AWE at the 64th annual UN-DPI (NGO) meeting

AWE representatives Noël Bonam, Kirsten Bruun and Rex O. Schade attended the 64th Annual UN-DPI meeting that took place in Bonn, Germany, between the 3rd and 5th of september 2011. The theme for the UN-DPI meeting was “Sustainable Societies, Responsive Citizens.”

More than 30 workshops and five main roundtable discussions took place during the three days, around this very important global topic – Sustainability and how we can achieve it and what actions could be taken by NGOs like AWE!

The group thoughtfully attended as many workshops as possible by strategically spreading out and by participating mainly in those related to education, world education and sustainability such as:

– Designing the transition to sustainable societies
– Advocacy training for Rio+20 and building green economy
– Volunteering for a sustainable future
– Giving voice to grassroots people
– Youth and young practitioners’ engagement
– Train, retrain, gain: Youth volunteer leadership
– Have we lost vision and courage? The role of civil society in democracies reviewed.

The Roundtable discussions concentrated around topics like:

– Sustainable consumption and production aspects of a globalizing world
– Civic engagment and voluntary action for achieving sustainability
– Role of Citizen Participation.

The final session, on Monday 5th September, 2011, discussed not only a Draft Conclusion and Recommendation to the UN about a World Declaration on Sustainability, but also covered a preparation for the RIO-meeting, June 2012, named as ‘RIO+20.’

Summary by Rex O. Schade on behalf of the AWE group that attended the DPI-Bonn meeting 2011

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Erasmus-for-all swallows lifelong learning

Campaign for better education programmes in the EUThe EU Commission’s Erasmus-for-all program regulation leaves out lifelong learning. EU NGOs express doubt about the successor of previous education programs.

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Lifelong learning seems to have fallen out of the EU Commission’s regulation proposal for its new Erasmus-for-all program. The information comes from ACC that is an AWE associate. ACC and 29 other European education stakeholders have expressed their skepsis in a common press release on December 15th.

The consequence of leaving out the concept of lifelong learning is not clear. The lack of clarity has made the coalition of education stakeholders invite itself to co-create a more detailed regulation together with the EU Commission.

Lifelong learning is a key concept in AWE’s constitution alongside world education.

Read also: Europeans campaigning for lifelong learning

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AWE releases Millennium Development Goals dialogue cards

Multilayered Democracy Game dialogue cardAssociation for World Education (AWE) has released a new variety of the Multilayered Democracy Game. Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) cards are now on-line

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The MDG version of the Multilayered Democracy Game has been made available. Facilitators, trainers, andragogues, and teachers all over the world can now download it from AWE’s server. The new cards are known in avant-garde circles already. They have recently been tested by AWE Denmark at its international workshop that took place in the city of Vejle.

The Multilayered Democracy Game is also known as the Edugame. It was developed by AWE and International Academy for Education and Democracy (IAED). The Multilayered Democracy Game is meant to correspond to the need for world education in the nascent 21st century.

According to Edugame developer and AWE President Jakob Erle, multilayered democracy is a concept that recognizes and welcomes the emergence of global institutions that can handle the common challenges of mankind.

However, Multilayered Democracy demands of global governance that it becomes democratically controllable by the world’s inhabitants, according to Edugame website explanations. Henceforth, there is a need for the world’s inhabitants to learn about, to handle and eventually to take a role in controlling the emerging multilayered democracy.

This is where the Edugame enters the story. Edugame is meant to facilitate a dialogue among the players about how to proceed in facing the major common challenges.

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Association for World Education @ A World Worth Living In

Turning Torso is the landmark of Malmö, SwedenAdult educators from 80 nations are gathering in Sweden at this very moment. The headline of their gathering is A World Worth Living In, and AWE is there to share.

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The International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) World Assembly is the main event that brings together adult educators and learners from around the world every four years. This time, the assembly is accompanied by a range of different side events. The assembly and the side events have together the title A World Worth Living In.

By now, most of the participants have checked in for the VIII World Assembly in Malmö, Sweden, and they are preparing for the informal welcome session at 9 pm (CET). Among the participants are several AWE members representing different organisations.

AWE is there to share

“We are here to get inspiration and to share views on how to bring World Education into the 21st century,” says Rikke Schultz. She is representing AWE in Malmö together with AWE vice president Chris Spicer. Another AWE vice president Edicio de la Torre is present as well, representing the Education for Life Foundation.

