26.03.2021

A pledge for more adult learning and education in and after the coronavirus pandemic

Over the last year, we have seen the severe effects the COVID-19 pandemic had on all aspects of society. The life of millions of people has changed drastically. Adult education in Europe experienced an especially hard cut-back with providers being forced to either move their activities online or close them down. This resulted in a big loss of opportunities for people to exchange, learn and socialise. It is of utmost importance to counter the negative consequences adult learning experienced in 2020 and provide the political and financial support needed.

Read the full statement: Adult Education and Covid-19: A pledge for more Adult Learning and Education in and after the Coronavirus Pandemic (pdf)

Summary of the statement

Those who could benefit from adult learning and education (ALE) the most, are the least likely to have access to learning opportunities. This has included the most vulnerable group of learners, namely people with low education levels and those who lost their jobs because of the pandemic. EAEA calls for immediate action to assist in the recovery of the ALE sector as it faces the negative effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

  • EAEA is urging the European Commission and the European Parliament to acknowledge the challenges faced by ALE sector through a strategic funding model that enables them to adequately support rebuilding and accessibility initiatives.
  • Civil society organisations (CSOs) should be included in any rebuilding and accessibility efforts the Commission will undertake.
  • EAEA appeals to the European Commission and the Parliament to acknowledge the good practises developed in grass-roots initiatives (ie. projects) and promote these as case study examples with key learnings made, as well as provide additional funding for their further development.
  • In order to empower marginalised groups and tackle the digital gap, methodological diversity must be part of all programmes and initiatives. Formal education should not be labelled as more valuable than other forms of learning.
  • EAEA calls for the set up of emergency funds for non-profit adult learning and education providers and self-employed teachers, trainers and other ALE staff to soften the financial shock they have experienced. Additionally, EAEA calls for full compensation of courses that have been initiated by public authorities to support society.
  • EAEA underlines not only the value of ad-hoc support but also the continuation and strengthening of adult education strategies at the EU level.
  • The pandemic has shown that educating adults, especially in health education, is an absolute necessity for keeping our communities safe and our economies stable.

A European learning-for-all strategy, inspired by e.g. the well-established learning model Bildung could use its integrative approach to adult education to provide the path to achieving the above objectives. This, however, would require a swift but substantial intervention on the EU level. 

To help not only those in need but also the entire ALE sector to recover from the crisis, strong and immediate actions are needed.

More information:
Christin Cieslak
christin.cieslak(at)eaea.org

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