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No end to learning: Commission Communication on adult education

On October 23, the European Commission issued a Communication on adult education, encouragingly entitled “it is never too late to learn”. With a view to the by now well-known challenges to the future prosperity of our continent, in the face of scary demographics, globalization and new competitors, the Commission is urging member states to take action to improve the participation of adults in education and training. This appears to be necessary: while some countries in the Union have a high participation rate in adult learning, such as (unsurprisingly) the three Nordic member countries, and the UK, the attitude of other nations’ populations must be termed as ‘abstentious’.

The Communication proposes the launch of an Action Plan on Adult Learning in 2007, which is to make member states more active in the field. The Action Plan is develop concrete measures to tackle five main challenges which the Commission has identified:

  • Barriers to participation, particularly for those most challenged in our societies, are to be reduced, by guidance and counseling measures, amongst others.
  • The quality of the provision of adult education has to be raised, by means of quality assurance and staff development.
  • The recognition and validation of prior learning needs to be stepped up.
  • A focus of investment should be on older people and migrants.
  • Progress (or otherwise) needs to be measured, which requires the further improvement of data collection systems.
Commission Communication “Adult learning; it is never too late to learn.”