Making hope possible: Democracy, sustainability and lifelong learning

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

© UIL

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

Democracy needs places of adult education

© Deutscher Volkshochschul-Verband

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