Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta lifelong learning. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando entradas con la etiqueta lifelong learning. Mostrar todas las entradas

Comments on "The New Skills Agenda for Europe"

 Participation at "ICAE Virtual Seminar on Skills and Competencies", 
organized by the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE) together with DVV International in April 2017.

Based on DVV International’s journal “Adult Education and Development“ Issue 83 (Dec. 2016)
The  journal is published once a year in English, French and Spanish.

En español: Comentarios a "La Nueva Agenda de Capacidades para Europa"

Rosa María Torres. Ecuadorian, researcher, international adviser, specialist in literacy and Lifelong Learning, Ex-minister of Education and Cultures.

My comments refer to, and are triggered by, "The new Skills Agenda for Europe" by Dana Bachmann and Paul Holdsworth, of the European Commission.

I speak here from the perspective of "developing countries" and of Latin America in particular. From this perspective it is always useful to see what Europeans are thinking and doing, not necessarily to do the same but rather to understand better our specific realities and needs. In the end, given the strong cultural dependence, our governments end up trying to follow and imitate Europe and/or North America (the classic "developing"/"developed" notion). Concepts, indicators, ideals, international co-operation, focus generally on the global North.

The paper presents The New Skills Agenda for Europe, which sees skills as a pathway to employability and prosperity. The Agenda revolves around some problems and data identified as critical:

- A quarter of the European adult population (70 million) struggles with reading and writing, and has poor numeracy and digital skills, putting them at risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion.

- More than 65 million people have not achieved a qualification corresponding to upper secondary level. This rate varies significantly across countries, reaching 50% or more in some.

- The adults mostly in need of engaging in learning participate very little in lifelong learning. On average, only 10.7% of adult Europeans participated in any education and training in 2014, with significant variation between countries and against an EU target of 15% set to be reached by 2020. An analysis of the participation of low-qualified adults in education and training shows even lower participation rates, varying from below 1% in some countries to over 20% in others. On average in the EU only 4.3% of low-qualified adults – that is, the group most in need of learning – participate in education and training.

To improve the employment opportunities and overall life chances of low-skilled adults, the Commission has made a proposal to help low-skilled adults – both in-work and out of work – to improve their literacy, numeracy and digital skills and, where possible, to develop a wider set of skills leading to an upper secondary education qualification or equivalent.

The proposal is that Member States should introduce a Skills Guarantee, which would involve offering to low qualified adults: (a) a skills assessment, enabling them to identify their existing skills and their upskilling needs; (b) a package of education or training tailored to the specific learning needs of each individual, and (c) opportunities to have their skills validated and recognised.

The Agenda is structured around three priority areas: more and better skills; put the skills developed to good use; and better understand what skills will be demanded to help people choose what skills to develop.

These main challenges are identified:

- Improving the quality and relevance of skills formation.
- Strengthening the foundation: basic skills (literacy, numeracy, digital skills) for everybody ("the proposal for a Skills Guarantee aims to provide low qualified adults access to flexible tailored upskilling pathways to improve these skills or progress towards an upper secondary qualification").
- Making vocational education and training (VET) a first choice. Increasing its attractiveness, through quality provision and flexible organisation, allowing progression to higher vocational or academic learning, and closer links with the world of work.
- Building resilience: key competences and higher, more complex skills. These include literacy, numeracy, science and foreign languages, as well as transversal skills and key competences such as digital competences, entrepreneurship, critical thinking, problem solving or learning to learn, and financial literacy. 
- Getting connected: focus on digital skills.
- Making skills and qualifications more visible and comparable.
- Improving transparency and comparability of qualifications.
- Early profiling of migrants’ skills and qualifications.
- Improving skills intelligence and information for better career choices.
- Better information for better choices.
- Boosting skills intelligence and cooperation in economic sectors.
- Better understanding the performance of graduates from Universities and VET.

My comments and suggestions


The diagnosis and the proposal are centred around formal education and training. This remains, in fact, the main international approach to adult education and to education in general. The "being knowledgeable" dimension of UNDP's Human Development Index (HDI) continues to refer to education and to formal education only, all ages: expected years of schooling, adult literacy rate, government expenditure on education, gross enrolment ratio all levels, mean years of schooling, population with at least some secondary education, primary school dropout rate, primary school teachers trained to teach, and pupil-teacher ratio in primary school. (As we see, two indicators are related to adult education: adult literacy rate, and population with at least some secondary education). It is with these indicators that countries' educational profile is defined. 

Without ignoring the importance of these data and of the formal education system, I would like to stress the need to: revisit some concepts; insist on the critical importance of non-formal education and of informal learning not only in adult life but throughout life; consider other ways of thinking/organising the question of learning for what; radically rethink the eternal struggle with literacy and numeracy; and reconsider adulthood and the adult age. Also, the understanding of 'low-skilled adults' must be made explicit and analysed in general and in each particular context.

» Schooling versus education  Education exceeds schooling. Many adults are eager to advance their education, not necessarily to get more schooling (i.e. completing primary and secondary education). For many young people and adults, completing secondary education implies a tremendous effort, meeting a bureaucratic requisite rather than having a pleasant and fruitful learning experience, and the economic and social reward may not be the one expected.

» Education/training versus learning  Skills are not developed only through deliberate education and training efforts. Most skills are developed through a combination of formal and non-formal education and informal learning (reading, writing, parenting, arts, sports, work, travel, social participation, volunteering, social service, etc.).

