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Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals

Lifelong Learning and its
Importance in Achieving the
Sustainable Development
Daniele Vieira
Department of Business Administration, Federal
Rural University of Pernambuco (UFRPE),
Recife, Brazil
Adult education;Continuing education;Learning
throughout life;Lifelong education;Nonformal
Lifelong learning is rooted in the integration of
learning and living, covering learning activities for
people of all ages (children, young people, adults
and the elderly, girls and boys, women and men) in
all life-wide contexts (family, school, community,
workplace, etc.) and through a variety of modalities
(formal, non-formal and informal) which together
meet a wide range of learning needs and demands.
(UIL 2015:2)
The United Nations has set an ambitious sustain-
able development agenda with implementation by
2030: the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sus-
tainable Development. Comprising 17 goals (the
Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs), the
Agenda sets targets, recommendations, and ways
forward encompassing various areas from poverty
alleviation to climate protection and partnerships
and calls for action by all countries to improve the
lives of people everywhere. With special focus on
education, the Sustainable Development Goal 4
brings the concept of lifelong learning to the core
of the debate on sustainable development and
makes a plea to ensure inclusive and equitable
quality education and promote lifelong learning
opportunities for all. Goal 4 highlights the impor-
tance of developing and promoting lifelong learn-
ing policies and initiatives and its role in
ultimately achieving quality education and sus-
tainable development worldwide.
The world has been experiencing increasing
development challenges, most of which are com-
prised in the SDG framework. These challenges
force countries to rethink and rearrange their cur-
rent development model aiming at a more sustain-
able future. Nevertheless, the eld of education
remains very traditional with more money and
© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019
W. Leal Filho et al. (eds.), Quality Education, Encyclopedia of the UN Sustainable Development Goals,
resources devoted to doing basically more of the
same, with improving the quality of education
instead of revisiting it, and education being under-
stood mainly or solely as school education. There
is weak attention to learning, easily confused with
testing and school achievement(Torres 2011:
40). To correct this, lifelong learning proves to
be a useful concept toward a new educational and
development paradigm.
This entry debates on the topic of lifelong
learning and its conceptual origins and evolution
in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) in order to shed further light onto the
vision of learning and education, which has
long-lasting development implications. By recog-
nizing the central role of lifelong learning in driv-
ing development, the entry explores how the
SDGs may be more realistically achieved when
learning is lifelong.
Lifelong Learning: An Evolving Concept
Preceding modern times as a practical concept, the
eld of learning saw the growth of a multiplicity
of topics, interests, and debates in past decades.
Examples of this are the debates about the levels
of learning, whether learning necessarily implies
cognitive or behavioral change, single- and dou-
ble-loop learning, the relationship between learn-
ing and unlearning, and, of course, lifelong
learning. From a theoretical perspective, the aca-
demic literature about learning (also lifelong) pro-
cesses is vast but still evolving. The eld has
gained importance as evidenced both by the
increasing number of publications appearing in
scholarly journals and by the growing disciplinary
interest and adoption of the concept (Pavlova
2018; Osborne 2014; Easterby-Smith et al. 2000;
Crossan and Guatto 1996; Dodgson 1993). In
spite of the different uses and understandings of
the term lifelong learning,various international
organizations (e.g., Arab Urban Development
Institute, DVV International, European Commis-
sion, OECD, UNESCO) have helped and played a
key role in determining a common theoretical
ground and shaping the concept. Not only in
the eld of education, lifelong learning as a
topic has evoked interest and attention in various
theoretical domains.
The advancement of the lifelong learning paradigm
has coincided with accelerated social and economic
change. Most education systems were rst devel-
oped in the nineteenth century, with the intention of
equipping the masses with the knowledge and skills
to work in expanded state bureaucracies and private
industries. Pre-industrial societies had little need of
literate masses [...] Just as industrial economies
and populous urbanized societies required more
skilled and educated members, the post-industrial
economies and knowledge societies that are cur-
rently emerging require ever greater numbers of
people equipped with the ability and autonomy to
learn and adapt. (Roche 2018)
Initially lifelong learning was conceptualized
as lifelong education. Lifelong education meant
education as a consequence of formal, nonformal,
and informal learning which resulted in continu-
ous development of quality of life (Owusu-
Agyeman 2017: 661). Nowadays, lifelong
learning is recognized as a key component in the
education system and central for building a
knowledge society (Torres 2011: 43).
