Lifelong learning: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lifelong learning, also known as LLL, is the "lifelong, lifewide, voluntary, and self-motivated"[1] pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional reasons. As such, it not only enhances social inclusion, active citizenship and personal development, but also competitiveness and employability.[2]

The term recognises that learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom, but takes place throughout life and in a range of situations. During the last fifty years, constant scientific and technological innovation and change has had a profound effect on learning needs and styles. Learning can no longer be divided into a place and time to acquire knowledge (school) and a place and time to apply the knowledge acquired (the workplace).[3] Instead, learning can be seen as something that takes place on an on-going basis from our daily interactions with others and with the world around us.


Learning economy

Lifelong learning may be most usefully thought of as a policy response by largely western governments to a changing world. These underlying changes are a move away from manufacturing to a services economy, the emergence of the knowledge economy and the decline of many traditional institutions which has been requiring individuals to become more active in managing their lives.[4]

This has led to the realization that formal learning, typically concentrated in the earlier stages of life, can no longer sustain an individual throughout their life.

In a book by Christopher Day, published in 1998, Developing Teachers: The Challenge of Lifelong Learning, there was recognition towards the role of teachers in inculcating lifelong learning in the formal teachings of his/her students while at the same time realising the need for teachers to practice lifelong learning, in order to develop themselves as well. Through this realisation, that throughout a teachers/educators professional being, lifelong learning is a must[1].

In October 2006 the European Commission published a Communication entitled "Adult learning: It is never too late to learn."[2] This document suggests lifelong learning to be the core of the ambitious Lisbon 2010-process, in which the whole of the European Union should become a learning area. In December 2007, the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education published a "Report on Adult learning: It is never too late to learn", which recognized the Commission Communication and a number of related recommendations and resolutions, and which urged member states to establish a lifelong learning culture.[5][6]

In 2008, the OECD published an article entitled "Recognition of non-formal and informal learning in OECD countries: A very good idea in jeopardy?" which advocates a pragmatic approach to formal recognition of informal and non-formal learning. The author bases the distinctions between 'formal', 'informal' and 'non-formal' learning on three criteria.[7][8] The article points out that 'qualification' and 'certification' are "not very useful" in making the distinction between formal and informal and non-formal learning, and should be dropped. A common understanding of the meaning of the terms, or at least a framework for definition has important implications for workers in a global labour market and participants in formal and informal/non-formal learning environments.

Now, these days the buzz word is on metacognition - thinking about thinking, a higher order of thinking, that students and learners try to achieve to be better people. In this day and age, the ability to think what beyond what others do, thinking outside the storage room where the box is placed is a must have quality where with the ability to access the internet for the plethora of information that is not only written, complements the learning experience and enables anyone and everyone to practice lifelong learning - formally and informally.

Lifelong learning contexts

Although the term is widely used in a variety of contexts its meaning is often unclear.[9]

There are several established contexts for lifelong learning beyond traditional "brick and mortar" schooling:

  • Home schooling where this involves learning to learn or the development of informal learning patterns.
  • Adult education or the acquisition of formal qualifications or work and leisure skills later in life.
  • Continuing education which often describes extension or not-for-credit courses offered by higher education institutions.
  • Knowledge work which includes professional development and on-the-job training.
  • Personal learning environments or self-directed learning using a range of sources and tools including online applications.


Literally ‘thinking about the process of knowing,’ metacognition refers to “higher order thinking which involves active control over the cognitive processes engaged in learning.”[10]

Metacognition involves:

  • Knowledge: awareness of your own thought processes and learning styles, and knowledge of the strategies that might be used for different learning tasks.
  • Control or self-regulation: keeping track of your thinking processes, regulating and evaluating them.[11]

While the study of metacognition originally gave educational psychologists insights into what differentiated successful students from their less successful peers, it is increasingly being used to inform teaching that aims to make students more aware of their learning processes, and show them how to regulate those processes for more effective learning throughout their lives.[12]

As lifelong learning is "lifelong, lifewide, voluntary, and self-motivated"[1] learning to learn, that is, learning how to recognize learning strategies, and monitor and evaluate learning, is a pre-condition for lifelong learning. Metacognition is an essential first step in developing lifelong learning.

