UIL Director Arne Carlsen is leaving UNESCO on 31 May 2017. Here, he shares with us some of his thoughts
I am happy with the achievements that my team and I have made since I became Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in 2011. We have managed to see lifelong learning included in Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), thereby making it integral to future educational development around the world. We have also seen Adult Learning and Education (ALE) become an important area in the Education 2030 Framework for Action. These are just two of the accomplishments for which we have had an important role to play over the past six years.
Another milestone has been the work that has gone into creating the Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (2015), which places adult education at the centre of lifelong learning. Together with the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE), the Recommendation is central to promoting and monitoring Adult Learning and Education in UNESCO Member States.
In 2013, GRALE II focused on Rethinking Literacy; and in 2016, GRALE III broke new ground by developing an inter-sectoral approach to adult education in relation to health and well-being, employment and the labour market, and civil, social and community life. During my time at UIL, the Institute also hosted many researchers and policy-makers as part of a new CONFINTEA scholarship and fellowship programme, which I initiated.
Recognizing the importance of cities and local communities in creating inclusive and sustainable development through lifelong learning strategies, UIL established the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, and the UNESCO Learning City Awards. Today, more than 200 cities from all UNESCO regions are engaged in establishing local multi-stakeholder partnerships to promote learning city development. This, along with the upcoming third International Conference on Learning Cities taking place in Cork, Ireland, this September, reaffirms my belief that people want change and social transformation, and there is strong commitment to achieve this at the local level.
Other significant research projects in the past six years include the inception and use of action research in the measurement of literacy learning outcomes, commonly referred to by its French acronym ‘RAMAA’ (Recherche Action : Mesure des apprentissages des bénéficiaires des programmes d’alphabétisation). Five French-speaking African countries originally took part in RAMAA; this has since expanded to 12, all of which receive strong political support from their ministers of education. I look forward to seeing the coming RAMAA doctoral school based in national universities strengthen national capacities to develop a research base for monitoring and evaluation of literacy programmes.
To develop the Global Alliance for Literacy within the framework of lifelong learning, and see its endorsement by the UN General Assembly, was a real highlight for me. I hope that, in future, this multi-stakeholder partnership will be successful to catalyse and coordinate efforts to achieve the target in 2030 to have universal literacy among young people and a substantial proportion of adults. This could be achieved through inter-sectoral cooperation and be supported by ICT. Already a Roadmap 2030 and an Action Plan 2017-18 have been endorsed by stakeholders.
The UIL academic International Review of Education – Journal for Lifelong Learning (IRE) has changed from comparative education to become a platform for new research areas of lifelong learning within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The many initiatives that I have had the privilege to be a part of or that I have spearheaded were developed in response to specific demands on the ground. I hope that they will continue to make a real difference to people’s lives. During my tenure, the number of staff at UIL increased from 32 to 53, and now incorporates nationals from some 28 countries. I hope that, together with annually 40 interns, 25 fellows and scholars, and now 14 UIL Honorary Fellows, they will continue to find inspiration and joy to support Member States to offer high quality lifelong learning opportunities for all.
I cannot thank my team or the UIL Governing Board, who have been very supportive during my directorship, enough. I express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you. The strength, talent, commitment and hard work of everyone at UIL, and my cooperation with many at HQ, Field and Cluster Offices, regional Bureaux and sister Institutes, is something that will always remain with me, and I will treasure my time as Director of this great Institute.
So with this, I wish you all the very best in your continued endeavour to make the world a better place. I will continue to do my part – including, from now on, as Chair Professor of Lifelong Learning at a number of universities – to share my knowledge and experiences with new generations.
About Arne Carlsen: Arne Carlsen became Director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) in June 2011. He was previously Director for International Affairs and Head of the International Research Policy Office at the Danish School of Education at Aarhus University, Denmark. Before that, he was in charge of developing new post-graduate teacher training programmes as Vice-Rector of Education at the Danish University of Education. Mr Carlsen was also a Founding Chair of the ASEM Education and Research Hub for Lifelong Learning, Executive Director of the International Alliance of Leading Education Institutes (a global think-tank for education policy), and Chair of the Erasmus Mundus Master’s Programme in Lifelong Learning: Policy and Management. He is an honorary professor or doctor honoris causa in universities in Viet Nam, India, Russia, Latvia, Hungary and Argentina.