Why adult education?

Adult education is key in creating a Learning Europe: a Europe that is able to tackle the future positively and with all necessary skills, knowledge and competences.

Adult education is a key tool for tackling some of the main challenges in Europe today. Europe faces growing inequalities, not only between people but also between regions and countries within Europe. More and more European citizens seem to question European values by voting for xenophobic and anti-European parties, while small groups of young men become so far radicalised that they commit acts of terror.

In many regions and countries, unemployment (especially of young people) is very high. Growing digitalisation reinforces this situation but also demands new skills and competences of employees, citizens and consumers.

Migration and demographic change see shifting populations in Europe – people get older and therefore want to be active and healthy for longer, but we also need more migrants, which is in delicate balance or contrast with unemployment rates and growing xenophobia. More recently, Europe has faced an influx of refugees, which poses huge challenges to European governments. This has led to a wave of support from European citizens on the one hand but to abuse and hatred by others on the other hand.

Adult education can help change lives and transform societies – it is a human right and a common good.

Climate change and other environmental challenges continue to pose threats to (not only) Europe’s future and necessitate more sustainable economies, societies and lifestyles. Adult education holds the positive answer to many of these issues. It can benefit the individual but also societies and economies.

Do we want an innovative, more equal, sustainable Europe in which the citizens participate democratically and actively, where people have the skills and knowledge to live and work healthily and productively and take part in cultural and civic activities from a very young to a very old age? We see adult education as the solution: adult education can help change lives and transform societies – it is a human right and common good.

Our aims

  • We propose to create a Learning Europe: a Europe that is able to tackle the future positively and with all necessary skills, knowledge and competences.
  • We propose a Europe-wide effort to go one step up, to develop a knowledge society that is capable to deal with the challenges of our time. This demands sustainable investments now on the European, national, regional and local levels in adult education. This will pay off in the long-term from many perspectives: for competitiveness, well-being, healthy populations, growth and more.
  • We highlight the power and joy of learning: underlining the transformative possibilities of adult education on the one hand and, on the other hand, the positive experience of learning.
  • Many people are wary of learning because of their bad school experience, others feel that training might be another pressure they have to suffer from for their success in life. We emphasise the positive side of adult learning: the joy it brings to learn in a group with others and from each other, and to discover new skills; and the power to transform one’s own life and the lives of others.

EAEA’s Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century demonstrates how adult education is key to tackling European challenges. Read more about the Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century and download it in your language.