UNESCO Education UIL

ALADIN’s History

Creation of ALADIN, 1997

ALADIN, the Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network, emerged in July 1997 from a CONFINTEA V workshop which focused explicitly on adult learning documentation and information.

A group of people representing both the potential users and the currently most active adult learning documentation and information centres took stock of the present situation in the different regions of the world and concluded that the organization of an interactive knowledge management system was urgently needed in this domain. What emerged from the workshop was the need for correcting the uneven distribution of documentation centres and networking; promoting the flow of information between both industrialized and developing countries, from South to North, from East to West and vice versa; and bringing in those centres that are not linked electronically. The Head of the Documentation Centre of the UNESCO Institute for Education, Ursula Giere, initiated and planned the workshop and was asked by participants to lead and co-ordinate such initiative.

Expert Seminar, 1998

From October 29–31, 1998 a 3-day expert seminar with 25 participants took place in Hamburg 'Adult Learning Documentation and Information Network'. ALADIN seminar participants shared their experiences and created an action plan that is founded on the free and global access to information and adult learning. The participants decided to call the Network ALADIN and developed jointly a set of ALADIN objectives:

Awareness Raising

To create and promote awareness in adult education documentation and information at national, regional, and international levels by:

  • providing users with reliable and urgently needed, high-quality information;
  • identifying reasons and motives for networks;
  • encouraging authorities, including researchers, educators, legislators, and decision-makers, to utilize the network;
  • identifying the need for information an documentation services.

Linking and Co-operation

To establish linkages between stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels in order to:

  • promote co-operation; and
  • build alliances with all of the existing adult education networks, particularly in the academic institutions.

Capacity Building

To create and / or stregthen the capacity of adult learning documentation centres and information services at the national, regional, and international levels by:

  • strengthening human resources;
  • assisting in securing educational materials, financial resources, and basic infrastructure; and
  • promoting the integration of new technologies with traditional means of communication.

Access and Equity

To develop a user-friendly adult learning resource which

  • is balanced in respect to geographical aspects, gender aspects, and to the needs of different users;
  • gives access to different organisational forms depending on user's need; and
  • includes continuous improvement of the collection and dissemination processes that integrates new technology with traditional methods.

Bank of Knowledge for Adult Learning

To develop a coherent picture of adult learning by linking / connecting the diverse pieces of documentation activities in order to facilitate sharing concepts, documents, information and experience by:

  • promoting the concept of adult education as a field of study and practice;
  • reconstructing the body of knowledge to achieve congruency with the CONFINTEA V definition of adult learning; and
  • enhancing knowledge of adult learning in national, regional and international organisations.                                                                                                  

Fellowship Programme, 1998

During Autumn 1998 a fellowship programme brought together five research fellows from Africa, the Arab States and Eastern Europe to draft proposals for regional action plans.


Ms Eva Kupidura, ICAE, Canada
Ms Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, SIAE, Slovenia
Ms Dina Karam, UNESCO Regional Office, Lebanon
Mr René Nyaben Yatcho, ROCARE, Cameroon
Mr Djarangar Djita Issa, Université de N´djamena, Chad
Ms Ursula Giere, ALADIN Coordinator, UIE, Germany

First ALADIN Directory of Members

In 1998 a worldwide survey was conducted and the first annotated Directory of Members has been published. It presented the profiles of 89 adult learning documentation and information services worldwide. In the following years all membership information was updated on an annual basis.

ALADIN Task Force e-mail seminar, 1999

From November 15–20, 1999 eleven members of the ALADIN Task Force were convened through an e-mail seminar, co-ordinated jointly by UIE's Documentation Centre and the ERIC Clearinghouse on Adult, Career and Vocational Education.

The e-mail seminar was done in two rounds. The first round served the purpose of updating Task Force members on ALADIN avtivities and clarifying administrative functions and the second round elicited information that can be used to guide future activities, including the activities for which support should be sought, topics for publications and types of publications.