In practice

In India and elsewhere, the "University of the Third Age" (U3A) provides an example of the almost spontaneous emergence of autonomous learning groups accessing the expertise of their own members in the pursuit of knowledge and shared experience. No prior qualifications and no subsequent certificates feature in this approach to learning for its own sake and, as participants testify, engagement in this type of learning in later life can indeed 'prolong active life'.

In Sweden the successful concept of study circles, an idea launched almost a century ago, still represents a large portion of the adult education provision. The concept has since spread, and for instance, is a common practice in Finland as well. A study circle is one of the most democratic forms of a learning environment that has been created. There are no teachers and the group decides on what content will be covered, scope will be used, as well as a delivery method.

Sometimes lifelong learning aims to provide educational opportunities outside standard educational systems — which can be cost-prohibitive, if it is available at all. On the other hand, formal administrative units devoted to this discipline exist in a number of universities. For example, the 'Academy of Lifelong Learning' is an administrative unit within the University-wide 'Professional and Continuing Studies' unit at the University of Delaware.[13] Another example is the Jagiellonian University Extension (Wszechnica Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego), which is one of the most comprehensive Polish centers for lifelong learning (open learning, organizational learning, community learning).[14]

In recent years 'Lifelong Learning' has been adopted in the UK as an umbrella term for post-compulsory education that falls outside of the UK Higher Education system - Further Education, Community Education, Work-based Learning and similar voluntary, public sector and commercial settings.

Lifelong learning professionals

As the Jagiellonian University Extension defines it, there are seven main professional profiles in the Lifelong Learning domain:

  • trainer
  • coach
  • competency assessor
  • consultant
  • training project manager
  • curriculum designer
  • mentor

See also

Further reading

  • Lifelong Learning and the New Educational Order by John Field (Trentham Books, 2006) ISBN 1-85856-346-1
  • The Rapture of Maturity: A Legacy of Lifelong Learning by Charles D. Hayes ISBN 09621979-4-7
  • SELF-UNIVERSITY: The Price of Tuition is the Desire to Learn. Your Degree is a Better life by Charles D. Hayes ISBN 0-9621979-0-4
  • Beyond the American Dream: Lifelong Learning and the Search for Meaning in a Postmodern World by Charles D. Hayes ISBN 0-9621979-2-0
  • Pastore G., Un’altra chance. Il futuro progettato tra formazione e flessibilità, in Mario Aldo Toscano, Homo instabilis. Sociologia della precarietà, Grandevetro/Jaca Book, Milano 2007 ISBN 978-88-16-40804-3
  • "Nine Shift: Work, life, and education in the 21st Century," By William A. Draves and Julie Coates ISBN1-57722-030-7


  1. ^ a b [Department of Education and Science (2000). Learning for Life: White Paper on Adult Education. Dublin: Stationery Office.]
  2. ^ a b Commission of the European Communities: "Adult learning: It is never too late to learn". COM(2006) 614 final. Brussels, 23.10.2006.
  3. ^ Fischer, Gerhard (2000). "Lifelong Learning - More than Training" in Journal of Interactive Learning Research, Volume 11 issue 3/4 pp 265-294.
  4. ^ Field, John (2006). Lifelong Learning and the New Educational Order. Trentham Books, 2006. ISBN 1-85856-346-1
  5. ^ European Parliament: Committee on Culture and Education: Report on Adult learning: It is never too late to learn (2007/2114(INI)). December 11, 2007.
  6. ^ For an interim report, see European Commission: Education and Culture: ‘Education & Training 2010’: Main policy initiatives and outputs in education and training since the year 2000. February 2008.
  7. ^ "whether the learning involves objectives, whether it is intentional and whether it leads to a qualification (the terms ‘qualification’ and ‘certification’ are taken as synonymous here, and they both refer to the process and the final outcome)"
  8. ^ ["Recognition of non-formal and informal learning in OECD countries: A very good idea in jeopardy?"]
  9. ^ Aspin, David N. & Chapman, Judith D. (2007) "Lifelong Learning Concepts and Conceptions" in: David N. Aspin, ed.: Philosophical Perspectives on Lifelong Learning, Springer. ISBN 1402061927
  10. ^ Livingston, Jennifer A. (1997). "Metacognition: An Overview"
  11. ^ Pintrich, Paul R (2002) The role of metacognitive knowledge in learning, teaching, and assessing Theory Into Practice, Autumn
  12. ^ Livingston, Jennifer A. (1997) Metacognition: An Overview
  13. ^ "Academy of Lifelong Learning". University of Delaware. 2006. Retrieved 2006-05-06. 
  14. ^ "Wszechnica Uniwersytetu Jagiellonskiego". The Jagiellonian University. 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 

