During the 2009 Belem Civil Society Forum (FISC) that preceded CONFINTEA VI, I remember teaching this action song to our CSO participants. We sang it at the start of the day (because FISC went for 3 days) to energise the participants. But I also recall singing it during our bus ride from the main venue to our hotels. One evening, after keeping a late-night vigil – waiting for colleagues who were in the Drafting Committee – we were told to go back to the hotels as they had to work much longer to try to gain consensus on what eventually became the Belem Framework for Action (BFA). During the bus ride home, drained of energy after a long day, the people on the bus spontaneously broke out in song.
I recall this moment, having just celebrated the completion of CONFINTEA VII and adapted the Marrakesh Framework for Action (MFA). This time, we did not have to keep vigil for long hours into the night to get updates from members of the Drafting Committee. This time, via whatsapp, we were updated as each point was discussed, debated, and agreed on – still by consensus. The initial evaluation of the MFA relative to the Recommendations that we put forward after the Civil Society Forum was that we had won most of what we considered to be our core advocacy points, namely, around financing, expanding efforts to achieve adult literacy, inclusion of the learners’ voice, and professionalisation of ALE staff. This success was the product of our deep understanding of the realities of our times, our commitment to a human-right framework to education and our on-going engagement with the global policy platforms, frameworks and institutions.
We, in the ICAE, were ALIVE to the realities of our times. While the pandemic has continued to be the overarching global context, our Global Manifesto clearly identifies the complex and interconnected contexts we need to respond to as adult educators.
At present, the world community is struggling with a complex spectrum of human created crises including the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, negative impact of digitalization, artificial intelligence and other new technologies, the nuclear threat, the weakening of democracy and the use of violence in place of negotiation and dialogue.
We, in the ICAE, were ALERT to the commitments we have made to a rights-based approach to education, that doesn’t only understand but address the realities we are alive to. As we stated in our Global Manifesto:
Adult Learning and Education (ALE) is a fundamental human right of all young people, adults and older adults. It is more than about enabling us to respond to crises: it is about laying the foundation for a common understanding of life in harmony with other people and forms of life in our common habitat, the planet earth. This involves understanding and then tackling systemic issues, including poverty, structural inequalities, global problems and power issues, on a permanent basis.
We, in the ICAE, were AWAKE to the opportunities that are open for us to advance our ALE principles and practices. In particular, the opportunities provided by the current global education policy frameworks, the SDGs, and the UNESCO Futures of Education report, for A New Social Contract for Education. Our Global Manifesto clearly states:
In this context, a new ALE needs to create and embrace long-term, sustainable solutions based upon the transformative power of adult learning and education rather than insist on its adaptive and responsive role.
And finally, we, in the ICAE, are ENTHUSIASTIC about being able to take the core principles and commitments of the Marrakesh Framework for Action (MFA) into grounded, relevant and in some cases urgent action, together with our regional members, our strategic partners and of course our own local communities. We also commit to taking the MFA to the upcoming UN Transforming Education Summit of the UN Secretary General. Because as we believe that the MFA should …
… 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.
On behalf of your ICAE Executive Committee (who finally met in-person after having been elected in March 2020), your ICAE Secretariat (Katarina and Ricarda) and your ICAE Marrakesh Team (Majda, Elarbi, Sayed, Donia and the DVV regional office staff), we would like to thank all of you who made this journey to Marrakesh (either online or in person) not just worthwhile but memorable.
Maybe, just like me, in twelve years, one of you will recall something that happened during the Civil Society Forum in Marrakesh and be inspired to continue to advance Transformative ALE that is ALIVE, ALERT, AWAKE and ENTHUSIASTIC.