All posts by Maria Arguedas

A socially just European Green Deal hinges on education and training Lifelong Learning for a Just Transition

The Commission presented its six priorities in 2019 with a view to build a greener, more digital, more inclusive and more resilient EU. While the bulk of education and training policies were assigned to the priority on Promoting our European way of life, all the other dimensions foresee a reliance on education and training systems: since by its very nature education and training is a key transversal policy area for the achievement of all their objectives. When considering the European Green Deal (EGD) priority, it has been, at times, difficult for education and training stakeholders to identify how education and training policies connect with the very technical legislative packages that command the political and media attention. Similarly, there has been an issue with the lack of connections with broader social policies that will ensure that implementing the technical files such as retrofitting, greenhouse emissions, among others are done in a way that puts people and planet first. 

Education and training in the Green Deal: is it enough?

It is encouraging to see the interconnections between the initiatives from the European Education Area and the EGD. More concretely, the EGD highlights the development of a European competence framework and the support of exchanging on good practices in EU networks. These initiatives were developed more in depth as part of the Council Recommendation on learning for the green transition and sustainable development, the GreenComp and the Education for Climate Coalition. It is also promising to see the connections with files from the Skills Agenda such as the investment in re-skilling and upskilling which were among the main focus points of the Council Recommendation on ensuring a fair transition towards climate neutrality

However, within the Communication on the EGD, only formal education institutions such as schools, training institutions and universities are explicitly considered as key actors to engage pupils, parents and the wider community on the changes needed for a successful transition. This focus on the formal education sectors versus a lifelong learning approach continues with calls for financial resources to make school buildings and operations more sustainable. While these aspects are an important part of the efforts, to make our education and training systems truly sustainable and resilient, investments need to go beyond physical infrastructure and the formal sector to simultaneously investing in direct support to learners of all ages, parents, educators (and their communities) as well as the non-formal and informal learning sectors. In our upcoming position paper, LLLP brings attention to the importance of investing in curricular changes and pedagogies – such as project-based and practical oriented learning which also demand investment in non-formal and informal sectors. Other key areas include ancillary services (such as housing), participatory decision-making and adequate funding for monitoring and evaluation with concrete qualitative and quantitative indicators. 

As part of the EGD, the Commission also highlights the importance of proactive reskilling and upskilling strategies and measures in which the Skills Agenda, the Youth Guarantee and the European Social Fund+ will play an important role in helping Europe’s workforce. While this is a necessary step, it must be accompanied by ensuring reskilling and upskilling opportunities for all, regardless of the industry and current employment situation, but with greater targeted attention directed towards those most disadvantaged in society and towards low-skilled learners considering that they usually do not benefit of the available learning offer. This also implies a need to broaden the learning from sector-specific green skills to a more holistic development of key competences which can guarantee the opportunity for everyone to navigate the green and digital transitions and any other societal, economic or environmental changes that we will face in the future.

LLLP invites the EU institutions to go further in their ambitions to integrate EGD and social – including education and training – policies. It became apparent straightaway that whenever the Green Deal is discussed the focus falls often on the more technical aspects than on the social ones, with the former gathering a majority of the political and media attention as Member States struggle to reach agreements around several files. Given the different competence levels, key social aspects have been addressed through non-binding legislation, only inviting Member States to implement necessary changes and calling for proper monitoring of their implementation. However, this leaves a gap in which compliance with measures from Fit-for-55 (focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions) become enforceable and key files to ensure a people- and planet-centred transition lag behind. 

In light of this situation, the Lifelong Learning Platform joined last year the European Alliance for a Just Transition, an initiative of SOLIDAR. The Alliance brings together organisations coming from the social, economic, environmental and political spheres to jointly advocate for immediate, bold, and transformative action at all levels of society to build a sustainable and safe future for all. This includes among other dimensions the re-shaping of our economies and the world of work, tackling inequalities, mainstreaming Just Transition through policy, recognising the role of education in the transition, delivering global climate justice, and drawing on human rights frameworks and science

Making sure these dimensions are underpinning the European Green Deal will be the basis for a successful transition which gives all an opportunity for a decent life in harmony with each other and with nature. This cannot happen without ensuring that education and training is recognised as more than a tool for decent employment but as the foundation for well-rounded individuals that are active members and co-creators of sustainable and resilient societies, be that at work, at home, in their local communities or with nature.

Read the 7 Recommendations to maximise the social benefits of Climate Action. The Recommendations were developed in the framework of the European Alliance for a Just Transition

Achieving Inclusive and Learner-centred Schools – “LEAD!” Project Outcomes

Students with specific learning difficulties (SLD) often feel excluded and misunderstood throughout their school journey, and are subject to early school leaving. The issue lies in school methodologies: with universal learning methods, students are left behind and their potential is un-expressed. To increase social inclusion and decrease early school leaving, students’ needs must be accommodated. The project “Specific Learning Disorders no more! (LEAD!)” precisely aims to empower students with specific learning disorders aged 9-14 years old, to develop the right competencies, through promoting adaptive technologies and their use. The project’s overarching mission is to enable students with SLD to understand their own difficulties and to support them in using adaptive methodologies, to thrive in education. Consequently, students not only learn adaptive ways to read, write, make calculations, but also develop lifelong learning competencies such as learning to learn and being autonomous.

