The first ever International Day of Education, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly, took place on Thursday 24 January 2019. The day provided a suitable backdrop for the Forum on the Future of Learning, organised in Brussels by European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport (DG EAC) at the initiative of Commissioner Tibor Navracsics. The event for European stakeholders and policymakers looked at key issues that education and training will be facing until 2030 and built on the findings of the European Education and Training Expert Panel while highlighting some of the key initiatives in education, including non-formal and informal learning, and training. Plenary sessions were complemented by interactive workshops and networking opportunities.
The following day, the European Commission and the Lifelong Learning Platform (LLL-P) held a Civil Society Day, a follow-up event providing the opportunity for a dialogue with the civil society gathering views and concrete recommendations of these stakeholders. The meeting was centred around interactive world cafe discussions with a final plenary session and featured also introductory remarks by Stefaan Hermans, Director of Dir A Policy Strategy and Evaluation at DG EAC, and Gina Ebner, President of the LLL-P; and closing remarks by Jose-Lorenzo Valles, Head of the Strategy and Investments Unit at DG EAC, and Brikena Xhomaqi, President of LLL-P.
Each table featured a diverse group of stakeholders addressing two main questions:
- What should be the priorities of the next framework for European cooperation in education and training for the next decade, considering current societal developments?
- And how can the civil society contribute with regard to the future of learning?
Starting points for the discussions were not only the four common EU objectives within the strategic framework for European cooperation in education and training “ET 2020” (Make lifelong learning and mobility a reality; Improve the quality and efficiency of education and training; Promote equity, social cohesion, and active citizenship; and Enhance creativity and innovation, including entrepreneurship, at all levels of education and training.) but also the six areas of challenges to the future of education and training presented at the Forum the previous day (challenges linked to demographics; inclusion and citizenship; technological change and the future of work; digitalisation of society; environmental concerns; and investments, reforms and governance).
The discussion that YouthProAktiv was part of brought up a number of topics, such as the perception of different types of education, the need for larger flexibility for both learners and teachers and the importance of measurability, recognition and validation of learning. Skills and mindsets were among the core themes, especially the continued need for effective development of transversal and entrepreneurial skills and a proactive mindset as well as active citizenship, social cohesion and emotional intelligence. Each table presented the outcomes of their discussion to the rest of the group and formulated a few specific proposals to be considered by policy-makers.
The event was a wonderful opportunity to look at the future of learning and possible priorities and solutions to likely challenges, share experience and views and help the Commission shape their crucial work in the related areas.