The concept, which has its origins in the 1960s,
was developed around the idea that post-school
education should be provided on a recurrent basis,
involving alternation between work and study. In
addition, educational opportunities should be
available effectively to all individuals throughout
their active life(Hasan 2012: 472). This initial
idea was then broadened and reshaped with the
conceptual inputs from various international orga-
nizations (OECD, UNESCO, World Bank, Euro-
pean Commission) in the 1990s when learning
replaced education and the new focus became
the person (learner), the learning process, and its
results (Hasan 2012). By the mid-1990s, a clear
preference emerged for the term lifelong learn-
ingrather than lifelong education.There were
differing views on the major distinction between
these two concepts, but it was generally felt that
lifelong educationreected a view of education
as a prescriptive and normative process, while
lifelong learningput the emphasis on learner
demand and individual choice(Ouane 2011:
25). For instance, UNESCO has nowadays a
clear conceptual understanding of what the key
2 Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
principles of lifelong learning are: learning
throughout life, diversity of learners, all age
groups, exible pathways and mobility of
learners, variety of learning purposes and needs,
and variety of learning contexts. Many organiza-
tions have been promoting lifelong learning as a
way to achieve economic growth and employabil-
ity, but in recent years, the interest in the noneco-
nomic returns on learning (individual well-being,
social prosperity, health, life satisfaction, civic
participation, etc.) has increased (Ruber et al.
2018: 544).
The formal denition of the concept as
UNESCO uses it today begun in the 1970s, with
UNESCO itself having played an important role
in promoting the discourse on it (for instance, with
the Faure Report; detailed below). UNESCO has
promoted lifelong learning through its confer-
ences and activities within the framework of a
new, more inclusive educational agenda. These
conferences include the CONFINTEA series
which frames adult learning within the lifelong
learning context. In addition, the Dakar Declara-
tion included both early childhood and adult
education as part of UNESCOs Education for
All Programme (EFA). Another example is the
OECDs Development Assistance Committee
that has pushed forward for a sector-widelearn-
ing approach and the World Bank which endorsed
the concept of lifelong learning in 2002 (Hasan
2012: 488). Whereas the World Bank and the
OECD focus primarily on the economic rationale
of lifelong learning, UNESCO has a more vision-
ary and inclusive understanding of the termhigh-
lights Ouane (2011: 34). As such, lifelong
learning can be dened as the following:
Lifelong learning is rooted in the integration of
learning and living, covering learning activities for
people of all ages (children, young people, adults
and the elderly, girls and boys, women and men) in
all life- wide contexts (family, school, community,
work place and so on) and through a variety of
modalities (formal, non-formal and informal)
which together meet a wide range of learning
needs and demands. (UIL 2015:2)
This denition means the learning encom-
passes all age groups (learning starts at birth and
continues throughout the whole life), all levels of
education (early childhood, primary and second-
ary school, higher education, technical and voca-
tional training), all learning modalities (formal,
nonformal, and informal), all learning spaces
(not just schools but also learning in families,
communities, workplaces, libraries, online learn-
ing), and various purposes (learning that responds
to the needs of different learners). Lifelong learn-
ing or learning throughout life includes therefore
diversity of itineraries in time, in content, and in
learning styles, continuing learning opportunities,
community participation, decentralization, and
diversication of nance and delivery (Carneiro
2011: 6).
In particular, the concept entails two important
aspects: learning is not conned to a particular
period in life (it is lifelong) nor learning is con-
ned to school. It rather takes places everywhere:
home, community, workplace, through debate,
reading, writing, problem-solving, social partici-
pation, etc. (it is lifewide) (Torres 2011: 45). It is
also important to note that the school age should
not be confused with the learning age (Torres
2011: 45) and that people learn from birth to the
end of their lives through various learning
Regarding the learning modalities, formal
learning entails the system of formal schools,
colleges, universities, and other formal institu-
tions that typically contribute full-time education
for children and young people. Formal learning
modality means learning which is institutional-
ized leading to recognized qualications and cre-
dentials. Nonformal learning comprises any
organized and sustained education activities that
do not correspond to this denition of formal
education. It can take place both within and out-
side educational institutions and cater to persons
of all ages. Nonformal learning modality means
learning which is also institutionalized but alter-
native or complementary to formal education.
