MEP Kent Johansson sees adult education as means to tackle the skills gaps in Europe. He stresses the importance of cooperation between formal and informal education systems for wider impact.
"We need a united voice of adult education in Europe", Johansson, a former folk high school teacher and the current president of Folkbildning - Learning for Active Citizenship (FOLAC), says.
EAEA interviewed the Swedish MEP of the ALDE group who participated in the EAEA´s PIAAC Policy Debate organised in November.
"Adult education is the first chance for people who didn´t have access to education in their youth, and a second chance for those who didn't get quality education", Johansson summarizes.
Johansson sees adult education responding to the various needs of individuals. He is also an adult learner himself.
"Adult education is also a complimentary chance for people who need additional skills, such as in ICT - like me", he adds.
Johansson reminds that the structure of education has varied throughout the years.
"Different generations have different experiences of education. The educational system was rather different for me and for example my father", he says.
According to him this should be kept in mind while formulating future educational systems.
"Today we need a more holistic view of education. There should be a deeper connection between the formal and informal educational system", he says.
OECD´s adult skills study PIAAC shows a decline in adult literacy and numeracy skills.
"PIAAC is a wake-up call for action for everyone. For MEPs, NGOs and teachers", he says.
Although EU member states formulate their own educational systems, there is room for cooperation. Johansson appreciates EAEA´s efforts to bring the diverse approaches and good practices under discussion.
"European Union is a union of 500 million inhabitants, not just 28 countries. Diversity in education systems can be seen as strength. It is an opportunity to learn from each other", he concludes.
Interview and photo: Helka Repo