Lifelong learning may be broadly defined as Learning that is pursued throughout life: learning that is flexible, diverse and available at different times and in different places. Lifelong learning crosses sectors, promoting learning beyond traditional schooling and throughout adult life (ie post-compulsory education). This definition is based on Jacqes Delors’[1] four ‘pillars’ of education for the future.

  • Learning to know - mastering learning tools rather than acquisition of structured knowledge.
  • Learning to do – equipping people for the types of work needed now and in the future including innovation and adaptation of learning to future work environments.
  • Learning to live together, and with others – peacefully resolving conflict, discovering other people and their cultures, fostering community capability, individual competence and capacity, economic resilience, and social inclusion.
  • Learning to be – education contributing to a person’s complete development: mind and body, intelligence, sensitivity, aesthetic appreciation and spirituality.

This is underpinned by "Learning to Learn".

Lifelong learning can instil creativity, initiative and responsiveness in people thereby enabling them to show adaptability in post-industrial society through enhancing skills to:

  • Manage uncertainty,
  • Communicate across and within cultures, sub-cultures, families and communities,
  • Negotiate conflicts.

The emphasis is on learning to learn and the ability to keep learning for a lifetime.


Lifelong Learning in a Learning Society

Learning Society looks beyond formal educational environments and locates learning as a quality not just of individuals but also as an element of systems.

The notion of learning society gained considerable recognition because:

If learning involves all of one's life, in the sense of both time-span and diversity, and all of society, including its social and economic as well as its educational resources, then we must go even further than the necessary overhaul of 'educational systems' until we reach the stage of a learning society. [2]

The learning society is an educated society, committed to active citizenship, liberal democracy and equal opportunities. This supports lifelong learning within the social policy frameworks of post-Second World War social democracies. The aim is to provide learning opportunities to educate adults to meet the challenges of change and citizenship. Support for this conception was put forward largely by liberal educators in the metropolitan areas of the industrialized North in the 1960s and 1970s.

Characterizations of lifelong learning

The concept of lifelong learning spans a wide range of education and training issues and speaks to many different audiences. Common themes conveyed in literature on lifelong learning articulate four characteristics which transform ‘education and training’ into the concept of ‘lifelong learning’. [3]

Informal learning

The first characteristic of lifelong learning is that it encompasses both formal and non-formal/informal types of education and training. Formal learning includes the hierarchically structured school system that runs from primary school through the university and organized school-like programs created in business for technical and professional training. Whereas informal learning describes a lifelong process whereby individuals acquire attitudes, values, skills and knowledge from daily experience and the educational influences and resources in his or her environment, from family and neighbours, from work and play, from the market place, the library and the mass media. [4]

Self-motivated learning

The second common theme of lifelong learning is the importance of self-motivated learning. There is a heavy emphasis on the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own learning. Lifelong learners are therefore not defined by the typed of education or training in which they are involved, but by the personal characteristics that lead to such involvement. Cassandra B. Whyte emphasized the importance of locus of control and successful academic performance. [5] [6] Personal characteristics of individuals who are most likely to participate in learning, either formally or informally throughout their lives have acquired:

  • The necessary skills and attitudes for learning, especially literacy and

numeracy skills;

  • The confidence to learn, including a sense of engagement with the

education and training system; and

  • Willingness and motivation to learn.

Although education and training may have economic benefits for individuals, it is recognised that economic incentives alone are not necessarily sufficient to motivate people to engage in education and training. A range of motivational barriers need to be identified and addressed in order for some people to participate in education and training. While some of these barriers are economic and can be overcome with financial assistance, many people are deterred from engaging in education and training by social and personal factors.

