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

The new EAEA manifesto 2024 demonstrates how adult learning and education (ALE) can help change lives and transform societies.

EAEA proposes, with this manifesto, to create a Learning Europe: a Europe that can shape its future positively and with all the necessary skills, knowledge, and competences. EAEA and its 120 members, in 43 European countries, propose a Europe-wide effort to develop a society that can deal with the challenges of our time through adult learning and education.

The manifesto is targeted at European, national, and regional policy makers to demonstrate the benefits of adult learning and education.

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

Peace and democracy

Adult learning and education provide safe spaces to develop active citizenship. It also has a long tradition of building bridges and connecting people across borders as well as promoting reconciliation.

Environmental sustainability and green transition

Adult learning contributes to sustainability on all levels not only through the provision of skills, knowledge, and competences. ALE provides information, debating spaces, and creativity to develop new lifestyles, new projects, and new approaches necessary for the green transition and sustainable development.

Well-being and resilience

Evidence shows that adult learning and education make people more confident and self-effective. Participation in learning activities offers adults the opportunity to acquire important well-being and resilience skills to take control of their own lives and bring about personal and social transformation.

Life skills

Adult learning and education provide the necessary life skills but also anticipate and shape future developments. This includes
basic skills such as literacy and numeracy but also digital skills, language skills, and a wide range of key competences everyone needs in daily life, such as financial literacy, health literacy, and media literacy.

Inclusion, empowerment, and social justice

Adult learning and education play a fundamental role in fostering social justice, embracing diversity, and promoting inclusion. Research evidence shows that ALE offers individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds a chance to enhance their education, increase their job prospects, and improve the quality of their life

Employment and work

The positive link between learning and work is obvious: Learning workers are more creative and productive. ALE promotes new skills and competences to develop professionally and move into higher-quality jobs. ALE also helps people to make smooth transitions on their learning pathways and move for example from unemployment/inactivity to work.


Adult education helps to close the digital gap and provides individuals with digital competences, which are key to personal fulfilment, employability, social inclusion, and active citizenship. Everyone now needs to have a sufficient level of digital competence to play an active part in society. Technology is also altering the future of teaching and learning.

Demographic change and migration

Adult learning and education promote active ageing of all Europeans. Learning in later life plays a central role in fostering and maintaining cognitive and social competencies. ALE also plays an important role in providing accessible and affordable learning opportunities for migrants and asylym-seekers.

Adult learning and education and European & international policies

Adult learning and education are necessary to implement most European and international policies. ALE 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.

2024 EAEA manifesto in English (pdf)