» Literacy and numeracy  They continue to be considered basic skills and they continue to be major problems throughout the world, in both 'developed' and 'developing' countries. In 'developing' countries, it is very common that people counted as 'new literates' often do not read and write autonomously and thus do not get to use reading and writing in their daily life. Also, often there is no evaluation involved, and no follow-up. We must radically rethink and improve the ways we conceptualize and do adult literacy, and stop cheating ourselves with fake statistics.

» Digital skills  In most 'developing countries' access to the Internet is still limited (50% or less of the population). Cell phones are widely used, also by adults and by the poor. But it is the younger generations that makes the most use of computers and of the internet. Internet policies focus on children and youth. Little is being done, and much more should be done, to offer adults and older adults meaningful access to the digital world.

» Learning for what?  There are many ways to think of, and deal with, this question. Well-being and prosperity mean different things to different people and cultures throughout the world. Sumak Kawsay (Buen Vivir, Good Living), the indigenous paradigm proposed as an alternative to the development paradigm, understands Buen Vivir as reaching a harmonious relationship between self, others, and the environment. Thus, 'learning for what' becomes learning to take care of oneself, learning to take care of others (family, community, peers), and learning to take care of the environment. These tree domains lead to a holistic, alternative understanding of the whys, hows, and what fors of education and learning.

» Adults and the adult age  Life expectancy has grown all over the world. As a result, the adult age has expanded. However, and despite the lifelong learning rhetoric, adults continue to be denied the right to education and the right to learn. Today, in too many countries, education policies and programmes do not go beyond the age of 30 or 35. It is time to organize adulthood in different age groups for education, training and learning purposes. While we oversegment childhood, adolescence and youth, we continue to refer to adulthood and to adult education as something that covers from 15 year-olds to 95 year-olds. A very effective strategy to ignore older adults and to amputate the lifelong learning concept.

Related recent texts of mine in this blog (English/Spanish)

- "Rethinking education" and adult education, Regional consultation with civil society on the document "Rethinking education: Towards a global common view?", ICAE-UNESCO, Brasilia, 25 April 2016.
- "Replantear la educación" y la educación de adultos, Consulta regional de la sociedad civil "El derecho a la educación de personas jóvenes y adultas desde una perspectiva de aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida", ICAE-UNESCO, Brasilia, 25 abril 2016.

- What is youth and adult education today? (2017)
- ¿Qué es educación de jóvenes y adultos, hoy? (2017)

- Formal, non-formal and informal learning (2016)
- Aprendizaje formal, no-formal e informal (2016)

- Giving up to a literate world?, in: Adult Education and Development, Issue 80, December 2013.
- ¿Renuncia a un mundo alfabetizado?, en: Educación de Adultos y Desarollo, número 80, Diciembre 2013

- From Literacy to Lifelong Learning: Trends, Issues and Challenges of Youth and Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean, Regional Report prepared for the Sixth International Conference on Adult Education - CONFINTEA VI, organized by UNESCO. Belém, Brazil, 1-4 December 2009.
Report commissioned by UIL-UNESCO.
- De la alfabetización al aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida: Tendencias, temas y desafíos de la educación de personas jóvenes y adultas en América Latina y el Caribe, Informe Regional preparado para la VI Conferencia Internacional sobre Educación de Adultos - CONFINTEA VI, organizada por la UNESCO. Belém, Brasil, 1-4 diciembre 2009. Informe encargado por el UIL-UNESCO. Una contribución del Centro de Cooperación Regional para la Educación de Adultos en América Latina y el Caribe (CREFAL) a CONFINTEA VI.

- Social Education and Popular Education: A View from the South, Closing conference AIEJI XVII World Congress “The Social Educator in a Globalised World”, Copenhagen, Denmark, 4–7 May, 2009.

- Lteracy and Lifelong Learning: The Linkages, Conference at the 2006 Biennale of ADEA, Libreville, Gabon, March 27-31, 2006. 

- On youth and adult learning (compilation)
- Sobre aprendizaje de jóvenes y adultos (compilación)

- On Lifelong Learning (compilation)
- Sobre Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida (compilación)

 

"Rethinking education" and adult education


Rosa María Torres

UNESCO, together with the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE), is organizing a series of regional consultations coordinated by civil society on the challenges of adult education in the framework of lifelong learning, in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and Goal 4 specifically: "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality learning and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all."

The first regional consultation took place in Brasilia on April 25, 2016, at CONFINTEA +6 (International Conference on Adult Education). The book "Rethinking education: Towards a global common good?", published by UNESCO in 2015, was taken as a reference for the consultation. Timothy Ireland and I were invited to comment the book from the adult education perspective and in relation to the three questions posed by ICAE for the consultation:

1. Re-contextualize the right to education of young people and adults within a lifelong learning framework.

2. Role and practices of civil society to ensure equitable and quality lifelong learning opportunities for young people and adults.

3. Bridging formal and non-formal education.

My comments
"This is a contribution to re-visioning education in a changing world and builds on one of UNESCO’s main tasks as a global observatory of social transformation. Its purpose is to stimulate public policy debate focused specifically on education in a changing world. It is a call for dialogue inspired by a humanistic vision of education and development based on principles of respect for life and human dignity, equal rights and social justice, respect for cultural diversity, and international solidarity and shared responsibility, all of which are fundamental aspects of our common humanity" (p. 14. Introduction).
I was a member of the Senior Experts' Group invited by UNESCO's Director General in 2013 with the mission of "Rethinking education in a changing world". The book was a result of this process. I know the process from inside, although I did not participate in the revision of the final document.

