Participation in adult learning declines with age. EAEA´s recommendations and policy paper advise adult education providers, governments, EU, companies and social partners to take action.
EAEA president Sue Waddington introduced EAEA´s Recommendations and Policy Paper on Active Ageing through Adult Learning in the European Parliament on 27 September. EAEA and Austrian MEP Heinz K. Becker (EPP) organised a Policy Debate in the framework of European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations.
In addition to MEP Becker, the debaters included Slovakian MEP Katarína Neveďalová (S&D) and Head of the Adult Education Unit Tapio Säävälä from the European Commission's Directorate-General for Education and Culture. Jane Watts from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), Georg Müllner (E.N.T.E.R - Network) and Davide di Pietro (Lunaria) represented the civil society among the debaters.
In the coming decades the number of over 60-year-olds will increase from 5 percent to 12 percent of the population. In 60 years one third of the European population will be outside the working life.
"This has serious implications to Europe and EU´s member states", stated Tapio Säävälä from the Commission.
This being said, Säävälä underlined that an ageing population is not only a threat: it has great possibilities for the society as a whole.
"One of the key questions is how to keep up the skills in a Europe where people live and work longer", he said.
The value of lifelong learning for older people has been identified in research and international policy frameworks. In its Recommendations and Policy Paper EAEA identifies several key areas that must be addressed in order to create an efficient adult education service for older people.
The recommendations include securing access to high quality learning for older persons by clear information on learning of older persons. Also the digital gap should be bridged by targeting elders within ICT strategies and policies.
Several speakers and participants welcomed EAEA´s recommendations and policy paper.
"We support EAEA´s policy paper and recommendations", MEP Becker said.
NIACE's own research bears EAEA´s recommendations completely.
"We will distribute these documents in the national level in the United Kingdom", announced Jane Watts from NIACE.
MEP Becker found awareness raising on the benefits of learning later in life one of the top priorities.
"Awareness raising is number one and needs nothing but doing. Benefits of learning, including the intergenerational aspect and health aspect have to be promoted. If we put effort to awareness raising on benefits of learning later in life, we will soon meet other aspects as well", Becker said.
Awareness should be raised among the political decision makers as well.
"We try to support adult education and learning in older age to our best knowledge. However, we need the civil society actors to tell us what to do", explained MEP Katarína Neveďalová, the Shadow Rappourteur of the Erasmus for all.
Text: Aura Vuorenrinne