A recent report by UNESCO envisions lifelong learning as a common good and a human right, a major shift that should be completed by the year 2050.
The report ‘Embracing a Culture of Lifelong Learning’, published by the Institute of Lifelong Learning, is the result of a consultation with experts from around the world. These not only place lifelong learning as an agent of transformation in education but also to “create a more sustainable, healthy and inclusive future.”
Lifelong Learning is a Human Right
Acknowledging lifelong learning as a human right – must ensure the recognition, validation and accreditation of learning outcomes acquired in different contexts, democratizing the negotiation of individual and social learning demand, the report insists.
The document presents a future-focused vision of education, which demands a major shift towards a culture of lifelong learning by 2050. It argues that the challenges humanity faces, those resulting from the climate crisis and from technological and demographic change, not to mention those posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the inequalities it has exacerbated, call for societies that understand themselves as learning societies and people who identify themselves as learners throughout their lives.
Realizing this vision requires a learner-centric, demand-led approach to education that enables learners of all ages and backgrounds to co-design actively and use any learning process and its outcomes to achieve their full potential. Accordingly, learning to learn and managing one’s own learning journey must become basic competences. The use of open technology and the creation of an educational commons that are freely available to all is deemed crucial.
All these features and opportunities together are referred to as the ‘enabling environment’ for the realisation of this vision. This environment rests on the creation of a culture of lifelong learning that needs to:
- Recognize the holistic character of lifelong learning
- Promote transdisciplinary research and intersectoral collaboration for lifelong learning
- Place vulnerable groups at the core of the lifelong learning agenda
- Establish lifelong learning as a common good
- Ensure greater and equitable access to learning technology
- Transform schools and universities into lifelong learning institutions
- Recognize and promote the collective dimension of learning
- Encourage and support local lifelong learning initiatives, including learning cities
- Reengineer and revitalize workplace learning
- Recognize lifelong learning as a human right