Informal learning cannot be classied as formal
or nonformal and can take place in daily activities
(OECD 2009).
Different schools of thought have
different interpretations of lifelong learning.
Progressivism, critical philosophy, and humanism
Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 3
are examples of domains examining the lifelong
learning concept.
Progressivism identies the importance of building
on the experiences of learners, and engaging them
in problem solving and intellectually stimulating
activities to develop their knowledge and skills.
Critical philosophy suggests that the development
of an individuals knowledge and skills should be
aimed at promoting economic, social and individual
development within a broad policy framework. The
humanist philosophy considers activities which
promote trust, individual freedom, autonomy, liber-
ation and participatory practice. (Owusu-Agyeman
2017: 662)
Nowadays, lifelong learning is well under-
stood as a process that entails a diversity of itin-
eraries in time, in content, and in learning styles; it
provides continuing learning opportunities for
learners of all ages; it also involves community
participation and new dimensions to knowledge
production and acquisition (Carneiro 2011: 5).
Still, some criticisms remain. Among many aca-
demics and politicians supportive of the lifelong
learning approach, the concept remains limited to
its 1970s understanding, which equated it with
adult learning. Even the academic journals
devoted to lifelong learning carry a majority of
their articles with this limited interpretation of the
concept, says Hasan (2012: 482). Similar to the
concept of learning some topics in this research
eld appear and disappear showing the explosion
of interest in the discipline(Easterby-Smith et al.
2000:784)various theoretical approaches and
perspectives are used to explain what it means and
what it entails to have a learning process which is
lifelong. Carneiro (2011) discusses this variety of
approaches: how, then, would learning through-
out life be different from decades of adult educa-
tion policies, endless discussions focused on
recurrent education, or the recent surge of interest
around lifelong learning?(Carneiro 2011: 5).
Hence, despite the fact that the concept is well
recognized nowadays and there is some consent
around what it means, lifelong learning is still
interpreted in different ways and varies according
to country contexts.
Tracing the history of the concept, the term
lifelong learning dates back to old times and has
been evolving over the years. Throughout
recorded human history, the notion of lifelong
learning has existed in many religions, societies,
and cultures. When mapping the denitions of
lifelong learning, it is important to link it and
differentiate it from other related concepts such
as adult education, nonformal education, literacy,
and basic skills. Terms such as recurrent education
and continuing education have also been used to
dene learning throughout life.
The rst comprehensive document to interna-
tionally recognize the concept was Learning to
Be: The World of Education Today and Tomorrow
(Faure et al. 1972). The document describes the
development of lifelong education as a concept
and introduces the learning modalities (formal,
nonformal, and informal) crucial and central to
actual understanding of lifelong learning. In addi-
tion, the publication debates the social dimensions
of learning throughout life meaning that learn-
ing has impact on different areas of life by
promoting social inclusion and facilitating
employability and advocates for learning and
education to be perceived as a right that can be
claimed by different age and social groups.
The Faure Report of 1972 initiated a shift in
focus from education to learning, with the concept
of the learning societyand the recognition of the
principle that every individual must be in a posi-
tion to keep learning throughout his [or her] life.
Recognizing that lifelong education is the key-
stone of the learning society, the Faure Commis-
sion took the view that lifelong education was not
a system as such but rather a principle on which
the overall organization of education should be
founded. In that context, lifelong learning was
dened as aiming at human development, prepar-
ing learners to respond to current and future needs
and for learning to be.
Thereafter, more than 20 years later, the impor-
tant document Learning: The Treasure Within,
which is often referred to as the Delors Report,
came to add to the lifelong learning debate. The
report focuses on learning from a world/global
society point of view, highlighting the existence
of an uneven distribution of knowledge, calling
for a shift from economic growth merely to human
development and discussing on how education
should be serving, for instance, women as an
4 Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
essential means of promoting development
(Delors et al. 1996).
