Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education

By analysing tools and methodologies in different European countries and proposing solutions from the civil society perspective, this project will contribute to reducing the fragmentation of validation systems on different levels, namely policy and practice.


Member states should have validation systems in place by 2018. The AVA consortium believes that MSs will have to face big challenges (and in some even resistance) while putting in place such systems and thus they should be supported more. A major role could be played by adult education providers and stakeholders, which are often the implementing bodies of the validation systems. By analysing tools and methodologies in different European countries and proposing solutions from the civil society perspective, this project will contribute to reducing the fragmentation on different levels, namely policy and practice.

Target group

The direct target groups are adult education providers as well as national and European policy-makers dealing with validation systems. The indirect target groups are people and learners with a disadvantaged background.

The AVA consortium decided to focus on disadvantaged groups because it believes that validation is one of the key tools and components for lifelong learning to enable people to move vertically and horizontally in their personal lives and careers. According to the AVA consortium, validation should be considered as a right. All citizens should be able to participate in validation arrangements, as it often works as a second chance opportunity; it increases motivation for lifelong learning and helps on bridging the gap between the job demand and supply, by recognizing competences acquired outside the formal system.


The network:


Kick off meeting- Utrecht, 24-25 November 2014

Second partner meeting – Vienna, 12-13 October 2015

Third partner meeting – Oslo, 1-2 February 2016

Final partner meeting – Brussels, 29-30 June 2016

Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

Everyone should have access to lifelong learning and flexible learning pathways. AVA consortium believes that validation is one of the key tools for achieving this. There are numerous European policies and initiatives (A New Skills Agenda for Europe adopted recently by EU, Council Recommendation of 20 December 2012 on the validation of non-formal and informal learning) that drive the implementation of validation systems but nevertheless, the situation remains fragmented. In order to achieve permeability and inclusion (especially for disadvantaged groups), additional efforts will be necessary. The AVA partners therefore put together an evidence-based set of recommendations and an action plan from the point of view of non-formal adult education providers.

The plan includes general and targeted recommendations as well as a plan of action that sets out concrete proposals for implementation, following the logic of the validation process. Nobody is left out: public authorities (national / regional / local levels), the non-formal sector and validation providers, other education providers and NGOs, social partners and the business sector are asked to stand up and take action for better validation arrangements in the EU.

The AVA action plan is available in three languages (EN, FR and DE).


Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

The European Inventory published in 2014 by the European Commission presents the following challenges on validation: the access, awareness and social recognition of the potential of validation, its financial sustainability, its coherence, the professionalization of staff and data collection (meaning that no analysis on progression and cost-benefit is available) and fragmentation.

These are key challenges which should be better examined to help the further development of the validation systems. The AVA consortium did so through a questionnaire addressed to adult education providers and civil society representatives.

National validation arrangements were examined in order to identify potentials as well as obstacles in order to further develop transparent, coherent and legitimate validation arrangements. Besides of getting grass roots’ feedback on the existing systems from organisations and adult education providers, the survey had the purpose to collect interesting experiences and practice as well as to understand their challenges and fears. A special focus was kept on methodologies and innovative approaches to make validation systems more inclusive and allow disadvantaged groups to move vertically and horizontally in their personal lives and careers.

The Survey Analysis

The AVA survey analysis is composed by national summaries, an horizontal analysis and four thematic cases and was drafted on the basis of the survery results. It aims at investigating how the EU validation practices for non-formal and informal learning contribute to making validation arrangements and activities inclusive by securing permeability of processes and results and by reducing the risk of fragmentation in validation arrangements.

The analysis of survey data are carried out according to the following structure:

  1. National reports (Available on demand) illustrate data from the country respondents presented in a thematic structure. The aim of the national reports is to provide the detailed and contextualized data as they stand out clearly according to respondents.
  2. National summaries present in a condensed form the data from country reports. Information has been grouped following the three AVA key-concepts.
  3. The horizontal analysis provides the cross-country and cross-thematic analysis of results. This analytical level comprises the main part of the AVA survey analysis and provides as such the core line for the AVA group’s further use of survey results.

Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

The AVA jour fixe took place in Vienna, Austria, on the 13th October 2015. The conference was organised by the Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres (VÖV) and gathered Austrian and international participants from more than ten countries.

Read the final programme

Watch the pictures of the event

Below you can find their presenations (audio and PPT) of the four experts from the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Denmark who were invited to share their national experiences on validation.

  • The Netherlands – Tijs Pijls, Dutch Knowledge Centre APL: How does validation function in The Netherlands? Who can validate their competences? What’s the impact of validation? (Audio)

  • Nordic countries: Kirsten Aagaard National Knowledge Centre for Validation of Prior Learning: the Nordic quality model for the implementation of validation, developed and used by the Nordic expert network on validation (Audio)

  • Portugal – Dora Redruello, Cerebral Palsy Association of Coimbra (APCC): Standards, processes, impacts of validation for people with disabilities in Portugal (Audio)

  • Romania – Georgeta Pelcea, Romanian National Authority for Qualification: Assessment and certification of competences acquired in informal and non-formal learning contexts and the occupational standards in Romania (Audio)


Participants asked the experts to list the strong and weak points of each system and engaged in a discussion around their sustainability and inclusivity. Main challenges at this stage are the lack of permeability (between labour-market and education or within sectors of the latter) and fragmentation (between policy and its implementation, or among practices).

