At the end of May, the representatives of the national student unions of the Baltic States met in the Innovation and Business Center Mektory in Tallinn, to take part in a conference on development of lifelong learning. As a result the national student unions of the Baltic States came to an agreement on recommendations for the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian governments for developing the lifelong learning strategy.
The recommendations included the recognition of the informal and non-formal learning by the assessment of personal competencies, the use of the open education resources with open access and modern IT solutions and the removal of social barriers in order to make education systems more inclusive.
Currently, the challenges of lifelong learning vary among the Baltic States. But in all states, there is a need for a better concordance of lifelong learning to the needs of labor market and for more equal opportunities in lifelong learning.
Estonia now has a new lifelong learning strategy for the years 2014-2020 where a great importance is given to adult education and digital literacy. Although, the strategy aims to the right goals, there is still a necessity to explain and argument the value of informal and non-formal learning to the employers and to expand the pool of open education resources by universities and for wider group of learners with different social background.
The current position for lifelong learning in Latvia is commented by Linda Rubene from the Student Union of Latvia
”Lifelong learning in Latvia is mostly recognised as courses for the unemployed to improve their skills or reorganise their career. There is also a legislation in place about education and that informal and non-formal learning should be recognised. The target group for this is mostly people who want professional or college education. However the broad spectrum of possibilities provided with life-long learning are not supported by the government or society in general – there is room for education on these matters and progress so the BOM policy recommendations are a good add to this process.”
Finally, in Lithuania we can see already similar challenges as in the rest of the Baltics. Andrius Zalitis from the Lithuanian National Union of Students discusses:
“In Lithuania we do have a strategy on lifelong learning but it is old, it does not fit the realities of today and is ideologically old – the concept of lifelong learning that is reflected there does not fit the understanding we have now. At the moment, to be honest, we have bigger issues at hand so LLL still stands as a very secondary question. Most likely the government will remember LLL after the elections that will take place after a year.”
The next Baltic Organizational Meeting* will take place as early as next spring in Vilnius.
The project was supported by the European Commission and Republic of Estonia Ministry of Education and Research.
*This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
*The Baltic Organizational Meeting is the annual meeting of the student unions of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, focusing on common educational policy issues. This time the meeting was chaired by the Federation of Estonian Student Unions.