“LEAD!” is a two-year-long Erasmus+ project. Its partnership spans across four European countries – Belgium, Italy, Spain, and Romania – and is composed of: ‘ENFOR, an Italian training and social research organisation; University of Valladolid; the Lifelong Learning Platform, an umbrella for 42 European organizations active in the field of education, training and youth; the schools ‘Istituto Comprensivo 2 Giovanni Paolo II’ of Policoro (Italy)  and of the  Inspectoratul Școlar din Iași’ (Romania).

The project’s direct target group is students aged 9-14 years old with SLDs, namely dyslexia (difficulty reading), dysgraphia (difficulty writing), dysorthography (difficulty writing and following grammatical rules), dyscalculia (difficulty calculating). Besides teachers and tutors, the project’s indirect target groups include all of the school and not-in-school staff involved with the students with SLD. The indirect beneficiaries are instead the students’ families. TheMY SKILLS’ online platform – one of the project’s results – meets the project’s objective of empowering students with SLD and of achieving more inclusive education. The platform guides students in their learning, and, in doing so, provides them with the right competences and increases inclusion in school, as a consequence. 

Project Outputs: ‘MY SKILLS’ Platform & Student License 

MY SKILLS’ is a platform for students to learn compensatory tools for reading, writing, making calculations, and their uses, where teachers can also access student progress. Its content is designed following the European Guidelines of the Validation of Formal and Informal Learning (CEDEFOP). The platform has a twofold advantage: (a)  it can be accessed both online and offline, so that learning paths are readily available no matter the context; (b) it encourages the use of information and communication tools, and telematic forms of communication between teachers and students. Towards the end of one’s journey on the platform, students have the opportunity to gain the European license on the use of compensatory instruments. Overall, the project’s two outcomes denote innovation from both a content and digital point of view by embedding compensatory tools for SLD students within the digital world.

At the end of the project, the partners organised multipliers events in each country involved, as well as an international conference in Brussels, entitled: “Achieving inclusive and learner-centred schools”. The conference included an interactive panel discussion with experts (Luisa Lopez, member of the Italian Dyslexia Association, board member of the European Dyslexia Association; Augustin Mihalache, Attaché Education, Permanent Representation of Romania to the European Union; Rachel Vaughan, Head of Operations, EASPD; Erik Ballhausen, Senior officer in EU program management, EACEA). The project’s conference highlighted three main points in relation to the project “LEAD!”: 1. Importance behind inclusive education; 2. Importance behind inclusive communities; 3. Need for evidence-based good practices for inclusive education.

Firstly, embracing diversity is essential, and empathy is key in doing so. “LEAD” reflects how it is important for education to be inclusive, because we all have different learning methods and paths. Students with SLD should be offered the possibility to make use of adaptive technologies when reading, writing, calculating. If not, education is not inclusive because it does not allow equal learning opportunities for all.

Secondly, building learning communities is important to achieve inclusive education. “LEAD” kickstarts the possibility of having an interaction between parents, teachers, and students. Here, just like for teachers, parents can learn from how children learn, and adapt to their needs accordingly. COVID-19 and homeschooling is a good moment to learn how children learn, and we should, therefore, take advantage of it. 

Lastly, there is a lack of practices – and, more specifically, of evidence-based ones – that address inclusive education. Drawing on the project “LEAD”, new practices may be added and built upon, to collect a database of practices on inclusive education for students with SLD. Insights into pedagogy are relevant and are impactful to use to establish such good practices.

Overall, the Erasmus+ project “LEAD” stems from a pan-European partnership which aims to increase inclusive education and decrease early school leaving of students with specific learning disorders (SLD). The project’s outcomes – the ‘MY SKILLS’ platform and the resulting student licenses – attempt to empower students with right competencies – both concerning reading, writing, calculating ones and learning- to-learn – to succeed in school. Ultimately, the project’s final conference both re-enforced and shed new light into the need for inclusive, community-centered education, and the creation of evidence-based practices that address inclusive education. The aforementioned points are some of the policy recommendations raised from the data, observations and feedback collected throughout the project, which address policy makers at local, regional, national and EU levels. The conference’s discussion supported how “LEAD!” is the right step towards achieving inclusive education and creating standardized good practices for it.

How do I Access the Platform?

To become more familiar with the ‘MY SKILLS’ platform, have a look at the explanatory video on how the platform works. Both teachers representing a class, and individual students, can sign up. Whereas students wishing to join ‘MY SKILLS’ can select “Student” as a role during the registration process, teachers can ask to have their school involved by sending an email to

Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies

Why do we need to act urgently? Facing the climate change challenges

Last October was among the warmest recorded in Europe since records began, with temperatures rising 8.5 degrees above what is expected on average for this period. However, this sort of news is becoming normalised as we fail to deliver on the urgent systemic changes needed to adapt and counteract the rapid and devastating effects of climate change. Taking this situation into account, last year, the European Commission created the Education for Climate Coalition in acknowledgement of the crucial role education plays in facing climate change challenges and building sustainable and resilient societies. The Coalition, tasked with creating a pan-European community (of practice), is, for the second year, carrying out the Education for Climate days to showcase their efforts at EU, national and local levels. 