An Australian survey of participants in adult education courses identified a range of factors motivating people to undertake adult learning, such as:[7]

  • To upgrade job skills;
  • To start a business;
  • To learn about a subject or to extend their knowledge;
  • To meet new people;
  • To develop self-confidence;
  • To get involved in the community; and
  • To develop personal skills.

By acknowledging the range of factors that act as both a motivation and barrier to engagement in education and training, lifelong learning policies tend to promote participation in learning for its own sake rather than as a means to a specific end (ie. employment). The goal of participation in learning thus appears to be more significant than the reason why. This can be seen as an acknowledgment of the range of factors that motivate people to participate in formal and informal learning other than, or in addition to, instrumental goals.[3]

Self funded learning

Self-funded learning is the third characteristic of the lifelong learning literature. The concept of self-funded learning is linked to the characteristic of self motivated learning. In recognition of the costs involved in subsidising lifelong involvement in education and training, the lifelong learning policy agenda emphasises the responsibility of individuals to finance their own continuing education and training with minimal support from government. The West report defines a lifelong learner as a person who takes responsibility for their own learning and who is prepared to invest .time, money and effort. in education or training on a continuous basis.[8]

Universal participation

The fourth distinctive feature of the lifelong learning policy literature is a commitment to universal participation in education and training. In advocating 'Lifelong learning for all' the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) argues that universal participation is necessary for meeting the economic demands of the 21st century. The concept of universal participation includes both informal and formal learning for all purposes - social, economic and personal. In arguing that universal participation in lifelong learning is necessary for social cohesion in a time of rapid economic and social change, the Delors[1] report proposes four characteristics of lifelong learners that would be the Pillars of a learning society:

  • Learning to do (acquiring and applying skills, including life skills);
  • Learning to be (promoting creativity and personal fulfilment);
  • Learning to know (an approach to learning that is flexible, critical and capable);and
  • Learning to live together (exercising tolerance, understanding and mutual respect). [3]


Historically the concept of lifelong learning, as it is known in the West, underwent a series of transmutations – to include the notions continuing education, permanent education and recurrent education. One of the first uses of the term lifelong education can be traced to Yeaxlee [9], although it was the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) during the 1960s and 1970s that popularised the concept as a way of connecting the various stages of formal education and linking them with informal and non-formal learning. It was seen as a way of seeking to broaden the concept of education and foster education for all, whilst promoting education for both social development and economic growth.[10] Two key publications of the time UNESCO publication Learning to Be[2] Faure and Ettore Gelpi’s Lifelong education and International Relations. Gelpi states:

My thinking is that lifelong education, fundamentally, belongs to the history of education of all countries; it is not therefore a new idea. It lies in the Chinese tradition, in Indian Buddhism; it lies within Greek philosophy and within the spirit of the European Renaissance. The real revolution today lies in the popular demand for lifelong education, not in the idea itself …[11]

At the same time the OECD promoted the concept of recurrent education, specifically to support economic growth and the upskilling of workers. This focus reached a new momentum by 1996, through Jacques Delors’ report Learning the Treasure Within[1] and the year itself being designated as the International Year of Lifelong Learning.

Today in the 21st Century, we find ourselves anew amidst the loud voices of the European Union (EU) and its member states, the OECD, World Bank and UNESCO, proclaiming the importance of lifelong learning. Globalization has produced outcomes and processes which make the learning of new skills and competencies of paramount importance. [12]

The stages of lifelong learning

Lifelong education means education resulting from integration of formal, non-formal, and informal education so as to create ability for continuous lifelong development of quality of life. Learning is therefore part of life which takes place at all times and in all places. It is a continuous lifelong process, going on from birth to the end of our life, beginning with learning from families, communities, schools, religious institutions, workplaces, etc. [13]

Learning in the 6-24 age group

Learning of the 6 – 24 age group usually takes place in educational institutions, from primary and secondary to tertiary levels. The objective of learning in this period is the holistic development of learners in four aspects, namely: physical, intellectual, social capacity, emotional and mental development.

Learning in the 25-60 age group

Learning during the working life of the 25 – 60 age group can learn informally through the use of instructional media, mostly from their occupations, work-places, colleagues, touring, mass media, information technologies, environment and nature. Adults learn from experiences and problems solving, they therefore need continuous development of intellect, capability and integrity.

