00 SES 01, Lifelong Learning and the Sustainable Development Goals: Probing the Implications and Effects
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development confirmed lifelong learning’s status as a recognised ingredient of planning for sustainable and participatory development. Its 17 goals and 169 targets are intended to represent an integrated solution to urgent challenges, meaning that the key dimensions of sustainable development should be considered holistically as interconnected and of equal importance. In this context, the capacity of lifelong learning to build bridges between different types and levels of education and learning and, crucially, between different life spheres and policy contexts, becomes particularly relevant. Especially important are notions of adult learning, training, educating and awareness raising, which are embedded in many of the goals.
Lifelong learning therefore brings implications and effects to bear upon the pursuit of the SDGs and is integral to their achievement. This EERA session will explore how in four key areas: (1) lifelong learning policies; (2) the recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of learning outcomes in Latin America and the Caribbean; (3) lifelong learning for literacy and basic skills; and (4) education for sustainable development in higher education institutions.
(1) Lifelong learning policies
As lifelong learning takes place across life and cuts across sectors, it has direct and indirect benefits to a range of agendas. An integrated, inter-sectoral approach to lifelong learning policymaking is thus the responsibility of all ministries and government agencies and, furthermore, should include the private sector and civil society. International targets have a special significance in the process - particularly those of the 2030 Agenda - as they promote lifelong learning opportunities in alignment with national context, traditions, challenges and existing provision.
(2) Recognition, validation and accreditation (RVA) of learning outcomes in Latin America and the Caribbean
RVA is one of the pillars of any lifelong learning policy. By providing visibility to previously unrecognised learning, it boosts learners’ self-esteem and motivation, as well as leading to greater well-being and more job opportunities. RVA is at the centre of SDG 4 and, particularly, target 4.3: it is only possible to truly “ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university” by developing RVA. Through a comparative analysis of countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, some similarities, differences and suggested future directions emerge.
(3) Lifelong learning for literacy and basic skills
SDG target 4.6 envisages a minimum proficiency level in literacy and numeracy which is equivalent to the level achieved upon successful completion of basic education. There are three closely interrelated dimensions of “lifelong literacy”, namely (1) literacy as a lifelong learning process; (2) literacy as a life-wide process; and (3) literacy as part of sector-wide reforms towards lifelong learning systems. Trends are emerging, such as the need for an expanded vision of literacy and greater progress before literacy (and numeracy) are tackled from a lifelong learning perspective. This could have a transformative effect on the achievement of the SDGs.
(4) Education for sustainable development in higher education institutions
Education for sustainable development (ESD) provides a means of ensuring healthy living environments by raising awareness of climate change, pollution, mental and physical health risks and the need for environmental protection. Sustainable development is an urgent task for our society and is attracting increasing attention. Higher education institutions (HEIs), like all other organisations within our society, are called upon to deal with the associated challenges. The task of HEIs is to deal theoretically, conceptually, methodically, critically, and reflectively with the processes and conditions of transformation, in order to contribute towards ensuring that sustainability is implemented in a specific context.
Hanemann, U. 2019. ‘Examining the application of the lifelong learning principle to the literacy target in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4)’, International Review of Education, 65, pp. 251-275. Rieckmann, M. & Bormann, I. (eds.) 2019. ‘Special Issue "Higher Education Institutions and Sustainable Development – Implementing a Whole-Institution Approach"’, Sustainability.
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