The book proposes to re-visit education and adopts two central categories: a humanistic vision of education and education as a common good, beyond the notion of public good (centered around the State). Both concepts may be of help to rethink adult education, a field that needs profound changes vis a vis past experience and new social realities such as increased life expectancy of the population worldwide and the Lifelong Learning paradigm.

1. Low visibility of adult education

When reading the book with adult education in mind one realizes the little attention given to it throughout the book. Adult education is not present in the Challenges and Tensions of Chapter 1 (Sustainable development: a central concern) and is not mentioned in Chapter 2 (Reaffirming a humanistic approach). The negative repercussions of children's school education problems on adult life and adult education are not complemented with a reflection on the positive repercussions of adult education on children's education and well-being.
"... almost 30 million children are deprived of their right to a basic education, creating generations of uneducated future adults who are too often ignored in development policies. These issues are fundamental challenges for human understanding of others and for social cohesion across the globe." (p. 16)
In fact: policies often ignore that (a) a dysfunctional social system and a dysfunctional school system are responsible for the exclusion of millions of children or for a poor quality education unable to satisfy basic learning needs of millions of children, youth and adults, and (b) only a "two pronged approach" - with children and with adults, in and out of school - can contribute to reduce structural inequalities and poor learning results.

The low profile of adult education is part of the conventional education model. A model that continues to be centered around childhood, despite the lifelong learning rhetoric. A model that ignores the relationships between child and adult education, and the inter-generational linkages between childhood, adolescence, youth and adulthood in society and especially in the family and the community. In many indigenous cultures education is a family and community practice that is threatened by a school culture that alienates kids from their environment and cultures.

The poor attention given to adult education in the Delors Report (1996) was criticized. In fact, this has been the case in all international plans and initiatives.

- In Education for All (1990-2015), "meeting basic learning needs of children, youth and adults" ended up centered around children and primary education, and the goals that advanced the least were those related to adult education, especially literacy.
- In the Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015), the education goal was ensuring children four years of primary education.
- Again, adult education has a marginal place in Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (2015-2030).

In the year 2000, an exVicepresident of ICAE asked if EFA (Education for All) meant Except for Adults.

2. The right to education of youth and adults

The book calls the attention on the fact that
"Despite the specific legal obligations related to the various provisions of the right to education, much of the discussion on the right to education has, until recently, focused on schooling, and perhaps even more narrowly on primary schooling. (...) The vast majority of countries worldwide have national legislation that defines periods of schooling as compulsory. Seen from this angle, the principle of the right to basic education is uncontested, as is the role of the state in protecting this principle and ensuring equal opportunity. However, while these principles are relatively uncontested at the level of basic education, there is no general agreement about their applicability at post-basic levels of education" (p. 76)
However, there is a previous problem: the non-recognition of youth and adult education as a right. Traditionally, the right to education has been associated with childhood. The persistence of the child-centered and school-centered educational ideology is the most important obstacle for the development of adult education. Breaking this mentality, through systematic information, communication and citizen education efforts, is crucial to advance and to adopt Lifelong Learning as a new paradigm.

Also, we need to overcome two reductionisms: adult education reduced to literacy, and literacy understood as initial, basic literacy. Problems with everyday reading, writing and arithmetics are reported worldwide, and scandalize when they become news. In the last few years, OECD's Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) displays such problems not only in 'developing countries' but also in 'developed countries'. Clear evidence of the profound educational crisis that is rooted in childhood and in school.

Viewing literacy in the framework of lifelong learning means viewing it as a continuum, in and out of school, and throughout life.

3. Age as a discriminatory factor in education
"Traditional factors of marginalization in education such as gender and urban or rural residence continue to combine with income, language, minority status and disability to create ‘mutually reinforcing disadvantages’, particularly in low-income or conflict-affected countries." (p. 42).
National and international studies and reports mention multiple factors of educational discrimination, but they generally forget to mention age. The association education-childhood is so ingrained that "educability" is not an issue beyond the categories of childhood, adolescence and youth.

In this book, the aspiration of inclusive education does not mention age as a discriminatory factor. There is a reference to third age; however, it is adulthood in general that is at stake in the dispute for the right to education and learning. Let us not forget that adulthood is the longest period in life, and that it is becoming much longer thanks to increasing life expectancy worldwide.

4. Formal and no-formal education

Formal and non-formal education are complementary. However, non-formal education remains in the shadow of formal education, starting with the fact that it is defined by the negative (non-formal).

Adult education has traditionally found in non-formal education a place to deal with its complexities and specificities. Non-formal education is typically flexible, less structured, better equipped to innovate and to respond to learners' needs and possibilities. These are strengths, rather than weaknesses, in the education field. It has always been said that the challenge is to de-formalize formal education rather than to formalize non-formal education.

We need to learn to view education and learning as a continuum, where formal, non-formal and informal learning are intertwined throughout life. While learning to cope with formal adult education, we need to improve the quality and the status of non-formal adult education.

The book advocates for open and flexible lifelong learning systems, as proposed by the Delors report in the 1990s. It also promotes recognition and validation of knowledge and competencies acquired through multiples means. Unfortunately, it does not contribute to understand those multiple ways in terms of the formal, non-formal and informal continuum, and the need for recognition and validation of the latter.

5. Absence of informal learning
"It is important to note that much of what we learn in life is neither deliberate nor intentional. This informal learning is inherent to all experiences of socialization. The discussion that follows, however, is restricted to learning that is intentional and organized." (p. 17)
The book acknowledges the importance of informal learning - learning that takes place in everyday life. However, it announces that it will take into consideration only organized and intentional learning, that is, formal and non-formal learning. Leaving informal learning aside - learning that starts at birth and accompanies us until death - means leaving out a central component of Lifelong Learning.

