The Lifelong Learning Platform welcomes the European Commission’s Communication “Building a stronger Europe: the role of youth, education and culture policies” and other proposals launched on 22 May as the second package of measures for creating a European Education Area. It is glad to see the commitment to ensure this Area covers learners of all age groups and sectors, including VET and adult learning, and to support Member States in improving the “lifelong-learning based nature” of their education and training systems. It is indeed high time that the European Union and its Member States place learning at all stages – ‘from cradle to grave’ – high on the political agenda. Nevertheless, it is vital to recall that lifelong learning as a holistic concept of education not only encompasses many different sectors but different types of learning – formal, non-formal and informal – often referred to as ‘lifewide’ learning. LLLP has consistently called for this holistic approach in its reactions to the first package of measures released in January and to the 2017 Communications on schools and higher education.
Our key message is that recognising this diversity of learning practices and spaces, and ensuring the right conditions for effective partnerships within and between them, should be at the heart of building the European Education Area. After all, learning happens both within and beyond the four walls of the classroom, both during and long beyond compulsory education, and is demanded on a permanent basis by the pace of technological and societal change around us.
“We need to look at how to connect different learning environments, objectives and outcomes as they have more in common than we may initially think, for example, parents encouraged to learn again when their children start school, or pupils and students who develop new skills through volunteering or sports – the European Education Area should take this nuanced reality of learning into account,” argues LLLP Secretary-General Ms Regina Ebner. LLLP thus calls for education and training – but also culture, employment, research and innovation – policies that match and support this vision of lifelong learning, with due attention to where they fit in national and European funding priorities.