Lifelong learning has never mattered more, whether to individuals, cities, nation states or the global community of education policymakers. It is central to the United Nations’ development agenda and is an important focus of UNESCO’s work, as expressed in the Education 2030 Agenda.
Lifelong learning is rooted in the integration of learning and living, covering learning activities for people of all ages (children, young people, adults and the elderly, girls and boys, women and men), in all life-wide contexts (family, school, the community, the workplace, and so on) and through a variety of modalities (formal, non-formal and informal), which, together, meet a wide range of learning needs and demands.
There are five essential elements to the UNESCO definition of lifelong learning. It must encompass:
- all age groups;
- all levels of education;
- all learning modalities;
- all learning spheres and spaces;
- a variety of purposes.
Realizing the potential of lifelong learning requires political commitment and the development of cross-sectoral and multi-level policies. It also requires the recognition, validation and accreditation of skills acquired in non-formal or informal environments.
Promoting lifelong learning means creating systems that realize the right to education for people of all ages, and providing opportunities to unlock their potential – for their personal development and for the sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental development of society. This is what we support, though our research, capacity development, policy advice, publications and knowledge management activities.
By working together, we can ensure that lifelong learning makes a full contribution across a range of interrelated agendas, including social justice, sustainable development and global citizenship. UIL is at the heart of this vision.