On the other hand, there is confusion with the terms informal learning and informal education. The latter does not exist (note that ISCED 2011 refers to formal education, non-formal education and informal learning).
"Education is understood here to mean learning that is deliberate, intentional, purposeful and organized. Formal and non-formal educational opportunities suppose a certain degree of institutionalization. A great deal of learning, however, is much less institutionalized, if at all, even when it is intentional and deliberate. Such informal education, less organized and structured than either formal or non-formal education, may include learning activities that occur in the work place (for instance, internships), in the local community and in daily life, on a self-directed, family-directed, or socially-directed basis." (p. 17. What is meant by knowledge, learning and education?)
6. The role of State and Civil Society

Understanding education as a common good may help address old problems linked to the State/civil society distinction. Historically, State and civil society, often working together, have played a key role in adult education. Although we cannot generalize, some of the most innovative and transformative experiences have been on the side of civil society.

Governments are increasingly offering formal education to youth and adults with no or little school experience, although with a deficit and compensatory approach. Terms such as "over-age", "educational lag" or "incomplete schooling" have been added to the youth and adult education field. Critical analyses are needed to expose the misunderstandings and prejudices behind such terms.

Two concerns in relation to "civil society":

a) opening the concept and space of civil society to the for-profit private sector, through corporate foundations that are assimilated as NGOs, and increasing participation of the for-profit private sector in the provision of education and training for young people and adults; and

b) reducing the concept and space of civil society to NGOs. Lists of civil society organizations forget to mention social movements - workers, peasants, women, indigenous peoples, the unemployed, the land-less, etc. A major omission in general and in Latin America in particular, a region with strong and active social movements in most countries.

A renewed and stronger adult education implies (re)incorporating social movements as key subjects participating in relevant bodies and networks, engaged in the definition and implementation of policies, plans and programmes.

7. LifeLong Learning (LLL)

The book highlights Lifelong Learning as the paradigm and organizing principle of education in the 21st century. However, it does not contribute to deepen its understanding. The book is centered around education much more than around learning as indicated by its title - Rethinkig education - and its subtitle - Towards a global common good?.

The concept of LLL continues to be unclear and little used as an instrument for education and learning policies not only in Latin America but also in other parts of the world. It is often associated with adults and with adult education, even when the term lifelong should make it clear.

The community linked to early childhood development and education, and that linked to child and adolescent education, have not shown interest in LLL - something revealing and that should lead to reflection. Early childhood education and adult education have always been sidelined in national and international policies and goals. Today, early childhood has gained ground and visibility among others thanks to the articulated pressure and alliance of international organizations such as UNICEF and the World Bank, and to a strong raising awareness campaign. Nothing similar has happened in the field of adult education. Inasmuch as LLL continues to be associated with adults and adult education, it will not be understood as such and it will not be incorporated as a new paradigm for education.

Lifelong Learning Policies and Strategies available at UIL-UNESCO's website (documents sent by countries throughout the world) show that: (a) LLL is used in the most varied ways, and (b) the concept is often not properly understood. In Europe, LLL is understood as lifelong learning, covering all ages. In Latin America, Asia and Africa, LLL is generally associated with adults and with the world of work.

8. Alternative knowledge and education systems
"Alternatives to the dominant model of knowledge must be explored. Alternative knowledge systems need to be recognized and properly accounted for, rather than relegated to an inferior status. Societies everywhere can learn a great deal from each other by being more open to the discovery and understanding of other worldviews. There is much to learn, for instance, from rural societies across the world, particularly indigenous ones, about the relationship of human society to the natural environment" (p. 30).
The book emphasizes the importance of alternative knowledge and education systems, and the need to take them into account and preserve them. In our first meeting in Paris, we had an interesting exchange on the topic. I talked about Sumak Kawsay and Sumaq Qamaña (Buen Vivir, in Ecuador and in Bolivia, respectively), inspired in the cosmovision of Andean indigenous cultures. They are not only alternative visions of knowledge and of education, but alternatives to the development paradigm. The book includes a box on this issue.

The objective is important and valid, but we are far from it. The expert group was integrated by specialists from different regions of the world, but all of us share the Western culture, and the book reflects it. Most bibliographic references and quotes are in English and French. Maybe the greatest contribution of the book is acknowledging the existence and importance of such alternative knowledge systems, and the need to incorporate new and relevant voices to a multicultural dialogue.

* Included in: ICAE, Voices Rising 497

To learn more
» Daviet, Barbara, Revisar el principio de la educación como bien público, Documentos de Trabajo No 17, Investigación y prospectiva en educación, UNESCO, julio 2016
» UNESCO, Rethinking education in a changing world. Meeting of the Senior Experts' Group, Paris, 12-14 February, 2013. Report prepared by the UNESCO Secretariat.

Related texts in OTRAƎDUCACION

» Formal, non-formal and informal learning
» Lecturas sobre el 'Buen Vivir'
» Goal 4: Education - Sustainable Development Goals | Objetivo 4: Educación - Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible
» Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida (ALV)
» Giving up to a literate world?
» Necesidades y deseos de aprendizaje de jóvenes y adultos
» Educación: términos discriminadores que mejor no
» From Literacy to Lifelong Learning | De la alfabetización al aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida
» Literacy and Lifelong Learning: The linkages
» Sobre aprendizaje de jóvenes y adultos | On youth and adult learning

Formal, non-formal and informal learning

Rosa María Torres

Formal education. Education that is institutionalized, intentional and planned through public organizations and recognized private bodies and, in their totality, make up the formal education system of a country. Formal education programmes are thus recognized as such by the relevant national educational authorities or equivalent, e.g. any other institution in co-operation with the national or sub-national educational authorities. Formal education consists mostly of initial education. Vocational education, special needs education and some parts of adult education are often recognized as being part of the formal education system.

