Sari Essayah, Christian Democrats/EPP, Finland

Currently an MEP.

1. What does lifelong learning mean to you?

Everyday means learning new things. For an MEP this means learning through work, reading, expert hearings and participating in seminars. For work I have also studied French for one hour every week. Lifelong learning is a good basic attitude for everyone and people should be given the opportunity for it.

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

Lifelong learning is continuously present especially in the Committee of Employment and Social Affairs of which I am a member in the European Parliament. Organising and funding are member state responsibilities but the parliament can give recommendations to catalyse change for example in educational systems. Mutually funded EU education programmes such as Erasmus+ also offer funding opportunities. In my proposal for amendment I suggested that at least three percent of the Erasmus+ funding would be directed to adult education. The conclusion in the parliament’s plenary session was good.

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?

In my amendment proposals I have focused especially on the situation of the Roma people and migrants in general. I feel it is important to create a learning culture from the pre-school onwards, to provide interesting and useful courses, to build peer groups, to find support persons and teachers that can lower the threshold in engaging in education and to support the continuing education of teachers. More courses on easy-access learning
through internet should also be available.

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

The importance of non-formal adult education has been noted, especially during the economic crisis. Education and skills improvement can contribute to working capacity and help tackle marginalization. The EU can coordinate and to a certain level also support financially education programmes and projects. The Grundtvig programme, as part of the Erasmus+, is central as it enables the participation of different non-formal adult education actors across Europe.

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

The role of CSOs in adult education can be improved through national and EU activities. CSOs should have administrative help for example to improve their capacity to get project funding and support their application processes. The sharing of best practices between CSOs and their networking possibilities should continue to be supported. I hope I can continue to further these suggestions.

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

The objectives of the campaign are good and very supportable. The importance of education is continuing to grow. Participation in society and prevention of marginalization are increasingly becoming more important. I support the establishment of an intergroup of lifelong learning. I
can best support the flagship initiative by continuing the work as an MEP.