Learning role in society

Learning role in society

Study on the feasibility of setting up a European Institute on Lifelong Learning

Executive Summary (17 FEB 2011)
Paper written by Antonio MOCCI - independent researcher - on behalf of EUCIS-LLL

In the introduction, the whole concept of lifelong learning is briefly analysed. The investigation brings out several focal points that are equally important to consider in the lifelong learning implementation process. Some of them are widely dealt with in European policies aiming to make of the EU the most competitive knowledge based economy in the world: for example, learning to support individual capacity to enter the labour market and keep an occupation; learning to support collective capacity of organisations to remain competitive and to improve the quality of working. Other points are underrepresented in the overall debate: the support that learning offers to the informed, conscious and discriminating choices that underpin democracy or the effects that informal learning might have to develop human identity and potential. As a result, one starting point to set the institute up is the intention to fill the knowledge gaps related to the underrepresented topics referring to lifelong learning.

The first section - Policy providers in the field of lifelong learning - focuses on EUCIS-LLL members as policy providers on lifelong learning. It investigates members’ visions, missions and concerns, in order to have an in-depth understanding of their interests related to learning. Three areas or clusters of interests were identified: first, some members are involved in specific topics related to the EU as knowledge based society and economy. Second, all members carry out specific activities related to their individual mission: different topics identify their interests. Finally, EU policies and frameworks to implement lifelong learning are of great concern for platform members.

The second section - EILL positioning: complementarity with CEDEFOP and other lifelong learning related organisations - answers the question: what is the European Institute for Lifelong learning for? By analysing some of the well-known institutes, networks and agencies operating in the field of learning (such as CEDEFOP, ILO, CRELL or ELLI), this section underlines differences between them and the EILL. Eventually, it positions the EILL as the voice of the civil society on lifelong learning and its implementation. Therefore, the EILL mission is to participate in the creation of the knowledge society and support individual and collective emancipation and well being through the development of lifelong learning. The institute general objective is to investigate lifelong learning policies, strategies, systems and practices and to cooperate with existing LLL organisations at local, national, European and international level.

The third section - The implementation of the EILL: areas to be covered, target groups, themes to deal with - makes proposals on the topics and thematic areas the Institutes should focus on. Six areas are identified: three are content related (contribution to well-being, quality of learning, perspectives of lifelong learning) while three are focused on functional aspects of the EILL (terminology of lifelong learning, filling gaps, good practice sharing). For each area, this section proposes topics, target groups, possible outputs and ways to address targets.

Finally, the fourth section - Structuring the EILL: modalities of interaction and ways to organise activities - proposes three scenarios for the implementation of the EILL. The first one envisages a balanced structure that combines on line interaction and activities aiming at confronting with policy makers and implementers. Through the organisation of events combined with on line discussion, the editorial staff promotes confrontation with stakeholders and researchers, producing quality outputs and services for EUCIS members, Institutions and for citizens.

The second proposal plans a knowledge portal to dialogue with citizens. The structure is a flexible knowledge environment open for a potentially large number of users. Operating online, the Institute is a virtual place in which the civil society can express itself directly to EU institutions and citizens.

The last proposal envisages a council of European lifelong learning key actors. The finality is to establish links and relations with partners (institutional or practitioners) that work and operate in different fields of lifelong learning to build a clearinghouse that offers free knowledge and inspiration from Europe’s motivated thinkers. The EILL is a community, operating online, welcoming people from any discipline and culture, with the aim to get a better understanding of how lifelong learning works and can improve anybody’s life.

The three proposals are not mutually exclusive: on the contrary, they could be considered as three phases of the same process.