A festival of learning
From the international commitment to halving the adult illiteracy rate, the idea for learning festivals that support adult education emerged all over the world. The goal was to widen participation in adult learning using creative and celebratory strategies that ‘put the learner at the centre’. Inspiration was drawn from previously marginalised people who demonstrated that learning makes a difference.
Several strategies were inacted to:
- recognise and honour individuals for showing how learning opportunities have transformed their lives and communities
- organise participation from governments to NGOs, from community based-organisations to private corporations, from universities to media, at all levels – national, regional or local
- pave the way for dialogue and partnerships between stakeholders
- reach marginalised people in our communities.
The goals of these celebrations were to:
- help promote the range of learning possibilities
- make these learning options relevant and accessible to learners
- create a culture of lifelong learning
- build a bridge between basic, vocational and general adult education (including literacy and numeracy)
- show the strong relationship between adult learning, strong democracies and productive communities
- create a learning society that everyone can access.
Adult Learners’ Week first commenced in the United Kingdom in 1992. In 1999, UNESCO approved the International Adult Learners’ Week. The aim was to:
- learn from the experiences of other countries
- share the celebration with people in other contexts
- amplify the cooperation between agencies active in the promotion of adult learning at international level.
Since then, more than 40 countries have organised or are preparing learning festivals. These not only raise awareness of the need to create more opportunities for adults to learn, but celebrate the efforts and achievements of the thousands who find the courage to ‘take that first step back’.