UNESCO seminar reviews Youth and Adult Education in Latin America

Brasilia – On 24 March 2009, approximately 400 participants attended the Regional Seminar on “Youth and Adult Education in Latin America: A Right and a Challenge for All” held in the Chamber of Representatives in Brasilia. The seminar was hosted by the Chamber of Representatives’ Education and Culture Commission and organized in partnership with the UNESCO Brasilia Office, the Brazilian Ministry of Education and the Santillana Foundation. It received additional support from a number of major stakeholders, including the National Council of State Secretaries of Education, the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education and the Organization of Ibero-American States.   

The seminar brought together representatives from multilateral agencies, governments, expert associations and non-governmental organizations. Besides exploring trends in adult education in the region, it aimed to give an overview of the main discussions taking place across the world in the run-up to the 6th International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI), to be held in Belém from 19 to 22 May 2009.

“Youth and adult education is a challenge for Brazil, and CONFINTEA VI is an opportunity to make a comprehensive review of the key issues,” said the Brazilian Ministry of Education’s Secretary of Continuing Education, Literacy and Diversity, Mr. André Lazaro.

During the seminar, participants received information about the main issues affecting adult education that have emerged worldwide during preparations for CONFINTEA VI. Although the different regions continue to focus on their own situation and needs, there is a broad consensus that adult learning and education has a vital role to play in international agendas for sustainable development, citizenship, rights and equalities, work, poverty reduction, community development and social justice, among others.

The representative from the Organization of Ibero-American States presented the Ibero-American Literacy and Basic Education Plan for Young People and Adults, while the Brasilia UNESCO Office outlined the main themes that will be discussed during CONFINTEA VI.

The seminar also highlighted the lessons to be learned from selected youth and adult education practices. Curitiba’s City Council presented its project, “Alfabetizando com Saúde” (“Learning to Read and Write in Good Health”), which was awarded the 2008 UNESCO International Reading Association Literacy Prize and is now providing Mozambique with capacity-building support. Peru, which is home to 71 ethnic groups and 67 native languages, presented a project focusing on its linguistic and cultural diversity. Finally, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education presented a brief report on the state of education in prisons in Latin America, emphasising the importance of the right to education for all those temporarily deprived of their liberty.