Around 250 participants from 48 Member States (including some from outside the region) gathered to discuss and generate regional action points for implementing and monitoring the Belém Framework for Action recommendations. Participants included four ministers, three vice-ministers, representatives from international and regional governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as representatives of several UNESCO offices and observers from Mexico.
The meeting was organised by the Mexican National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) in cooperation with the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), the UNESCO Regional Office in Santiago de Chile and the UNESCO Office in Mexico City. The Government of Mexico hosted and generously supported the Regional Meeting as well as the second meeting of the CONFINTEA Advisory Group, which immediately followed it, on May 28.
Mr Arne Carlsen, the incoming Director of UIL, opened the Meeting with Mr Juan de Dios Castro Muñoz, the Director General of INEA, and Mr Arturo Hernández Basave, Director General of the Mexican Human Rights System of the United Nations in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (SRE).
Mr Carlsen emphasised the important role of adult learning, education and literacy as key components of holistic and comprehensive lifelong learning systems in facing current and emerging challenges and rapid change. He described as unfortunate that what was true over half a century ago – namely “that the greater part of the human race continues to live face to face with hunger and injustice and to die in squalor and ignorance” – still pertains today. By framing his contribution also in a historical perspective he referred to the former Mexican Director-General of UNESCO, Mr Jaime Torres Bodet, who opened the first CONFINTEA in 1949. Reiterating the commitments made by Member States in the Belém Framework for Action to initiate and track progress in adult learning, he underlined the need to translate good intentions into definite action. He concluded by stressing Mexico’s potential to inspire other countries in the Region and beyond, through its energetic membership of the CONFINTEA Advisory Group.
The Director General of INEA welcomed the representatives of 48 countries and inaugurated the work of the meeting on behalf of the Secretary of Public Education, Mr Alonso Lujambio. In his speech he reiterated the need to absolutely exploit all means to promote youth and adult education. Mr Arturo Hernandez Basave noted that the right to education should apply to every human being, so that public policies should pave a way into making education for youth and adults a reality. This would be the ideal way to eradicate poverty and strengthen human rights and the rule of law of peoples, he said.
In his keynote address, Mr André Lázaro, who had the lead responsibility in the Brazilian Government for CONFINTEA VI and is now Executive Secretary for Human Rights from the Brazilian Ministry for Human Rights, highlighted the importance of understanding education as a human right. Looking at the agenda of CONFINTEA VI and of the Regional Follow-up Meeting he pointed out that the “rhetoric” of adult learning and education should not be undervalued. Especially in the Latin American region, rhetoric has always had a strong role in starting new processes. It should remain a strong part of the process of promoting adult learning and education and the follow-up of CONFINTEA VI.
During the three days of the Meeting, at plenary roundtable sessions, participants from the Region shared their experiences on progress, challenges and plans in relation to follow-up in their countries of the commitments made in the Belém Framework for Action. They highlighted especially development in policy, governance, financing, participation, inclusion and equity and quality. Parallel working groups provided space to discuss and propose action points for advocacy, implementation, regional cooperation and monitoring.
On the basis of a global draft implementation and monitoring matrix for follow-up of CONFINTEA VI, developed by UIL, a draft regional implementation and monitoring matrix had been developed. As the key result of the Regional Meeting, 55 concrete action points for national and regional level were suggested, of which a number will be selected. These action points were presented by the Director of UNESCO-OREALC, Mr Jorge Sequeira, for consideration by all participants on the third day of the Meeting.
A concluding roundtable session gave ministers, vice-ministers and delegates from regional organisations the opportunity to comment on the proposed regional action points and the issues raised during the three days. In their statements, the panellists reconfirmed their commitment to the implementation of the recommendations of the Belém Framework for Action, to working with the action points at national levels, to increasing budgetary allocations as a primary responsibility of governments, and to documenting and disseminating effective practices. As important outcomes of the Meeting they emphasized their increased motivation for action, the action-oriented matrix with room for adaptation to a diversity of contexts and issues, the achievement of having incorporated the Caribbean experience fully in the Meeting, and the general agreement on coordinated efforts to advance the Belém Framework for Action agenda.
The Meeting was officially closed by the Mexican Secretary of Public Education, Mr Alonso Lujambio, who stressed Mexico’s will to “share achievements to jointly build a better and more just Latin America and Caribbean for all” with the support from international organisations and by learning from each other.