13.09.2021

Sustainable development needs adult learning and education

The entire population of Europe as well as representatives of politics, social partners, and civil society should actively work together to create understanding of climate change and its consequences. The education sector – including non-formal ALE  – must have a permanent seat at the table where the policy decisions are made.

Read the full statement “Sustainable development needs Adult Learning and Education” (pdf)

Summary of EAEA’s statement

EAEA welcomes the European Commission’s public consultation on “Education for environmental sustainability“. EAEA emphasises that Adult learning and education (ALE) must play a central role in European policies and funding programmes to promote and foster the development of sustainability-oriented attitudes and skills.

We also want to highlight that the recent Council conclusions (A comprehensive approach to accelerate the implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development) recognise “the importance of focusing on transformative education at all levels as key for empowering citizens to contribute to these objectives.” Structural funding for ALE providers is essential for providing high-quality learning provision for sustainability, reaching out to people in their communities and establishing joint learning activities with other stakeholders.

EAEA welcomes the communication of the European Commission on Delivering the Green Deal, in which it states that the process towards a green transformation of the European economy requires awareness raising and new knowledge and skills. We regret, however, that the communication focuses very much on re- and upskilling instead of a more holistic vision of ALE in Europe. We believe that green transformation requires holistic learning for all, young and old, in work and outside of the labour market.

Sustainability is based on three pillars that are closely interwoven and interrelated: economic, ecological, and social sustainability3 . Skills and knowledge must, therefore, always consider the coexistence of these three pillars in order to be “future-proof”. Non-formal ALE promotes these future-proof “life skills”.

Policy coherence – at European as well as national and regional level – is at the forefront of promoting sustainability effectively. Above all, we need to use a holistic approach to education. This requires bringing together sectors that are not traditionally at the same table. The education sector – including non-formal ALE – must have a permanent seat at this table, because the challenges of climate change can only be met together.

EAEA calls on the European Commission to

  • Promote policy coherence and ensure an effective co-ordination of instruments available for the promotion of education for sustainability, especially NextGenerationEU, Erasmus+, Horizon2020, European Social Fund+, DEAR and the Education for Climate Coalition
  • Promote skills linked to all three pillars of sustainability, namely environmental, economic, and social sustainability
  • Take into account the wider skills needed for a green transformation, especially “life skills” such as problem-solving skills, creative and critical thinking skills, but also socio-emotional skills.

EAEA calls on the EU Member States to

  • Pursue a holistic and transformative approach to learning for sustainability, focusing on “life skills” – including sustainability/green skills, through targeted learning activities as well as the integration of sustainability in all areas of learning
  • Ensure adequate structural funding for non-formal ALE to raise awareness of sustainability and promote the skills needed at the individual level, but also for communities and a sustainable shift in production
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