The study, conducted by the Lifelong Learning Platform in 2016-2017, investigates the cross-sector cooperation at national level and analyses existing national cultures related to lifelong learning and the extent to which they are in line with EU policies and recommendations in five European countries. There is a specific focus on cross-sector cooperation, consultation of civil society by policy-makers and understanding of the lifelong learning concept by national, regional and local organisations.
Results show that there is no shared meaning of lifelong learning at local and national levels as perceived by the responding organisations, and lack of awareness of EU policies (ET2020 and youth policies in particular). Most organisations within the same country disagree on the existence or not of national lifelong learning strategies while there should be one according to the European Commission and ASEM LLL-Hub data. Even if a strategy is in place, organisations say that it does not fully cover all dimensions of lifelong learning and sometimes the policies and political reforms are very ‘sector-focused’ instead of being integrated and comprehensive (e.g. adult education focus). Moreover, stakeholders feel that there is limited consistence between the strategy written in papers and the implementation in reality.
Cross-sector cooperation practices vary a lot depending on the target country where they are applied. This difference in national consultation cultures and traditions is reflected in the survey’s answers and other research studies on the topic. The cooperation mostly focuses on the “core business” of the respective organisations in education and training, as for example training, learning materials, labour market cooperation, rather than cooperation in order to frame the national political agenda, reforms or policies in education.
Overall, educational institutions and civil society organisations are not satisfied with the current level of cooperation with public authorities and regret the lack of communication on national policies which results in weak dialogue with policy-makers. The respondents consider that this is a consequence of a widespread disinterest of the authorities for such cooperation and dialogue. In addition, this is also due to the limited human and financial resources of the various education stakeholders’ to engage in policy-making. A large majority of respondents would be interested in having lifelong learning platforms at national or regional level in order to exchange best practices, develop new partnerships and be more informed about local, regional, national and EU levels in the field of education.