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International adult learners week


This week sees the first attempt to join adult learners throughout the world in the launch of the first International Adult Learners Week.

The aims of the week are to bridge the activities during national adult learners’ weeks, celebrate International Literacy Day and mutually learn from the experience gathered in the different countries.

The reasoning behind International Learners Week is to attempt to highlight and work towards dealing with the disparities between haves and have-nots where adult learning is concerned. Carol Medel-Aonuevo from the UNESCO Institute for Education says that "our long term goal is to create a culture where adult learning is considered a right and a tool for equitable and sustainable development; and where adult learning is taken as a crucial component in the creation and strengthening of democratic and productive communities. We look forward to that learning society where everyone has an equal chance to participate. We need to celebrate as we work and move towards that society which promotes lifelong learning."

The Week was launched in Hannover on Friday with a three-day international debate at EXPO 2000 entitled "Building Learning Societies - Knowledge, Information and Human Development", looking at the growing role of learning, information and knowledge in sustainable development and alleviating poverty. International Literacy Day, which has been celebrated since 1967, was also celebrated on the the launch day.

As the UK's celebration, Last Friday NIACE hosted A Celebration of Lifelong Learning at the Dome. The day included the presentation of the Adult Tutors Awards and the New Learning Opportunities Awards, as well as television coverage of adult learning since 1992. Visitors from countries such as Jamaica, South Africa, Ghana, China and Australia were there to take part in the celebrations. David Blunkett's opening address for the event is available to view online at the DfEE's Lifelong Learning website.

Carol Medel-Anonuevo, of UNESCO, said: "The learning festivals are opportunities to acknowledge the role of learning in transforming lives, communities and societies."

The International Adult Learners’ Week guide has also been launched to share the experiences of international organisers of adult learners’ weeks, and to inspire more countries to participate in and contribute to the experience.

Since the first Adult Learners’ Week was organised by the American Association for the Advancement of Education (AAAE) in the late 1980’s, National Adult Learners Weeks have already been held in 28 countries around the world, including, as we flagged up earlier this year, the UK. A further 18 countries are due to hold an Adult Learners Week for the first time this month.


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