Learning in the 60+ age group

Learning in old age (over 60 years old) elderly people can learn a great deal from activities suitable to their age e.g. art, music, sports for the elderly, handicrafts and social work. They are highly respected in Thai society; capable of searching for knowledge and provide intellectual support to local communities. They can also carry out voluntary work in community organizations, clubs and associations. Such work makes their lives meaningful as well as bringing benefits to society.

International institutions concept of lifelong learning

World Bank

The World Bank asserts that lifelong learning is essential for individuals to keep pace with the constantly changing global job market and technology.[14] It is preparation for a destabilized life of changing jobs, job requirements and geographical locations. In this vision of the nomadic worker, people must constantly adapt to new living conditions, technology and work requirements. This requires, advocates of lifelong learning state, learning skills that help the individual to adjust to an ever changing world.

The World Bank’s approach to lifelong learning involves a combination of competencies. The Bank defines the knowledge and competencies needed for lifelong learning as:

...including basic academic skills, such as literacy foreign language, math and science skills and the ability to use information and communication technology. Workers must use these skills effectively, act autonomously and reflectively and join and function in socially heterogeneous groups.[15]

According to the World Banks approach, the lifelong learner should, act autonomously in devising a life plan and being prepared to work in a multicultural workforce.[16]


UNESCO supports a more humanistic vision of lifelong learning as compared to the starkly economic arguments of the World Bank and the OECD.

UNESCO’s discourse on lifelong learning has focused on the full development of the individual. The 1972 report commissioned Learning to Be: The World of Education today and Tomorrow [2] argues that the emphasis should be on learning to learn and not on matching schooling and the needs of the labour market. [16] The report states, “The aim of education is to enable man to be himself...and the aim of education in relation to employment and economic progress should be not so much to prepare...for a specific, lifetime vocation, as to ‘optimise’ mobility among the professions and afford permanent stimulus to the desire to learn and to train oneself.”[2] The report’s perspective is that the love of learning creates a desire to lifelong learning and maintenance of a learning society; and therefore the goal of lifelong learning is to give people the power to exercises democratic control over economic, scientific and technological development.[16]

However in the 1990’s, UNESCO’s humanistic approach to lifelong learning was sidelined due to the rhetoric of the knowledge economy and human capital development. Despite this UNESCO avoided the purely economic arguments for lifelong learning, which is evident in its 1996 report on lifelong learning titled :earning: The Treasure Within. This report defines lifelong learning as adaptation to changes in technology and as the continuous “process of forming whole human beings- their knowledge and aptitudes, as well as the critical faculty and the ability to act”[17]


The OECD’s lifelong learning framework emphasises that learning occurs during the entire course of a person’s life. “Formal education contributes to learning as do the non-formal and informal settings of home, the workplace, the community and society at large”.[18]

There are four key features of the lifelong learning approach, as conceived by the OECD. First, it offers a systemic view of learning, since it examines the demand for, and the supply of, learning opportunities, as part of a connected system covering the whole lifecycle and comprising all forms of formal and informal learning. Secondly, it emphasises the centrality of the learner and the need for initiatives that cater for the diversity of learner needs. This represents a shift of attention from the supply of learning to the demand side. Thirdly, the approach emphasises the motivation to learn, and draws attention to self-paced and selfdirected learning. Fourthly, it stresses the multiple objectives of education policy, which include economic, social or cultural outcomes; personal development, and citizenship. Thelifelong learning approach also recognises that, for the individual, the priorities among these objectives can change over the lifecycle; and that each objective has to be taken into consideration in policy development.[19]

European Commission (European Union)

According to the European Commission on Lifelong Learning, the scale of current economic and social change, the rapid transition to a knowledge-based society and demographic pressures resulting from an ageing population in Europe are all challenges which demand a new approach to education and training, within the framework of lifelong learning. Lifelong learning is thus defined as:

‘All learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence, within a personal civic social and/ or employment-related perspective’[20]

The European Commission on Lifelong Learning initiative hopes to empower citizens to move freely between learning settings, jobs, regions and countries in pursuit of learning. Hence, lifelong learning focuses on learning from pre-school education until after retirement ("from the cradle to the grave") and covers all forms of education (formal, informal or non-formal). The European Commission’s Lifelong Learning Initiative enables people at all stages of their lives to take part in stimulating learning experiences, as well as helping to develop the education and training sector across Europe.[21]

Developing nations concept of lifelong learning

Whilst the dominant debates around lifelong learning have been from Westernised countries, there are other related perspectives that are in seen around the world.

