Tag Archives: Lifelong learning

Today, the concept of “lifelong learning” (LLL) is widely used but its meaning differs according to whom is using it. According to the LLLPlatform, lifelong learning covers education and training across all ages and in all areas of life be it formal, non-formal or informal. It shall enable citizen’s emancipation and full participation in society in its civic, social and economic dimensions. Its objective should not only be described in terms of employability or economic growth but also as a framework for personal development.

LLLAB 22 – Registrations open!

The registrations for the 2nd edition of the Lifelong Learning Lab are officially open!

Under the patronage of the French Presidency of the Council of the European Union, LLLP will bring this laboratory to Nice, France where we will be discussing “Lifelong learning entitlements for the future of Europe”. Save the date for 30-31 May, where education stakeholders from European and French contexts will come together to stir the new generation of cooperation in education and training.

Dive into this innovative laboratory, explore cooperation between education stakeholders in Europe and in France

More info: https://bit.ly/lllab22
Registration form: https://bit.ly/lllab22reg

Annual Theme 2022 – Investment in education and training: a public good for all

Why an Annual Theme?

The Lifelong Learning Platform addresses forward-looking issues in the field of education and training on an annual basis. This year’s theme will be explored during different events and meetings at the crossroads between the French and Czech Presidencies of the Council of the EU, thus helping the transition and bridging with the outcomes of the Future of Europe Conference led by the French Presidency.

Investment in education and training: a public good for all

Why investment?

Investment in education and training remains, today, a broad theme and certainly a topical item on the EU’s agenda. LLLP wishes to approach the topic of investment from the standpoint of social inclusion – specifically in relation to closing the learning gaps amplified throughout the pandemic: how do we recover better? With the polar star of investment to bounce back, funding in education, training and lifelong learning opportunities should focus specifically on fair access, vulnerable groups and inclusion in representation. The latter is a crucial theme given the high interest in the EU and member states’ agendas on who is to fund lifelong learning: the answer to this question determines the crucial question of inclusion. This conversation started with the Finnish Presidency and the Council Resolution on financing education in 2019 and it continued with the Croatian Presidency who requested an opinion from the EESC on sustainable financing for lifelong learning in 2020.

The revision and launching of the new Skills Agenda introduced the idea of the Individual Learning Accounts. Following the health crisis, the EU launched the Recovery and Resilience facility where one of the main measures touches upon funding for upskilling and reskilling. Funding education and training is a recurrent issue that will continue to be high on the agenda for the years to come and which will be at the heart of the French Presidency too in 2022. The French Presidency plans to look at the right to lifelong learning and what instruments are to finance it. The pandemic questioned the funding of education and training and its impact on rising inequalities which will continue to be shown in the years to come. The new European Parliament initiative on the European Education Alliances is calling for an Education Investment Plan under the CoFoE. Social partners such as ETUCE are also using the CoFoE to call for lifelong learning opportunities for all and its respective funding. These are a few of the many initiatives under which this issue can be addressed.

Strengthening the role of public funding for education means, conversely, that education stays a public good for all. Therefore, “who” or rather “what instruments” finance lifelong learning are not questions to be taken for granted, as they entail cascade effects on the structures, pedagogies, objectives, curricula, inclusion and representation in education and training. Such an assumption should therefore not be taken for granted; the Lifelong Learning Platform will seek to explore its many facets during the year to come, with the usual support of its members and of the European institutions.


  • Public good until what point? Public financing at risk
  • Commodification of learning and the human capital: serving markets and not learners
  • Education that empowers the already empowered: supporting inclusion


This theme will inform most of LLLP activities for the year: from the brand new LLLab to the LLLWeek, from the annual position paper to its desk research, from an advocacy campaign in investment in lifelong learning to the Lifelong Learning Interest Group. Stay tuned for more!

Environmental sustainability rhymes with lifelong learning

The European Commission published its proposal for a Council Recommendation on learning for environmental sustainability. The aim of the proposal is to support Member States, schools, higher education institutions, non-governmental organisations and all education providers in equipping learners with understanding and skills on sustainability, climate change and the environment. 

What is it?