Read and contribute to the discussion via Twitter (#actionforvalidation)

Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

Hosted and organised by the Nordic Network for Adult Leanring (NVL), the AVA expert seminar took place in Oslo, Norway in the first week of February 2016. It was attended by more than 45 European experts on validation as well as practitioners from different educational sectors. Participants had the chance to learn from successful practices, debate the main challenges non-formal adult education providers are currently facing in implementing validation systems in the EU and contribute to the final output of the project, the AVA Action Plan. All this happened in a professional, stimulating but relaxed atmosphere, boosted by an interactive event methodology.

Where: Thon Hotel Opera, Oslo, Norway

When: 1-2 February 2016

Programme: Download the final programme

Methodology: Read the methodology applied to the event

Participants: Download the participant list

Read the press release on the event

Pictures and social media:

Have a look at the seminar’s picture on Flickr

The event was documented on twitter (#actionforvalidation)

Read the full account of the seminar on Storify


Study visit at the Oslo Voksenopplæring Sinsen / Oslo VO Sinsen
Ava study visit, validation of prior learing at oslo vo sinsen from EAEA2015

“Introduction to the conference theme and goals” – on behalf of the European Commission, Gina Ebner (EAEA)

EC presentation for the AVA seminar from EAEA2015

Key note speech on the challenges in the work of recognition/validation of prior learning, Christine Wihak (Thompson University)

Christine Wihak – The challenge of non-formal learning from EAEA2015

Presentation of the AVA findings and results – Bodil Husted, NVL

Bodil husted. presentation of ava final findings and results from EAEA2015

Watch the sneak peeks of the projects presented at the gallery walk and read the presentation of the Bertelsmann Stiftung’s posters about their last study on validation, carried  out in cooperation with the Lifelong Learning Platform.


Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

Organised by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), the AVA policy debate took place in Brussels, Belgium in the last week of June 2016. It gathered around 80 Adult education representatives as well as policy makers throughout Europe. Participants had the chance to get acquainted with the AVA action plan and discuss its main suggestions; to hear different staeholders’ perspective on the document and on their current work on validation as well as propose ways to continue working together on the topic in the next years.


Where: European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), Brussels, Belgium

When: 29th June 2016

What: Download the final programme

Who: Download the participant list

Pictures and social media:

Have a look at the event’s picture on Imgur and read the report published in the EAEA news section.

The event was documented on twitter (#actionforvalidation).

Presentation of the AVA action plan:


Other relevant documents:

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Validation of skills and qualifications acquired through non-formal and informal learning — the practical input of organised civil society’ – Rapporteur Mr. Pavel TRANTINA; Co-rapporteur: Ms Marie ZVOLSKÁ.

Action plan for validation and non-formal adult education (AVA)

European Association for the Education of Adults
The project is coordinated by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA). EAEA is a European NGO with 123 member organisations in 42 countries and represents more than 60 million learners Europe-wide. EAEA has the purpose to link and represent European organisations directly involved in adult learning. EAEA promotes adult learning and access to and participation in non-formal adult education for all, particularly for groups currently under-represented.

Kerigma is an institution for innovation and social development in Barcelos, Portugal. It is a not for profit organisation whose mission is to promote innovation, training and social development of the region and its people through social and training activities. Kerigma involves the following sectors: a centre of accreditation of knowledge and competence acquired outside formal education (in non formal or informal contexts). It works like an “open door” for any training process for all adults in Portugal.

Verband Österreichischer Volkshochschulen
The Association of Austrian Adult Education Centres consists of a federal association, 9 regional associations and 270 adult education centres. The VÖV together with its Educational Work and Research Unit (Pädagogische Arbeits- und Forschungsstelle, PAF), regards itself as a co-ordination centre for activities relevant to educational policy and pedagogics in Austrian Adult Education Centres and also as a service centre for its member organisations, the regional associations.

Learn for Life – Dutch Platform for International Adult Learning
Learn for Life is a network organization and a platform for local, regional and national organizations active in the broad field of non-formal education. LEARN FOR LIFE supports local and regional organisations and governments in the Netherlands in the development and shaping of their internationalisation policy with regard to non-formal education.

Asociatia “EUROED”
‘EUROED: Euro Adult Education Association’ was set up in 2005, having as main objective the promotion at European standards of VET and of long life learning politics on the Romanian market.

Nordic Network for Adult Learning
NVL coordinates 12 expert and thematic networks and working groups, which have been set up based on the Nordic priority areas and have been commissioned to carry out mapping studies, comparative analyses, to produce reports and organize their discussion and dissemination. The network mandates are related to competence and capacity building as well as policy development.