Global Britain in UNESCO: will the UK respond to the next Global Report on Adult Learning and education?

In 2022, UNESCO will publish its fifth global report on adult learning and education. Based on responses from UNESCO member states, the report will monitor the development of adult learning and education (ALE) across the world; it will also include a focus on the role of ALE in supporting active and global citizenship. But will the UK take part?

Sadly, the signs aren’t encouraging. The UK went unrepresented at the European regional consultation that is responsible for preparing the next monitoring conference, and the UK failed to respond to UNESCO’s fourth global monitoring report on ALE, GRALE 4.

Fortytwo countries from UNESCO’s European region responded to GRALE 4, published in 2019. The UK found itself among a mere six non-respondents, who included Monaco, San Merino, Israel (whose relationship to UNESCO is fraught), and the Ukraine, who were at war at the time. The UK shares with Monaco the distinction of failing to respond either to GRALE 4 or GRALE 3.

Given that 159 UNESCO member states did manage to respond, up from 139 who responded in 2015, this is disappointing. It sits ill with the government’s claim to be outward-looking and global in its perspective. It also reflects badly on the UK’s national UNESCO Commission, who failed to act and help the government avoid this embarrassment. The UK’s UNESCO Commission also has responsibility for the country’s involvement in the region’s preparatory conferences in the lead up to the 2022 International Conference that will discuss performance and ambitions in member states’ policies for ALE.

For me, this sorry state of neglect poses three questions. First, it made me ask why the UK government doesn’t see GRALE as an obviously useful tool in assessing its own ambitions and achievements in adult skills. Bear in mind that the UK government has placed skills at the centre of its industrial strategy, the Prime Minister has repeatedly argued for skills and education in ‘levelling up’ the regions and nations of the UK, and all for nations claim that futher education is significant politically. 

Second,it is time for a closer look at the UK’s National Commission for UNESCO. It probably comes as  no surprise to learn that its Board includes no one with a backgound in or public interest in ALE, but this is nonetheless the body which ensures the UK’s representation at key UNESCO gatherings, and which advises the UK and devolved governments on UNESCO-related issues. Is it simply ignoring correspondence on ALE, or is offering advice on ALE issues that the UK government ignores?

Third, it made me wonder whether it isn’t time for the UK to ask UNESCO to treat it as a federation of four states. Education policy in the UK is a devolved matter. Other countries seem to handle devolution without difficulty; if the Faroe Islands Government submitted its own response to GRALE 4 without any objection from Denmark, why not the UK?

 

3 thoughts on “Global Britain in UNESCO: will the UK respond to the next Global Report on Adult Learning and education?

  1. Well said, John

    On Fri, 24 Sep 2021, 09:29 thelearningprofessor, wrote:

    > thelearningprofessor posted: ” In 2022, UNESCO will publish its fifth > global report on adult learning and education. Based on responses from > UNESCO member states, the report will monitor the development of adult > learning and education (ALE) across the world; it will also include a ” >

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s