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Declaration

Draft Declaration on Adult Learning and Education by 2030 in European Union


The Declaration (DeALE) by 2030 concludes discussions of the Conference on ‘Adult learning and education - The resilient response to future challenges’ held on 8th September 2021. A variety of ALE professionals, engaged in discussion with social partners and stakeholders enriched the insights of involvement in policy making, development and implementation of ALE in Europe

ALE has a crucial role in lifelong learning reality; it is the core of our professional engagement and a vital success factor of all social and political subsystems:

  • ALE is based on and reinforces the mind-set, addressing all adults equally, regardless of socio-economic background, such as gender, age, religion and other personal and social circumstances.  
  • ALE is a key pathway in addressing persistent inequalities and equipping and empowering people to manage various transitions.
  • ALE stresses the importance of basic literacy as a precondition for all learning and education in adulthood.
  • ALE affects people’s lives in ways that go far beyond what can be measured by labour market earnings and economic growth.
  • ALE plays a significant role in promoting personal, social and economic well-being and value.
  • ALE has an impact on health, civic engagement and social cohesion, environment protection, attitude change, crime reduction, improved parenting and poverty reduction, educational and overall progression.

The Declaration is a professional commitment and advocacy action of ALE to complement the upcoming policy document (New European Agenda for Adult Learning 2030) and the Exploratory opinion by the European Economic and Social Committee on Adult Learning (SOC/684, 28/06/2021) and with respecting national and international strategies and guidelines in ALE.


With this Declaration and its eight building blocks we, as a professional community, are committed to building a learning culture to boost ALE, as well as advocating and supporting the following:

1. Awareness raising, guidance and outreach activities (ARGO)

We are committed to:

  • Keeping adults curious and motivated during their whole lives.
  • Raising learners’ voices and their life-stories.
  • Showing cases of learning opportunities.
  • Highlighting the value of adult learning.
  • Organizing learning festivals.
  • Celebrating learning achievements.
  • Providing guidance and information as basis for informed decision making for life and career development.
  • Reaching out to individual potential learners.

We advocate:

  • Informing a variety of decision-makers and social partners about the importance of ALE and ARGO.
  • Understanding the priceless impact of ALE on the well-being of individuals personally, on work environments and society as a whole, taking place throughout life.
  • Underlining the benefits of learning through showcasing learning opportunities, celebrating learning achievements, and highlighting the value of learning.
  • Paying attention to learning as transforming oneself and society - gaining knowledge, developing skills and acquiring new values, tools and mind-set for creating lasting and recurrent change in organizations, communities, and societies ...
  • Setting up and supporting guidance and counselling systems (accessible, integrated, interconnected and free of charge for all, with validation and recognition).

2. Inclusion and democracy

We are committed to:

  • Addressing adults equally and reinforcing their mind-sets, regardless of gender, age, religion and other personal and social circumstances or orientation.
  • Engaging adults in ALE, with measures focused on low-qualified adults, the elderly and other vulnerable groups.
  • Encouraging multigenerational cooperation.
  • Developing and implementing different programmes and activities to support inclusion and active participation in democratic society

We advocate:

  • Considering policy actions in ALE as the pathway for inclusion by catering for the needs of a variety of disadvantaged social groups (such as the long-term unemployed, the low-qualified, the elderly 65+, the disabled, the homeless, immigrants, lone parents, especially women in these groups, etc.) thereby decreasing social exclusion.
  • Recognising and respecting the rights of adults to lead a life of dignity and independence to participate in social and cultural life.
  • Promoting an inclusive and empowering approach that engages public and private bodies with NGOs and society at large.
  • Boosting active citizenship and enhancing democratic processes, bringing together perspectives and expectations of individuals and society.
  • Aligning understanding of who elderly learners are (regarding age groups, specifics, their differences) and adapting learning opportunities to their new living situations, thereby supporting their self-confidence, social participation and engagement in encouraging environments.
  • Developing lifelong learning community centres with multidisciplinary teams at municipality levels.
  • Supporting intergenerational learning as a pathway to ease different transitions in society.

3. Knowledge and skills for life and work

We are committed to:

  • Learning about new competences and skills for better use of evolving technologies.
  • Understanding societal dynamics, changing workplaces and labour markets.
  • Considering the specifics of all ALE forms (formal, non-formal, informal learning), including upskilling, reskilling and validation of prior learning.
  • Cooperating with employers and employees.
  • Perceiving soft skills and life skills as equally important as working or professional skills.
  • Helping adults to recognize their own skills, self-value and self-confidence.
  • Helping individuals and groups to be able to create lasting and recurrent change in organizations, communities, and societies.
  • Empowering adults to follow healthy and active lifestyles and well-being.
  • Enhancing non-formal adult learning, including community learning to reach out to people.

We advocate:

  • Considering learners as stakeholders at both practice and policy levels. By voicing their views, they (1) empower themselves and have an active role in their learning environment and (2) improve future provision.
  • Anticipating current and future needs of individuals, having also in mind society’s needs.
  • Enhancing basic literacy as a precondition for all further learning and education in adulthood.
  • Recognising learning outcomes and non-formally acquired skills and competences as an essence of non-formal learning pathway and its validation, especially by employers.
  • Strengthening non-formal adult learning structures (providers, provision, programmes, supporting activities, etc.)
  • Introducing flexible adult learning provision in order to overcome barriers and increase participation.

