On 8 and 9 September 2021, the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Slovenian Ministry of Education, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and the European Commission (DG Employment) organised a Dual Conference on Adult Learning and Education. The Conference, entitled “The Resilient Response to Future Challenges” aimed at reflecting on the role of adult learning in future life and work.
The conference was opened by Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmidt and representatives from the Slovenian Minister of Education, the European Parliament and the UNESCO. Speakers emphasised the importance of adult learning and the challenges faced by disadvantage workers.
Following this opening was released the new Eurydice report on Adult Education and Training in Europe. The report investigates current approaches to promoting lifelong learning, with a particular emphasis on policies and measures supporting adults with low levels of skills and qualifications to access learning opportunities.
After that, participants were divided in four group discussions on the topic of adult education’s future challenges:
The group discussions were followed by a round table on the topic of learning for life and work. This session gathered Ms. Alison Crabb, European Commission (DG Employment), Mr. Werner Mauch, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Ms. Tatjana Babrauskienė, European Economic and Social Committee and Mr. Jürgen Siebel, from CEDEFOP. Speakers highlighted the challenges faced by ALE in Europe, namely the decreasing participation rates in adult learning. They also emphasised the importance of setting up a European answer to face these common challenges.
The first day ended on a discussion on how to support adult learning and education in order to achieve skills for better life with representatives from the Slovenian Ministry of Education.
The second day of the event started with the presentation of the European regional preparatory conference CONFINTEA VII, organised by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. The seventh Conference on Adult Education (CONFINTEA VII) will take place in 2022 in Marocco. The aim of this Conference will be to “examine effective adult learning and education policies within a lifelong learning perspective and within the framework of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”. Mr. Werner Mauch presented the regional background, context and characteristics and the overall status of adult learning in the region within a lifelong learning perspective. The discussion circled around three main topics:
Civil society organisations were also represented, in the European context through the voice of Mr. Uwe Gartenschlaeger, the president of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and in North America through the voice of Mr. Daniel Baril, the Executive director of the Institut de cooperation pour l’éducation des adultes (ICEA) in Montréal.