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CONFINTEA VI conference in Brazil focuses on adult learning and non-formal education

(December 2009) The Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) is being hosted by the Government of Brazil in Belém from 1–4 December. It provides an important platform for policy dialogue and advocacy on adult learning and non-formal education at the global level. The conference theme is Living and learning for a viable future: The power of adult learning. UNESCO organizes the CONFINTEA series of international meetings which was instituted in the late 1940's and takes place every 12–13 years.

SIL International, in collaboration with the Asia-Pacific Program of Education for All (APPEAL, UNESCO Bangkok, Thailand), is co-sponsoring a workshop First-language-based adult education and learning. The topic emphasizes the importance of the cultural and knowledge aspects of using local languages in adult education and learning—in particular, in adult literacy.

Participating in the conference are representatives from UNESCO member states, United Nations agencies, multi- and bi-lateral cooperation agencies, organizations from civil society, the private sector and learners from all world regions. National delegations include representatives of academic institutions and governmental and nongovernmental organizations, as well as experts in adult education. Several SIL specialists are participating.

CONFINTEA VI includes plenary sessions, keynote speeches, five roundtable sessions, one commission, parallel workshop sessions, exhibits and special side events. The objectives of CONFINTEA VI are:

Workshop organized by APPEAL and SIL

The workshop sponsored by APPEAL and SIL is highlighting the challenge that the world's linguistic diversity poses to adult learning and education—in particular, to adult literacy. Presenters will discuss how the language issue can be addressed by using the learners’ first language as the basis for life-long learning. Presentations of case studies in a variety of settings will draw attention to successful initiatives in first-language-based education that are taking place all over the world.

Presenters in the 90-minute workshop include representatives from UNESCO Bangkok, UNESCO Paris, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Kingdom of Cambodia Ministry of Education, and the University of Belem (Brazil). Mr. Abdul Hakeem, APPEAL, is chairing the workshop. The moderator is Ian Cheffy, Ph.D., an SIL international literacy and education consultant. Resource persons are Rudy Klaas, a literacy and education consultant for SIL Africa Area, and Kimmo Kosonen, Ph.D., an international MLE consultant for SIL Asia Area.

Presentations are focusing on projects and initiatives involving the use of non-dominant languages in adult education with an emphasis on adult literacy and the importance of local cultural knowledge in adult literacy. In presenting the impact and challenges of the project, speakers are indicating how adult learners can acquire skills in the second language—usually a national language—during or outside of the project.

Meetings leading up to CONFINTEA VI were held in five geographic regions. SIL consultants presented papers or otherwise contributed to those held in Mexico City, Mexico; Nairobi, Kenya; and Seoul, Korea.

SIL as a partnering organization

SIL's field linguists serve people who speak the world’s non-dominant languages by working in partnership with them and with local organizations to collect, analyze, organize and publish language and culture data.

Strategic partnerships between SIL, national governments, nongovernmental organizations and academic institutions create a network of expertise and resources to equip members of local language communities for leadership roles in their own language development efforts.

As an international nongovernmental organization, SIL has special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and formal consultative relations with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

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