Saturday, 19 August, 2017

International News

European Lifelong Learning Policy

As the European umbrella NGO, the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), is a key advocacy body for adult learning. To stay up to date on policy developments at EU level, click on the link.

What's happening in lifelong learning at European Level

The EAEA is carrying out research on what's happening in adult education for each country. EAEA is starting to carry out this annual survey where members (of which AONTAS is a member) give feedback on important events, challenges and developments concerning adult education in their country. EAEA will then publish a report, which will make it possible to deliver an annual civil society report about the state of adult education in Europe. This will also act as a tool for influencing European Policy and in particular the new yearly economic policy monitoring - the European Semester. As part of the 10 year European Union growth strategy (EU2020), the European Commission has set up a yearly cycle of economic policy coordination called the European Semester. How this relates to adult learning is outlined in this EAEA document. By having a bigger picture overview of adult education in Europe the EAEA will be able to respond to this new Semester with up to date information from its members and members will be able to compare lifelong learning systems, from an NGO perspective, across Europe.

The European Agenda for Adult Learning

The main European Commission policy relating to lifelong learning is The European Agenda for Adult Learning. The European Commission adopted a resolution on a renewed European agenda for adult learning, which is the follow-up to the Action Plan on Adult Learning, on 28 and 29 November 2011. This Renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning links to the four strategic objectives of "ET2020", the framework for European cooperation in education and training, and sets out key areas for emphasis policies:

  • autonomy of the learner but also responsibility for his/her learning pathway and outcomes;
  • learning later in life to promote active, autonomous and healthy ageing among seniors and using their knowledge and experience for the benefit of society;
  • greater access to higher education for adults;
  • developing new skills necessary for active participation in modern society;
  • solidarity between different age groups, between cultures and people of all backgrounds;
  • designation of national coordinators to facilitate cooperation with the European Commission and effective liaison with multiple stakeholders in each country.

The designation of national coordinators allows Member States the facility to have a designated organisation implement the European Agenda for Adult Learning in their own country.

It seeks to enable all adults to develop and enhance their skills and competences throughout their lives, it builds on the achievements of the Action Plan on Adult Learning (2008-2010), and complements existing policy initiatives in the areas of school education, higher education (Bologna process) and vocational education and training (Copenhagen process). The priority areas for the period 2012-14 are:

  1. Making lifelong learning and mobility a reality
  2. Improving the quality and efficiency of education and training
  3. Promoting equity, social cohesion and active citizenship through adult learning
  4. Enhancing the creativity and innovation of adults and their learning environments
  5. Improving the knowledge base on adult learning and monitoring the adult-learning sector.


CONFINTEA is a UNESCO organised Conference on Adult Education which takes place every 12 to 13 years. The last CONFINTEA VI was held in Belem, Brazil, in 2009, with the participation of over 1,100 delegates, including including 55 Ministers and Deputy Ministers from 144 UNESCO Member States, CONFINTEA VI continued a series of global UNESCO meetings on adult education and learning which have been held every twelve years since 1949. The conference resulted in the Belém Framework for Action. Building on the Hamburg Declaration on Adult Learning and the Agenda for the Future of 1997, the Belém Framework for Action records the commitments of Member States and presents a strategic guide for the global development of adult literacy and adult education within the perspective of lifelong learning.

In preparation for CONFINTEA VI the first-ever Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) was developed, it is based on 154 National Reports submitted by UNESCO Member States on the state of adult learning and education, five Regional Synthesis Reports and secondary literature. A follow up report was developed in 2013 and is accessible from the UNESCO Institute of Lifelong Learning website.