Malak Zaalouk, Chair of UIL’s Governing Board, explains why lifelong learning is at the heart of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – and why it should be central to the plans and policies of nation states
Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 puts lifelong learning at the heart of the global education policy-making agenda by enjoining Member States to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.
This is already important recognition. However, we have yet to fully realize the potential contribution of lifelong learning either to SDG 4 or to the wider 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This demands the development of inter-sectoral solutions to challenges such as social exclusion, poverty, climate change, mass migration and technological transformation.. Continue reading →
As the world marks International Women’s Day, Samah Shalaby asks how we can increase female participation in STEM and challenge the stereotypes that hold women back
Despite ongoing efforts to encourage girls and women to participate in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), they still lag substantially behind their male counterparts. According to UNESCO, women account for only 35 per cent of learners studying STEM subjects in higher education. Within the female student population, only 30 per cent choose STEM-related subjects, with female participation particularly low in ICT (3 per cent), natural science, mathematics and statistics (5 per cent) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8 per cent).
This article, published to coincide with International Women’s Day, considers the causes of this gender gap and what we can do to close it, drawing on the perspectives of both men and women. Understandably, most studies of this issue focus predominately on the female perspective. However, it is also worth exploring the male understanding of this issue, especially as STEM fields are frequently characterized as male domains, and this may be one of the factors explaining low levels of female participation. I interviewed two men and two woman, all working in the fields of engineering and technology. Continue reading →
To coincide with International Mother Language Day, UIL’s journal, IRE, is celebrating the resilience of the world’s Indigenous peoples and the contribution of Indigenous knowledge to sustainability. Its editor, Stephen Roche, explains
Today, 21 February, UNESCO and its global partners celebrate International Mother Language Day, this year on the theme of ‘Indigenous languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation’. I am very proud to announce that, to coincide with International Mother Language Day, the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning (IRE) will publish a special issue on ‘Indigenous knowledges as vital contributions to sustainability’.
This issue began to take shape in late 2016, when I approached Miye Tom – a Native scholar from the United States who had recently published with us – with the suggestion that she put together a proposal for a special issue on Indigenous education and knowledge. Together with two highly qualified and motivated scholars, Elizabeth Sumida Huaman and Teresa McCarty, she suggested that we not only make the special issue about Indigenous knowledge, but also approach Indigenous authors to write it. Continue reading →
Werner Mauch on 100 years of adult education in Germany
‘The constitution is on your side’, said Andreas Voßkuhle, President of the German Federal Constitutional Court, this week, at an event to celebrate a century of adult education practice in Germany. Democracy needs an informed citizenry and vital debate at all levels, he argued, as well as constant participation and effective support. The costs of not taking steps to cultivate democratic citizenship were all too clear from the history of Germany, he told participants, which was why German adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) were so important and so highly valued.
The German Adult Education Association (Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband or DVV) organized the event at Paulskirche in Frankfurt, Germany’s ‘cradle of democracy’ where the first assembly of representatives met in 1848 to prepare a first national constitution for Germany (unsuccessfully, as it turned out). The event marked the centenary of the foundation of many Volkshochschulen across Germany, following the 1919 Weimar constitution, which made adult education a key component of a comprehensive education system, alongside formal school and higher education. Continue reading →
Qiongzhuoma Heimbel explains how family and intergenerational literacy and learning programmes can improve literacy rates around the world
Despite a rise in literacy rates in the last quarter of a century, more than 781 million adults around the world still lack basic reading and writing skills. Low levels of literacy prevent people from securing decent work and improving their lives. The 2014 United Nations General Assembly resolution, Literacy for life: Shaping future agendas, reaffirmed literacy as ‘a foundation for lifelong learning, a building block for achieving human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a driver of sustainable development’. In response, Member States began promoting more basic adult literacy programmes, especially for disadvantaged groups.
