ICAE and Post-2015: Good practices for advocacy

Issue 3/2014

Maria Graciela Cuervo, Irene Lobo Moltó – ICAE


Article Index:



The International Council for Adult Education, ICAE is a global network with a mandate to advocate for youth and adult learning and education (ALE) as a universal human right.
It was created in 1973 and has 7 regional bodies (Africa, Arab Region, Asia, Caribbean, Europe, Latin America and North America) representing more than 800 NGOs – regional, national and sectoral networks – in more than 75 countries.ICAE has a long trajectory participating in global processes related to adult learning and education (ALE), and beyond. Since its beginnings, there was explicit recognition among its members that addressing the needs of the populace through adult education takes an interlinkage approach and collaboration across all sectors (Hall, 1995). This is why major world issues such as the environment, gender equity, indigenous knowledge, literacy and others also shaped the agenda of the ICAE (Boucouvalas, 2002).

During the last decade of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, ICAE participated in the main conferences aimed at raising the world’s consciousness on key international issues including: The World Conference on Education for All: Meeting Basic Learning Needs, held in Jomtien in 1990; United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), Rio de Janeiro 1992; UN Millennium Summit on development and eradication of poverty in New York, 2000; World Conference Against Racism (WCAR), Durban 2001, and many others. Later on, ICAE also engaged in the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD), also known as Rio+20.

ICAE engages in these issues confident in that lifelong learning has the capacity to positively affect many dimensions of poverty, peace, reconciliation as well as conflict prevention. Adult education creates change, enhancing people’s prospect for decent work, community organizing, improving health conditions, as well as enabling people to acquire the tools needed to run their own lives. (EAEA et.al., 2012)

However there is often lack of recognition of the benefits of education, in particular related with non-formal adult education, when looking at development goals. This is why ICAE considers international and regional spaces of policy and decision-making as the main target for advocacy work. In the words of Prof. Gita Sen, advocacy is the art of “friendly persuasion”:

“You are just persuading people, and I use the world “friendly” because if it’s not friendly, it’s not advocacy, it is combat, it is war. You may disagree, but you have to get the person who you are trying to persuade to feel that it is worthwhile to move in a certain direction. Persuasion is necessary as well because we have to get people to come onto our side. And this is what the art and the politics of advocacy is all about.” (Sen, 2008)

ICAE’s advocacy strategies for the presence of adult education in development include promoting Adult Education at policy level; engaging learners’ voices; and developing specific strategies based in the context: “one shoe does not fit all”.

In this short piece, we will give special focus to the advocacy work on ALE and lifelong learning in the UN sustainable development agenda, and UNESCO Education For All (EFA) agenda.

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