As we mark International Youth Day, David Atchoarena reflects on the challenge of ‘transforming education’ for young people and on how we can gear their leaning not only to employment but also to sustainable development
‘Transforming education’ is the theme of International Youth Day 2019, celebrated on 15 July. The focus is on making education more inclusive and accessible for all youth, in particular young women and young people from disadvantaged groups. Taking place within the framework of Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, the theme chosen for this year’s International Youth Day goes beyond the usual meaning of education to embrace a vision of learning throughout life, so that youth can fully take part in a lifelong journey for sustainable development.
there are variations between countries and between different categories of
young people, work continues to constitute an important dimension in the way in
which young people see their future. However, beyond their individual
situation, young people also increasingly express a concern for the future of
the planet. This is reflected in their attitude and participation in society,
as citizens and as workers. The meaning of work and its contribution to a
sustainable path are important considerations in the way in which youth see
employment. Hence, the debate about youth skills is not only about skills for
work and life, it is about skills for sustainability and social participation. Continue reading →
Lifelong learning has a key role to play not only in achieving SDG 4 on education but also in creating a climate in which progressive change is possible, writes Paul Stanistreet
Last week, the Comparative International
Education Society (CIES) convened in San Francisco for its annual conference,
which this year focused on ‘Education for Sustainability’.
Jeffrey Sachs, the economist, UN adviser and
sustainability advocate, gave the keynote lecture. He demanded urgent action to
address the challenges of sustainability and specifically to deliver on the 2030
Agenda for Sustainable Development targets for education. Without a major
change of pace or direction, he warned, the targets for Sustainable Development
Goal (SDG) 4 would not be met.
Sachs is right to urge educators to ‘raise
their voices’ and’ fight harder for resources’. However, the contribution of
education to the sustainable development agenda will not be realized simply by raising
more taxes from the very wealthy or by demanding or securing more funding for
schools, important though this is. We need to think too about the role of
education in shifting the cultural and intellectual climate to a place where political
will can be moved and meaningful change in the face of powerful, entrenched
interests is possible. Continue reading →
Lifelong learning has a major contribution to make to helping countries such as Greece rise to the development challenges they face. But, far too often, it is overlooked, writes Christiana Nikolitsa-Winter
In Greece, my native country, high unemployment and the ongoing financial crisis are combining with mass population movements of migrants and refugees to create huge development challenges for the country. Greece is also undergoing major demographic changes, with its ageing population reducing the number of young people entering the labour market and obliging those already in the workforce to work for longer and move between jobs more often.
These facts point to an urgent need for a much stronger investment in lifelong learning, and particularly in adult education. By supporting adult education and adopting lifelong learning as the key educational paradigm for inclusive and sustainable learning societies, nation states can build populations that are resilient, adaptable, creative and highly skilled. Yet, in far too many cases, lifelong learning and adult education continue to be neglected.
A recent report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Getting skills right: Future-ready adult learning systems, shows that Greece’s adult learning system performs poorly across several dimensions of the Priorities of Adult Learning (PAL) dashboard. The PAL dashboard indicates that my country has the weakest overall performance in terms of coverage of job-related adult learning. In addition, according to Eurostat, only a few adults re-skill through adult education courses in Greece. In 2017, less than 5 per cent of 25 to 64 years olds participated in such courses. Where these courses are offered, often they are often under-resourced and ill-equipped to address the challenges faced by these students. Continue reading →
Werner Mauch on 100 years of adult education in Germany
‘The constitution is on your side’, said Andreas Voßkuhle, President of the German Federal Constitutional Court, this week, at an event to celebrate a century of adult education practice in Germany. Democracy needs an informed citizenry and vital debate at all levels, he argued, as well as constant participation and effective support. The costs of not taking steps to cultivate democratic citizenship were all too clear from the history of Germany, he told participants, which was why German adult education centres (Volkshochschulen) were so important and so highly valued.
The German Adult Education Association (Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband or DVV) organized the event at Paulskirche in Frankfurt, Germany’s ‘cradle of democracy’ where the first assembly of representatives met in 1848 to prepare a first national constitution for Germany (unsuccessfully, as it turned out). The event marked the centenary of the foundation of many Volkshochschulen across Germany, following the 1919 Weimar constitution, which made adult education a key component of a comprehensive education system, alongside formal school and higher education. Continue reading →
Respect for linguistic diversity is a precondition of authentic dialogue and cooperation, writes David Atchoarena on International Mother Language Day
First published, 21 February 2018
It is sobering to reflect that some 40 per cent of the global population do not have access to education in a language they can speak or understand. Many millions of children are taught in a language they do not speak at home, while, for equally huge numbers of adults, the unavailability of learning programmes in their mother tongue remains an insurmountable barrier to furthering their education.
This is why International Mother Language Day, observed worldwide each year on 21 February, is so important. Everyone has a right to speak and learn in their mother language and that right should be reflected in national education systems around the world. Continue reading →
Kabir Shaikh on the power of conversation in a fragmented world
First published, 29 January 2018
It has been a joy and an honour for me to serve as interim director of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) over the past five months. I leave with a strong impression of the wide significance of UIL’s work, and of lifelong learning more generally, and a powerful sense of an organization with a brilliant future, staffed by talented, enterprising people and guided by a committed and far-sighted board of governors.
I have two main observations from my time at UIL. First, lifelong learning has a hugely important role to play across a range of platforms and in the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, yet understanding of this contribution is often low among policymakers, despite its growing prevalence in education discourse. And while there are many local and national politicians who get it, there are many, many more who do not. Continue reading →