At the Lifelong Learning Platform, we consider that this important effort should be accompanied by a holistic view of the relationship between education and sustainability. Let’s not forget that education and lifelong learning are key motors for the achievement of sustainable and resilient societies. Improving education and lifelong learning as an end in itself has been acknowledged to better contribute to sustainable development across all its dimensions at once with the spillover effects going beyond solving climate change challenges. 

It will be paramount to connect the efforts on climate change education with wider and more holistic structural changes in our education systems, curricula and pedagogies. This entails working in parallel on education about climate change and education for sustainability. Changes need to go beyond adding sustainability or climate change concepts, and towards building curricula based on sustainability, including learning the science behind climate change as well as its relations to the economic, political and social spheres. Understanding the problem is not enough: education and lifelong learning have the potential to support learners in finding solutions and taking part in these solutions as well as in demanding accountability from its local, national and international leaders and business leadership. 

How can we move towards lifelong learning for sustainable societies?

In our position paper from 2020 key aspects for systemic change were highlighted such as putting in place lifelong learning entitlements: providing all learners with opportunities for both personal and professional development. Thus ensuring all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainability in all moments of their life. Another important reform is mainstreaming sustainability and lifelong learning across education and training policies, for which actions such as the sustainability competence framework are a valuable asset. We also called attention to ensuring a holistic view of green skills and competences in which they are both an important aspect of navigating the changes in the labour market but, crucially, also a key component of citizenship. Sustainability requires not only skilled employees but well-rounded citizens if we want to truly achieve a fair and inclusive transition.

Our education systems require the provision of long-term support to educators and the development of the learning to learn competence. Educators across all sectors should be supported in adopting pedagogical approaches suited to education for sustainability, including active, participatory, deliberative and learner centred methods. This approach would result in empowering not only educators but learners too, so they can critically assess beliefs, values, and knowledge in order to create new knowledge together, aiming to radically transform education systems. These pedagogical approaches must be part of the wider transformation of learning and training environments in order to integrate sustainability principles into formal, non-formal and informal education and training settings. A new vision on pedagogical approaches must, naturally, be accompanied by a new perspective over assessments considering that they should contribute to developing green competences rather than to negatively impacting the well-being of learners. Our position paper from 2021 provides a perspective on the forms of assessments which could be attuned with the learner-centred methods of teaching. 

All efforts count! Working together towards a common goal

Any attempt at systemic change needs to be accompanied by cooperation across all sectors and levels of education and training where all stakeholders, especially learners (of all ages) and educators (of all sectors) themselves can meaningfully co-create change in our education systems. This effort must be underpinned by increased appropriate funding at all levels, including EU flagship programmes such as Erasmus+ but also complemented by national and regional funding to ensure structural, comprehensive, coherent and durable changes take effect. 

Let’s make sure the efforts of the Education for Climate Coalition are connected to the wider ecosystem of efforts around climate change, environmental, sustainability, transformative education and global citizenship education, in which, although different terms might be used, we are all working towards the same goal: building sustainable and resilient societies. Every effort counts!

Read our 2020 position paper on lifelong learning for sustainable societies here.

GRETA webinar on Green training programmes

Event Details

The webinar is part of six thematic online sessions that started in June and will continue until January 2023.

This online session will take a ‘deep dive’ into green training programmes and examine more closely how VET can contribute to a successful green transition. In a global context, VET plays a key role in fostering the knowledge, skills and innovation that will enable workers as well as enterprises to shape and transform their practices towards greater sustainability.

The agenda for the event can found here

You can register until the 25th of October by filling in this form

EU NGOs publish statement on EU Care Strategy and the revision of Barcelona Targets

As a member of the EU Alliance for Investing in Children, the Lifelong Learning Platform endorses the recent position paper from the EU Alliance on the European Care Strategy and the revision of the Barcelona Targets. This position paper clearly recognises the links between early childhood education and care, and a sound development of all children.

The position paper also addresses a comprehensive reaction to the strategy, an analysis of the proposal for a Council Recommendation on the Revision of the Barcelona Targets on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC), and an analysis of the proposal for a Council Recommendation on the access to affordable high-quality long-term care (LTC). 

The European Care Strategy is an important framework to address the needs of children, their families and carers by proposing that care be affordable, accessible, high quality and provided at all ages. It also brings  attention to gender stereotypes in the care sector, improving working conditions, among others. 

The European Commission’s Council Recommendation on the revision of the Barcelona Targets on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) tackles on relevant aspects including the recognition of educational equity for children, and guaranteeing affordable and high quality care for children with disabilities and special educational needs.

The Alliance also brings together important recommendations on the topics of mental health support for children and families, discrimination of vulnerable groups and the role of local communities for example.

Read the full position paper here