Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century: The Power and Joy of Learning

The updated EAEA manifesto 2019 outlines the challenges where adult education can play a key role, it’s transformative possibilities and the power and joy of learning.

The manifesto is targeted at European, national and regional policy makers to demonstrate the benefits of adult learning. The manifesto communicates EAEA’s vision of a Learning Europe with all necessary skills, knowledge and competences.

EAEA proposes a Europe-wide effort to go one step up, to develop a knowledge society that can deal with the challenges of our time. This demands sustainable investments now – on the European, national, regional and local levels in adult education.

The manifesto presents nine current European challenges, which adult learning helps to solve:

Active citizenship and democracy

People who participate in adult education participate more in society, by voting, volunteering or taking active roles in communities. Adult education is the tool for the development of critical thinking.

Health and well-being

Adult learners lead healthier lifestyles and experience improved well-being. Adult education contributes to personal development and fulfilment. The health of our societies depends upon lifelong learning.

Life skills for individuals

Adult education transforms lives. It opens new job opportunities, creates pathways to learning, activates people’s artistic passions and builds new social networks.

Social cohesion, equity and equality

Adult education supports greater social mobility and equalizes societies. Adult learning brings together people from different walks and stages of life. This benefits democracy and social peace.

Employment and work

Workplace learning is one of the key drivers of adults´ participation in lifelong learning. Adult education increases innovation and productivity of employees, entrepreneurs and volunteers–this makes companies more successful.


Adult education helps to close the digital gap and provides individuals with digital competences, which are key to personal fulfilment, employment, social inclusion and active citizenship.

Migration and demographic change

Civic education and intercultural learning create inclusive societies and cultures. Seniors who learn are more active, work longer and stay healthier. Intergenerational learning enables older and the younger to profit from each other’s knowledge.


Adult education provides competences, information, debating spaces and creativity to develop new approaches necessary for sustainable development. A paradigm shift is only possible through critical, conscious and innovative citizens.

Adult education and European & international policies

European & international policies Adult education contributes to main European and international strategies in the fields of growth, employment, innovation, equity, social cohesion, active citizenship, poverty reduction, climate change, internal market, migration, peace and more.

2019 manifesto in English (pdf)
2019 manifesto one-pager in English (pdf)