Reflecting on 2022: Staying Alive, Alert, Awake and Enthusiastic as Civil Society

As we conclude 2022, it is important to celebrate our achievements and recognise the on-going challenges we face as ICAE.

We celebrate our achievements at CONFINTEA VII. We recognise the active contribution of our members during the regional preparatory meetings, the public online consultations in drafting the Marrakesh Framework for Action (MFA) and the Civil Society Forum (CSF) that preceded CONFINTEA VII. We specifically celebrate the two key outcomes, the CSF Declaration and the Marrakesh Framework for Action.

We were well-prepared with our advocacy positions, which helped our members to actively advocate to their respective governments, that secured within the MFA the key principles of ALE as a basic human right, grounded in the principles of equity, inclusion, and quality, and strengthened by our commitment in the We-Are-ALE Campaign to justice, well- being and change.

However, while we were still celebrating our CONFINTEA VII achievements, we were faced with the challenge of ensuring the visibility of ALE at the Transforming Education Summit (TES). Billed as the opportunity to advance the need for concerted global action on education, the Vision Statement of the UN Secretary General, released at the conclusion of TES recognised the problems of adult literacy, but failed to recognise a vision for ALE in its action statements.

This is a clear reflection of how we cannot just think that with the strong outcomes of CONFINTEA VII, we can now relax and continue the good ALE work that many of us sustained despite the multiple restrictions we faced during the pandemic.

At the end of CONFINTEA VII, I wrote a blog about how we at the ICAE, before, during and after CONFINTEA VII, were:

  • ALIVE to the realities of our times,
  • ALERT to the opportunities to advocate for Adult Learning and Education (ALE) as part of the right to education and lifelong learning,
  • AWAKE to the debates on education and lifelong learning that was happening, and
  • ENTHUSIATIC to advance the commitments made in the Marrakesh Framework for Action (MFA).

A few weeks ago, I revisited this call to remain Alive, Alert, Awake and Enthusiastic during a webinar for the Centre for Research and Development in Adult and Lifelong Learning (CR&DALL) at the University of Glasgow. I wish to conclude 2022 with these reflections and an on-going call to action to remain:

  • ALIVE to the challenges we face and need to overcome if we are to achieve a more sustainable and equitable future for all.
  • ALERT to the role that ALE as part of lifelong learning has to play to address these challenges.
  • AWAKE to the reality that we cannot have “business-as-usual” education. We need education and lifelong learning not just to contribute to transformation, but for ALE to be transformed, if it is to become truly transformative.
  • ENTHUSIATIC and even more importantly to remain VIGILANT to advance and secure the commitments made in the Marrakesh Framework for Action (MFA) to “guide us in harnessing the Transformational power of ALE within a lifelong learning perspective for a socially cohesive, fulfilling, inclusive and sustainable future for all”

Next year, 2023, as we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the ICAE, let us celebrate our 2022 achievements, let us recognise the on-going challenges we identified, but most importantly let us not forget our strength as civil society, that we will continue to build – together.

Roberto ´Robbie´ Guevara,
President of the International Council for Adult Education

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