Important Outcomes

Criteria for selecting ALADIN members:

  • Provides information services for adult learning (as broadly defined as in CONFINTEA V)
  • Willingness to network and share information with other ALADIN members and adult educators worldwide
  • Some level of bibliographic organization should be present

Responsibilities of ALADIN members:

  • Participate in ALADIN network by responding to inquiries from other ALADIN members and general users
  • Provide regular updates of information about their Centre
  • Willingness to disseminate information about ALADIN and promote its activities
  • Willingness to cooperate with other ALADIN members
  • Willingness to exchange information/documentation experiences
  • Willingness to exchange expertise
  • Willingness to share training and materials development programmes

Change of ALADIN Co-ordinator

The development of ALADIN was directed by the first ALADIN coordinator, Ursula Giere. Her successor, Lisa Krolak, took over as the new coordinator in May 2001



ALADIN Workshop at the ICAE World Assembly, Jamaica, 2001

During August 9–12, 2001, an ALADIN workshop took place at the ICAE World Assembly in Jamaica: 'Adult Learning Documentation and Information: Building the Network', focusing on strengthening ALADIN.

Conclusions and General Recommendations

1.  Develop a comprehensive training approach that includes:

  • Fellowship opportunities to enable persons to set-up adult learning documentation centres in their own countries;
  • Training of trainers who can provide training in setting up adult learning documentation centers and documenting grassroots activities;
  • Development of training materials on setting up documentation centers and documenting grassroots experiences that can be adapted to local situation.

2.  Create an e-Mail Listserv of ALADIN members to provide a forum to exchange ideas, pose questions, and share experiences.

Recommendations to the ICAE

3.  Cooperate with UIE in strengthening ALADIN, particularly by:

  • Using existing ICAE networks to identify additional ALADIN members, especially in those areas where none have yet been identified;
  • Linking to National Adult Learners’ Weeks to raise awareness about ALADIN and the need to increase grassroots documentation efforts.

4.  Raising awareness about existing grassroots documentation efforts through articles in ICAE and ICAE member publications.

ALADIN e-Mail Listserv

In 2002 the ALADIN e-mail Listserv was established, enabling members and friends of ALADIN to communicate with each other, share ideas, comments, concerns and requests.

ALADIN Task Force Meeting, Canada, 2002

In April 2002, seven members of the ALADIN Task Force met at the Coady International Institute to discuss general ALADIN issues and capacity building approaches.

Main Outcomes of the Meeting

A new design for the ALADIN website has been developed and it has been agreed to enhance the ALADIN website by making it a knowledge platform for information and research on adult learning. The ALADIN application form has been simplified. For assisting ALADIN members that need institutional support ALADIN wants to concentrate on the training of their human resources. In 2003 at least one ALADIN member of each region shall be sent on a scholarship to the next ‘Managing NGO Resource Centers’ course that will run at the Coady International Institute from May 13 to June 7, 2003. The mid-term vision is to develop a training manual on how to document and organize information (in English, Spanish and French) and a training strategy at regional level.

ALADIN Scholarships, Canada, 2003

In June 2003, five ALADIN members received a full ALADIN scholarship to attend the 'Managing NGO Resource Centres' certificate course at the Coady International Institute in Antigonish, Canada.


Congratulations to:

  • Ms Noemi Reyes, SPEAR Resource Centre, Belize
  • Ms Martha Ramon, Adult Education Association Israel, Israel
  • Ms Noraido Sinalindo Chio, Notre Dame Foundation for Charitable Activities, Inc., Philippines
  • Ms Olutoyin Mejiuni Fashina, Department of Continuing Education, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria  
  • Ms Linda Beukes, The Rössing Foundation, Namibia

ALADIN Annual Meeting, Thailand, 2003

The ALADIN Task Force held a meeting in September 2003 in Bangkok, Thailand to prepare for the CONFINTEA V Mid-Term Review Conference that took place in Bangkok from September 8–11, 2003. The overall aim of the international CONFINTEA Mid-Term Review Conference was to create the momentum to bring adult learning back on the agenda of national governments, of UNESCO and of other international agencies. The ALADIN workshop was one of 20 thematic reviews.

Its aims were:

  • To discuss developments and accomplishments since 1997;
  • To re-evaluate ALADIN's objectives and vision for the future;
  • To identify emerging trends, challenges and innovative ideas;
  • To prepare for the CONFINTEA VI assessment in 2009 by setting concrete future objectives;
  • To identify benchmark indicators.

ALADIN Toolkit Workshop, South Africa, 2004

In September 2004 an ALADIN Toolkit Workshop took place in Cape Town, South Africa, where an online toolkit for setting up basic documentation centres on adult learning was developed. A year later, the ALADIN Toolkit website was launched.

Adult Learning Links

Nearly 200 annotated adult learning links were added to the website in 2002, in order to make the ALADIN website a knowledge platform for information and research on adult learning. They are constantly updated and expanded.

