Arab world adult education conference held in tunisia

A three-day conference on adult education and building a knowledge society in the Arab world opened on Monday in Gammarth, Tunisia. Titled “Investing in adult learning: Building knowledge and learning societies in the Arab region”, it is one of five preparatory regional conferences for Unesco’s Sixth International Conference on Adult Education, Confintea VI, which will take place in May in Belém, Brazil.

The aims of the preparatory conferences are to address adult learning challenges in each region, build partnerships, promote innovative approaches and develop recommendations for the future. Countries covered by the Arab States conference were Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine Autonomous Territories, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Djibouti, Somalia and Malta.

Representatives were there to discuss relevant key issues in youth and adult literacy, learning and education in the region and sub-regions; share good practice and innovations; identify challenges; review, amend and validate the regional synthesis report which had been prepared on the basis of national reports; and develop recommendations for future strategies.

During the conference, Abdel Moneim Osmane, Director of Unesco’s Beirut office, said adult education concerned not only those unable to read and write, but also those who had been educated, reported La Presse of Tunisia.

“Adult education must no longer ignore even those with a high level of learning,” Osmane said. “Continuing education must be lifelong, so adults can enrich their knowledge as necessary and be within reach of new information. It’s just as vital to master new technologies and fight against digital illiteracy.”

Mohamed Ghemari, Director of foreign relations and cooperation of Isesco, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation which co-organised the event, said it was not by chance the conference was being held in Tunisia which was recognised for its efforts in adult education. For Isesco, at the heart of problems was illiteracy “nourished by the marginalisation of girls and the enormous gap which benefits the urban environment to the detriment of the rural”, La Presse quoted him as saying.

Mongi Bousnina, Director-General of Alecso, the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation, said despite all efforts illiteracy persisted, and the Arab world counted 66 million people unable to read and write, a number predicted to rise to 70 million by 2010. Out-of-school children would number 27 million by 2025.

The conference was due to produce a report to be synthesised with those from all five preparatory events to form the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE).

At the opening session of the conference delegates held a minute’s silence for victims in Gaza, reported La Presse.



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