This proposal serves the European strategy to become the world’s first climate-neutral continent 

and envisions decisive actions to be taken now. The European Education Area, the European Green Deal and other key initiatives already recognise the crucial role of education and training for the green transition: this proposal builds on them to step up Europe’s commitment. Learners of all ages now need to be able to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes to live more sustainably, change patterns of consumption and production, embrace healthier lifestyles and contribute – both individually and collectively – to the transformation of our societies. The Commission explicitly points at a “lifelong learning approach to learning for environmental sustainability with hands-on, engaging and action-based ways of learning which foster (i) knowledge, understanding and critical thinking (cognitive learning); (ii) practical skills development (applied learning); and (iii) empathy, solidarity and caring for nature (socio-emotional learning)”.

What for?

The Commission proposal aims to:

  • articulate a vision and shared understanding at EU level on the deep and transformative changes needed in education and training for the green transition;
  • develop a coherent approach to the competences, skills and attitudes that people need to act, live and work in a sustainable manner, strengthen the importance of lifelong learning to ensure that everybody from a young age through to adulthood can acquire those competences and skills; 
  • facilitate the sharing of policy-maker, researcher and educator expertise and best practices at system and institution level;
  • support initiatives at EU level to foster learning for environmental sustainability; and encourage investment in the above areas.


The proposal recommends that Member States establish learning for environmental sustainability as a priority area in education and training policies and programmes; this will likely bring not only extra attention to this topic, but also – crucially – more funding. Among its provisions to support learners, we find that it needs to “[s]trengthen, including through financial support, high-quality lifelong learning for environmental sustainability, including traineeships, apprenticeships, volunteering, extra-curricular activities and other forms of non-formal and informal learning. Recognise and reward civic engagement in environmental sustainability”. This would mean that Europe is about to take a huge leap forward as it will recognise the active role that all forms of learning play in making human activities more sustainable, in line with its commitment to meet all Sustainable Development Goals. 

Moreover, this proposal also supports a) educators to facilitate learning for environmental sustainability, and b) education and training institutions to effectively integrate environmental sustainability across all their activities. Such ambitious objectives will hopefully steer Europe a little more on the track of environmental sustainability. To achieve them, Member States are encouraged to agree on the mobilisation of national and EU funds for investment in infrastructure, training, tools and resources. The EU programmes and financing schemes that will support the actions to be taken under this recommendation will be the Erasmus+, the Recovery and Resilience Facility, European Solidarity Corps, European Social Fund Plus, European Regional Development Fund, the Technical Support Instrument, Digital Europe Programme, Horizon Europe and InvestEU. When it comes to instruments, it will be important that such noble purposes are met with funding that is adequate to revolutionise European education systems. 

At the same time, as is often the case with Council recommendations, the implementation process and measures will be as important as the recommendation itself. It will be important to stay within the framework of a learner-guided implementation, where education is implemented for its own sake. 

Systemic cooperation for a green transition

It is nonetheless crucial to realise that the burden of reaching the objective shall not be placed entirely on individuals or on education systems. Alone, atomised individuals or educators will not make the world greener overnight: such a titanic effort shall see the active involvement and commitment of decision-makers and major economic players and polluters. Environmental challenges are first and foremost of economic nature (e.g. production and consumption models) and have societal implications (e.g. migration, inequalities). The system cannot be changed by only looking at the environmental dimension without questioning our economic and social system. Education is a place where its actors can understand what is wrong with the system and identify solutions to fix it, but education stakeholders cannot do that in isolation from the community and society that they live in.  

As a way of illustrating this, integrating education for sustainability in the education system can only succeed if the economic and productive policies supported by employment and civil society stakeholders fuel the creation of green jobs and occupations as well as the development of green skills. The same applies to social policies addressing inequality gaps; intergenerational sustainability can only be achieved if intragenerational wellbeing is given proper attention. Close cooperation between stakeholders can support that and is essential in that regard.  

Lifelong learning as guiding principle 

Likewise, it will be important to not conceive education and training only as a means to cover the jobs needed as part of the green transition as the first aim indicates, but keep in mind that the ultimate goal must always be to improve education in itself.

At the same time, it is revitalising to acknowledge that the European Commission is envisioning to put education and lifelong learning at the centre of this new journey. All the more, because many of the guiding provisions in the proposal had been put forward by the Lifelong Learning Platform in its position paper on “Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies”. And we like to believe that well-grounded documents such as the position paper, informed with values of inclusion and solidarity, will always end up being the backbone of progressive decision-making. 