Non-formal education. Education that is institutionalized, intentional and planned by an education provider. The defining characteristic of non-formal education is that it is an addition, alternative and/or a complement to formal education within the process of the lifelong learning of individuals. It is often provided to guarantee the right of access to education for all. It caters for people of all ages, but does not necessarily apply a continuous pathway-structure; it may be short in duration and/or low intensity, and it is typically provided in the form of short courses, workshops or seminars. Non-formal education mostly leads to qualifications that are not recognized as formal qualifications by the relevant national educational authorities or to no qualifications at all. Non-formal education can cover programmes contributing to adult and youth literacy and education for out-of-school children, as well as programmes on life skills, work skills, and social or cultural development.

Informal learning. Forms of learning that are intentional or deliberate but are not institutionalized. They are less organized and structured than either formal or non-formal education. Informal learning may include learning activities that occur in the family, in the work place, in the local community, and in daily life, on a self-directed, family-directed or socially-directed basis.

Incidental or random learning. Various forms of learning that are not organized or that involve communication not designed to bring about learning. Incidental or random learning may occur as a by-product of day-to-day activities, events or communication that are not designed as deliberate educational or learning activities. Examples may include learning that takes place during the course of a meeting, whilst listening to a radio programme, or watching a television broadcast that is not designed as an education programme.

Source: Glossary, International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011

We start with official ISCED (UNESCO) definitions since there are many misconceptions and confusions with the terms formal education, non-formal education and informal learning (learning that takes place in formal, non-formal and informal contexts).

Many people mention formal education and non-formal education, and forget about informal learning. Others skip non-formal education. Many speak of informal education, which does not exist. It is very common to associate non-formal education with adult education and to think that adult education can only be non-formal. Some people consider that Lifelong Learning and informal learning are equivalent. And so on.
("Education 3030. Incheon Declaration and Framework on Action for the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all - approved at the World Education Forum 2015 held in South Korea - refers to "non-formal and informal education", paragraph 10).

There are little or no problems with formal education, another name for education that takes place within the school system. However, people tend to think that the school system does not include higher education.


There are more problems with non-formal education. The very limits and differences between formal and non-formal education are often unclear. There is teaching in both of them; there may be evaluation and certificates in non-formal education.The main difference is that the latter is less structured and more flexible, and that it can be provided by multiple agents, governmental and non-governmental. Non-formal education serves people of all ages and at all education levels.


The biggest conceptual problems relate to informal learning, which is "intentional or deliberate but not institutionalized." ISCED classification refers to formal education, non-formal education and informal learning, because there is no teaching involved in informal learning; it is autonomous learning. ISCED adds another category, incidental or random learning, defined as "various forms of learning that are not organized or that involve communication not designed to bring about learning." I prefer to include it within informal learning. What matters is that it is learning (intentional or not) that is not mediated by teaching.


Formal, non-formal and informal qualify the context and the mode in which education and learning take place. These three variants do not run separately; they are intertwined, not parallel lines. There are many commonalities between formal and non-formal education. There is informal learning in formal and non-formal contexts (playing, reading, talking with classmates or teachers outside the classroom, using the internet, etc.).


Formal education occupies a relatively short period in life, generally during childhood, adolescence and youth, although it may also take place in adulthood. Those with masters or doctoral studies may spend 20 years or more in classrooms. There are also those who have no or little schooling, and whose learning experience comes mostly from informal learning.

 

Non-formal education (courses, workshops, seminars, conferences, etc.) can occur along formal education, and also before and after it is completed. Many people end up having more non-formal education than formal education. The Internet has contributed to expand and diversify non-formal education.

Informal learning takes place throughout life, from birth to death. Most of what we learn in life comes from informal learning, although very often we are not aware that we are learning. Some of the most important information, knowledge and skills are developed in an informal manner, in the family, in the community, in the school system, at work, while practicing sports, talking, reading and writing, in contact with nature, with mass media, with the arts, with internet, etc.


Lifelong Learning integrates these three types of learning: formal, non-formal and informal. Every person has a specific combination of them and specific life learning trajectories. Some have a lot of formal and non-formal education. Everyone benefits from informal learning, which is essential for life, for work, and for living together.

To learn more

» Council Recommendation on the validation of non-formal and informal learning, Official Journal of the European Union, 22 Dec. 2012.

Related texts in this blog

» Saberes socialmente útiles
» Comunidad de Aprendizaje
» Aprendizaje a lo Largo de la Vida
» Reaching the Unreached: Non-Formal Approaches and Universal Primary Education
» Lifelong Learning: Moving beyond Education for All
» On Lifelong Learning | Sobre Aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida
 

OTRA∃DUCACION - Texts in English


 Rosa María Torres

Poetic and Dreamlike Paper Cut Artworks - Fubiz

This is a bilingual blog. Most texts are published in Spanish. Here is a compilation of texts written in English (alphabetical order).