“Concretely, I will do my best to share impressions from the conference. Tell members and others to go to our Facebook Fansite,” stresses Schultz from Malmö. “I hope we are connected from the assembly hall.”

“Particularly, we hope to find inspiration for our reflection journey on challenges and learning methodologies,” says Schultz and reminds of the next AWE meeting at Mitraniketan in Kerala, India, in 2012.

There is an option to watch A World Worth Living In by on-line live streaming, just as the organisers has opened a Flickr account for photos. The programme, list of organisers and co-organisers and more social media options are to find at the conference website. The conference ends on the 17th.

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Europeans campaigning for lifelong learning for all

Campaign for better education programmes in the EUEuropean education stakeholders invite European Union (EU) leaders to make lifelong learning a reality for all EU’s cialis super active citizens. A major campaign has been launched.

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Currently a common position paper of EU’s major education and training stakeholders is reaching EU’s leaders at national and common level.

AWE’s European associate, Association for Community Colleges (ACC), is among the campaigners.

The position paper comes while EU is preparing its multiannual financial framework for 2014-2020. This framework is expected to be published on June 29th.

“We are particularly happy about the inclusive and holistic approach to lifelong learning, that the position paper recommends,” explains ACC board member Lucie Čížková, who is also vice-president of Association for World Education (AWE).

EU and World Education

ACC considers it a danger, if lifelong learning in the EU context becomes solely focused on competitiveness, employability and formal education. The formulations of our common position paper are much more in line with the World Education approach that is also in the Belém Framework for Action, explains Lucie Čížková.

The Belém Framework for Action reaffirms the four learning pillars, namely learning to know, learning to do, learning to be and learning to live together.

The position paper of the EU education stakeholders resembles the learning pillars with a formulation like “…improving skills, knowledge and competences goes beyond the sole aim of improving employability and encompasses developing active citizenship and social cohesion.”

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Educators shall rediscover World Education

A large scale process within the AWE has been launched. AWE educators are going to reflect systematically on the relevance of World Education in the 21st century.

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In the next coming years AWE educators are going to focus on what unites them across borders of all kinds. AWE educators will try to map the common challenges they see for humanity, and the principles and learning methodologies they share.

The longstanding reflection journey will pass the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) in Malmö, Sweden, 2011 and Mitraniketan in Kerala, India, in 2012 before it results in findings presented to the AWE International Council in 2013, and in an issue of the Journal of World Education.

This is stated in an early April letter to the general membership of AWE. It was sent by AWE vice president Chris Spicer on behalf of a steering group.

Important to work with like-minded educators

“I hope the project will help paint a clearer picture of the AWE,” says Chris Spicer on Skype from Massachusetts, “and make our movement more visible.”

“Our Edugame and some exchange programs are already visible on our website, but I am sure there is a lot more to tell and that our pedagogical practices can inspire others.”

AWE’s visibility is also closely connected with the possibility of inspiration the other way round, explains Spicer:
“The project will function as an open invitation for anyone to inquire, to collaborate, and to learn about AWE’s work. It is important to work with as many like-minded organizations and individuals as we can.”

Spicer mentions the ICAE in Malmö as an obvious place for inspiration to go both ways, especially because of the focus on Nordic folk education. Beyond this common theme, he expects of ICAE that it will become a mall of living traditions that can inspire World Educators everywhere.

Time-tested ideas may deliver the links

Spicer has an assumption that he doesn’t hesitate to share. He hopes the common ground will be found in a more encompassing learning practice stemming from old ideas:
“I believe we will rediscover common links in old ideas that have been pushed to the margins, but that I think the 21st century needs badly.”

Spicer refers to the so-called universal thinkers, such as India’s Tagore and Gandhi, Denmark’s N.F.S. Grundtvig, Brazil’s Paulo Freire, and many more.

”But whatever our inspiration from the past, we must make the ideas come alive in a new way,” says Spicer on behalf of the steering group.

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Journal of World Education revives CONFINTEA

In the new Journal of World Education the Association for World Education reports from CONFINTEA VI and FISC. The conferences took place in late 2009 in Belém do Pará, Brazil.

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What is the meaning of acronyms like CONFINTEA and FISC? The answers are likely to slip out of the memory of professionals even. Not to mention, what actually is the recurring “CONference INTernationale de Education des Adultes” all about? Or, what do they do at the Fórum Internacional da Sociedade Civil (FISC)?