LLLP is now an official partner of UNESCO

The Lifelong Learning Platform is delighted to announce that we have been successfully admitted to an official partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), with consultative status under the Directives concerning UNESCO’s partnership with non-governmental organisations (36 C/Res. 108). UNESCO believes that education and training is a human right for all throughout life and that access must be matched by quality. The Organisation is the only United Nations agency with a mandate to cover all aspects of education. It has been entrusted to lead the Global Education 2030 Agenda through Sustainable Development Goal 4. 

It is our belief that the values and principles upheld by UNESCO greatly correspond to those of LLLP. Indeed, UNESCO understands that education and training, when made accessible to all, provides us with a powerful tool for eradicating poverty, improving the lives of communities, making sustainability a reality, as well as sowing the seeds for each individual to reach their full potential and thrive. An additional commonality we share is a lifelong learning approach to education, which far from being reduced to a small moment in one’s life, is something that can and should be available at any point in a person’s life – regardless of age or financial means.

It is our hope that this partnership will further enable LLLP to make the case for learning as a lifelong endeavour, available and accessible to all as a matter of right. It is also anticipated that this partnership will widen the scope of LLLP’s work and provide new avenues for engagement that will strengthen our capacity to positively influence policy.

Lifelong Learning Lab 1-2 June Recap

The Lifelong Learning Lab took place online at the beginning of June, bringing together over 100 participants to form a space of dialogue and discussion around a number of topics related to EU decision making, the feasibility of  establishing lifelong learning platforms at the national level, and in relation to broadening the collaborative scope of civil society organisations as a means for strengthening their influence in EU decision making arenas.

The discussions that emerged where both fruitful and forward looking in orientation. It was emphasised that, now more than ever, lifelong learning needs to be positioned as key policy tool, not only as a means for building the capacity of individuals to deal with changes in the labour market; but also to afford people the opportunity to develop personally and collectively, and to benefit from the intrinsic value of learning – at any point in their lives, regardless of financial means or age.

Looking further, the event also shed light on the value that collaboration can bring for civil society organisations, not only in relation to realising common concerns, but also in relation to influencing EU decision making, and making the voice of civil society a permanent fixture in policy arenas. Stronger together was the chief message. As a closing remark it is perhaps best to consider the final words voiced in the event:

It is hoped that the event will pave the way for a renewed emphasis on the importance of civil society cooperation and the feasibility of establishing national lifelong learning platforms. The need is great, and the time is right.

Here are a few resources we would like to share with you: The recording of the first day and the recording of the second day respectively.

BRIDGE 47s recent event Imagine 4.7 envisions a brighter future – through education!

Education is a key component for change, but realising a sustainable and socially just world can only be achieved through envisioning an education system that affords people the capacity to access both lifelong and life-wide education – for all and not the few, and at any point in time for that matter.

Brtidge 47s recent event Imagine 4.7 raised a pertinent question that is necessary to address if we are to achieve a sustainable and just transition: are we to carry on with “the old ways of doing things” or are we to pose a challenge by attempting to release education from its narrow confines of a particular stage in ones life?

The event was an exercise in the latter –  it was a space to dream, imagine and envision a brighter future where education is understood within the context of – any time, at any age, and for all.

The fundamental message expressed was that education, if allowed reach its full potential,  holds the capacity to create a baseline for transformative learning whereby people can shape the world as active global citizens and create enabling conditions for brighter futures to emerge.

Video recordings of all sessions are available on Bridge 47 Youtube channel. Also, all the materials can be found on the event website, under “programme”. You can also find all the resources that were mentioned in the chat box across all sessions by clicking here.

Registration for the Lifelong Learning Lab is now open!

The year 2021 marks the start of a new enabling framework for Education and Training to achieve the European Education Area by 2025, as well as of the renewed Digital Education Action Plan and therefore, an opportunity for Europe and Member States to reflect and build capacities to achieve its goals.

However, Europe and its Member States face difficulties with citizens’ engagement in policy-making because of a lack of trust, knowledge and/or a lack of social dialogue. Policy making lacking citizens’ engagement produces policies distant to the very issues they are attempting to work with. This is, subsequently, affecting the quality and efficiency of public services such as education and training.

