IFLA participated at the 2023 World Assembly on Adult Education, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of our sister organisation, the International Council for Adult Education. Engaging with professionals and activists from around the world, we underlined the ability and readiness of libraries to realise their potential to make a reality of learning for all.

Group of participants at the World Assembly on Adult Education - people from different parts of the world in front of a decorated Balinese door
Participants at the workshop on adult literacy at the World Assembly on Adult Education

Adult learning and education have a key role to play in delivering a wide range of economic, social and political goals. Yet too often it is seen as a secondary priority, benefitting from less attention and support than formal education.

This lack of focus risks leaving people unready to face a changing world, as well as preventing those who were not lucky enough to benefit from a good school education from getting a second chance.

The International Council on Adult Education (ICAE) not only provides a space for adult education leaders to exchange experiences and practices, but also to build the case for greater recognition of and support for this in wider development agendas.

IFLA has worked alongside ICAE for some years, including in the context of our Development and Access to Information Report. We were therefore happy to be invited to join them for their 50th anniversary celebrations and World Assembly on Adult Education.

Through our participation, we took the opportunity to underline the role that libraries already play in adult learning and education, and to underline our desire to strengthen connections and ensure a more central place for libraries in wider planning and delivery here.

IFLA also took part in a panel discussion on adult literacy, underlining the need for solutions that are close to people, not just in terms of geography, but also of culture, as well as further work to show how adult literacy is a precondition for achieving goals in a whole range of policy areas.

We look forward to continuing our work with ICAE in order to bring the possibility of learning to people of all ages, everywhere.