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In March PIMA President Shirley Walters wrote to Julia Gillard the chair of the Global Partnership for Education expressing our concern regarding the lack of progress addressing the commitments made to adult learning and education (ALE) in Sustainable Development Goal 4 and its constituent targets. This lack of progress is coupled with the failure of the international community to secure resources for the targets to be achieved.

Shirley wrote “It is now 30 years since the first international commitment to halve the rate of adult illiteracy was agreed in Jomtien, and it is 20 years since the same commitment was adopted as part of the Education for All agenda. By 2015 and the end of the EFA period, far less progress had been than on the other measured EFA goals, and wider adult learning and education (ALE) was not adequately measured at all. There is a risk that this pattern will be repeated in the SDGs.”

“The right to education - with literacy its core component – is a universal human right for young people and adults alike. Without investment in ALE, and in global citizenship education, in particular, few of the other SDGs (including climate change, gender equality, poverty reduction, maternal health, and clean water) will be achievable. At the same time reports from the ILO, the World Economic Forum, OECD and UNESCO highlight the critical importance of universal lifelong learning in responding to the challenges of globalisation, climate change, mass migration, and the emergence of a fourth industrial revolution, and all that AI and robotics will mean for work ad wider society.”

On behalf of PIMA, she recommended that “Faced with the scale of the challenge it is of critical importance that GPE's revised programme priorities give serious weight, backed by financial support for those elements of SDG4 affecting ALE (notably 4.3, 4.4, 4,.5, 4.6 and 4.7).

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