Academic journal article Adult Learning

From Rhetoric to Action: From Words to Deeds: Closing Keynote Address to CONFINTEA VI

Academic journal article Adult Learning

From Rhetoric to Action: From Words to Deeds: Closing Keynote Address to CONFINTEA VI

Article excerpt

From Words to Deeds

First of all, I would like to thank UNESCO for inviting me, as chairman [President] of the International Council for Adult Education, to speak to you. Along with the other representatives of civil-society organizations, we have come here to work with you to advance the right to lifelong learning. We do so because we are convinced that the continuing development of knowledge and skills within the adult population is one of the most strategic investments that societies must make today.

Furthermore, this is an urgent investment, without which mankind will not have the internal resources to cope with the challenges ahead, The bloody conflicts that arise, as was again the case last night in two African countries and as we see all too often on all continents, clearly demonstrate this. Without an informed and internally strong civil society, such disasters become inevitable.

Yes, without spreading the freedom to learn and without strengthening the foundations of everyday diplomatic skills, the possibility of solving conflicts other than by bloody means becomes virtually inconceivable, regardless of the country. Adult education is an essential tool for peace.

But how, then, can we truly succeed in investing in the lifelong learning of our citizens?

During the preparatory discussions leading up to CONFINTEA VI, international, national, and nongovernmental partners all agreed that at this sixth International Conference on Adult Education we would have to move from words to action. For each and every partner, the mantra quickly became "from rhetoric to action," and has remained so in this final session of CONFINTEA VI. But if we are to truly move from words to action, there are two questions we must consider. First: why is it important, and even urgent, for adults and young people outside the school system to develop their potential? And second: what action do we take, how do we make this possible from here on in?

Why Has It Become Necessary to Extend Education Throughout Life?

The reason, or rather the reasons, for lifelong learning are important because they are the basis of the political will that this conference calls on us all to show.

Why, then, should we invest in developing adults' capacity for initiative and in increasing their capacity for action?

First, because the Millennium Development Goals, the MDGs, are not achievable without the active and informed participation of the entire population.

We cannot fight HIV/AIDS without prevention. We cannot stem the rapid spread of this pandemic, any more so than that of malaria, without an informed population that is aware of preventive measures and without educational and health promotion activities.

This is what we call adult education.

We will not be able to provide primary education for all children in the world without the active participation of parents, without giving them the means to equip themselves for this purpose and without parental education. This, too, is what we call adult education.

We will not succeed in reducing hunger in the world without overcoming the food crisis, without helping farmers and rural populations to increase yields on their land, and without investing heavily in agricultural expansion or popularization. And this is what we mean by adult education.

The text presenting the Millennium Development Goals does not at any point mention education for adults and young people outside school, though it is in fact implied everywhere as a necessary condition for the realization of these goals. We cannot take on these eight major challenges that mankind set itself at the beginning of this millennium if 20%, 30%, 40%, or even 60% of the adult population has no way of accessing tools to work towards these goals. None of the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved without the active participation of young people and adults, and therefore without their education. …

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