Pan-European CONFINTEA VI Preparatory Conference
EAEA – Main Adult Education and Learning Issues and Tropics
The EAEA fully supports the four global goals identified by ICAE. These relate to poverty and growing economic and cultural inequality; the right to education and learning of migrant women and men; the priority of adult education as part of EFA; and the need for policy and legislation to ensure the right to learn for all. These goals are as relevant to Europe as they are for the rest of the world. In Europe we have also had the opportunity to shape the priorities through the Lisbon goals and the Action Plan for Adult Learning, which are seen as significant to European countries outside the EU in addition to the Member States.
Embedded in the need to redefine adult learning and its mission, the EAEA believes that there are some issues that need to be highlighted and acknowledged for their importance and contribution to the mission for adult education on the global level:
- Non-formal and informal learning at all levels and in all areas. especially in the context of migration. The numbers of adults engaged in non-formal and informal adult learning should be increased; the process of recognition and validation of learning outcomes achieved in formal, informal and non-formal learning should be taken forward at a faster pace; stronger commitment and financial support by decision makers should be ensured; adult education in more formal contexts should be co-coordinated with informal everyday learn ing and non-formal learning opportunities, enabling the full implementation of both lifelong and life-wide learning, from which individuals, communities and societies could benefit;
- Non-vocational learning, (including training not directly related to employ ment) and liberal education seem to be losing out in the context of labour market needs, commercial constraints and pure instrumental approaches. A better balance between the two approaches could support the holistic vision of adult education and learning – ensuring a real world reference and relevance for the participants, but also providing a broader perspective and the potential for development at the same time;
- Similarly. Learning for citizenship, peace and interculturalism can go hand in hand with gaining competencies, but new ways need to be found to improve learning in these areas. They are often overlooked by policy and decision makers and the contribution to this field by adult education is more often rhetorically acknowledged than actually implemented;
The same applies to education that helps people to gain an awareness of political changes, to understand them better and to take an active role in political de velopments in local and global areas. Significant social, political and economic crisis around the world and in Europe can leave people feeling powerless and uninformed; adult education and learning could re-new its role for/within the new political context;
Two equally important components of learning active citizenship could be sup ported in this way – a structural/political one and a cultural/personal one.
- Society must not lose sight of the fact that the gender issue is still very important, especially in the context of literacy and inclusive education. Equal access to education, gender related provision and methods should be kept as one of the main tasks for the post CONFINTEA VI period.
- Learning to learn and developing abilities for the learning through the life remains one of the crucial tasks for the full acceptance of the concept of lifelong learning, and adult learning has a crucial part to play by increasing motivation to learn among adults.
ICT can provide new opportunities for adult learning and efforts should be made to develop comprehensive computer literacy courses and access to the intemet for all adult groups
Adult Education and Learning in Europe and the Global World
Europe is the region with many positive traditions in adult education and learning,
– a region that set the trends, generates ideas and manages to establish relatively developed adult education systems. As such, it has a special responsibility in the global discussion on adult education and learning and for developing global partnerships and cooperation. Europe is very heterogeneous in terms of cultural diversity, economic development, social cohesion and democratic developments and complex in it subregional relationships and cooperation. Thus it has some comparable aspects with other regions, which enables constructive exchange and sharing during the preparatory process and after CONFINTEA VI. Europe as region has experiences to share, and the possibility to discuss many global and particular adult education phenomena with problem-solving potential and an evidence based-approach. At the same time, EAEA is concerned about the growing division of the European AE into an “EU – adult education” with a great variety for development and funding, and a “Non-EU adult education.”
The pace of change is quickening in the economic, social and cultural environ ments throughout the world. Especially in Europe, the EAEA envisages that adult education and learning can contribute to enabling individuals, communities, economies and societies to face these challenges and the various problems and opporhmities of contemporary societies. The European region‘s experience pro vides an opportunity for reflection on the common global problems. including the areas defined by ICAE as priorities for CONFINTEA VI. European experiences could also help to gain a deeper insight and understanding of adult education and learning; to offer best practice examples; and to contribute to the discussion on the following aspects:
- Vocational education and training, also in the context of functional literacy and the process of increasing levels of qualification, skills and key competen cies;
- Adult learning as a mean to overcoming barriers and conflicts caused by diversity, injustice, inequality, discrimination and exclusion;
- Adult learning as a tool to address differences of age, gender, race. territory, language, culture and special learning needs.
- European adult learning policy development as a positive example of co operation in a region, which is developing and extending in the form of open dialogues.
The decade between two CONFINTEA in Europe has seen important changes of paradigms and some new views on adult learning and education, moving from the enthusiastic, comprehensive, all-encompassing approach of CONFINTEA V to a more sharpened, focused and professionalized approach. It has become clear that moving from rhetoric to practice and achieving the ambitious goals attributed to adult education, requires commitments at all levels and very concrete steps and action plans in order to develop:
- The structures of adult education and learning – system of providers, networks and quality assurance (for trainers, institutions and programs). Structures of entitlement and opportunity need to be developed by governments in partner ship with the range of stake holders, if we want to ensure participation for everyone.
- Sustainable state support of whatever kind needed, aimed at the creation of a framework which would open the space for the whole variety of flexible, innovative forms of adult education.
- A legislative base for adult education, covering not exclusively learning and education issues, but also related aspects from work, labour, migration and employment legislation. The legislation should also consider cross-cutting character of adult education and learning and include within in the measures and legislation in the areas of health, agriculture, environment protection and so on.
- Stable and sustainable financial resources developed via social partnerships. The whole range of various partners and stakeholders in adult education should be included in the financial planning by developing diverse sources. mechanisms and models of financing adult education.
- Systems of professional preparation of adult education staff – both for full-time and part-time adult educators, their in-service and pre-service training, based upon research of the needs and quality assurance. Closely related to this is need to make better use of research (both fundamental and applied) into adult education and learning and to the improve the methods, teaching aids and creative approaches to adult learning for various groups.
- The recognition of learning outcome, their harmonization through Europe via prior learning assessment and acknowledgment of competencies gained in non-formal learning are one of the most valuable experiences of European adult education and learning policy and practice.
- Permanent discussion, full participation and unlimited mobility as further important principles of adult education and learning at local, regional and global levels.
This paper from the EAEA includes in our view, the European “lessons learned” for CONFINTEA VI, that could be shared with the others during the preparatory proc ess, and should also be considered for the outcomes and in the final documents.