Quite often, the motivation for the adult learners who take part in these programmes is to improve their literacy skills in order to support their children’s learning. These adults, many of whom have never been to school or dropped out, understand that literacy can lead to a better life for their children. However, despite a desire to see their children progress at school, many parents who see themselves as ‘uneducated’ or ‘illiterate’ are reluctant to take part in learning programmes. Continue reading →
Lisa Krolak on the critical role community libraries play in promoting literacy development and lifelong learning
All over the world, libraries serve as proactive community and learning spaces that directly address the needs of children, youth and adults. They are constantly evolving and responding to social, cultural, economic and political changes in their environment. Community libraries, in particular, have demonstrated great potential in supporting literacy development and lifelong learning through diverse services and successful outreach activities. But what is it that make community libraries so effective?
Community libraries are established, owned and managed by and for a specific community, clearly based on community needs. They represent one of many alternative library models that have emerged since the 1970s. In comparison to public libraries, community libraries are often small and usually not supported by government funds. They do not primarily target the mostly literate, urban populations, but rather develop diverse ways to provide various learning opportunities to marginalized populations. This is done not only by providing access to reading materials, but also by offering literacy training and linking literacy activities to practical livelihood concerns. Continue reading →
UIL Director David Atchoarena on the challenge of raising the profile of lifelong learning and realizing its potential contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
Earlier this month I attended the Global Education Meeting in Brussels, Belgium, to join with colleagues from across the world in reviewing progress towards the commitments on education made in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Brussels Declaration, the outcome document of the meeting, acknowledged the ‘fundamental role’ of lifelong learning as a key driver of sustainable development and reinforced the commitment of Member States to the eradication of illiteracy through formal and non-formal education and training. Continue reading →
Margarete Sachs-Israel reflects on the important new commitments made at the 2018 Pan-Africa High-Level Conference on Education
First published, 15 May 2018
The 2018 Pan-African High-Level Conference on Education was notable for a number of reasons. First, it placed lifelong learning at the heart of thinking about education policy and planning in Africa. Second, it secured wide ministerial-level endorsement of its key messages, including on the need to promote and resource lifelong learning and increase literacy provision. Third, it reinforced the commitment of Member States to the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and to the Continental Strategy for Africa (CESA 16–25). Perhaps most important of all, it set out a clear agenda for lifelong learning as a means of building the capacity for positive change on the continent.
In all countries, it is critical that development is owned by the people. As Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the host country, the Republic of Kenya, noted in opening the ministerial segment of the conference, there must be ‘African solutions to African problems’, and UIL believes that this demands the integration of lifelong learning into national plans and policies. The agency of the African people was a central theme of the conference and this was reflected in its main outcome document, the Nairobi Declaration and Call for Action on Education, which also made lifelong learning key to ‘building skilled African citizenry’ capable of acting as ‘agents of change’ Continue reading →
Respect for linguistic diversity is a precondition of authentic dialogue and cooperation, writes David Atchoarena on International Mother Language Day
First published, 21 February 2018
It is sobering to reflect that some 40 per cent of the global population do not have access to education in a language they can speak or understand. Many millions of children are taught in a language they do not speak at home, while, for equally huge numbers of adults, the unavailability of learning programmes in their mother tongue remains an insurmountable barrier to furthering their education.
This is why International Mother Language Day, observed worldwide each year on 21 February, is so important. Everyone has a right to speak and learn in their mother language and that right should be reflected in national education systems around the world. Continue reading →
Kabir Shaikh on the power of conversation in a fragmented world
First published, 29 January 2018
It has been a joy and an honour for me to serve as interim director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) over the past five months. I leave with a strong impression of the wide significance of UIL’s work, and of lifelong learning more generally, and a powerful sense of an organization with a brilliant future, staffed by talented, enterprising people and guided by a committed and far-sighted board of governors.
I have two main observations from my time at UIL. First, lifelong learning has a hugely important role to play across a range of platforms and in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet understanding of this contribution is often low among policymakers, despite its growing prevalence in education discourse. And while there are many local and national politicians who get it, there are many, many more who do not. Continue reading →