Lifelong learning in traditional African societies has spiritual, political, economic and cultural aspects. There has been particular emphasis on traditional African societies practicing indigenous African pedagogies that embrace lifelong learning principles as foundations for active citizenship and nation-building.[22] These values are not concerned with a global competitive market or the strength of individualism and self determination.[22]

A good example is the spiritual dimension which locates the individual in the presence of a supreme being and at the centre of communal life. All activities must promote the existence of the community and put its interests before the self. Whilst there is evidence that these values are also changing through globalisation influences,[23] the influence of ancestors, the extended family and traditional democratic processes of decision making through consensus at community meeting places are primary value systems in African contexts.[23]

Defining lifelong learning in Africa

Lifelong learning is articulated in the South African Development Community definition as a visionary concept defined as:

A key purpose of lifelong learning is democratic citizenship, connecting individuals and groups to the structures of social, political and economic activity in both local and global contexts.[24]

Compared with European notions of lifelong, there are some differences. Firstly, democratic citizenship is placed at the forefront. Secondly, individuals and groups are included in the target audience. Thirdly, people are being connected to local and global contexts. Whilst the concept of global network connections is implied in European documents, the role of connection here indicates a more holistic perception that Africa can be a mutual player within a wider world. The combined effect of this definition is to capture almost incidentally the spirituality and social situatedness of Africa’s pre-colonial heritage. It stands apart from, but does not reject, European lifelong learning agendas. The difficulty in Africa is not its capacity to contribute to the intellectual debate, rather the sustainability of its own ideology through implementation.[25] which stressed the importance of lifelong learning ‘for fulfilling our new responsibilities at work, for teacher upgrading, for coping with changes in society and technology, and for reacting effectively to HIV and AIDS. It framed these needs within a goal to make lifelong learning ‘both possible and satisfying’.[26]

The ensuing National Policy on Adult Learning was published in 2003 by the Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture. Its first aim is to create a ‘learning nation’, emphasising that the population needs to be ‘active learners if we are to achieve our vision of liberation from poverty, hunger, ignorance and disease’.[10]

The changing way in which people learn in lifelong learning

"Traditional vs. Lifelong Learning"

Traditional educational systems, in which the teacher is the sole source of knowledge, are ill suited to equip people to work and live in a knowledge economy. Some of the competencies such a society demands—teamwork, problem solving, motivation for lifelong learning—cannot be acquired in a learning setting in which teachers dictate facts to learners who seek to learn them only in order to be able to repeat them. A lifelong learning system must reach larger segments of the population, including people with diverse learning needs. It must be competency driven rather than age related. Within traditional institutional settings, new curricula and new teaching methods are needed. At the same time, efforts need to be made to reach learners who cannot enrol in programs at traditional institutions.

Providing people with the tools they need to function in the knowledge economy requires adoption of a new pedagogical model. This model differs from the traditional model in many ways. Teachers and trainers serve as facilitators rather than transmitters of knowledge, and more emphasis is placed on learning by doing, working on teams, and thinking creatively.

The lifelong learning model enables learners to acquire more of the new skills demanded by the knowledge economy as well as more traditional academic skills. In Guatemala, for example, learners taught through active learning—that is, learning that takes place in collaboration with other learners and teachers, in which learners seek out information for themselves—improved their reading scores more and engaged more in democratic behaviours than learners not in the program.[27] In the United Kingdom learners taught thinking skills in science were able to improve their performance in other subjects, and the effects increased over time.[28]

Table 2.3 Characteristics of Traditional and Lifelong Learning Models[14]

Traditional learning

  • The teacher is the source of knowledge
  • Learners receive knowledge from the teacher
  • Learners work by themselves
  • Tests are given to prevent progress until students have completely mastered a set of skills and to ration access to further learning
  • All learners to the same thing
  • Teachers receive initial training plus ad hoc in-service training.
  • “Good” learners are identified and permitted to continue later education

Lifelong learning

  • Educators are guide to sources of knowledge
  • People learn by doing
  • People learn in groups and from each other
  • Assessment is used to guide learning strategies and to identify pathways for future learning.
  • Educators develop individualized learning plans
  • Educators are lifelong learners. Initial training and ongoing professional development are linked
  • People have access to learning opportunities over a lifetime.

