Higher education institutions have a significant potential role in promoting lifelong learning. New research from the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning and Shanghai Open University shows both the advances being made and the limitations and challenges that continue to prevent this potential being fully realized, writes Edith Hammer
Part-time study, online
learning, micro-credentials, flexible pathways, community outreach – these are
just a few ways to support lifelong learning in the higher education sector. While
traditionally associated with formal education, universities and other higher
education institutions (HEIs) have become paramount in promoting lifelong
learning for diverse groups of learners. As traditional hubs of knowledge, they
can embrace lifelong learning as a catalyst for transformation, supporting
reskilling and upskilling, social equity and sustainable development. Within
this context, two questions arise: What is the role of HEIs in promoting
lifelong learning in society? And what does it take for HEIs to become lifelong
To mark this year’s International Women’s Day, UIL’s gender focal point, Samah Shalaby, highlights how her colleagues progress gender equality in their work
The UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL), located in Hamburg,
Germany, is one of UNESCO’s eight education institutes. As its name suggests,
UIL’s area of specialization is lifelong learning. Through its capacity-building
activities, knowledge sharing and dissemination of data, the Institute provides
support to UNESCO Member States in the field of lifelong learning with a focus
on learning ecosystems, skills for life and work, and inclusive learning. UIL operates
at regional, national and local levels to facilitate learning across sectors.
Through its partnerships, it works towards helping the global community achieve
the UN Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on inclusive, equitable and
quality education for all.
In 2022, UIL marked the 70th anniversary of its foundation. Looking ahead to 2023, the Institute’s Governing Board chair, Daniel Baril, reflects on its founding mandate and its continuing relevance to the challenges the world faces today
UIL’s 70th anniversary was an opportunity to celebrate not only the foundation of UIL as an organization, but also of an educational project valuing the right to education for all and the lifelong learning perspective.
As we mark International Day of Education, David Atchoarena urges countries to redouble their efforts to ensure no one’s right to education is denied
Today is International
Day of Education, a moment not only to celebrate education’s
powerful contribution to sustainable human prosperity, progress and peace, but
also to assert its wider value – as a human right and as an important public
It is an
opportune time to consider both what we have achieved in realizing the right to
education and how far we have to go to ensure this right is realized for every
woman, man and child, wherever they live in the world, whatever their
background or personal circumstances.
challenges we face are enormous. Some 258 million children and youth still do
not attend school, four million children and youth refugees are out of school,
and 773 million adults around the world cannot read or write, most of them
women. In too many cases, disadvantaged and marginalized groups remain excluded
from participation in adult learning and education, as the new UNESCO
Global Report on Adult Learning and Education points out. Their
right to education is being denied. This is unacceptable. Continue reading →
Qiongzhuoma Heimbel explains how family and intergenerational literacy and learning programmes can improve literacy rates around the world
Despite a rise in literacy rates in the last quarter of a century, more than 781 million adults around the world still lack basic reading and writing skills. Low levels of literacy prevent people from securing decent work and improving their lives. The 2014 United Nations General Assembly resolution, Literacy for life: Shaping future agendas, reaffirmed literacy as ‘a foundation for lifelong learning, a building block for achieving human rights and fundamental freedoms, and a driver of sustainable development’. In response, Member States began promoting more basic adult literacy programmes, especially for disadvantaged groups.
Quite often, the motivation for the adult learners who take part in these programmes is to improve their literacy skills in order to support their children’s learning. These adults, many of whom have never been to school or dropped out, understand that literacy can lead to a better life for their children. However, despite a desire to see their children progress at school, many parents who see themselves as ‘uneducated’ or ‘illiterate’ are reluctant to take part in learning programmes. 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 →