03.12.2013 EAEAPOLICY

Adult learning benefits societies

"You can’t learn if you are afraid; you can’t learn if you are deprived; you can’t learn if you are hungry”, concluded Sturla Bjerkaker, treasurer of International Council of Adult Education (ICAE) at the workshop Lifelong Learning in Development Cooperation - An Unfinished Agenda, organized by EAEA and dvv-international at the European Development Days (EDD) on the 26 of November 2013.

Uwe Gartenschlaeger, Vice-President of EAEA, said the shift in focus from the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education for all to a cradle-to-grave education cycle had given adult educators an opportunity to shape the future.

With those remarks, delegates entered into a debate on development strategies and identifying synergies needed for tackling the global challenges facing education and development.

Community involvement crucial

The primary concern that emerged was that lifelong learning in the post-2015 development agenda will need to put the learner’s wishes and needs at the heart of the process. Engaging learners’ voices is vital to ensuring sustained participation and involvement.

“Community involvement is needed for learning. If you are surrounded by a safe culture and a safe community which supports you, you will not be afraid of taking the opportunity of education as an adult”, said Sturla Bjerkaker.

Adult education – good tool for development

Gina Ebner, Secretary General of EAEA, reminded that European lifelong learning policies provide a foundation for development around the world and must be tailored to the needs of individual countries.

In discussing the key lessons of the European lifelong learning process for development cooperation, delegates concluded that raising levels of investment is crucial to ensure the sustainability of projects, so that people continue to learn throughout adulthood.

“We need to look at what makes adult education a good tool for the transformation of society in a positive dimension”, said Balázs Németh.

Text and photo: Ricarda Motschilnig