October 2017

Adult Education Centres as a Key to Development – international conference in Tbilisi

Volkshochschule, Université Populaire, Community Learning Centre or Kominkan – we refer to Adult Education Centres by a variety of different names in different parts of the world. Despite their inherent diversity, they do all have one thing in common, and that is that they all offer inclusive, flexible, needs-orientated services for lifelong learning on the ground. This is reason enough for DVV International to place Adult Education Centres at the focus of the fifth international “Adult Education and Development Conference”, which was held in Tbilisi, Georgia, on 11 and 12 October 2017. 

Under the banner of “Adult Education Centres as a Key to Development – Responsibilities, Structures and Benefits”, a specialist international public from 36 countries exchanged views on the role, tasks and structures of Adult Education Centres all over the world. More than 120 participants discussed how these centres can effectively counter social challenges and ensure access to education for disadvantaged target groups in particular. 

Especial attention also attached to the question of public responsibility for Adult Education Centres. Participants were unanimous in their criticism of the very low level of public funding for adult education and Adult Education Centres at international level. For instance, it is still the case that only roughly one percent of the global education budget is spent on adult education. Having said that, public responsibility does not mean, conversely, that the State bears the sole responsibility for and is obliged to fund adult education by itself. The State in fact should act in a guiding capacity and enable everyone to engage in lifelong learning. “We should aim to achieve as broad funding as possible, coming from a variety of donors”, according to Katarina Popovic, Secretary General of the International Council for Adult Education ICAE. “The job of the State is to make sure that citizens are able to realise their human right to lifelong learning, and that adult education is accessible by and affordable for all.”

Advancing the vision of a learning society

The knowledge acquired at the conference was crystallised in the formulation of a number of key messages on Adult Education Centres. The latter were orientated in line with the three topical blocks of the conference entitled: “Public responsibility in adult education”, “Adult Education Centres as key structures”, and “Impact and wider benefits of Adult Education Centres”. 

The key messages will also be used at the coming CONFINTEA Mid-Term Review, which will be held in South Korea from 25 to 27 October, in order to underline the importance of Adult Education Centres and to lobby for more funding and political support. “We would like thus to push forward our vision of a learning society with sustainable adult education structures”, said Christoph Jost, Director of DVV International, when closing the conference.

Download the key messages (in English)

You will find more information about the conference on the conference website.


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