Adult education needs to be addressed in post-2015 agenda



2015 marks not only the European Year of Development, but also the end of the UN Decade of Education for Sustainable Development and the last year of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The redefinition of global goals for education in development was discussed at the EAEA and DVV International workshop in January.

In 2000, the international community agreed upon achieving universal primary education by 2015 with Education for All Goals and MDG Goal on Education. However, a large number of countries will not achieve this goal.
"The post-2015 debate should therefore serve to evaluate what has been achieved with regard to the established goals and to debate what should follow with regard to development and education," said Professor Timothy Ireland from the University of Paraíba, Brazil.

The post-2015 debate is organised around three strategies, each with its own objectives: the MDGs, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the EFA goals. There are many core concepts that are discussed in the debate: sustainability, interdependence, development, diversity, human rights, environmental and planetary co-existence, and lifelong learning.

From Muscat Agreement to Synthesis Report

Adult education – as the recent BeLL study shows – plays a crucial role for the well-being and empowerment of people. This is true not only for people living in Europe and the "global North", but also for people in developing and "emerging" countries.

The Muscat Agreement from May 2014 states that education was central to the global development agenda. It defines education as a stand-alone goal in the broader post-2015 development agenda. Its overarching goal was to "ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030." The Open Working Group papers that were published shortly afterwards demanded in Goal 4 to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."

"Unfortunately, these goals were not reflected by the UN Synthesis Report from December 2014 as it did not mention the role of adult education as a key for development and poverty eradication," said Professor Ireland.

Engaging civil society and EU citizens

How can civil society actors get engaged in order to ensure that education – and more concretely, adult education – will find its way into the post-2015 agenda?

"One way to participate in the post-2015 process is to contribute to the Civil Society Alliance for the European Year of Development 2015," Francesca Minniti from CONCORD Europe suggested. The Civil Society Alliance aims at creating new dialogues between the various stakeholders in development and European citizens.

"Raising awareness on development issues is one of our priorities," she said. "However, we also need to understand that development is not only something that happens outside of Europe, but also within Europe. For that, we have to use simple language that communicates our messages in a clear way. Development concerns us all."

A new opportunity for policy coherence of EU policies

Donatella Gobbi, from European Commission's Directorate-General for Development Cooperation, gave the workshop participants more information about EU policies on adult learning in development. The European institutions acknowledge that adult literacy and vocational education and training (VET) are important when speaking about development. Notwithstanding, there is room for improvement in terms of opening up the discussion to the concept of adult learning and lifelong learning.

"An option for a potential goal in the new SDGs might be to 'Ensure the right of every child, youth and adult to quality, safe and relevant basic education and training regardless of their circumstances',” Ms. Gobbi suggested.

A new opportunity to emphasise the role of adult education in development will be offered by the initiative on Global Public Goods and Challenges (GPGC). This initiative could also provide an opportunity to overcome any possible incoherence of EU policies on adult education in the EU and adult education in developing countries.

The "Adult Education in the post-2015 Process" workshop gathered representatives of civil society organisations, EU institutions and research institutes and took place on 30 January 2015 in Brussels.

Text and photo: Raffaela Kihrer

More on this topic

The Civil Society Alliance for the European Year for Development 2015 launched