4. Green and digital transition

We are committed to:

  • Supporting providers and learners with adequate frameworks, guidelines and programmes to achieve relevant digital and green skills.
  • Educating and training adults to use ICT and digital tools.
  • Educating and training adults to acquire skills for green/sustainable development. 
  • Boosting innovative learning pathways, pedagogical/andragogical approaches, learning materials, didactics, etc.
  • Fostering appropriate choice of forms (formal, non-formal, informal) and formats (on-site, online, blended, hybrid, etc. learning).

We advocate:

  • Calling for a better link between environment and education, training and skills policies.
  • Responding to green and digital transition, in line with mega trends, as drivers of innovations (upgrading methodology and content of ALE, use of contemporary equipment, technology with devices as well as learning platforms …).
  • Enhancing accelerated digital transformation in ALE in wider society.
  • Green transition is a priority and in line with digital transition as a necessity, which reflects in distance learning and education, working at home, less traffic, less pollution, etc.
  • ALE on-site as life presence is fundamental, but digitalization can help increase inclusion.
  • Ensuring overall conditions for digital learning.
  • Developing, upgrading and integrating information systems with all data relevant for the use in ALE (policy, development and practice area).
  • Considering design and support for learning platforms and being linked to opening up learning environments, inclusive societies, digital societies, learning workplaces.
  • Supporting reliable, well-developed and integrated infrastructure, ensuring data protection.
  • Assuring continuing professional development of adult educators in line with the above challenges.

5. Governance and partnerships 

We are committed to:

  • Planning the relevant skills and ALE provision, which should involve companies and trade unions
  • Encouraging cooperative endeavours at local, regional, national and EU levels.
  • Implementing the New European Agenda for Adult Learning in line with national strategies and priorities.
  • Cooperating with civil society, providers, employers, trade unions, professional networks and other relevant partners.
  • Building partnerships for guidance, validation and outreach activities.

We advocate:

  • Enhancing ALE to become a key part in the overall LLL and shared responsibility of all policies, social partners and stakeholders according to their roles and different activities.  
  • Strengthening holistic, cross-sectoral (whole-of-government) coordination and cooperation (education linked with labour, social affairs, culture, health etc.).
  • Building structured governance in ALE at the level of central government, regional and local authorities, social partners, NGOs, ALE providers and networks, research institutions and other stakeholders (a break-down-silos approach in designing policies).
  • Strengthening systemic and normative regulation of ALE, its development and implementation, in order to meet the diverse needs of citizens, economy and society.
  • Including learners to have an equal footing in reform and planning processes, through a veritable co-creation process (being systematically invited and motivated to participate).  

6. Quality and professional development in ALE

We are committed to:

  • Providing permanent and quality professional training of adult educators (teachers, trainers, mentors, tutors, counsellors, leaders and managers in ALE, etc.), including the use of ICT and digital tools.
  • Teaching and learning processes leading to optimal responses for individuals and society.
  • Finding and developing new learning environments (e.g. learning communities).
  • Increasing diversity in ALE provision and its responsiveness to topical socio-economic trends.
  • Engaging learners as mentors to include learners’ voices.
  • Developing and implementing innovative pedagogical/andragogical and didactic approaches and methodologies with professional standards and frameworks (for example, defining and validating key competences).
  • Strengthening professional support for adult learners through quality guidance, validation and outreach activities.
  • Developing and implementing lifelong guidance and career development for individuals to improve quality of ALE provision.
  • Establishing regulatory frameworks, setting quality standards, certifying adherence to these standards and making information on provider performance against explicit indicators available to service users.

We advocate:

  • Designing information systems with all data relevant related to ALE development and provision (courses with quality information, recognition and validation processes).
  • Co-creating learning platforms as public goods that should be designed with the motivation support, professional mentoring, guidance and counselling.      
  • Setting up coherent lifelong learning systems through validation and recognition.
  • Developing data collections (e.g. graduate tracking) that best fit the need of the targeted population.
  • Further developing holistic quality assurance mechanisms.
  • Promoting internal and external quality assurance, with regard to programmes, processes, learning sources, implementing organisations, adult educators, counselling activities, etc.

7. Funding and sustainability systems

We are committed to:

  • Enhancing research, developing new methodologies for data collection in ALE.
  • Supporting evidence-based policy.
  • Supporting all sectors and partners as equally involved and responsible for identifying needs and developing ALE as part of lifelong learning.

We advocate:

  • Complementing public funding with private investments through various cost sharing mechanisms (e.g. public-private partnerships), in order to enhance shared responsibility for ALE among all involved parties.
  • A need for increased and long-term public investment in ALE, especially for the disadvantaged groups.
  • Combining various policy measures in ALE to meet a broad range of policy goals.
  • Designing sustainable funding mechanisms/(co)financing schemes (e.g., financial incentives, tax exemptions, unified management systems).  
  • Designing policies, strategies and measures on every level (institutional, regional, national and international) with a need to include relevant research on adult learning, its outcomes and impact.
  • Facilitating informed decision-making at policy level based on measurable targets of the monitoring process.

8. International cooperation and mobility

We are committed to:

  • Creating valuable opportunities for sharing best practices.
  • Adapting best practices from other countries and tailoring them to own national context.
  • Cooperating internationally to boost mobility of learners and ALE educators at all levels.

We advocate:

  • Networking and co-creating new developments that can greatly benefit ALE in EU and reinforce its European dimension.

It is not only about what you learn, it is mostly about creating (something) together and being part of ALE community.


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