For the past year and a half, representatives of the Argentine Government and of the adult education and popular education sectors have worked with the ICAE, to plan the 1985 World Assembly in Buenos Aires. To quote from Budd Hall's 1982-1985 report, "The Argentine people, together with the leadership of President Alfonsin gave a new meaning to the word 'democracy'; a meaning in which adult education plays a central role." In particular, the Latin American Council for Adult Education played a unique role, not only in helping to organize this assembly but in bringing together networks of grassroot adult educators from many Latin American countries who have broadened the vision and scope of the adult education movement. The week long program was designed to enable maximum participation of all delegates, as well as to provide an experience in popular education.
The first session of the assembly was opened by Dr. Raul Ricardo Alfonsin, President of Argentina. He stressed the importance of the concept of "education for everybody" and stated that adult education "must strengthen democracy through the inclusion of citizens more and more conscious of their rights and obligations." President Alfonsin was enthusiastically received by the whole assembly. Dame Nita Barrow presented him with a Special Acknowledgment Prize expressing ICAE's gratitude for the importance given by the Argentine Government to this assembly.
There were seventeen working groups or subject areas and each participant chose to attend one group. The seventeen subject areas were: Peace and Human Rights, Popular Theatre and Communication. Participatory Research, Rural Adult Education. Adult Education in Prisons, Indigenous Peoples, Workers' Education, Self-Management, New Technology, Literacy and Post Literacy, Adult Education and Women, History of Adult Education, Adult Education and Older Adults, Training of Adult Educators, Civic Adult Education, Primary Health Care, and the Disabled. These working groups met every afternoon from Monday to Thursday. I participated in "The Adult Education and Women" working group.
The morning plenary sessions provided information from the working groups of the previous day and presentations by invited speakers to stimulate the afternoon discussions. Each of these plenary sessions was held in a large hall with translation and audio-visual services. All of these sessions were simultaneously translated into English, Spanish and French.
The San Martin Centre was set up as a plaza with tables opening up at different times with displays from groups from around the world. Organizations from many Latin American countries distributed pamphlets and adult education organizations put out their display materials. I brought brochures and reports from CCLOW, the Halifax City Regional Library and the International Education Centre. With 400 people in attendance, everything was picked up by the first people to come by the table. A sale of local crafts and a booksale took place throughout the week.