Summary of Sachs-Israel, Margarete (2015): The post-2015 education agenda and youth and adult literacy in a lifelong learning perspective. In: DVV International (ed.): Adult education in an interconnected world. (International Perspectives in Adult Education 71)
At least 250 million children worldwide are not able to read, write or count well, even among those who have spent at least four years in school. This number shows that providing access to education isn't the only essential challenge in current developments. Due to this, the quality of education and learning outcomes moved towards the center of the post-2015 education agenda. As a logical step, the Muscat Agreement which was adopted by education leaders and ministers at the Global EFA Meeting in May 2014, formulated in its overarching goal number 4: “Ensure equitable and inclusive quality education and lifelong learning for all by 2030”.
In practice, this means that the skills acquired by people should be ‘transferable’ or ‘transversal’ and emphasis should be given on the factors that are most effective for enhancing learning outcomes – like well-nourished students, well-trained teachers, but also teaching of sustainable practices for their local/national communities, and the adoption of necessary skills for a technology-intensive world.
An essential piece of the post-2015 education agenda is lifelong learning. This approach demands more responsive education and skills policies that allow for a flexible adaptation of skills supply to rapidly-changing requirements and ensure that individuals can continue to learn and apply competencies effectively. And it becomes increasingly visible that the traditional view on how knowledge is acquired is changing. It becomes more and more common to take the approach that learning can occur in any space and at any time, and that it is no longer exclusively tied to education institutions as ‘transmitters’ of knowledge. Consequently, learning has to be addressed across the life cycle, to ultimately build coherent lifelong learning systems and learning societies.
Low literacy skills is a striking challenge for high-income countries as well. In a report, the European Commission stated that 20 percent of adults in Europe lack the literacy skills they need to function fully in a modern society. Taking that into account, the Muscat target implies that literacy involves a continuum of learning. This means that there is no dichotomous relationship between a ‘literate’ and ‘non-literate’ person, but rather there are different proficiency levels of literacy.
To tackle the literacy challenge, lifelong learning offers the most successful approach to support people of low literacy, since its literacy policy focuses on raising and developing basic skills as a whole, to enable everybody to actively participate in society. Because of the diversity and scope of adult learning provision, and the varying needs of learners, it is important to focus more on the quality of the provision, on making funding more efficient, on developing more partnerships, and on more effectively facilitating the access of adult learners to learning.
Text: Felix Mayer
Picture: DVV International