10 false ideas on education in Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/03/10-false-ideas-on-education-in-finland.html

 

12 Theses on Educational Change
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/12/12-theses-on-educational-change.html

1990-2015: Education for All Educación para Todos (compilation)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/08/1990-2015-education-for-all-educacion.html

1990-2030: Global education goals
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/1990-2030-global-education-goals-metas.html

25 Years of Education for All
http://educacion-para-todos.blogspot.com/2013/03/25-anos-de-educacion-para-todos-25.html

About 'good practice' in international co-operation in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/what-would-be-good-practice-in.html

Adult Literacy in Latin America and the Caribbean: Plans and Goals 1980-2015
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/adult-literacy-in-latin-amrica-and.html

Basic learning needs: Different frameworks
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/basic-learning-needs-different.html

Beautiful letters
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/07/lindas-letras-beautiful-letters.html


Child learning and adult learning revisited

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/02/child-learning-and-adult-learning.html

Children of the Basarwa (Botswana)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/09/children-of-basarwa.html

Children's right to basic education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/11/childrens-right-to-basic-education.html

Children's rights: A community learning experience in Senegal
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/01/children-rights-community-learning.html

Cuba and Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/cuba-and-finland.html

Education First
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/09/educacion-primero-education-first.html


Ecuador: Good Bye to Community and Alternative Education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/ecuador-good-bye-to-community-and.html

Education for adaptation?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/educacion-adaptarse-un-mundo-cambiante.html

Education for All 2000-2015 - How did Latin America and the Caribbean do?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/04/education-for-all-2000-2015-how-did.html 

Education in the Information Society
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/education-in-information-society.html

Escuela Nueva: An innovation within formal education (Colombia)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/escuela-nueva-innovation-within-formal.html

Farewells
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/06/despedidas-farewells.html


Finland Study Visit

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.fi/2015/10/visita-de-estudio-finlandia-finland-study-visit.html


Finland's education compared

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/07/finlands-education-compared-la.html


Formal, non-formal and informal learning

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/08/formal-non-formal-and-informal-learning_21.html


From literacy to lifelong learning: Trends, Issues and Challenges of Youth and Adult Education in Latin America and the Caribbean

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/05/from-literacy-to-lifelong-learning-de.html

From school community to learning community
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/03/from-school-community-to-learning.html

Goal 4: Education - Sustainable Development Goals
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/on-goal-4-education-sustainable.html
- SDG: Translation issues
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/09/sdg-translation-issues-ods-problemas-de.html

Girls' education: Lessons from BRAC (Bangladesh)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/01/girls-education-lessons-from-brac.html


Giving up to a literate world?

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/giving-up-to-literate-world.html

GLEACE: Letter to UNESCO on the Literacy Decade (2003-2012)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/01/letter-to-unesco-on-literacy-decade.html

Kazi, the Graceless
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/09/kazi-el-sin-gracia.html

Knowledge-based international aid: Do we want it? Do we need it?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/10/knowldedge-based-international-aid-do.html

Latin America over-satisfied with public education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/06/latin-america-oversatisfied-with-public.html

Latin America: Six decades of education goals http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/09/latin-america-six-decades-of-education-goals.html

Lifelong Learning: moving beyond Education for All
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/lifelong-learning-moving-beyond.html

Lifelong Learning for the North, Primary Education for the South?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/lifelong-learning-for-north-primary.html

Lifelong Learning in the South: Critical Issues and Opportunities for Adult Education, Sida Studies 11, Stockholm, 2004
http://www.sida.se/English/publications/Publication_database/publications-by-year1/2004/november/lifelong-learning-in-the-south-critical-issues-and-opportunities-for-adult-education/ 
http://www.sida.se/contentassets/d60c67d64bf947b1b147419f7751a466/lifelong-learning-in-the-south-critical-issues-and-opportunities-for-adult-education_1614.pdf

Literacy and Lifelong Learning: The linkages
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/01/literacy-and-lifelong-learning-linkages.html

Literacy for All: A renewed vision
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/literacy-for-all-renewed-vision.html

Literacy for All: A United Nations Literacy Decade (2003-2012): Base Document for the Literacy Decade (2000)
http://www.slideshare.net/RosaMariaTorres2015/base-document-united-nations-literacy-decade-20032012


Military spending in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/03/military-spending-and-education-gasto.html

Now comes PISA for 'developing countries'
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/now-comes-pisa-for-developing-countries.html

On education in Finland
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/on-education-in-finland-sobre-la.html
 
On innovation and change in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/03/on-innovation-and-change-in-education.html

On Learning Anytime, Anywhere (WISE 2011)
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/11/on-learning-anytime-anywhere.html

One child, one teacher, one book and one pen
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/one-child-one-teacher-one-book-and-one-pen-one.html

One Decade of 'Education for All': The Challenge Ahead (IIEP-UNESCO Buenos Aires, 2000, PDF)
http://www.iipe-buenosaires.org.ar/publicaciones/one-decade-education-all-challenge-ahead
http://www.buenosaires.iipe.unesco.org/sites/default/files/education.pdf 

Open letter to school children
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/08/open-letter-to-school-children.html 

OTRA∃DUCACION: Lo más visitado ▸ Most visited
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/12/otraducacion-lo-mas-visitado-most.html

Public gym stations in Beijing and Quito
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/chinas-public-gym-stations-in-beijing-and-quito.html


Reaching the Unreached: Non-Formal Approaches and Universal Primary Education

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/06/reaching-unreached-non-formal.html

"Rethinking education" and adult education

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2016/08/rethinking-education-and-adult-education.html


Six 'Education for All' Goals

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/01/six-education-for-all-goals-seis-metas.html

South Africa 1993: A moment with Mandela
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/12/south-africa-1993-moment-with-mandela.html

