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UNESCO’s two Recommendations on education

The Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education (ALE) and the Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) were signed on 4 April 2016 at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, by the President of UNESCO’s General Conference, Stanley Mutumba Simataa, and UNESCO’s Director-General, Irina Bokova.

The two Recommendations reflect new educational, social, economic, cultural and political trends and were adopted by Member States at the 38th session of the General Conference held in Paris, in November 2015. The Recommendations act as comprehensive tools to guide decision-makers, practitioners, social partners, civil society and other stakeholders and aim to transform and expand equitable learning opportunities for youth and adults.

While the Recommendation on Adult Learning and Education seeks to strengthen ALE, the Recommendation concerning Technical and Vocational Education and Training considers new trends in TVET and provides an integrated and holistic approach to education and training that ensures the promotion of a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and competencies for work and life. The Recommendation sets out a transformative vision of TVET, one that “contributes to sustainable development by empowering individuals, organizations, enterprises and communities and fostering employment, decent work and lifelong learning so as to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth and competitiveness, social equity and environmental sustainability.” In short, the Recommendation deals with five areas:

  • Policies and governance;
  • Quality and relevance;
  • Monitoring and evaluation;
  • Research and knowledge management; and
  • International cooperation.
The Recommendation emphasizes the need for an integrated approach to education and training, in order to ensure that TVET promotes a broad spectrum of knowledge, skills and competencies for work and life. The Recommendation also highlights the vital role of work-based learning in its various forms, including in-service training, attachments, and apprenticeships and internships. Importantly, the Recommendation calls on Member States to set up measures with the aim of diversifying sources of funding and involving all stakeholders in the process, through for example setting up public-private partnerships.

The adoption of both instruments is a reflection of the high priority placed by the international community on the development of lifelong learning. The instruments stress the importance of providing opportunities for lifelong learning, adult learning and education, as well as the need to promote skills development for inclusive economic growth, employment and decent work, the alleviation of poverty, social well-being, gender equality and sustainable learning societies.

The adoption of the instruments comes at a timely moment and is aligned to the objectives set out in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4, namely to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. In this sense, the Recommendations are valuable resources to support Member States’ policy reforms as implementation of the Education 2030 Framework for Action.


UNESCO-UNEVOC actively contributed to the revision process by encouraging UNEVOC Network members and other TVET actors to give feedback in the drafting stage of the TVET Recommendation. To this end, UNESCO-UNEVOC organized a virtual conference held on UNESCO-UNEVOC’s TVeT Forum from 1 to 14 April 2014. The virtual conference was attended by 199 participants from 68 countries.

Please also find out how one of our UNEVOC Members, the Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (BIBB) in Germany, has played an active role in the revision process.

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