How can we promote EU cooperation in education, training and lifelong learning in national contexts? How can we plant the seed for the creation of a national lifelong learning platform in order to build bridges between sectors? What steps need to be taken to realise the full potential of a lifelong learning approach?

These are the questions to be tackled in the Lifelong Learning Platforms pilot activity: the Lifelong Learning Lab – National Training for Education Stakeholders. With this programme, LLLP seeks to keep the momentum of EU cooperation to assess EU citizens’ capacity to participate in policy-making, suggest solutions and break silos in the education sectors. Further to this, and following the policy recommendation in its Feasibility study, LLLP would also like to explore the possibility of implementing lifelong learning platforms within national contexts across the EU.

It is our belief that Lifelong learning is one of the key policy tools available to us as we deal with the economic and social fallout of COVID-19 – and should be considered with due regard.

LLLP will be focusing these efforts on the Portuguese context as a case study to learn from and share best practices in the field of decision making and agenda setting. This will carried out with the support of the Portuguese Presidency and other EU actors.

The goals will be pursued through a new two-day event during which LLLP will take participants from all over Europe through a wide range of topics, spacing from EU cooperation in education and training, to EU decision-making processes, and from civil society engagement to national contexts.

Registration for the pilot event is now open!

Dates: Tuesday, 1 June: 15.00 – 18.00 CET & Wednesday, 2 June: 10.00 – 13.00 CET

More information on the event to be found here


EDEN – Education in time of new normal

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic last March, universities worldwide faced the need to move all their classes to an online environment overnight, in order to ensure continuation of their teaching and learning activities. Institutions that had already ventured onto the path of online education realised this transformation much more quickly than those who were less prepared. Others made the transition more modestly, only beginning to take the first steps into online education. In a remarkable short time, courses and exams across the globe moved online, ensuring that universities did not close but rather adapted to the new situation and by doing so managed to save the remainder of the academic year.

Having overcome the initial impact of the pandemic and having moved beyond immediate crisis management, university leaders are now taking the time to reflect on the lessons learned, to set new strategies for the future, and to fully prepare their institutions for the new academic year. Although some continue to hope that students will soon return to classrooms, others see the COVID-19 crisis as a catalyst for educational organisations to implement online teaching and learning systematically and to thus offer a better quality of education in this age of the new normal. What are the key leadership decisions that organisational leaders must make in creating their vision for the future? What short-term and long-term strategies are needed? How can leadership ensure a smooth transition to the online setting and create the necessary infrastructure for training teachers, and implementing new teaching methods and redesigned curricula? How can universities manage their transition to online while improving the quality of teaching and learning? These are some of the questions we will be addressing in the first two webinars of the EDEN webinar initiative Education in time of a new normal (September 14 and 21).

Aimed at policy makers and organisational leaders and management, but also for all those working in education, these webinars will provide practical insights and tips from well-known experts, leaders, and practitioners in the field of e-learning and online learning.

Join the sessions and participate in discussions, where you will get the ideas you need to turn your vision for the future into actionable steps. Get the answers you need for smoothly leading your organisation in transforming your curriculum to online and ensuring high quality teaching and learning.

Read more and join the webinars!

The Lifelong Learning contribution to tackling fake news

On September 7th, and under the title “Attention Fake! Strategies against populisms in Europe ”, experts discussed online disinformation in an event organized by the Lower Saxony State Representation. Sitting on the panel were Prof. Dr. Monika Oberle, Professor of Political Science and Political Education at the University of Göttingen, Brikena Xhomaqi, Director of the Lifelong Learning Platform and Dr. Florian Hartleb (Tallinn), consultant on digitization in Germany, lecturer and book author. The discussion was moderated by Holger Beckmann, radio correspondent at the ARD studio in Brussels.

This experts’ round, the latest of a series initiated by the Lower Saxony representation, contextualises the current trends in Europe, including the strengthening of anti-European positions, the relapse into nationalist thinking and the growing demarcation or exclusion of those who think differently, foreigners and minorities.

