How the value of lifelong learning is inseparable from its values
Lifelong learning is about more than diversifying the loci and modi of learning, more than expanding access and opportunity, more indeed than transferring primary agency from the educator to the learner. Its value is nothing less than the inspiration for a new idea of human society. Lifelong learning, like sustainable development, is a notional germ from which a different kind of society may sprout; one that values learning both for its uses and its own sake and that likewise values people both for what they do and who they are. Such a “learning society” is not as distant or utopian a vision as it might at first seem. Its inception requires that we re-examine how and why we learn, and then harness our creativity to design systems of learning that enrich all aspects of our lives.
All six articles in this issue touch on the underlying values of lifelong learning and demonstrate its value to society. The first article (en français) considers how a small developing country, Benin, might develop a more “holistic architecture” for its education and training system, one that integrates formal, non-formal and alternative structures and better matches the reality of the labour market. Our second article conceptualises the integration of lifelong learning within a broader National Qualifications Framework in Ghana. The third article focuses on teaching quality at a training academy in the Kurdistan region of Northern Iraq. Our fourth article examines the role of universities in developing entrepreneurship based on case studies of spin-off companies incubated at two universities in north-eastern Brazil. The fifth article looks at ‘popular universities’ in Spain and France, and considers whether they constitute a vision and reality of lifelong learning which is more expansive, inclusive and accessible than that proposed by the EU. Our final article looks at the value of literacy as expressed by adults who learned to read and write in their native language.