In 2009, the Belém Framework for Action, adopted by 144 delegations of UNESCO Member States at the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) in Brazil, reaffirmed the role of lifelong learning in addressing development issues globally, and explicitly mandated UNESCO to develop guidelines to recognise, validate and accredit all learning outcomes, including those acquired through non-formal and informal learning. It called on Member States to develop or improve structures and mechanisms for the recognition of all forms of learning by establishing equivalency frameworks.
To move the Belém Framework for Action forward, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), on behalf of the UNESCO Education Sector, has taken the initiative to work with Member States to develop the UNESCO Guidelines on the Recognition, Validation and Accreditation (RVA) of the Outcomes of Non-formal and Informal Learning. These Guidelines were developed through a participatory process involving consultation with Member States to reflect their experience and diverse needs. They follow the professional advice of an Experts’ Group comprising representatives of each of the regions and of leading international agencies. The preparation of these Guidelines also reflects insights from studies on RVA policy and practice that were entrusted to UIL by 33C/Resolution 10 of the 2005 UNESCO General Conference.
The overall aim of these Guidelines is to propose principles and mechanisms that can assist Member States in developing or improving structures and procedures to recognise all forms of learning, particularly the outcomes of non-formal and informal learning. While the Guidelines are not legally binding, Member States’ authorities are expected to make efforts to implement the Guidelines as appropriate to their specific national context.
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