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Adult education for all

18 July 1997

The term ‘life-long learning’ is often used to describe the current approach to education, an approach that involves people learning in many different environments – over large distances, in the workplace, or in non-formal settings – and throughout much of their lives. From learning basic numeracy or literacy skills to training on the latest software packages, people are using educational opportunities to take more effective control of their lives.

Yet education is about more than the transfer of skills. Education develops creativity, which is a key to survival and sustainable development. It also disseminates a culture’s values, including those that determine its power relationships, and plays a role in the creation and maintenance of national identity.

Given sufficient political will, education can be a powerful tool to help create a culture of rights, openness and peace, and ultimately prevent conflict and promote inter-communal cooperation. On the other hand, it can be exclusionist and divisive, exacerbating existing tensions within a society, or even creating new ones.It is vital, therefore, that all members of society have access to appropriate and relevant educational opportunities. Minority and indigenous communities are often the most marginalized in the field of education, as in many areas. They can be excluded by overtly discriminatory practice, or through more subtle means such as policies on the language of instruction.

The work of Minority Rights Group International (MRG) indicates that this type of exclusion can cause minorities and indigenous peoples to feel threatened and frustrated. Furthermore, it is as important to educate majority communities to respect the rights and cultural identities of minorities who live within their state borders as it is to educate minorities themselves.

Please note that the terminology in the fields of minority rights and indigenous peoples’ rights has changed over time. MRG strives to reflect these changes as well as respect the right to self-identification on the part of minorities and indigenous peoples. At the same time, after over 50 years’ work, we know that our archive is of considerable interest to activists and researchers. Therefore, we make available as much of our back catalogue as possible, while being aware that the language used may not reflect current thinking on these issues.

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