Strategies for implementing Lifelong Learning

There are five key areas for countries to consider when seeking to implement strategies for lifelong learning for all and in determining the priorities for policy reforms.[18]

First, recognise all forms of learning, not just formal courses of study. For example Australia’s Technical And Further Education (TAFE) Colleges have many advantages in creating learning pathways. They help provide flexible entry points, offer remedial and foundation programs for those lacking entry prerequisites and provide programs at several levels to allow individual students to meet a range of learning needs within a single institution.[18]

Secondly, the importance of developing foundation skills that are wider than those traditionally identified as central, including in particular, motivation and the capacity for self-directed learning. The international evidence clearly shows that those people without an upper secondary qualification and without strong literacy skills are among the least likely to participate in further education and training as adults, or as adults to take part in training within enterprises. A culture of learning is important for promoting adult learning; and that an important determinant is the degree to which governments and the social partners are convinced of the need to refresh and upgrade adult skills.

Thirdly, there is emphasis on the reformulation of access and equity priorities in a lifelong context, by looking at the opportunities that are available to individuals across their life-cycle and in the different settings where learning can occur. It is argued that knowledge-based economies and societies cannot afford to exclude a large part of their population from access to education and learning resources. Furthermore, inequalities in society often raise problems of mutual understanding and adjustment within organisations, in society at large and in the democratic process.

Fourthly, the OECD stressed the importance of considering resource allocation across all sectors and settings, including – one might add – the incentives facing the various participants and the likely effect of such incentives on outcomes in terms of lifelong learning.

Fifthly, the requirement for collaboration in policy development and implementation among a wide range of partners, including ministries other than education.[19] Benefits of lifelong learning

Benefits of lifelong learning

A number of important socio-economic forces are pushing for the lifelong learning approach. The increased pace of globalisation and technological change, the changing nature of work and the labour market, and the ageing of populations are among the forces emphasising the need for continuing upgrading of work and life skills throughout life. The demand is for a rising threshold of skills as well as for more frequent changes in the nature of the skills required.

It has also been said that:

Lifelong learning's core values of learning, exploring, and serving, coupled with benefits for the mind, body and spirit make it an incredibly powerful tool for personal transformation and enhancement. Criticisms of lifelong learning.[29]


The main criticism of lifelong learning is the predominantly economic interpretation of the term. Is has become problematic for many educators and practitioners who have come forward with such terms as “Lifelong (L)Earning” and “Learning to Earn” as their succinct criticism of the way the term is being promoted.

This present situation is a continuation of the OECD lifelong learning discourse made public in its report, Recurrent Education: A Strategy for Lifelong Learning (1973), which reframed the lifelong learning discussion in largely economistic and employability terms. Gelpi points out that “in the industrialized countries, at the time of the economic boom of the 1960’s, the ideology of ‘lifelong education=general education’ reflected in effect the necessity for the rapid training of workers at average and higher levels in the vocational field.[11]