The concept of learning throughout life thus
emerges as one of the keys to the twenty- rst
century. It goes beyond the traditional distinction
between initial and continuing education. It meets
the challenges posed by a rapidly changing world.
This is not a new insight, since previous reports on
education have emphasized the need for people to
return to education in order to deal with new situa-
tions arising in their personal and working lives.
(Delors et al. 1996: 20)
It brought some recommendations on access to
education and highlighted that learners should be
able to return to education anytime. The report
advocated for a learning societyand the differ-
ent contexts where learning can occur.
The Delors Report of 1996 further dened and
broadened the notion of lifelong learning as a
continuous process that should be open to all
for the improvement of knowledge and skills.
Learning throughout life was perceived to be the
heartbeat of society,and it materialized in a
system articulating formal and informal education
around four key pillars: (1) learning to know, (2)
learning to do, (3) learning to live together/learn-
ing to live with others, and (4) learning to be.
These pillars provide the basis for learning and
are still vastly used nowadays.
Learning to know means a combination of a
broad and general education with in-depth knowl-
edge of selected subjects:
Learning to Know is a form of learning that lies
within the scope of scientic and technological
progress. This pillar appeals to the urgent need of
reacting to the multiplicity of sources of informa-
tion, to the diversity of rich multimedia content, to
new ways of knowing in a society that is closely
inter-connected. (Carneiro 2011:7)
Learning to do, for instance, a job, also
includes the notion that one needs to acquire com-
petencies that will enable people to deal with a
variety of situations:
Learning to Do aspires to connect knowledge and
skills, learning and competence, inert and active
learning, codied and tacit knowledge, creative
and adaptive learning. Learning by doing and
doing by learning equip us to face an uncertain
world and also the changing nature of work.
(Carneiro 2011:7)
Learning to live together, which brings a more
utopic view to the debate, means recognizing our
growing interdependence in the world and the
necessity to implement common projects:
Learning to live Together encompasses the extraor-
dinary challenge to rediscover a meaningful rela-
tionship, to raise the thresholds of social cohesion,
to make viable the sustainable foundations for com-
munity development. It contains the core values of
civic life and identity-building within a context of
multiple belongings. (Carneiro 2011:7)
Finally, learning to be focuses on the exercise
of greater independence, judgment, and sense of
responsibility in order to reach common goals
(Delors et al. 1996: 21).
These two reports in particular have played a
signicant role in the denition of the concept of
lifelong learning as it is used today. While the
Faure Report shifted the focus from education to
learning, thus consolidating the term lifelong
learning, the Delors Report brought the human
development aspect to the eld and set lifelong
learning as a precedent of development.
Moreover, the Faure Report:
was commissioned by UNESCO following demon-
strations by students and young people all over the
world in 1967 and 1968. It was seen as a turning
point and the start of a period of optimism in inter-
national education policy, as it recognized that edu-
cation was no longer the privilege of an elite, or a
matter for one age group only. Instead, it concluded
that education should be both universal and life-
long. Essentially, this meant moving to a humanis-
tic, rights-based and holistic view of education.
(Ouane 2011: 25)
Some other international frameworks and doc-
uments have implications for the development of
the concept of lifelong learning as well: the six
Education for All (EFA) goals adopted in the
Dakar Framework for Action, the Belem Frame-
work for Action, and the Incheon Declaration are
some examples.
The six Education for All goals adopted in the
Dakar Framework for Action highlighted the
lifespan of learning, which encapsulates early
childhood to adults. The framework also men-
tioned the importance of learning taking place
outside the formal school system. The Belem
Framework for Action had a clear focus on adult
Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 5
learning and called for the necessity to include it
in lifelong learning policies. The Incheon Decla-
ration presented the components of SDG4 and
reinvigorated the concept of lifelong learning in
international policy debates, emphasizing, for
instance, the need for different entry points in
education, various and exible learning pathways,
and the recognition, validation, and accreditation
of nonformal education.
Although one might think that the main value
of lifelong learning is to promote continuous
knowledge acquisition in a world which is fast-
changing and requesting new skills, there are
various noneconomic variables relevant to
society that are connected with lifelong learning.
