IX World Assembly, International Council for Adult Education (ICAE)

Adult Learning and Education to Create the World We Want

11-14 June 2015

Every 4 years ICAE has its Assembly to assess the state of adult education in civil society and to elect its new executive. This year it was held in Montreal, Canada. Here is the new executive who consists of the President, Sandy Morrison, New Zealand, 4 Vice-Presidents, one from each region, the Treasurer and Additional Members, plus the Past President and the Secretary General. Three members are from Africa – Aminata Boly, as Treasurer from Burkina Faso, Shirley Walters as Vice President for Africa from South Africa, and Valerio Ussene, Additional Member from Mozambique.

The Assembly started with a very informative, popular education tour of Montreal, focusing particularly on the history of immigrant communities. This was conducted by a civil society organisation and it helped the many visitors to Canada to catch a glimpse of the complex, rich history of the city and of Quebec, which is primarily French speaking, with the rest of Canada speaking mainly English. (French and English are the two official languages of Canada.)

This was followed by a public plenary session on Women, Natives and Decolonisation of Education. The session started with the recognition that we were on colonised land. It also reminded conferemce participants that the Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission had recently finished its report, which documented the history of the violation of the First Nations people and their land. Viviane Michel, President of Quebec Native Women spoke movingly of the historic trauma and attempts to reconcile with the settlers, including the sharing of indigenous ways of knowing about caring for the land and all life forms.  She was followed by women from India, Burkina Faso, Uruguay, Guatemala, and USA, who addressed conditions of poor and working class women all over the world. Celita Eccher from Uruguay called up other women who displayed placards in solidarity with majority populations living under appalling conditions. In this way, she drew attention to women across the globe and highlighted  the ways in which women are mobilising, organising and educating ‘for the world we want’.  The plenary was followed by a reception ‘in purple’ which drew attention to gender as a central issue in adult education.

After a very welcoming and informative start, the next two days continued with plenary sessions, many parallel workshops and seminars which addressed the five themes of the Assembly: right to education and lifelong learning for all beyond 2015; capacity building for advocacy; role of adult learning and education for sustainable development; adult learning and education, power relations and community engagement; quality inclusive education for all. A session on popular education in South Africa, based on research done during the ‘catalytic’ project ‘Traditions of popular education’  highlighted how practices shift in response to changing conditions and socio-economic policies and pressures. The Assembly ended with the adoption of a Final Declaration. Many of the details can be found on the ICAE website (www.icae2.org)

From an African perspective, the lack of an effective representative umbrella body for adult educators in Africa means there is no possiblity of speaking up and out with a collective voice. As a result, African participants spent much time getting to know one another in order to elect our candidates to represent us on the executive. Other regions have regional organisations and so they were able to decide on nominations beforehand. Many of us have been part of a number of attempts at organising across Africa but the organisations are very difficult to sustain over such vast and different geographical, language, economic regions. How can we build and sustain more effective regular communications amongst us in the next 4 years? How can we ensure that we will be more organised for the next  ICAE Assembly in 2019?

As a start, I would like to propose that we utilise this website www.populareducation.org.zaand the connected Facebook page to stay in touch, communicate and educate ourselves about what is happening in civil society in our regions. I will also appreciate hearing about any news or issues which you can send to my email ferris@iafrica.com - let’s see what we can do together!

In solidarity,

Shirley Walters, Vice President, African Region

9 August 2015