Policies are not something we can discuss in abstract terms. They always focus on concrete subjects. Whether we are talking about the resolutions adopted by climate conferences, the Belém Framework for Action of CONFINTEA VI, the Education for All agenda, or the Millennium Development Goals, political commitments and objectives always refer to real and tangible areas of life and work. Whether expressly or implicitly, the proclamations and treaties of the major international conferences nearly always contain a component of education. For the interests and concerns of adult education to be taken into consideration at these conferences, however, they must be voiced. For there to be any progress toward the realization of our goals and objectives, we must formulate them. And this takes organizing.
Conversely, adult education in practice is not something that can be described unless its political component is immanent. Adult education addresses and seeks to change the realities it encounters. When farmers organize so as to improve their marketing strategies and increase their profits, they work within a framework of political conditions that start at the local level and extend all the way up to the global level. They must contend with land structures, local market conditions, intermediaries, regulations pertaining to street vending and farmers’ markets, but also with competition from subsidized imports from the European Union, export regulations, credit conditions, and seed monopolies. These are political factors that require political action. Adult educators who organize so as to demand better financing of the education sector, more appropriate classroom equipment, recognition of qualifications, provision of further training and opportunities for advancement, also act politically. And when, in the course of training, women come to recognize the ways in which they are underprivileged, and learn how to articulate their disadvantages and demand Constitutional amendments to guarantee their right to equal standing, integrity, and property, they, too, are acting politically.
The decisions we make to classify contributions in the category of practice or policy are often a matter of subjective judgment. Accordingly, it is not surprising that some of the articles in the section of our journal dedicated to education policy discuss the same themes as those you will find in the more practice-oriented sections.
The European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) is not concerned with questions of practical and political adult education in Europe alone. In its position statement on the European Union’s Green Paper “EU development policy in support of inclusive growth and sustainable development – Increasing the impact of EU development policy”, EAEA calls for participation on the part of the European Union in global cooperation, especially in developing countries, and particularly in the area of education – adult education included.
According to the Statement of Purpose of the “Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice”, as formulated on the organization’s website at <http://www.mrfcj. org/>, MRFCJ is “a centre for thought leadership, education and advocacy on the struggle to secure global justice for those many victims of climate change who are usually forgotten – the poor, the disempowered and the marginalised across the world”. On the occasion of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, Conference of the Parties (COP) 16, which was held in December 2010 in the Mexican city of Cancun, MRFCJ published a Statement on Women’s Leadership on Climate Justice, underlining the fact that women are the most vulnerable victims of climate change and, as such, must play a key role in tackling the problem. Considering the heightened relevance of this document in the wake of current events, we have decided to reproduce the text here.
The contribution written by Sofia Valdivielso, a representative of the Gender Education Office of the International Council for Adult Education ICAE, is an appeal to civil society and its organizations to bring their demands directly to the negotiating tables of political decision-making bodies, and to monitor resulting resolutions and commitments.
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