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New Perspectives for Learning - Briefing Paper 71

Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe: the contribution of the education system

This is an Interim Briefing Paper of the project that will start in spring 2005

Context of the Research

In March 2000, the then 15 European leaders committed the European Union to become by 2010 “the most dynamic and competitive knowledge based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion, and respect for the environment”.  The Lisbon strategy, as it has come to be known, was a comprehensive but interdependent series of reforms, which has significant implications for a whole range of social policies, including policies for learning.

As part of the Lisbon strategy, the European Union has set the goal of raising the number of adults participating in lifelong learning to 12.5% by 2010.  However, the proportion of learning adults in Europe differs widely across countries.  This project is dedicated to identifying the reasons behind these differences and to studying the policies and practices related to adults’ participation in and access to lifelong learning in a number of European countries.

The project involves researchers from thirteen countries and regions of Europe: Scotland, England, Ireland, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Hungary, Bulgaria, Norway and Russia.

Key Issues

The aims of this project are to: -

  1. Show to what extent the countries differ in terms of patterns of lifelong learning.
  1. Reveal how these differences depend upon specific institutions and policies of each country.
  1. Assess the contribution of each country’s education system to the development of lifelong learning.
  1. Trace the ways institutional and policy prerequisites for lifelong learning have been developed in European countries.
  1. Identify the barriers to participation in lifelong learning in terms of policies, educational institutions, enterprises’ practices and potential learners’ motivation.
  1. Identify the best solutions and most successful practices in terms of participation in lifelong learning and to decide to what extent these would be applicable in other countries.
  1. Propose changes, which would enhance adult participation in lifelong learning and decrease social exclusion.

Further Information

The full title of the project is “Towards a Lifelong Learning Society in Europe: the contribution of the education system. The first interim results are due early 2006 with a full interim report due early 2008 and the final report is due early 2010.

This project is supported with a European Community contribution of 3.2 million Euro.

Research Institutions

Institute for International and Social Studies, Tallinn Pedagogical University, Estonia
Higher Institute for Labour Studies, Catholique University of Louvain, Belgium
Centre for Research In Lifelong Learning, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Moray House School of Education, University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Educational Disadvantage Centre, Centre for Human Development at St. Patrick's College, Dublin City University, Ireland
Fafo Institute for Labour and Social Research, Norway
Slovenian Institute for Adult Education, Slovenia
TÁRKI Social Research Centre, Hungary
Centre for International Relations and Studies, Mykolo Romerio University, Lithuania
Institute of Sociology, Bulgaria
St. Petersburg State University: Department of Sociology, Department of Retraining and Improvement of Professional Skills for Sociology and Social Work, Russia
3s research laboratory, Austria
The National Training Fund, Czech Republic

Contact Person

Dr. Ellu Saar
Institute for International and Social Studies
Tallinn Pedagogical University
Estonia blvd 7

Tel: +372 64 54 429
Fax: +372 64 54 927


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Last updated 28 June 2007