Towards Equity, Quality education and Lifelong Learning – the World Education Forum in Incheon, Republic of Korea

A transformative vision for education over the next 15 years was adopted at the World Education Forum, which concluded 21 May 2015 in Incheon, Republic of Korea. The Incheon Declaration was welcomed by the global community, including government ministers from more than 100 countries, non-governmental organizations and youth groups. It encourages countries to provide inclusive, equitable, quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all. The Declaration underpins the education targets in the Sustainable Development Goals that will be ratified at the United Nations in September.

In the Declaration, representatives agreed on suggesting Equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030 as the global goal. This reaffirms the commitment made in the framework of the Education for All process for a holistic understanding of education. Discrimination because of age, sex, social status or ethnic group should be eliminated. Based on an understanding of education as a human right, the declaration stresses the need for an integrated approach, which provides equal opportunities for all and ensures high quality education.
The Declaration marks a success for the advocacy efforts of the global adult education community to ensure that the global agenda won’t be limited to formal education with primary, secondary, vocational and higher education sectors only. However, it remains still open how this broad commitment will be operationalised. A lot depends on the upcoming debates in New York on the SDGs in September, where the goal will be equipped finally with a set of targets, shaping the agenda for the next 15 years. Another important process deals with the formulation of measurable indicators, which is scheduled for the first months of the coming year. Only if the adult education community will be able to suggest and get approved robust indicators for the sub-sector, we will have the chance to be recognized. At least, this is the lesson learnt from the Education for All process, where youth and adult education was neglected mostly due to the lack of quantitative indicators.
The two days before the WEF were dedicated to the NGO Forum, where civil society representatives shaped their view on the education agenda. One focus was the call for an inclusive and holistic concept of education, which is based on human rights and the concept of lifelong learning, a demand, which was shared by the Incheon Declaration. Delegates emphasized that quality education is possible only with well paid and qualified teachers and trainers in all segments of the system, which have the possibilities for constant training and upgrading. Case studies and presentations should that in many regions of the world and especially in non-formal education a lot remains to be improved. Another major concern was the growing tendency towards privatization in education, which affects already all sub-sectors and promotes growing inequality. Governments in many parts of the world use this trend to reduce spending for education, despite the negative consequences especially for marginalized groups.
Lao Revolutionary Youth Union, the Department of Non-Formal Education of the Ministry of Education and sports and the Regional Office of DVV International are organizing a Sharing and Learning Workshop to present and discuss the outcomes of the WEF with representatives from various government institutions, international agencies and educators. The event takes place on 22 July 2015 at Lao Youth Union Office.

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