These include, for instance, individual civic par-
ticipation civic participation are voluntary indi-
vidual actions (e.g., voting) aiming at community
and/or society benets associated with social
cohesion and strong citizenship (Ruber et al.
2018: 545). In todays world, people are continu-
ously asked to build and rebuild their knowledge
throughout life to respond to a changing world.
They need to learn to adapt to new working and
living conditions. Nevertheless, it is then impor-
tant to highlight here that lifelong learning is not
only job-oriented; it is about learning (on a regular
basis) the skills and knowledge needed to have a
sustainable and health society. Often the work-
related lifelong learning is emphasized since now-
adays people are increasingly demanded to
acquire new skills at work and the continuous
introduction of technologies are putting pressure
on employees to develop new capabilities, but the
concept is much broader.
From a policy point of view, while some con-
fusion and lack of knowledge around the concept
might still exist, many countries worldwide have
developed education policies which take into
account the lifelong learning rationale. The evo-
lution and implementation of lifelong learning
national policies include (a) countries with a
long-established tradition of lifelong learning
like Japan, the Republic of Korea, and the Scan-
dinavian countries, (b) recent national policy
drives in developed countries, and (c) recent pol-
icies in developing countries (Ouane 2011: 30).
Concerning the long-established national
approaches, Japan has strong laws and policies
supporting the promotion of a lifelong learning
society and the provision of a wide variety of adult
educational activities,such as the Law for the
Promotion of Lifelong Learning (Ouane 2011:
30). Moreover, the Republic of Korea was of-
cially exposed to lifelong education when article
31 of the Constitution was amended in 1980,and
in addition, The Lifelong Education Act of 2007
claried the scope and eld of lifelong education
at the regional level(Ouane 2011: 31).
Recent national policies in developed countries
include, for instance, developments in the UK
through government papers, developments in
Australia (through the Adelaide Declaration on
the National Goals for Schooling in the Twenty-
First Century which placed lifelong learning on
the agenda of schools), and advancements in Esto-
nia (with the Law on Education of the Estonian
Republic adopted in 1992, which brought legal
guarantees for lifelong learning).
In developing countries, Thailand introduced
the National Education Act in 1999, while
Namibia included a commitment to lifelong learn-
ing in the countrys foundational document on
education Towards Education for All. In Latin
America and the Caribbean, most national and
regional education initiatives and plans refer to
lifelong education in relation to the adult popula-
tion(Ouane 2011: 33).
Also, in recent years, China has issued a series
of laws, regulations and policies on lifelong learn-
inglike the National Education Law in 1995 and
the Education Invigoration Action Plan for the
twenty-rst century (Ouane 2011: 33).
The Importance of Lifelong Learning for
Achieving the SDGs
Recently, the central role played by lifelong learn-
ing in ensuring sustainable development is cap-
tured in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development. The Agenda represents
a step forward in placing lifelong learning in the
position of one of the main drivers in improving
health conditions, fostering economic growth,
increasing work opportunities, promoting
6 Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
sustainable consumption and production, and
supporting environmental protection (United
Nations 2015).
The UN SDGs agenda, with Goal 4, has
reemphasized the concept, prompting countries,
policymakers, and theorists to rethink how learn-
ing, which is lifelong, can indeed be implemented,
promoted, and integrated in education frame-
works. The understanding is that the governance
of lifelong learning should entail a sector-wide
approach (involving all subsectors of the educa-
tion system), multiple policy levels (national,
state, and local), interministerial collaborations,
and different actors and interest groups (politi-
cians, NGOs, civil society, education practi-
tioners, cultural institutions, learners, etc.).
Ultimately, the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDGs) of the Agenda have reinvigorated
lifelong learning as a humanistic, rights-based,
holistic, and sector-wide approach to learning.
In response to the diverse development chal-
lenges the world is facing and the unprecedented
speed at which it is changing, the member states of
the United Nations adopted the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development in 2015. The Agenda
includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals
(SDGs) with 169 targets, which all call for actions
from all countries and stakeholders to work
toward eradicating extreme poverty, to combat
climate change, and to address inequality to
build up a sustainable society, among other vari-
ous development areas.
