This book is about public adult education policy. Apparently a self-evident concept, adult education always requires some explanation. In this book, it refers to all practices and processes that consider adults as pedagogical subjects, independently of age, responsibilities, educational attainment, socio-economic conditions, and venues. Education, however, stresses that it is a social institution or form of “institutionalization of learning” ( Jarvis, 1993) that falls under the state’s responsibility, and through which adults can extend and develop their knowledge, skills, judgements and sense-making actions and capacities. As such, in this book, adult education is, for the most part, equated with basic literacy and education up to secondary school levels for out-of-school youth and adults (i.e. Adult Basic and Secondary Education – ABSE). Policy serves as the identifier for a course of action, as guiding principles and procedures that influence and determine present and future decisions. As such, it refers to both statements (e.g. decisions, documents, regulations, orders, laws) and the meaning-making and decision processes behind them, which are directed towards desired solutions to problems perceived in the life of individuals and social aggregates. But a public policy has its own peculiarities. Firstly, it affects a greater portion of the population than any other policy. Secondly, it is made on behalf of the public, which includes but is not limited to the population it affects, by those holding representational power. Thus a public policy is first and foremost associated with what governments do, but also with what they choose not to do (Birkland, 2010). In fact, also the absence of policy aimed at producing change in the life of individuals and social aggregates is an implicit statement in support of preserving the existing state of affairs. But governments do not act in isolation; they also join other governments in international groups and alliances or intergovernmental organisations with their own governing bodies, such as the United Nations, the Organisation of Ibero-American States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), just to mention a few. In Europe, national governments even delegate part of their sovereign power to shared institutions when

they join the European Union (EU). Thus, a public policy comprises also what intergovernmental organisations choose to do or not to do in the accomplishment of their missions.