The new issue of Journal of World Education offers a glimpse into it. In a series of articles, AWE participants of FISC and CONFINTEA introduce their experiences with and knowledge about the conferences and their topics.

Moreover, the Belém Framework for Action is reprinted in the Journal with the purpose “…to go to our governments and use their official agreement to promote and support lifelong learning from cradle to grave…”, as the AWE President Jakob Erle explains it.

Theme contributors and titles of the new issue of the Journal are Jakob Erle (AWE), CONFINTEA from Hamburg to Belém, Noël Bonam (AWE), An Experience of the Global Agenda, Kirsten Bruun (AWE DK), Meeting a Strong Brazilian Woman, Rikke Schultz (AWE DK), People and Social Movements we met in Brazil, and Ana Maria Barros Pinto (AWE Brazil), CONFINTEA in Retrospect & Interview with Salomão Hage. Ana Maria Barros Pinto is also the editor in chief of the issue.

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Can the market place finance World Education?

Alan FurthIs the time right for coupling of World Education and the “market place”, asks Director Alan Furth of the Cobscook Community Learning Center (CCLC)?


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CCLC, a Maine (US) based member of the AWE, works for being catalyst for positive social change. It is needed for Washington County, one of the nation’s poorest, with one of the lowest employment rates in the state. In this surrounding, CCLC wishes positively to impact in shifting from despair and survival conditions to imagining and venturing into the world of possibilities.

The CCLC’s co-ownership in pie producing Cobscook Bay Company is one successful way to approach and finance its mission. This is where Furth takes inspiration, when he suggests it as a model for World Educators.

We have to talk Dollars!
“We cannot sustain our work for the long haul if we are dependent upon individuals, foundation, or event governments with money. Interests, focus, or administrations can shift in an instant,” says Furth about his point of departure.
Within the AWE we know already unfortunate examples, he explains. Making ourselves dependent on public means or sponsors make World Educators economically vulnerable says Furth and continues:
“I want to see the work of World Educators liberated through proactive efforts.”
“We have to talk Dollars, Euro and Kroner.”

Many would say that education belongs in the sphere of rights and is a public task. Giving in to commodification and privatization of learning endeavors can be depicted as a great defeat. Furth agrees on this. However, his answer is straight forward:
“When we speak World Education, there is no battle and there is no other way. One of the things we are weakest in discussing is the economy of social change.”
He also notes that he is following a long tradition of leveraging business to fund community change initiatives:
“It is our job to find the best ways to meet our respective and collective missions”.

How does it work at CCLC?
The alliance between the CCLC’s non-profit and the pie production’s for-profit endeavors were recently well described in both Bangor Daily News and the Portland Press Herald.

The idea is plain and simple. The CCLC co-owned company produces pies, they are sold on the market place and when there is a net profit, CCLC gets its share. With the pie business, 25% of net profits will be spent on what CCLC is there for: positive social change. And, the business itself is a for profit reflection of the social and ecological values that guide CCLC.

So, pie consuming citizens do buy a little extra: by buying the pies they take responsibility. They buy local, which raises employment in the poorest county in Maine, where Cobscook is situated. They buy organic, and they secure the social work done at CCLC.

“Wherever we are, what is the opportunity here, in harnessing and partnering with the world of business?” is Furth’s question to World Educators.

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Belém proved Hamburg to be an exception

CONFINTEA VIThe points are still the same, explains AWE president Jakob Erle, even if CONFINTEA VI in Belém meant back to normal compared to visionary Hamburg. Erle offers an overview in the new Journal of World Education.

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“I try to make aware that each of the CONFINTEA conferences expresses its time,” says Erle about his contribution to the new issue of Journal of World Education. Some were disappointed about the scope and outcome of Belém, while others were happy about the more operational ambitions compared to Hamburg, explains Erle.

“That is why my ambition with this overview is to point at what matters; read and use the Belem Framework for Action! It is meant for adult educators to put pressure on their governments, because they signed it themselves.”

One important contextual recording of Erle goes like this. The hope for a new human world order was still intact in Hamburg 1997, while Belém took place in the shadow of the financial crisis and the war on terror that proved to be a dead end.