The SDGs, adopted by the leaders of the
United Nations member states at the 70th session
of the UN General Assembly in September 2015,
set out an agenda for global transformation. These
SDGs, known as global goals, build on the strat-
egy set by the Millennium Development Goals
(MDGs) to end all forms of poverty and focus
even further on inequalities and climate change.
In contrast to the MDGs, SDGs have been
designed to extend the responsibility and loci for
action worldwide by ensuring that all countries
whether poor, rich, or middle income engage in
activities to promote prosperity that is sustainable
for all. To ensure greater involvement of all coun-
tries with these tasks, a deliberative process
involving the 193 member states of the United
Nations and many experts and representatives of
organizations from across different areas of civil
society was undertaken.
The 17 SDGs are universal, which means they
apply to all countries of the world. They build on
the Rio+20 outcomes and on the previous UN
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which
consisted of eight targets to ght poverty. These
eight targets were to be achieved between the
years 2000 and 2015. As their achievement was
not completed as intended, the new timeline was
extended to 2030, and the Post-2015 process itself
was revolutionary: in order to create the 2030
Agenda and draft the 17 goals, the UN carried
out one of the largest consultations in its history,
including local and regional governments, among
other important actors.
In a quest for sustainable societies, sustainable
development will not be achieved with technolog-
ical solutions, regulatory frameworks, and nan-
cial instruments alone; people must learn to live
sustainably. They require certain skills, values,
and attitudes, if they are to contribute to the crea-
tion of sustainable societies and address the chal-
lenges to achieving this goal.
That means people must learn to reect on their
own actions, by taking consequences of their cur-
rent and future actions in relation to social, cul-
tural, economic, and environmental issues into
account. They must be equipped to act sustainably
in complex situations, and must be included in
sociopolitical processes to move their societies
toward a sustainable future. In particular, in
todays fast-changing world, where social, eco-
nomic, and political contexts are constantly
being reshaped, learning must be continuous and
lifelong. Therefore, a sustainable society must be
a society promoting lifelong learning for all.
The 2030 Agenda recognizes this importance
and thus places the education of youth and adults
in a lifelong perspective at the heart of the reali-
zation of the majority of the SDGs. This paradigm
was already introduced in the Delors Report over
20 years ago and are still valid in the content of the
2030 Agenda: how can we learn to live together
in the global village if we cannot manage to live
together in the communities to which we naturally
belong the nation, the region, the city, the
Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 7
village, the neighbourhood? Do we want to make
a contribution to public life and can we do so?
(Delors et al. 1996: 14).
Lifelong learning therefore is recognized as an
important development tool. The world faces
today economic, social, cultural, and environmen-
tal challenges which can benet from a lifelong
learning education approach.
While old global development problems such
as poverty and hunger, unemployment, surge of
refugees from conict zones, and gender equality
persist, new challenges are emerging. These
include climate change, world of work in the
technological era, and unsustainable growth
which are all pressing matters for individuals
and societies worldwide. Learning continuously
throughout life to overcome old challenges and at
the same time to create solutions and adapt to
emerging issues becomes crucial.
In light of this, lifelong learning provides a
strong framework for the implementation of the
SDGs. In particular, learning can be a good tool
for stakeholder engagement, international cooper-
ation, partnerships creation, social inclusion, gen-
der equality, and poverty alleviation.
Apart from the Goal 4 (quality education and
lifelong learning), the 2030 Agenda also places
education at the center of the realization of many
of the other Sustainable Development Goals,
including Goal 3 Health and Well-being, Goal 5
Gender Equality, Goal 8 Decent Work and Eco-
nomic Growth, Goal 12 Responsible Consump-
tion and Production, and Goal 13 Climate Change
Mitigation. Arguably, the conception of education
in these different goals draws on the underlying
values of much adult and lifelong education and
learning practice. For example, the UNESCO
(2017: 8) guidelines on how to unpack education
within the 2030 Agenda identify three underlying
principles as follows: rstly, Education is a fun-
damental human right and an enabling right;
secondly, Education is a public good; and
thirdly, Gender equality is inextricably linked to
the right to education for all(Webb et al. 2017:
As such, it is important to draw attention to the
continuing inequalities in educational outcomes
in many countries particularly for those students
from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background
at the point at which they leave school or access
technical and vocational education or higher edu-
cation. Gender differences among adults persist
also in educational participation and outcomes not
just in the low-income countries. Clearly, this
indicates that SDG 4 is a relevant goal for all
countries (Webb et al. 2017: 510).
