The State and Development of Adult Learning and Education in the Arab States

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The assignment I was given by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg was to prepare a synthesis of the national reports that were submitted by governments of the region on the state of Adult Learning and Education. These had been written in preparation for the Regional Conference for Arab States to be held in Tunis in January 2009, the outcome of which will be incorporated into the documents that will be presented by UNESCO to CONFINTEA VI in Brazil in May 2009. The guidance given by UIL to the governments was clear: “To prepare national reports on the status of adult learning and education”. However, the reports (submitted by only 17 out of 21 countries) focus on a very narrow perspective of Adult Learning and Education, as understood in the traditional sense of the term, namely the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. They discuss the first stage of adult education that follows the basic literacy level, known in these countries as the postliteracy stage, in which there are two main objectives: (i) to consolidate the skills acquired in the basic level, and (ii) to provide learners with basic skill training and general information on daily life practices in, for example, health, population and the environment.

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