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Adult education does not reach those who need it most, says new UNESCO report

The main challenge for adult learning and education across the globe is to reach those who need it most. This is the key message of UNESCO’s Fifth Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE 5) which will be published on 15 June 2022 at the Seventh International Conference on Adult Education in Marrakech, Morocco.

UNESCO’s report shows that while there is progress, notably in the participation of women, those who need adult education the most – disadvantaged and vulnerable groups such as Indigenous learners, rural populations, migrants, older citizens, people with disabilities or prisoners – are deprived of access to learning opportunities.

About 60% of countries reported no improvement in participation by people with disabilities, migrants or prisoners. 24% of countries reported that the participation of rural populations had declined. And participation of older adults also decreased in 24% of the 159 surveyed countries. GRALE 5 calls for a major change in Member States’ approach to adult learning and education backed by adequate investment to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from adult learning and education.

“I urge governments and the international community to join our efforts and take action to ensure that the right to education is realized for everyone – no matter their age, who they are, or where they live,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Rapid technological and social changes as well as massive global challenges require that citizens have access to new learning throughout their lives. Reskilling and upskilling through adult learning and education must become routine. The ultimate twenty-first century skill is the ability to learn.”

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