In addition, as stated by Varavarn (2011),
learning can be considered a goal of development.
Lifelong learning is a key component for educa-
tion for sustainable development as there are clear
connections between both areas:
Lifelong learning contributes to Education for Sus-
tainable Development (ESD) as it is a continuing
process that promotes well-being on all three levels
of sustainable development economic, social and
environmental. The values and principles underpin-
ning sustainable development should enable
learners to identify problems and reect on them
critically and analytically as a means of addressing
local and global challenges and of shaping a sus-
tainable future. (Ouane 2011: 27)
Finally, lifelong learning is also a facilitator for
social inclusion, an important component in the
SDGs framework. Essentially, inclusion entails
ensuring that every individual receives appropri-
ate, good-quality education within and beyond the
school system. It is the full and effective exercise
of the right to education, i.e. access to learning
opportunities, that discriminates or excludes no
individual or group within our outside the school
system(Ouane 2011: 27).
Lifelong learning has important implications for
the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as
evidenced by the growing interest in the coun-
triesexperiences, policy themes, and debates
around the topic. Whether ghting climate change,
promoting partnerships, reducing inequalities, or
engaging in responsible consumption and produc-
tion, to name a few goals, learning throughout life
appears in the center as an important tool to help
societies constantly move toward the achieve-
ments of the SD goals.
8 Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals
Still, possible criteria for assessing progress
toward the development of lifelong learning sys-
tems in the countries for the achievement of the
SDGs is missing. Future policy and research
agendas are to be expanded in order to overcome
this implementation gap.
Centralized/Decentralized Education
Free Education
Generalist/Specialist Education
Minimum Level of Learning
Schooling for Working Children
Secondary Education
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Lifelong Learning and its Importance in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 9
... It can be used as an accessory for stakeholder engagement, international partnerships, social equity and lastly to alleviate poverty. The process of lifelong learning goes before and well beyond the school phase, which allows people to continually learn and adapt their knowledge accordingly [14]. This is especially important in developing countries, where learners spend far less time at school, than their counterparts in industrialised nations. ...
... Combined, the various modalities of learning on sustainable development may specifically help in achieving the SDGs, especially those which target inequalities such as educational inequality (SDG4) and gender inequality (SDG5) [14]. More specifically, non-conventional learning spans across all age groups which helps in meeting a variety of learning needs. ...
Full-text available
Learning has been identified as a critical tool for the achievement of sustainable development. But whereas the literature predominantly focuses on the use of classroom-based teaching methods and approaches, there is a perceived need to shed some light on the potential role which can be played by non-conventional learning. Based on the relevance of addressing this need, this commentary describes the role of non-conventional learning methods in supporting the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In particular, it discusses the contribution of non-conventional teaching as a catalyst for a more active participation of learners, and also shows some of the trade-offs.
Full-text available
The October issue of the International Review of Education – Journal of Lifelong Learning (IRE) contains six articles which examine ways to assess the impact of various modes of lifelong learning – on individuals, families, communities and society as a whole. Assessment is sometimes seen as the Achilles heel of lifelong learning; whereas it is generally 'baked into' formal education systems, more nuanced approaches to evaluating success and impact are needed in adult, non-formal, informal and community learning. This, however, need not be seen as a weakness. In fact, formal education has much to learn and gain from efforts to measure impact in lifelong learning.