PALDIN Online Course, India

The Participatory Adult Learning Documentation and Information Networking PALDIN is a capacity building online training package created in 2006 by members of ALADIN-India and a team of experts and scholars, with the aim of providing professional development for those working in a variety of adult education settings. The course, which is available open access, comprises 31 innovative units covering issues relevant to adult learning, literacy and information management.

In 2009, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU, New Delhi) launched a revised and expanded learning package based on PALDIN as a Postgraduate Diploma in Adult Education PGDAE. The programme aims to promote professional development and capacity building within the adult education sector and has an emphasis on participatory adult learning documentation and information networking, both nationally and internationally. In 21 February 2017, four UIL funded scholarships were awarded through the International Institute of Lifelong Education (IIALE, New Delhi) to those students who successfully completed the PGDAE course with the highest overall marks.

ALADIN on Social Media

In 2011, ALADIN started out on social media by creating a profile on Facebook:

In 2015, a profile on Twitter was added:

CONFINTEA Scholarships

Various ALADIN members received a UIL CONFINTEA Scholarship to do in-depth research in the UIL Library.

In 2013, Ms Sanjana Shrestha from ALADIN member READ-Nepal received an UIL CONFINTEA Scholarship, which resulted in the publication of a journal article:

Download: Shrestha, Sanjana; Krolak, Lisa. 2015. The potential of community libraries in supporting literate environments and sustaining literacy skills. In: International Review of Education, Vol. 61, Issue 3.

In 2014, Yuan Dayong from ALADIN member Institute of Vocational and Adult Education (IVAE) in China, did comparative research on the concept and strategy of building learning cities.

In 2015, Mr Peter Björkman from ALADIN member Literacy for All / Bibliotek Botkyrka (Sweden) wrote a case study on libraries supporting adult literacy.

In 2016, Ms Lily Nyariki (Focal Point, ADEA Working Group on Books and Learning Materials, Kenya) prepared a policy presentation for the ADEA Triennale 2017:

A Case for National Book and Reading Policies for Africa in the Advent of the Digital Revolution

ALADIN Online Alert, 2014

In November 2014, the ALADIN Online Alert was launched. It is a joint initiative of the UIL Library and CDÉACF, with input from additional ALADIN members from all over the world. It is published on a bi-monthly basis and includes recent online and full-text information and documents in the area of adult learning, adult literacy, lifelong learning and TVET, and the role of libraries in these areas. In 2016, a mobile version of the Alert was developed to also distribute its content via mobile phones and tablet formats.

ALADIN Workshop, Canada, 2015

In June 2015, an ALADIN workshop was held at the World Assembly of the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) in Montréal, Canada. The topic was "ALADIN - Facilitating access to information and documentation on adult learning". The participants discussed past, present and future ALADIN activities, and the following major results were agreed upon:

  • To launch a mobile version of the ALADIN Online Alert;
  • To explore how to set-up an online archive of previous ALADIN Online Alert documents;
  • To strengthen peer learning and professional exchange among ALADIN members in an ALADIN webinar on community libraries.

ALADIN supports Advocacy for Libraries, 2016

In April 2016, a workshop took place at UIL on the role of libraries in supporting lifelong literacy. It was co-organized by the ALADIN Coordinator, members of the Literacy and Basic Skills team at UIL and IREX/Beyond Access, with professional input from IFLA. Twenty-eight participants, including ALADIN members, representatives of public and community libraries and literacy stakeholders from the government and civil society sectors, convened at UIL in Hamburg to discuss how public and community libraries can better support local and national literacy policies. The main goal of the meeting was to produce a set of policy recommendations that were incorporated later that year in an UIL policy brief:

Using Libraries To Support National Literacy Efforts

ADEA Triennale, Republic of Senegal, 2017

ALADIN collaborated with the focal point of the ADEA Working Group on Books and Learning Materials, Ms Lily Nyariki, on advocating for books, reading and libraries for enhancing literacy skills. During a CONFINTEA scholarship in September 2016, she prepared a policy presentation for the ADEA Triennale (Republic of Senegal, March 2017) and also devised and implemented the concept of setting up a reading tent at the event. Activities within the tent included storytelling, drawing and games, all serving to demonstrate the fun families and children can have in relation to books and reading. In addition, ALADIN sponsored the attendance of an ALADIN member from the Kenyan National Library Service, Mr. Moses Mwandihi, who shared his knowledge and experience in setting up and running reading tents.