Who We Are

What is IFWEA?

The International Federation of Workers’ Education Associations (IFWEA) is a global federation of worker educators. We focus on adult education opportunities for workers and their communities. IFWEA is governed by worker associations, and is independent of governments, state institutions, political parties and employer organisations. Founded in 1947, IFWEA is the only international organisation for worker educator associations, and forms an integral part of the international labour movement. Our ethos as educators is not to concentrate on what is to be done, but on what must be learned, in order to formulate what is to be done.

Our purpose

To promote and advance the education of the democratic labour movement. To further free and voluntary education work according to the principles of solidarity and co-operation, justice and equality, democracy and freedom.

Who is IFWEA?

We are worker educators, providing 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 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 South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, Zambia, Nepal, New Zealand, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Palestine, Philippines, India, Cambodia, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Belgium, Bolivia, Peru, Venezuela and the United States of America.

Why is IFWEA important?

For more than 70 years IFWEA has provided a global space for workers to share resources and deepen their understanding of the transformative role of trade union and community struggles. Workers’ education is based on the 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, and they need access to tools for education. We play a major role in promoting global solidarity through worker education.

Sharing digital skills

IFWEA and affiliates share democratic, participatory online communication and education skills that worker educators can practically use to connect with workers and communities. Digital learning offers the advantages of low costs and a wider audience.

How We Work

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 24th General Conference in Cape Town, South Africa in December 2023. IFWEA has a current membership drawn from  countries in Europe, Asia/Pacific, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America. The IFWEA Secretariat is based in Cape Town, South Africa, and acts as a global hub. IFWEA’s website and Online Labour Academy (OLA) enable resources to be shared globally, while video conferencing facilities, internships and exchange visits promote universal democratic rights.

Global standing

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.

Watch what IFWEA does

IFWEA video series:

Building a Global Knowledge Community

Learn about the purpose and function of IFWEA.

Sharing and Collaborating

Discover the way IFWEA and affiliates share, support and collaborate to achieve their vision.

IFWEA’s Programmes

Find out about the four educational programmes implemented by IFWEA and affiliates.

Building Grassroots Leadership

Take a look at the challenges involved in developing grassroots leaders that IFWEA and 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 affiliates.

Popular Education, Not Populist

Know about the focus of IFWEA looking forward.

Global Women’s Leadership Course

See how we ran the Global Women’s Leadership Course during the pandemic.

YGAP Game Jam 2020

Developing an interactive game with a global team.