28.09.2017 IN FOCUS

LLL Interest Group: Adult education activates citizens and promotes democratic change

Education is key in fostering democratic and civic participation at all levels. Citizenship education has a long tradition in adult learning. The Lifelong Learning Interest Group gathered this week to discuss the role of education in promoting EU citizenship rights, active citizenship and solidarity.

The Lifelong Learning Interest Group meeting was held in the European Parliament on the 26th of September.

To fully and actively participate in the society, EU citizens need to be aware of their citizens' rights and the possibility to implement them. Marta Markowska from the European Commission's DG Education and Culture stressed the need to engage citizens' active participation in the society. She named the Paris Declaration from 2015 as a central step towards education for common values.

”This was a shift from education for labour market skills towards citizenship education,” she said.

She presented the preliminary results of the Commission's consultation on the ”Recommendation on Promoting social inclusion and shared values through formal and non-formal learning" that was launched earlier this year. The results indicate that education is seen playing a big role when it comes to enhancing people's active participation in the society.

A Council Recommendation on promoting values through inclusive education and non-formal learning will be published in 2018.

Highlighting the role of adults

”When we are discussing citizenship education, we must not forget adults. We need to train and educate the adult generation at least as much as the younger generations, especially when we look at recent voting behaviour everywhere in the world,” Assya Kavrakova from European Citizen Action Service (ECAS) pointed out.

Assya Kavrakova highlighted the need to include adults in citizenship education.

She stressed the non-formal and informal methods as a means of raising responsible citizens. She also reminded the decision-makers to embrace a democratic change at the EU level and include citizens in the decision-making.

MEP Krystyna Łybacka also highlighted the role of different forms of education in promoting inclusiveness.

”Forms of learning such as intergenerational learning promote inclusivity in all aspects. This is what we need.”

MEP Krystyna Łybacka at the Lifelong Learning Interest Group meeting.

EAEA Secretary-General Gina Ebner underlined the long tradition of adult learning in citizenship education. Encouraging participation in the local communities is a low-threshold step. She pointed out an example from Romania, where an adult education project brought together citizens to discuss what they would like to change in their communities.

”People discovered that there were citizens' councils where they could actively participate and make a change for their communities. Adult education can activate citizens to engage in their own communities and promote democratic change.”

Initiated by EAEA and Lifelong Learning Platform together with a number of MEPs, the Interest Group on Lifelong Learning brings together civil society representatives and MEPs to discuss key issues connected to lifelong learning with strong emphasis on adult education.

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Photos: Lifelong Learning Platform, EAEA