Interview: Madhu Singh



UNESCO’s role in the world of validation

- Education should make you an autonomous person empowered to make your own choices, states Madhu Singh. She works at the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg, and has a special responsibility for “the UNESCO Guidelines for the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning”. -That’s a bit more than a mouthful, Madhu Singh laughs. 

The guidelines presented at the Oslo conference have not yet even been launched – but this is the real thing: The UNESCOs response to the CONFINTEA VI framework*.

Making it easy

- I think the role of UNESCO is to give member states generic tools that they can adapt and use in their specific setting, Madhu Singh explains. She sees this as especially important for countries that are not validating today. – That’s why we have made this easy: Eight pages short and easy accessible key action areas. Her perspective on the relationship between formal and non-formal learning shines through: – We should create more equality for non-formal and informal learning, because this can open new avenues to people, Madhu Singh states.

No need for re-entry

Madhu Singh claims this should be no re-entry into the formal system. – The adult education sector was established as a sub sector of the education system, so we don’t need any “re-entry”, we need a strategy for change and acceptance in the formal sector! – You know, the cultural barrier that western countries need to cross, is opening up for more flexible systems, Madhu Singh challenges. And she believes that attitudes will change. – When western countries begin to realize that Eastern Asia gets better results this way, it will force them to change, she believes.  

Globalization = Mutual learning

The UNESCO guidelines will be officially launched at a conference in New Delhi in India in May. That’s when Madhu Singh will address this issue again: - Globalization should mean mutual learning, she proposes, and when we have so many common challenges – like drop-outs, access to education and validation – we should see that common problems can have common solutions!


UNESCO holds a conference on adult learning, CONFINTEA (Conference Internationale d’Education des Adultes), every 12 years. The latest one took place in Belem in Brazil in 2009. The Belem framework asked UNESCO to develop guidelines for validation and accreditation of learning.
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