Martin Schulz, Party of European Socialists (PES), Germany

Candidate for European Commission President

1. What does lifelong learning mean to you?

Lifelong learning is a crucial tool to allow Europeans to develop their full potential, and a crucial component of our society. It is important for personal development, but also for social and economic reasons. It is a key tool to bridge the gap between educational attainments and labour market demands. In our common PES manifesto, we define lifelong learning as a key policy in our fights towards a Social Europe.

2. How will you support the promotion of adult education and lifelong learning if you are elected?

If elected to the post of President of the European Commission, I will promote EU support to Member States in the effective and fair redistribution of wealth and opportunities. This is essential to support education, including adult education, as a crucial component of our societies.

3. In your opinion and experience, how can different disadvantaged groups (elderly, migrants etc.) be included in lifelong learning in order to support their social inclusion?

We have to create a virtuous circle between social inclusion and lifelong learning. The two are closely linked, and we cannot leave it up to fate. We need to promote active and proactive policies that will put in place the incentives to kickstart this positive process. As mentioned above, it is about supporting the effective and fair redistribution opportunities. Lifelong learning can empower Europeans who are at risk of falling into poverty – and therefore also disadvantaged groups - to participate in society and find new employment opportunities. It is about, to borrow again from our PES manifesto, “fighting for a Europe that leaves no one behind”.

4. What do you see as the role for non-formal adult education in helping to implement EU educational policy?

Non-formal adult education is an essential complement to formal education. A policy that deals only with one of those aspects is a policy that walks on one leg only. It is necessary to further support the acquisition and recognition of skills and competences based on non-formal learning.

5. How will you support the work of civil society actors in promoting adult education?

Civil society is a key actor in European political life. It can play a major role in promoting adult education, notably non-formal education. The European Commission should use all the tools at its disposal to support such initiatives and to recognize and encourage involvement of civil society organizations in the design and implementation of life-long learning strategies.

6. Would you support a “European Flagship campaign on adult education and learning” and if yes, how?

I would support such a campaign, provided it contains the right elements. That is to say, provided that it is designed in an inclusive way, and in a way that is conducive to social progress and equality.

Photo: © European Union 2014 - European Parliament