celebrate the learners, mobilize communities and to create an inclusive learning culture;

- the Conference was also used as a sounding board to assess the possibility of allocating an hour a day of learning to foster a culture of learning.

Friday 18 July 1997


This morning we were offered another short plenary where the latest amended version of the Declaration and the Agenda were presented. While these amended documents were received with praise, we still thought that further minor amendments could be added and we trust the UNESCO Secretariat will faithfully integrate these elements into the final document.


May I take advantage of the auspicious opportunity offered by the office you have graciously bestowed on me in this Conference to make some observations on a few issues that have set me thinking and aroused my passions.

Firstly, I am struck by the sheer vastness of available new information and skills, the blazing speed of change and the immense opportunities offered by the millennium contrasted with the relentlessly growing numbers of people for whom basic literacy and numeracy remain a cruel illusion. I go away with the sobering realization that, unless policy-makers and implementors in the field of adult learning rally their forces persistently around the globe into the next century, the full effects of exclusion and marginalization will turn the promise of the coming century into a sour disappointment for all. Main-streaming adult learning by policy- making bodies of NGOs and multilateral bodies, making the appropriate links between human development priorities and wealth creation should be seen as a critical priority.

Some groups of stake-holders might have been given greater prominence. These are teachers, and the disabled, particularly disabled women. Perhaps we can on our return seek to improve the conditions and skills of those who deliver adult education, who are often isolated and poorly renumerated. As far as the disabled are concerned, it becomes apparent to me, using the situation in my region, that if an adult illiterate person is marginalized and a poor adult illiterate woman is even more marginalized, then what happens to a poor adult illiterate and disabled woman? Perhaps these issues must be taken up systematically at the next Conference.

 May I observe further that this is not a Conference at which the debate about concepts and conceptualizations have been put to rest. There are many that have been raised or reinterpreted, such as adult education and adult learning, literacy and lifelong learning and so on. However, shall we say that it is a turning-point Conference, a Conference of its time in which redefinition is a prerequisite for facing rapidly changing times.

My perceptions have not all been gloomy, however, for it is indeed refreshing to have had exposure to so much commitment to the cause of adult learning from the results of arduous efforts presented to us from numerous parts of the world. As a person from a society whose educated elite have often been the greatest detractors from adult learning and indeed from their time tested indigenous forms of informal, non-formal and indeed formal learning methods, it gives me great encouragement to see that time and again, paradigms are shifting forward to endorse and preserve the educational foundations of indigenous societies. This is a forward movement which should restore the self-confidence of many a people eroded by a heavy overlay of dated colonial legacies.

 More importantly, one can expect that this will open the doors for creative inputs into the world of learning from a more representative sample of world cultures.

 On this next point, I have struggled with myself because what I am going to say is almost a contradiction in terms. However, it is so significant that overt attention must be drawn to it. This is one Conference in which women have been smoothly and consciously integrated at the decision-making level without the usual self-conscious prattle and without tokenism. There has been effective participation of women in panels, and in delegations, and all of this has provided the opportunity for a critical mass of women to affect the proceedings of the Conference. I believe that I must, on behalf of all the women here and the millions who so badly require adult learning, warmly commend the examples set by this Conference as a minimum yardstick for future fora and indeed for our future work ethics.

Madame Chair, when I was coming to this meeting I wondered to myself about the twelve-year stretch between meetings. I do hope that the rarity of this encounter and the enormity of the task ahead has led you all to be open to a redefinition of traditional relationships. No doubt the Conference has chalked a landmark by putting government delegations and NGOs together. In observing the interaction the question I ask is: have we benefited from the experience? Or have we closed the door to the possibility of redefining our relationships? This should be an ever-present thought as we leave this Conference not because we do not know each others' weaknesses and parochial interests, but because we are awakened to the powerful synergy of our collective strengths.

I must now thank all those who supported me in writing this report. I thank the Conference for the immense confidence placed in me and hope that the report captures the main trends and insights of the Conference. Thank you all once again.

ANNEXES: (83 kB)

I Agenda

II Opening Address by Mr Henning Voscherau - First Mayor of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg

III Keynote Address by Her Excellency Sheikh Hasina -  Prime Minister / The People's Republic of Bangladesh

IV Opening Address by Mr Roman Herzog -  The President of the Federal Republic of Germany

V Address by Mr Federico Mayor - Director-General, UNESCO

VI Address by Ms Rita Süssmuth - President of the German Parliament

VII Address by Mr Kim Howells - Minister of Lifelong Learning, UK

VIII List of Participating Thematic Working Groups

IX List of Participants of Public Round Tables

X List of Participants

XI Conference Secretariat and Local Supporting Personnel