On July 9, DVV International and its partner organisations hosted a side event at the High-Level Political Forum of the United Nations in New York. The event, entitled “The Invisible Friend – Adult Education and the Sustainable Development Goals”, took place at the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Every year, the High-Level Political Forum discusses and evaluates progress in achieving the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The meetings are attended by all UN member states and representatives of various civil society organisations. This year the focus was, among other things, on the educational goal (Sustainable Development Goal 4). DVV International used the opportunity to draw attention to the increased importance of adult education in the context of the educational goal and the 2030 Agenda.
“We must advance education into the 21st century by paying more attention to lifelong learning,” stressed Karin Göbel, Head of the Permanent Mission of the Federal Republic of Germany, at the opening of the event. Christoph Jost, Director of DVV International, explained the municipal anchoring of adult education in Germany in the form of adult education centres (Volkshochschulen), as well as the worldwide fostering of adult education structures by DVV International and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) to the international audience.
The Hon. Peace Regis Mutuuzo, Ugandan Secretary of State for Gender, Labour and Social Development, and Philany Phissamay, Deputy Director General for Non-formal Education in Laos, reported on experiences from practice and challenges in implementing adult education programmes in their countries.
In the ensuing panel discussion, representatives of governmental, scientific and civil society actors from Africa, Asia and Europe addressed the audience. The discussion was moderated by Roberto Guevara, Professor at RMIT University, Australia.
Aaron Benavot, Professor of Global Education Policy at Albany University, USA, tackled the challenge that data on non-formal adult education is often insufficiently comparable and leads to a lack of visibility. Werner Mauch, Senior Programme Specialist at UIL, reported on the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), which regularly evaluates systematic information on adult education. Nani Zulminarni, President of the Asian Adult Education Association ASPBAE, spoke about the links between economic development and gender in Asia. In conclusion, Katarina Popovic, General Secretary of the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), used the title of the event to say: “If we want to transform adult education from an invisible friend into a best friend, it must be better communicated and more present on a global scale.”
Around 80 interested parties from all over the world took part in the discussion. The final declaration of the last international conference of DVV International in Weimar, which contains core messages on the potential of adult education in the context of the 2030 Agenda, was also distributed to them.
DVV International organised the event in collaboration with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) and the Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE), as well as with the support of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).