Academic journal article Adult Learning

Contributions and Follow-Up Activities to CONFINTEA VI (USA)

Academic journal article Adult Learning

Contributions and Follow-Up Activities to CONFINTEA VI (USA)

Article excerpt

CONFINTEA VI provided a unique lens through which to view adult education and literacy worldwide. Over 1,000 participants from 144 countries were convened to advance the recognition of adult learning and education as important elements of lifelong learning and crucial to the agendas for international education and development. The aim was to create momentum that could be sustained after the conference in moving forward the Belem Framework for Action's key areas of policy, governance, financing, participation, and quality to support, enhance, and institutionalize adult learning.

Common themes and challenges were voiced in the keynote presentations, plenary roundtable sessions, and parallel sessions from representatives from developing countries to highly industrialized nations. Among these themes were (a) the importance of having systems for collecting and analyzing data that can document the need for a country's literacy services, progress in delivering these services, and adults' literacy development as a result of these services, (b) the critical role of effective adult education instruction and the importance of teacher credentialing and quality professional development in fostering quality instruction, and (c) the need for systems of coordinated services to support lifelong learning and the role of incentives in developing partnerships and facilitating the coordination of services. Underlying these themes was the need for financing and governance structures for research and policy development to support innovation development and implementation. While CONFINTEA VI participants represented diverse countries in terms of size, political structure, and wealth, the common ground among participants was the recognition of the vital role of adult learning in creating a viable future.

This article describes the parallel workshop presentations that were made by two members of the U.S. delegation to CONFINTEA VI and the post-presentation discussion, as an illustration of participants' common interest in data, policy, and effective instruction. CONFINTEA VI was intended to stimulate countries' activities in implementing the Belem Framework for Action, and discussed in this article is US participation in CONFINTEA VI follow-up activities.

U. S. Panel on Adult Learning and Economic Growth

Three members of the U.S. delegation took part in a parallel workshop held during CONFINTEA VI that addressed the tie between adult learning and economic growth, a key theme during the conference. Over 60 participants attended the session. The workshop was moderated by Cheryl Keenan, Director of the Division of Adult Basic Education and Literacy at the U.S. Department of Education. The U.S. presenters spoke about initiatives in the states of Washington and Oregon to prepare low-skilled adults for jobs in high-growth employment sectors. Both states deliver adult basic education services through their community college systems.

Israel Mendoza from the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) described Washington State's Integrated Basic Education and Skills (I-BEST) approach for low-skilled adults. He emphasized the importance of the research that SBCTC conducted to understand the needs of working-age adults with a high school diploma or less, or who did not speak English, to further their education and training, the economic importance of having a better qualified workforce, and state-level implications for developing strategies to improve results for learners and employers. This research also called attention to state policies needed to (a) encourage the development of pathways for low-skilled adults to enable them to increase their educational attainment and obtain higher-skilled jobs, (b) change the conditions for working-age adults' access to financial aid, and (c) provide expedited educational programs for adults. To address the needs identified from the research, I-BEST was developed to provide adult learners with an education and career pathway that integrates learning outcomes and assessment and is matched to the local labor market. …

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