CONFINTEA VI Regional Preparatory Conference for Africa

"The Power of Youth and Adult Learning for Africa’s Development"

5 - 7 November 2008 in Nairobi (Kenya)

The CONFINTEA VI Regional Conference for the African Region was hosted by the Government of the Republic of Kenya from 5 to 7 November 2008 in Nairobi, and opened by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Kenya Hon. Mwai Kibaki. It was organised in cooperation between UIL, the Department of Adult Education of the Ministry of Education on behalf of the Government of Kenya, the UNESCO Regional Office for Education in Africa in Dakar and the UNESCO Office in Nairobi.

Over 300 international participants attended the Conference, representing the African Member States as well as some North African member states (Egypt, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Sudan and Tunisia), and other regions (Pakistan and Brazil). Twenty-one national delegations were headed by Ministers, Deputy Ministers or Secretaries of State. Twenty-four resource persons were brought in to provide specialised input to further enhance and enrich the working process of the meeting. A broad spectrum of approximately 60 African and international agencies and NGOs backed the meeting and firmly raised the voice of civil society.

The main objectives of the Conference comprised:

  • The discussion of relevant key issues in adult learning and education in the region.
  • The presentation, discussion and dissemination of effective practice and innovations in adult learning and education.
  • The amendment and validation of the regional synthesis report for a consolidated African perspective.
  • The development of recommendations on policy, strategy and courses of action relevant to the region.
  • Suggestions for an international Framework for Action.


The Executive Secretary of ENDA Tiers-Monde (environment, development, action), Ms Joséphine Ouédraogo, underlined in her vivid keynote speech that it is not populations who are poor, but development systems that create cultural, political and economic impoverishment among the majority of populations. She concluded by advocating for a development system that is generated by internally-driven processes instead of adopting finished solutions that rarely leave room for spontaneous enhancement. The aspirations, values and talents of the people should be taken into consideration in order to achieve self-confidence through adapted educational solutions.


The discussion started with points from the Regional Synthesis Report as well as key issues in youth and adult learning in the region. During the second day, the discussions were enriched by exchanges of experience on selected, stimulating practices in the region. In working groups the participants elaborated a concise set of recommendations and strategies with regard to policy, funding, participation, inclusion and monitoring. Apart from reaching the preset goals, the participants enjoyed the exchange across institutional borders and the opportunity to network with potential new partners.


The Conference participants agreed in the final Outcome Document that the potential of Africa resides in its human, cultural and linguistic as well as its ecological diversity and natural resources. But Africa faces a variety of serious challenges. Three-quarters of the world’s poorest people live in sub-Saharan Africa, a situation created and exacerbated by the persistent denial and lack of capacities induced by unequal socio-political and economic systems. It is a continent challenged by the rapid growth and urbanisation of its population and the need to meet the educational and livelihood needs of the youth and adult population. In order to fulfil the right to education for adults and youth, legislation, policies, funding and implementation need to address challenges facing countries in the region. The use of African languages is critical for the realisation of an integrated, peaceful, prosperous Africa. Facing the challenges related to youth and adult learning and education in Africa, the recommendations adopted by this inter-governmental Conference were the following:

  1. Every country should have a comprehensive national youth and adult learning and education policy, action plans and legislation which take into account poverty alleviation.
  2. There should be renewed state sector, donor and private sector commitment to sustainable funding, and minimum funding benchmarks should be established.
  3. Governments, communities, civil society organisations, the private sector and development partners should work together to develop and implement youth and adult learning and education policies and programmes.
  4. Youth and adult learning programmes have to promote inclusion, taking into consideration the specific needs of minorities, vulnerable and marginalised groups.
  5. Youth and adult learners should be involved directly in policy and programme formulation and implementation.
  6. Governments should develop quality assessment, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms as well as ensure that research and data collection takes place, in order to formulate policies and programmes and to evaluate the impact of youth and adult learning and education.
  7. Governments should develop frameworks for learning validation which are equivalent to systems of formal education, ensuring equivalence between formal and non-formal learning. Sub-regional and regional level strategies are recommended.
  8. The terms and conditions of youth and adult education practitioners and personnel need to be improved urgently in order to professionalise the sector and raise its status. The professionalization of the sector also requires increased training and research capacity-building.
  9. Governments should develop strategies and partnerships which enhance the broad spectrum of information and communication technologies and media to advance youth and adult learning and education.

The African region recommends that CONFINTEA VI mandates the UIL, or sets up a monitoring committee, to monitor progress annually in youth and adult learning and education.