In her opening statement, Lower Saxony’s European Representative Birgit Honé professed certainty that the current influx of populist tendencies in Europe is not a natural law. Together we can put a stop to these developments, and actively help shape democracy in Europe. In addition, it will be necessary to raise everyone’s awareness of the concept of fake news and to provide suitable tools for the critical handling of news and information in general. In the discussion, Prof. Oberle also pointed out the important role of education in the context of disinformation. Those who know more about politics also have more trust. Ms. Xhomaqi concluded that: “We must use the current crisis as an opportunity to build a new Europe. A European response is needed.


Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies – Let’s make it happen

The European discourse on sustainability has gained the centre of policy arenas and has spilt over all fields, including lifelong learning. Nowadays, it is no longer enough to have an outlook on the future of education, and we rather have to imagine the future of learning with sustainability as a polar star. Such was the spark that lit the debate for the LLLP webinar “Lifelong Learning for Sustainable Societies”, that took place on May 27th. 

To be sustainable, education and training needs to have a broader focus, on transversal skills and on key competences. In our current landscape, lifelong learning is a fresh, positive and transformative force, as it enables learners to think laterally. Education should be appreciated by its own benefits, and yet there is too much focus on the education-employability link. To narrow the scope of education to employment ends would mean to undermine its primary function, which is personal development – hinted Prof Jonathan Michie from the University of Oxford in his keynote speech. The moment when we will get rid of this ballast will be the moment when our systems will turn sustainable. As such, lifelong learning is essential because it enables people to face contemporary challenges: in his vision, a sustainable education system is a system that allows all of its citizens to enrol in learning at all times.

Looking at education through this perspective, it seems like the road ahead is still long. A lively panel discussion brought us to the question on everyone’s mind: what is Europe doing to make education systems sustainable, all the more in this crisis? The European Union is focusing on empowering teachers and trainers (see here the Council Conclusions on Teachers and Trainers). Ms Daria Arlavi, representative of the Croatian Presidency of the Council of the EU, stressed how important it is to have a forward-looking union that addresses the many challenges our educators are facing. Because, in her view, a sustainable education system is a system that addresses the needs of its pillar actors: teachers and trainers

While it is difficult to predict where new technologies will bring us, and what pedagogical methods will be developed, it is essential that our education systems teach us how to learn. Dace Melbārde, Member of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the CULT Committee, chose to address the importance of key competences for lifelong learning to give meaning to “sustainable societies”. In her eyes, our collective efforts should go towards diversification of learning environments, with a renewed importance of non-formal education and lifelong learning, which are truly indispensable to foster one’s adaptability. In this, a sustainable education system is a system that does not let change lead us, but that enables us to be the leaders of change. 

This is particularly obvious in the current health crisis, which rapidly turned into an economic and social emergency. But, if it is true that a crisis often accelerates existing problems, it is also true that it lets solutions surface more rapidly. Such was the focus of Ms Catherine Sustek, member of the Cabinet of Vice-President Schinas, as the current scenario is bringing the European Commission to reconsider its strategies. She updated the audience about the upcoming initiatives of the Commission, including the much-needed revision of the Skills Agenda and the European Education Area: a portfolio that, if it successfully puts the learner at the centre of the process, will invariably bring us closer to the idea of a sustainable education system. 

2019 was the year when the whole world was made aware of the environmental disaster that lays ahead of us. According to Rilli Lappalainen, Chair of the Steering Group of Bridge 47, environmental education is the biggest priority for curricula and must be reflected in education policies, too. The “leave no one behind” principle that made the top of EU jargon must be translated for climate justice and environmental education and thus climb the list of the European Education Area priorities. With this angle in mind, growing attention to adult education is needed: cooperation and intergenerational learning can be a crucial step to foster a “greener” education. In his view, a sustainable education system is a system that equips learners with the knowledge to face such immediate and potentially-disastrous challenges. To this extent, involving civil society organisations in the forward-looking discussions is a must. 

The debate around a sustainable lifelong learning society is, by its own nature, adaptive. Participants and panellists to the webinar agreed that the first step shall be a truly multidisciplinary approach and representatives of the European institutions will put efforts to mainstream such an approach and promote it among EU Member States. Because mainstreaming sustainability in education “is the only way to save planet Earth and its people”.

The Lifelong Learning Platform is excited to take the lead in the joint efforts to link sustainability and education. In fact, this webinar was the first step that will feed a year-long discussion and inform our work for the future months. For the full content of the webinar; please see the live recording