Life-Long Learners

As outlined in the Analytical Tool on development relevance/responsiveness, development contexts are in constant, rapid and sometimes unpredictable change. Development relevance therefore varies across geographic and temporal contexts and across diverse stakeholders. The complexity and fast pace of change require us to constantly adapt by rapidly acquiring new competencies that enable effective functioning across different contexts and different spheres of life. An individual will not be able to meet life challenges unless he or she becomes a lifelong learner, and societies will not be sustainable unless they become learning societies. Lifelong learning has been accepted by UNESCO Member States as the master concept and guiding principle towards a viable and sustainable future. The quality of education is not only determined by formal schooling, but also by continuous provision of learning opportunities in non-formal and informal settings (See: Perspective of life spheres).

A rich variety of formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities reflecting the wide range of people’s talents and learning needs must be developed and made accessible to all. Social, demographic and economic factors combine to point to the need for more serious attention to be paid to youth and adult learning and education needs. Current developments require a constant update of competencies, not only with regard to the world of work but in an encompassing approach to participating in contemporary societies. Moreover, in recent years, international communities have made progress in developing the concept of ‘key competences’ for lifelong learning which include a combination of knowledge, skills and attitudes. [Link to Analytical Tool on Competencies].

The topics of ‘learner’ and ‘learning’ for the school-aged children are addressed substantially by other Analytical Tools of the GEQAF . Therefore this Analytical Tool focuses on the challenge of how to build and sustain capabilities and the culture of life-long learning and how to systematically provide opportunities and stimulate their uptake so that learning becomes an activity throughout people’s whole lifespan. The paramount question addressed through this analytical Tool [See Full Version] is: Does our education system develop capabilities for life-long learning and do we provide our citizens effective opportunities for learning throughout their life?

The Analytical Tool aims at facilitating an assessment of Lifelong Learning systems in place or being developed in each country and the environment for such learning by raising some key questions regarding policy and practice for supporting life-long learning. While the questions are not meant to be exhaustive, they will facilitate a systematic and structured identification of constraints to developing and sustaining life-long learners.

Diagnosis and analysis

Developing integrated system of lifelong learning

1. How do we effectively embrace lifelong learning as the master concept and guiding principle in the development and reform of general education?

2. How do we provide opportunities of lifelong learning for all? What evidence do we have for effective uptake of these opportunities?

3. Where is the evidence of equity of these opportunities? What policy has been developed and implemented to ensure that there will be no exclusion in the opportunity for learning?

4. Does the education system support flexible learning pathways which enable each learner to choose his/her learning path more freely (See: Learning Continuum) ? In that way have the artificial barriers between different educational disciplines, courses and levels, and between formal and non-formal learning been abolished, and informal learning has been supported and integrated?

5. In what way do we assess and monitor the progress our country has made in lifelong learning? (See: Composite Learning Index

Horizontal integration

1. What mechanisms do we have for ensuring mutual reinforcement, transition and even seamlessness across diverse learning pathways? Where is the evidence of this mutual reinforcement, smooth transition and seamlessness?

2. What mechanism has been developed to create links and build synergies between learning taking place in formal and non-formal settings? How effective are the mechanisms in terms of recognizing competencies acquired in non-formal and/or informal means and settings?

3. What mechanisms have been developed to promote learning in a plurality of learning spaces covering life-wide contexts across family, school, workplace, cultural and community settings? What is the evidence of equitable benefit from learning opportunities in these varied learning settings?

4. In what way do diverse institutions and channels (museums, libraries, parks, recreational places, cultural organisations, and faith-based organizations, media and ICTs) play role in facilitating lifelong learning?

5. What are the major barriers to lifelong learners and what targeted policy measures have been adopted to overcome them? Is there evidence that these targeted measures have been effective?

Horizontal integration

Developing enabling learning environments

1. What measures are being taken by villages, communities, cities and regions in our country to encourage individual citizens to become lifelong learners?  What are the lessons learned from those efforts?

2. What mandate have media received from the government to play a major role in informing on and opening up learning opportunities? What policy and strategies have been developed and implemented in exploiting the potential of media in providing lifelong learning opportunities? What is the evidence that media is playing that role?

3. What specific measures have been taken in ensuring the quality of open and distance learning? How effective are those measures? Have ICT been effectively integrated into formal, non-formal education and informal learning?

4. What activities and programmes such as learners’ weeks and learning festivals have been organized to motivate and mobilize learners or potential learners? How effective are these programmes and activities?

Priorities for action

1. What are the key areas to be addressed urgently to further develop an integrated system for lifelong learning for progress towards a learning society?

2. What are the knowledge gaps which need to be filled for an evidence-based policy on the provision of opportunities and conditions for lifelong learning?

3. What are the required actions to deal with the priority constraints and the identified knowledge gaps?

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