Stop PISA!
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/05/stop-pisa-paren-pisa.html

The 4 As as criteria to identify 'good practices' in education
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/10/4-as-as-criteria-to-identify-good.html 

The green, the blue, the red and the pink schools
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/green-blue-red-and-pink-schools.html

There is no "education for the 21st century"
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2010/10/there-is-no-education-for-21st-century.html

The million Paulo Freires
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2011/02/million-paulo-freires.html

The oldest and the youngest

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/07/the-oldest-and-youngest-los-mas-viejos.html


The virtuous C (Keys for a renewed learning culture)

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/01/la-virtuosa-c-virtuous-c.html

The World Economic Forum and education quality

http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/04/the-world-economic-forum-and.html

Transforming formal education from a lifelong learning perspective
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/10/transforming-formal-education-from.html

We are Latin America
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2012/05/somos-america-latina-we-are-latin.html

What did the MDGs achieve?  
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/10/what-did-millennium-development-goals-achieve.html


What Happened at the World Education Forum in Dakar (2000)?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-happened-at-world-education-forum.html

What is 'basic education'?
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2014/09/what-happened-to-expanded-vision-of.html

What is youth and adult education - today? http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2017/01/what-is-youth-and-adult-education-today.html

WISE Prize for Education Laureates: Bottom-up Innovators
http://otra-educacion.blogspot.com/2013/11/wise-prize-for-education-laureates.html



Goal 4: Education - Sustainable Development Goals

Rosa María Torres


At the UN Sustainable Development Summit (New York, 25-27 Sep. 2015) a new development agenda was adopted for 2015-2030. From 8 Millennium Development Goals and 21 targets - some of which were not met (see MDG 2015 Report) - we move towards 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 targets - "Ending poverty plus 16 other goals", as some put it.
Over the past 25 years educational aspirations reflected in global goals have moved from basic education for children, youth and adults - Education for All (EFA) 1990-2000-2015 - to primary education for all children (completing four years of primary school) - Goal 2 of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 2000-2015 - to access to quality education at all levels, including higher education, and lifelong learning opportunities for all - Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 2015-2030. The latter is considered to introduce a paradigm shift, described as "Moving from quantity to quality". (See EFA, MDG and SDG education goals in this table).

In fact, in September 2016, one year after the SDGs were approved, UNESCO published the Global Education Monitoring Report 2016 and announced that the new global education goals will not be met in 2030. If current trends persist, universal primary education will be achieved in 2042, universal lower secondary education will be achieved in 2059 and universal higher secondary education in 2084. 

Below is a piece on Objective 4 I wrote in 2015, when the SDGs were approved.

I analyze here Goal 4 and its 10 targets. The targets include all levels of education, technical and vocational skills, youth and adult literacy, gender equality, education for sustainable development, scholarships, education facilities, and teacher training. They are centered around formal education. The overall aspiration is more schooling, 12 years (primary and secondary education) considered the minimum this time. Free and quality are key additions; the word quality is reiterated in every target. Again, goals related to early childhood and adulthood are particularly weak.

Is it realistic to expect that ambitious education goals will be achieved by 2030 when much more modest goals were not achieved in 25 years of Education for All and 15 years of Millennium Development Goals?


After reading Goal 4 and its targets one wonders what are the lessons learned over the past 25 years of global goals and international initiatives for education. Where are the problems, contradictions, power struggles, education complexities?

Money is considered the main obstacle; however, as we know, education is one of those fields where how is spent is more important than how much is spent, and where money alone does not guarantee good policies or rapid, sustainable, change.

We find also the usual translation problems (English-Spanish).


Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.
Just one-third of countries have achieved all the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals. - See more at: http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2015/education-all-2000-2015-achievements-and-challenges#sthash.yYyYBh6R.PLvDOXjA.dpuf

Main findings

  • Just one-third of countries have achieved all the measurable Education for All (EFA) goals.
  • In 2012, 121m children and adolescents were still out of school, down from 204m in 1999.
  • Half of countries have now achieved Universal Primary Enrolment and 10% more are close.
  • Poorest children are five times more likely not to complete primary school than richest.
- See more at: http://en.unesco.org/gem-report/report/2015/education-all-2000-2015-achievements-and-challenges#sthash.yYyYBh6R.PLvDOXjA.dpuf

»
Inclusive and quality remain strange and confusing terms for the majority of the population worldwide. Their interpretations and uses differ considerably even within the specialized education community. The same occurs with lifelong learning, a concept not fully incorporated yet by the education community. All this must be kept in mind when communicating the Quality Education goal in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

»
Lifelong learning (LLL) is mentioned as separate from education. (In fact, many people confuse LLL with adult, out-of-school, or informal learning). LLL focuses on learning, goes "from womb to tomb", and includes formal education. Therefore, LLL crosses all targets of Goal 4. 


■ By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.

» This target is the first one in the list and is the most important one within Goal 4. Most financial efforts will probably be devoted to this target.
 

» It is important to remember that:

- Education for All (1990-2015) adopted six basic education goals, aimed at "meeting basic learning needs" of children, youth and adults, in and out of school. According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED), basic education comprises primary education and lower secondary education. The six goals were not me in 25 years, and remained as "unfinished business".
- The Millennium Development Goals (2000-2015) proposed Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education ('primary education' understood as 4 years of schooling; no mention of free or quality). In 15 years, this modest goal was not met.

» In the final phase of EFA and of the MDGs a "global learning crisis" was acknowledged: after four years of schooling millions of children worldwide are not learning to read, write and do basic math.

