From 30 November to 4 December 2015 the Lifelong Learning Platform held its 2015 LLL in the European Parliament. The LLL week 2015 was hosted by the Polish MEP Krystyna Lybacka (S&D). The Lifelong Learning Weeks aim to raise awareness of Lifelong Learning in Europe and of the need to adopt a holistic and democratic approach at all levels of decision-making, implementation and evaluation. Besides events and policy debates organized throughout the week, civil societies had the opportunity to take part in an exhibition and set up a stand on the 5th floor at the European Parliament in order to present their activities and projects about Lifelong Learning.
SOLIDAR Foundation participated in this exhibition and attended several events such as the ‘Validation Task Force’ and ‘the ‘Guidance and Counselling to take Validation to the next level’ and ‘Education to promote Intercultural Dialogue and Citizenship’ policy debates. High points of these meetings were amongst others the interventions of the chair of the CULT committee at the European Parliament, Julie Ward (S&D), and MEP Momchil Nekov (S&D). Whereas Julie Ward reminded the audience of the importance of interculturalism and its positive effects on society, Mr. Nekov strongly insisted on the importance of non-formal and informal learning (NFIL) and its role in strengthening the social cohesion of our societies. He made use of his time of speech to promote the European campaign launched in cooperation with SOLIDAR to achieve validation of learning outcomes of NFIL by 2018.
Furthermore, policy officers from DG EAC from the European Commission and officials from the Council of Europe were given the opportunity to contribute to the discussions. The representatives of DG EAC revealed some information about the New Skills Agenda for Europe, which is to be launched in early 2016, and confirmed that validation of NFIL plays an important role in this new Agenda. The New Agenda will also be used the tackle the persistent delivery gap in the provision of guidance and counselling from which 75% of the European citizens suffer. Additionally, the importance of the Paris Declaration of March 2015 in terms of preventing radicalization but also of fostering social inclusion and active citizenship was stressed. For the part of the Council of Europe, the representatives promoted their new project ‘Competences for Democratic Culture’ (CDC) which aims to assist national education systems to enhance the intercultural and democratic competences of young people across Europe. Finally, several organizations had the opportunity to present their projects in promoting interculturalism or improving guidance and counselling. One example is the newly created toolbox by the ‘Bertelsmann Stiftung’ which aims at facilitating the identification of skills and competences of migrants.
SOLIDAR Foundation since the beginning has been supporting the organisation of the Lifelong Learning Week as they provide an opportunity for civil society organizations working in education and LLL to spread their messages and showcase their work. Validation and lifelong learning should be seen as a tool to overcome inequalities and foster further educational and employment opportunities in order to actively create learning societies and learning workplaces. Moreover, SOLIDAR Foundation expects that the Agenda for New Skills and Jobs from 2010 will be strengthened with the New Skills Agenda for Europe and that the latter will play an important role in strengthening the process of development of the validation of NFIL at national level. It is of utter importance to bridge educational inequalities and empower people with limited opportunities. The development of social, civic and intercultural competences need to take priority on education agendas, not only within formal education settings but should also be made available for other learners through non-formal and informal learning.