Jamaica has been applauded for achieving a four per cent spend of its education budget on adult learning and education (ALE).
UNESCO’s fourth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 4) reported that along with Jamaica, only 19 per cent of 107 countries reported spending more than four per cent of the education budget on ALE, joining the likes of China, Finland, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand, Thailand, and the United Arab Emirates.
“We urge governments and the international community to join our efforts and take action to ensure that no one, no matter who they are, where they live, or what challenges they face, is left behind where the universal right to education is concerned,” said UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay, endorsing the report’s recommendations.
The report declared that Latin American countries recorded the greatest increases in adult learning and education participation, 60 per cent, while in sub-Saharan Africa, it was 72 per cent. This was followed by the Arab region (67 per cent) and Asia and the Pacific (49 per cent).
North America and Western Europe had the smallest increases (38 per cent), though starting from higher levels, the report said.
Women made up almost two-thirds of the participants in literacy programmes across the Latin America and Caribbean region, where they represent 56 per cent of the illiterate population.
On the flip side, the report has warned that there are large indigenous populations in rural areas across both the Caribbean and Latin America, often with their own languages, which can create additional demands for ALE.
The report said that adult education is central to sustainable development and economic growth. However, in almost one-third of countries, less than five per cent of adults aged 15 and above participate in education and learning programmes.
It further stated that disadvantaged groups, in particular, are often deprived of their right to education. Adults with disabilities, older adults, refugees and migrants, and minority groups are among those losing out, according to the report.
The GRALE report warned, however, that major change in adult education participation is required to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.
The report calls for a change in approach, backed by adequate investment, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to access and benefit from adult learning and education and that its full contribution to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is realised.
The findings of the global report are based on data submitted by 159 countries.
To reach the Sustainable Development Goal Four and other SDGs by 2030, the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education has made six recommendations, including better data, particularly for low-income countries and marginalised or vulnerable groups such as migrants and refugees; and increased investment in ALE from governments, employers, and individuals.
It has also highlighted the need for donor countries to live up to their aid obligations to developing countries and rebalance their funding of education to support the education of adults as well as children.
The report said that more research on good practices, particularly relating to vulnerable and excluded groups, was required, and that there should be recognition that investment in ALE has social, civic, and economic benefits.
The report monitors the extent to which UNESCO member states put their international commitments regarding ALE into practice and reflects data submitted by 159 countries.