The official international conference on adult education kicked off here in Belém on Tuesday 1st December at the Hangar conference centre. Civil society calls and recommendations were echoed throughout the opening session.
Hangar Conference Center, Belém, 9.00am
By Ana Abelenda
Civil society representatives met in a morning caucus at the Hangar to finish up the last additions and modifications to the Civil Society Statement: "From Rhetoric to Coherent Action". The statement was later read out loud at the opening of the UNESCO sponsored conference.
With music of Brazilian renowned musician Vinícius de Moraes, an orchestra greeted participants at the main auditorium for the Opening Ceremony. Fernando Haddad, Minister of Education of Brazil, emphasized the importance of economic development in human growth and education. He said it is vital to connect all these areas.
UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, welcomed participants in a video. The Director of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, draw applause from the audience with references to celebrated adult educator Paulo Freire. She also stressed the global importance of another key UN conference: the Climate Change meeting in Copenhagen that is to take place in a few days. "Now, more than ever, education has a role to play in our understanding of climate change and how to better take care of our planet" she said.
However, the speech that stole the show was that of ex-Mali president, Alpha Oumar Konaré who said many of civil society´s reclaims and recommendations. "Adult education is not a question of charity, of compassion" he said, and called for a change of economic model that is non colonialist. Developed countries should cancel the debt of poor countries and the global aid system must be deeply reformed.