» With this experience in mind, is it realistic to think that "free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education" with "effective learning outcomes" are attainable in the next 15 years? In the push for 'universal secondary education', won't we repeat the same - and worse - problems than those faced in the push for 'universal primary education'?.

»
"All
girls and boys" may not be realistic goal for many countries.

»
Not all is about money. Latin America's high school drop out should be taken into account: nearly half of young Latin Americans leave high school, mainly because of lack of interest and lack of purpose. In a region with historical high primary education enrollment rates, secondary education is viewed today as a major bottleneck.

»
In today's world children are not the only ones attending primary and secondary education; also young people and adults. Targets and indicators related to youth and adults (see below) might also incorporate primary and secondary education.

■ By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education.

»
Early childhood development, care and pre-primary education are important not to prepare children for primary education, but to better prepare them for learning (in and out of school) and for life. This debate has been going on for decades. The SDGs have decided to adopt the instrumental, school-oriented vision of early childhood development and education. Let us hope that the indicators do not reinforce this 'school preparedness' trend.

■ By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.


»
"Affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education" is hard to find in most countries around the world. Can you ensure access to something that, in many cases, will take much longer than 15 years to be in place? Again, all will have to be translated into a more realistic quantitative goal.


■ By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

»
See comments to previous target.

»
It is difficult to agree on the "relevant skills for employment, decent jobs and enterpreneurship" that can be considered universal and useful in any context. Certainly, and given the weaknesses of the school system and of basic education, some of them will have to do not with "technical and professional skills" but with basic learning needs such as oral expression, and reading and writing properly and autonomously.


■ By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

 » Again: women, indigenous peoples, and people with disabilities are put together, in the "vulnerable" category. However, their vulnerabilities - and the ways they are discriminated - are very different and specific.

»
It is time to consider equality, not juts parity - access and enrollment. Disparities are expressed in many areas: retention, repetition, roles played, expectations, learning outcomes, study and career options, etc.


» To be considered: in Latin America, education discrimination against indigenous peoples is stronger and more systematic than discrimination against girls/women. In other words: racism is stronger than machismo.

■ By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.


» Youth and adult literacy is historically the least successful global education goal and remains a critical challenge worldwide (781 million illiterates, the usual two thirds represented by women). The challenge includes sound policy and goal formulation. "Achieving literacy and numeracy" remains a highly ambiguous notion. When can we say that someone has achieved literacy and numeracy? (It may be useful to describe clear competencies within this target).

»
"Substantial proportion of adults" needs to be translated into a percentage that makes the goal not only achievable but successful.

■ By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

»
Clearly, promoting sustainable development is not only about knowledge and skills. The most developed, educated and informed countries in the world are the ones that contaminate the most. On the other hand, indigenous peoples preserve the planet.

»
The description of knowledge and skills considered necessary is vague. In any case, acquiring them requires not only education but also information and communication efforts; not only the school system but also indigenous knowledge and practice, non-formal learning and informal learning at home, in the community, through the media and the internet, in the workplace, etc.

■ Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.


» It is important to highlight the need to differentiate and respond to specific realities and needs, rather than to homogenize. Need to add mention of facilities that are sensitive to different cultures (there are various cultures within a country - countries that are multiethnic and pluricultural, and as a result of migration processes). This is not covered by child, disability and gender sensitivity.

■ By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.

»
South-South cooperation and exchange are essential. So-called 'developing countries' are highly heterogeneous. Many such countries are in a condition to offer scholarships and exchange programmes that may be more relevant to other 'developing countries' than those offered by 'developed' ones.


■ By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.


»
It is revealing that the target devoted to teachers appears last in the list (following scholarships, education facilities, etc.).

»
It is fundamental to deepen the understanding and the debate - globally and in each national context - on the issue of teachers, teacher education and teacher quality. Qualified teachers and quality teachers may not necessarily be the same thing. Training is only one factor of quality teaching. Poor teacher training is very common and ineffective. Becoming a good teacher depends on character, vocation, school background, appreciation for learning, for reading and for experimenting, quality of teacher education and of teachers' working and learning conditions. There are many old conceptions and misconceptions on what good teacher and good teaching are. 


» The teacher is a key factor in the quality of school education, but not the only one. The whole responsibility cannot be placed on teachers. All evaluations of student learning in school reiterate the critical role of poverty and of overall families' socio-economic conditions. Improving the learning conditions of the poor implies improving them both in and out of school (health, nutrition, well-being, lack of fear, affection, care, play, sleep, etc.).

Related texts in OTRA∃DUCACION

Aprendizaje a lo largo de la vida
De alumno a aprendiz
Mujeres, indígenas y discapacitados
Ojo con traducciones y traductores
Madre Tierra
Sumak Kawsay: Voces y saberes de la Amazonía ecuatoriana
¿Mejorar la educación para aliviar la pobreza? ¿O aliviar la pobreza para poder educar?
¿Atraer los mejores estudiantes para la docencia?
Sobre aprendizaje de jóvenes y adultos | On youth and adult learning
Escolarizado no es lo mismo que educado
1990-2030: Global education goals | Metas globales para la educación
Educación para Todos y Objetivos del Milenio no son la misma cosa (entrevista) 
Calidad educativa: ¿infraestructura, tecnologías y docentes?
Education First | La educación primero 
¿Educación a lo largo de la vida para el Norte y educación primaria para el Sur? | Lifelong Learning for the North, primary education for the South?
International Initiatives for Education | Iniciativas internacionales para la educación
What did the Millennium Development Goals achieve?
Formal, non-formal and informal learning

 

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