Who we are


What is IFWEA?

The International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations (IFWEA), formed in 1945, is a global federation of worker educators. IFWEA is focused on adult education opportunities for workers and the communities in which they live throughout the world. IFWEA is governed by worker associations, and is independent of governments, state institutions, political parties and employer organisations. IFWEA is the only international organisation for worker educator associations, and as such is an integral part of the international labour movement. Our promotion and advancement of public education with respect to the democratic labour movement is aimed at building a conscious, organised and diverse global movement. Our ethos as educators is not to concentrate solely on what is to be done, but on what must be learned, in order to formulate what is to be done. IFWEA has observer status with the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), and shares mutual membership with SOLIDAR in Brussels, Belgium.

Who is IFWEA?

We are worker educators, which means our affiliates provide education to trade unions (on a national, regional and global level) and member-based associations in worker communities. These associations include labour support NGOs; workers’ colleges; adult education units based at universities which provide adult education on work/social issues; and community-based organisations dealing with class and work-related social issues. We have affiliates in a number of countries around the world including South Africa, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Nepal, New Zealand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Philippines, India, Cambodia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Portugal, Iceland, Switzerland, Finland, the United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Belgium, Bolivia, Peru and the United States of America.

Watch what IFWEA does

IFWEA 2019 video series:

Building a Global Knowledge Community: Learn about the purpose and function of IFWEA.

Sharing and Collaborating: Discover the way IFWEA and their affiliates share support and collaborate to achieve their vision.

IFWEA’s Programmes: Find out about the four educational programmes implemented by IFWEA and their affiliates.

Building Grassroots Leadership: Take a look at the challenges involved in developing grassroots leaders that IFWEA and their affiliates are addressing.

Building a Vision from Below: Find out more about the importance of popular education for the working class.

Building Global Solidarity in the Age of Digitalisation: Share some of the highlights and successes achieved through the work of IFWEA and their affiliates.

Popular Education, Not Populist: Know about the focus of IFWEA looking forward.

Why is IFWEA important?

The philosophy, value and ethics of workers’ education are based on the inalienable rights of adults to lifelong learning as a cornerstone of democracy. Working people need to stay abreast of current political trends, they need to use their political participation to maximum effect, they need to develop democratic worker organisations with active members and they need access to tools for education within these organisations. For more than 70 years IFWEA has provided a global space for workers to share resources and deepen their understanding of the role of trade union and community struggles in the transformation of society. We have played a major role in promoting global solidarity through worker education.

Our Motivation: Purpose and Vision

The purpose of IFWEA (see Constitution/Statutes) is to advance the education of the public with respect to the democratic labour movement; and to promote the carrying out of free and voluntary educational work, according to the principles of solidarity and cooperation, justice and equality, and democracy and freedom. IFWEA’s highest decision making body is the International General Conference, which meets every four years and elects the General Secretary, President and Executive Committee. IFWEA held its 22nd General Conference in Lima, Peru in 2015 (see Resolutions and Gallery of that conference here). The vision of IFWEA as adopted at the 22nd General Conference is a world where all working people have access to lifelong learning opportunities which enable them to claim and exercise their inalienable democratic rights, responsibilities and freedoms as global citizens. IFWEA has 45 NGO affiliates in 30 countries (see Affiliates). The IFWEA Secretariat is currently based in Cape Town, South Africa, and acts as a global resource hub for affiliate organisations to collaborate, share resources and deepen their understanding and practise of continuing adult education for the benefit of all. IFWEA’s website and Online Labour Academy OLA (see www.ifweaonline.org) enables resources to be shared. Video conferencing facilities, internships and exchange visits allow for activities to transcend the local, promoting an international approach and allegiance to universal democratic rights.