Policy debate: Validation of non-formal and informal learning

SOLIDAR partner organisation EUCIS-LLL organised the policy debate ‘Validation of non-formal and informal learning: All aboard! How to reach the targeted public? ‘ as a part of the Lifelong Learning Week 2014 on 11 December.

Sharon Watson, area education co-ordinator of SOLIDAR member organisation Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), was invited to share both good practices from WEA’s work on validation and adult education in the United Kingdom and to present the SOLIDAR Building Learning Societies: promoting validation of non-formal and informal learning project, in which both WEA and EUCIS-LLL are partners. With this project SOLIDAR aims at reducing inequalities within society and at unlocking its full potential through the aim of promoting the concept of “learning societies” - where each personal contribution is utilised, and skills and competences are recognised and further developed.

The European Strategic guide to fostering participation and raising awareness about the validation of learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning, published in October as a part of the wider project, was presented as well. The Strategic Guide is available online. SOLIDAR recommendations in the Strategic Guide include recognition of validation as a tool to overcome the inequalities and foster further educational and employment opportunities, by acknowledging the learning outcomes of non-formal and informal learning.

The policy debate was joined by national experts from Spain and Portugal, presenting good practices and experiences from their respective countries, as well as representatives from the European Commission, CEDEFOP and Forschungsinstitut Betriebliche Bildung (f-bb), the Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training in Germany. The debate was hosted by MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP).

As the SOLIDAR briefing “Building learning societies: investing in education”, published last week, shows there has been progress towards validation arrangements in EU Member States, but lack of resources and investment in validation present a threat to further developments and achieving the Council recommendation by 2018. The average participation rate in non-formal learning is 36.8%, but has reached 67% in Sweden and falls as low as 9.6% in Greece.