Adult learning

EESC opinion: Adult learning

Key points

The Committee:

  • welcomes the European Commission's move to open up a new focus in its work programme "Education and training 2010" through its first action plan on adult learning It is always a good time to learn, covering the period 2007-2010;
  • notes that the overall objective of the adult learning action plan should consist of putting into practice the five key messages of the Commission communication It is never too late to learn, and requests that actions for ensuring sufficient investment be included in the plan;
  • expects the plan to include among its priorities the expansion of non-vocational adult learning, i.e. the non-formal and informal learning opportunities that people – whether in employment or not – need to further their overall personal development and strengthen democratic citizenship;
  • recommends developing new-style, multifunctional local adult education centres, which incorporate new technologies and e-learning;
  • urges that a feasibility study be conducted with a view to establishing a specialised European infrastructure in the adult learning sector, with a focus on non-vocational adult learning;
  • recommends that greater attention be paid to the territorial dimension of adult learning and to lthe creation of local learning centres, given their contribution to social cohesion, particularly in regions in decline;
  • advocates actions to be taken to ensure decent working conditions for teaching and administrative staff in the adult learning sector;
  • endorses the key message that good governance among adult learning providers should be learner-focused and proposes actions to be taken for strengthening adult learners' rights;
  • recommends making provision for learners with special needs in all centres dedicated to adult learning;
  • asks the European Commission to draw up an accompanying comprehensive plan to foster gender mainstreaming in adult learning;
  • requests that the European social partners and non-governmental organisations also have a role to play in the delivery of the action plan, bringing their specific expertise to bear;
  • recommends the involvement of a number of other European Commission directorates-general and relevant European bodies in future work related to the action plan;
  • asks that steps be taken to promote European adult learning festivals and advocates that European information and motivation campaigns be conducted for making adult learning more attractive;
  • would finally ask to be involved in the European preparations for the next UN International Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VI) due to take place in Brazil in 2009.