I was very interested to receive this statement from colleagues in the International Council for Adult Education (Africa Network) since it is relevant to our work in Africa (and elsewhere), but particularly in Tanzania, which has such a long history of commitment to adult education and lifelong learning since the days of President Nyerere.


‘Leave No-One Behind’ Workshop Statement

In the context of increasing global inequality, climate crises and continuing gender inequality, participants from 9 African countries and Sweden, meeting in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania from 5-8 March 2019, attended a workshop entitled ‘Leave no one behind: Making the right to education for adults a reality’.

Participants stressed the urgency of youth and adult learning and education (ALE) as essential to the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and we agreed on the following statement. 


  1. We affirm the critical importance of lifelong learning in SDG4 (Quality Education). However, we are concerned about the narrow interpretation of lifelong learning which tends to focus only on a small part of the education and training system, which foregrounds children’s needs. This is inadequate. A holistic, integrated understanding of LLL is essential which includes the very young through to those engaging in later life learning.

  2. If we agree that if ‘no one is to be left behind’, SDG 4 must prioritise the learning of people across all ages and stages of life.

  3. Literacy is a right for everybody (i.e. all girls, boys, men and women); it is a key for other rights, so the target cannot be reduced to ‘a substantial proportion of adults’. 

  4. Eliminating gender disparities in education and training across all stages of life, from pre-school to later life learning, including people with disabilities, indigenous people, children and others in vulnerable situations, is one of the most effective ways to accelerate progress towards SDG4, and ensure the connection to SDG5 (Gender Equality). 

  5. Special attention is needed for the revival of ALE in fragile and unstable countries in Africa.

  6. Learning to live together sustainably (SDG4.7) can only occur inter-generationally with children and adults from birth to death. ALE is an essential component if this is to be attained, so ALE must be specifically identified in the indicators of this goal. 

  7. SDG4 centres lifelong learning as critical to all social, economic, ecological developments – however, a comprehensive understanding of LLL which speaks to housing, rural development, gender equity, health, decent work, local and global citizenship, environmental literacy etc., is a key link amongst all the SDGs.

  8. ALE is difficult to measure using conventional measurement instruments, therefore new and appropriate ways of measuring the impact of ALE needs to be prioritised – it is unacceptable that aspects of ALE remain invisible because of the view that ‘if you can’t measure it, it does not exist’. 

  9. ALE makes up around 75% of all learning within a lifelong learning framework across all ages and stages of life, and must be supported through funding by global, regional and national organisations and donors.

This statement is agreed at a time when Tanzania is to celebrate 50 years of adult education, which was led by the late President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere (who was also the first honorary president of the International Council for Adult Education(ICAE).


We therefore affirm support for the partnerships between Sweden and Tanzania which were initiated by Olof Palme and Julius Nyerere and which have led to the creation of Folk Development Colleges (FDCs), of which there are 55 today. These are doing valuable work. We commend the commitment to the growth and development of FDCs which is being demonstrated by the Government and Swedish International Development Agency’s support to Karibu Tanzania Organisation (KTO). 

We urge support of African ALE organisations in order to enable them to play leading roles in the response to the socio-economic and ecological crises which communities face.


In the spirit of ‘leaving no-one behind’, we demand that adult learning and education which ‘is everywhere and nowhere’ in the SDGs is given financial support and recognition if the SDGs and Agenda 2030 have any chance of success.



Signed by:

  • Karibu Tanzania Organisation (KTO)
  • Folkhogskolornas Service Organisation (FSO)
  • International Council for Adult Education (Africa Network)
  • Participants from Botswana, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Zambia, Uganda, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Tanzania



International Women’s Day, 8 March 2019.