  1. ^ a b c Delors, J., 1996, Learning: The treasure within Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century, UNESCO
  2. ^ a b c d Faure, E., Herrera, F., Kaddoura, A-R. Petrovsky, A.V., Rahnema, M. and Ward, F.C., 1972, Learning To Be: The world of education today and tomorrow, UNESCO, Paris.
  3. ^ a b c Watson, L., 2003, Lifelong Learning in Australia, Canberra, Department of Education, Science and Training < F52157022BF6/805/03_13.pdf.
  4. ^ Marcia Conner, 2009, Introducing Informal Learning, Marcia Conner, viewed 30 September 2010, [1]
  5. ^ Whyte, Cassandra B. (1978).Effective Counseling Methods for High-Risk College Freshmen. Measurement and Evaluation in Guidance.6 (4) 198-200.
  6. ^ Lauridsen, Kurt, and Whyte, Cassandra B. (1980). An Integrated Counseling and Learning Assistance Center.New Directions Sourcebook - Learning Assistance Centers, Jossey-Bass, Inc.
  7. ^ National Board of Employment, Education and Training. 1996 Lifelong Learning-Key Issues. Canberra: AGPS.
  8. ^ West, R 1998, Learning for life. Final report Review of Higher Education Financing and Policy. Canberra: AGPS.
  9. ^ Yeaxlee, B. A. (1929) Lifelong Education: A sketch of the range and significance of the adult education movement (London: Cassell).
  10. ^ a b Preece, J., 2006, Beyond the Learning Society: The Learning World?, University of Glasgow, UK, vol. 25, issue 3, pp. 307-320.
  11. ^ a b Gelpi, E., 1985, Lifelong Education and International Relations, Lifelong education and participation, Malta, The University of Malta Press.
  12. ^ Anonuevo, C., Ohsako T., Mauch W., 2001, Revisiting Lifelong Learning for the 21st Century, UNESCO.
  13. ^ Rojvithee, A., 2005, Introduction Definition of Lifelong Learning, Global Forum on Education: The Challenges for Education in a Global Economies, OECD. []
  14. ^ a b The World Bank, 2003, Lifelong Learning in the Global Knowledge Economy: Challenges for Developing Countries, The World Bank, viewed on 30 September 2010, [2] p.g. 43.
  15. ^ Borg, C., Mayo P., 2005, The EU Memorandum on Lifelong Learning. Old wine in new bottles?, University of Malta, vol. 3, no.2, pp. 203-255.
  16. ^ a b c Burbules, N & Torres C., 2000, Globalization and Education: An Introduction, Routledge. P.g. 49.
  17. ^ UNESCO, 1996, Report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty- First Century, UNESCO Publishing, viewed 30 September 2010, [3] p.g 19.
  18. ^ a b c Centre for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI) (2001), Education Policy Analysis, OECD, Paris.
  19. ^ a b Smith, C. & Ferrier F., 2002, Lifelong Learning: Proceedings of a Symposium, Monash University Centre for the Economics of Education and Training. [4].
  20. ^ European Society of Association Education, 2005, What is Lifelong Learning? The view from the European Commission, European Society of Association Education, viewed 30 September 2010, [5].
  21. ^ European Commission: Education and Training, 2007, The Lifelong Learning Programme: Education and Training Opportunities for all.
  22. ^ a b Avoseh, M. B. M., 2001, Learning to be active citizens: Lessons of traditional Africa for lifelong learning. P.g. 351.
  23. ^ a b Preece, J. and Mosweunyane, D., 2004, Perceptions of Citizenship Responsibility Amongst Botswana Youth , Gaborone: Lentswe la Lesedi. P.g. 310.
  24. ^ Aitcheson, J. (2003) Adult literacy and basic education: A SADC perspective. Adult Education and Development, 60, 161–170.
  25. ^ Ministry of Basic Education and Culture Namibia, 1993, Towards Education for All: A development brief foreducation, culture and training, Macmillan.
  26. ^ Ministry of Basic Education, Sport and Culture Namibia, 2003, National Policy on Adult Learning, Republic of Namibia P.g. 317.
  27. ^ De Baessa, Yetilú, Ray Chesterfield, and Tanya Ramos., 2002, Active Learning and Democratic Behaviour in Guatemalan Rural Primary Schools, Compare 32 (2).
  28. ^ Adey, P. & Shayer M, 1994, Improving Learning Through Cognitive Intervention, General Teaching Council for England, London, [].
  29. ^ Nordstrom N., 2006, Learning Later: Living Greater, Sentient Publications, United States.

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Education should not be treated as a synonym for schooling, particularly kindergarten to grade twelve.

Education is a broader concept than schooling, including post-schooling learning activities, such as college, university, technical training and such. Education also includes workplace training, community skill attainment, health education and so on. Education -- as intentional and planned learning activites -- is a lifelong process. It is not limited to classrooms, but may take place through various information media, through support groups, through settings such as a public library or a community social agency.


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