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One of the requirements of building a learning city is working to ensure its sustainable development. In 2014, UNESCO developed a framework of the key features of learning cities, at the centre of which there are six pillars or “building blocks” which support sustainable development. This article focuses on the third of these pillars, “effective learning for and in the workplace”. The author analyses a number of conditions to address this aspect in the context of “green restructuring” which is geared towards facilitating the sustainable development of learning cities. She argues that, at the conceptual level, an understanding of the nature of “green skills” (what they are) and the reasons for “green skills gaps” (why they exist) are essential for the processes of effective learning and strategy planning in sustainable city development. The specific focus of this article is at the policy level: the conceptualisation of partnerships between technical and vocational education and training (TVET) providers, industry, government and other stakeholders with the aim of fostering the production, dissemination and usage of knowledge for the purpose of sustainable economic development and the “greening” of skills. The author proposes a new model, based on the quintuple helix approach to innovation combined with a policy goals orientation framework to theorise the ways in which learning cities can foster sustainable economic growth through green skills development.
Education is associated with a wide range of positive outcomes such as higher wages and employability, but also with increased well-being or volunteering. While previous research focused mainly on returns on formal education in schools or universities, there has been a notable shift in recent years towards the analysis of returns on adult learning. While research has established theory-driven empirical evidence concerning labour market-related outcomes, it fails to identify and coherently explain non-monetary outcomes. The authors of this article review 13 empirical studies on different forms of civic participation as a return on engagement in adult learning. Individuals’ civic participation is one precondition to social cohesion and functioning citizenship at a societal level and thus a factor of high political and societal relevance. All the studies reviewed in this article suggest a positive association between adult learning and civic engagement. To what extent this association is causal, however, remains an open question. The authors argue that any efforts to identify such causality must begin with a number of theoretical assumptions about the mechanisms through which learning may influence civic participation. By linking the theoretical ideas of the studies reviewed with the literature on volunteering, the authors suggest a new theoretical framework, which may guide further research.
The adoption of a national qualifications framework (NQF) by some governments in all world regions has shown some success in the area of formal learning. However, while NQFs continue to enhance formal learning in many countries, the same cannot be said for the recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of non-formal and informal learning. Focusing on competency-based technical and vocational education and training (TVET) within its NQF, Ghana introduced the National Technical and Vocational Education and Training Qualifications Framework (NTVETQF) as a sub-framework in 2012. In the wake of the NTVETQF’s limited success, the author of this article reasons that a lifelong learning approach could enhance its effectiveness considerably. Comparing national and international policies, he argues that the NTVETQF should be able to properly address the issues of progression from informal and non-formal to formal modes of lifelong learning within the country’s broad context of education. In addition, the study conceptualises the integration of lifelong learning within a broad NQF in four key domains: (1) individual; (2) institutional; (3) industry; and (4) state. The author concludes that, for the NTVETQF to achieve its goal of facilitating access to further education and training while also promoting lifelong learning for all (including workers in the informal economy), effective integration of all modes of lifelong learning is required. Although this entails some challenges, such as recognition of prior learning and validation of all modes of learning, it will help to widen access to education as well as providing individuals with a pathway for achieving their educational aspirations. © 2017 Springer Science+Business Media B.V. and UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning
It is approximately 50 years since the conce pt 1 of lifelong learning (LLL) was first proposed, in its modern usage. 2 It has gone through considerable transformation since then but much confusion continues to permeate discussion on its meaning, policy orientations and added value compared to alternative approaches. Although the initial proposals were meant for all countries, subsequent development of the concept has occurred mainly in the context of the OECD 3 countries, and questions might well be raised about its relevance for the developing 4 countries.
Organizational learning is currently the focus of considerable attention, and it is addressed by a broad range of literatures. Organization theory, industrial economics, economic history, and business, management and innovation studies all approach the question of how organizations learn. A number of branches of psychology are also revealing on the issue. This paper assesses these various literatures by examining the insights they allow in three main areas: first, the goals of organizational learning; second, the learning processes in organizations; and third, the ways in which organizational learning may be facilitated and impeded. It contends that while the various literatures are revealing in particular aspects of organizational learning, a more complete understanding of its complexity requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The contributions of the different approaches are analyzed, and some areas are suggested where the transfer of analytical concepts may improve understanding.
Presents the results of a keyword search of the Social Science Citation Index (SSCI), ABI Inform and PyschLit databases using the terms “organizational learning” and “learning organization” to uncover patterns relating to: the amount of publishing activity by year; influential authors; journals publishing organizational learning research; and type of research published.