The new Journal of World Education is expected to be released within a couple of weeks. The Belem Framework for Action is printed together with Erle’s article: CONFINTEA from Hamburg to Belém.

What CONFINTEA is
CONFINTEA is the recurring conference on adult education organized by UNESCO within the UN-system. Decisions at CONFINTEA conferences are taken by unanimity by government representatives. The Sixth International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) was hosted by the Government of Brazil in Belém from 1 to 4 December 2009.

Photo by CONFINTEA VI / MEC

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Egypt: The Sphinx and the People’s Revolution

Flag of EgyptBroader socio-economic weaknesses throughout the Arab world is context, stresses Rene Wadlow* in this analysis of Egypt’s ongoing revolution.



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The people’s revolution is on the march; When the freedom-loving people march – when the farmers have an opportunity to buy land at reasonable prices and sell the produce of their land through their own organizations, when workers have the opportunity to form unions and bargain through them collectively, and when the children of all the people have an opportunity to attend schools which teach them truths of the real world in which they live – when these opportunities are open to everyone, then the world moves straight ahead … The people are on the march toward ever fuller freedom, toward manifesting here on earth the dignity that is in every human soul
(Henry A. Wallace, Vice-President of the United States setting out US war aims in June 1942).

The wave of the people’s revolution has swept over Tunisia and pushed President Ben Ali to exile in Saudi Arabia. The disintegration of Ben Ali’s government and power base has been closely watched in the Arab world.

Although Ben Ali was not particularly liked by his neighbours, political leaders in Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Syria and Jordan can see the parallel without too much difficulty – a heavy-handed security state with diminishing popular support and growing demands from an educated, yet frustrated population.

Recent demonstrations in Algeria and Jordan set off by higher food prices have been met by some government action to limit taxes on food. However, higher food prices are only one sign of broader socio-economic weaknesses that have led to high unemployment, high rents and yet a housing shortage.

It is in Egypt that, following the Tunisian example, people have taken to the streets demanding that President Hosni Moubarak must go. The cries of the Tunisian revolutionary movement “Liberty-Work-Dignity” have been taken up by other peoples.

Throughout the Arab world, governments have been unable or unwilling to open serious discussions on socio-economic policies and alternatives. Islamic-based groups have played some role in focusing protests but have not done much in presenting realistic alternative policies.

The violence of some of the Islamic groups in some countries has served as a pretext for the governments to ban all policy discussions without too many protests from Western governments.

The repressive forces of the State are stronger in Egypt than in Tunisia where there was a division of policy between the less-politically-structured army and the more pro-Ben Ali police and palace guard.

In Egypt, there are some 340,000 in the Army and probably as many in the domestic security services – police, riot police, numerous intelligence services. They receive their relatively high wages thanks to US government “aid” of $1.3 billion a year, Egypt being the second highest recipient of US funds after Israel.

In addition, there is a bloated civil service whose well-being depends on their government jobs. What one does not know is if the army is willing to say “we want to protect our prerogatives but we are willing to jettison Hosni Mubarak.”

For the moment, the military and security services have come on the street in full force with heavy tanks and fighter planes overhead. Two generals have been named to the “inner circle” – one as Vice-President, a post unfilled in the past, and one as Prime Minister.

What the army will do is unclear. There is no armed insurgency against the government. There have only been non-violent protests. The army can prevent street demonstrations but they can not force people to work.

A potential opposition leader, Mohamed ElBaradei, the former director of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency is on the scene calling for Mubarak to step down to be replaced by a transitional government until elections can be called.

The Sphinx watches over the scene with the trace of a smile. Most of the tourists who usually crowd around are trying to leave the country, and few are arriving until they see what will happen politically.

The Sphinx was the manifestation of an esoteric philosophy cast in stone. The philosophy stressed the unity of the body, the heart – a symbol of the emotions but also intuition – and the Spirit.

The ways of integrating body-heart- and Spirit was taught to small groups by spiritual teachers. The Sphinx was the doctrine set in stone as words were not the main aspect of the teaching. Knowledge and the aims of action were to come from within each individual.

Likewise, the people’s revolution will not come from without. It will arise from the body-heart-spirit of the Egyptian people. What we see today may be only the first wave, but as an old civilization, the Egyptians have learned to wait.

But the people’s revolution is on the march, and the period of military control is likely to be short.

* Rene Wadlow is representative to the United Nations, Geneva, Association for World Education.

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