Over the past two decades, a set of globally converging discourses on lifelong learning (LLL) has emerged around the world. Driven mostly by inter-governmental organisations, these discourses have been largely embraced by national and local education systems seeking to reflect local traditions and priorities. This paper argues that these discourses tend to look remarkably alike, converging into a homogeneous rationale in which the economic dimension of education predominates over other dimensions of learning, and in which adaptation takes pre-eminence
over social transformation as a goal of LLL. It also shows how these converging discourses are embedded in the logic of the knowledge economy, driven by concern for human capital formation as dictated by the changing demands of the global labour market, and can neglect the learning needs and interests of local communities. The paper concludes that the globally converging discourse of LLL tends to serve the interests of the market ahead of those of the community, and argues that an alternative characterisation of LLL, anchored in social justice, is necessary in the light of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and especially Sustainable Development Goal 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. 

The second edition of the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM Report) presents the latest evidence on global progress towards the education targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

With hundreds of millions of people still not going to school, and many not achieving minimum skills at school, it is clear education systems are off track to achieve global goals. The marginalised currently bear the most consequences but also stand to benefit the most if policy-makers pay sufficient attention to their needs. Faced with these challenges, along with tight budgets and increased emphasis on results-oriented value for money, countries are searching for solutions. Increased accountability often tops the list.

The 2017/8 GEM Report shows the entire array of approaches to accountability in education. It ranges from countries unused to the concept, where violations of the right to education go unchallenged, to countries where accountability has become an end in itself instead of a means to inclusive, equitable and high-quality education and lifelong learning for all.

The report emphasises that education is a shared responsibility. While governments have primary responsibility, all actors – schools, teachers, parents, students, international organizations, private sector providers, civil society and the media – have a role in improving education systems. The report emphasises the importance of transparency and availability of information but urges caution in how data are used. It makes the case for avoiding accountability systems with a disproportionate focus on narrowly defined results and punitive sanctions. In an era of multiple accountability tools, the report provides clear evidence on those that are working and those that are not.

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Dans ce rapport, le Rapporteur spécial apporte un éclairage sur la vision et le concept de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie et souligne l’émergence d’un « droit à l’apprentissage », étroitement lié au droit à l’éducation et à la formation comme droit social. Il examine en outre la responsabilité des États, ainsi que des autres partenaires sociaux, pour sa réalisation et souligne l’importance clef accordée à l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie dans le Programme de développement durable à l’horizon 2030. Le Rapporteur spécial se penche également sur le rôle particulier qui est donné à l’enseignement et à la formation techniques et professionnels pour le développement des compétences et analyse les questions liées au financement de l’apprentissage tout au long de la vie.

Enfin, il formule un ensemble de recommandations visant à promouvoir l’apprentissage comme droit et dans une perspective d’apprentissage tout au long de la vie, pour satisfaire aux obligations des États énoncées dans les instruments internationaux relatifs aux droits de l’homme.

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En este informe, el Relator Especial arroja luz sobre la visión y el concepto del aprendizaje permanente, y destaca el nacimiento del “derecho al aprendizaje” como derecho social estrechamente relacionado con el derecho a la educación y la formación. Asimismo, examina la responsabilidad del Estado y de otros interlocutores sociales con respecto al goce efectivo de este derecho, y subraya la importancia primordial que se otorga al aprendizaje permanente en la Agenda 2030 para el Desarrollo Sostenible. El Relator Especial examina también el papel especial que desempeña la educación y formación técnica y profesional en el desarrollo de aptitudes, y analiza las cuestiones relacionadas con la financiación del aprendizaje permanente.

Por último, el Relator Especial ofrece una serie de recomendaciones con miras a promover el aprendizaje como derecho y su búsqueda desde la perspectiva del aprendizaje permanente, en consonancia con las obligaciones del Estado en virtud de los instrumentos internacionales de derechos humanos.

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In this report, the Special Rapporteur sheds light on the vision and concept of lifelong learning and highlights the emergence of the “right to learning”, intertwined with the right to education and training as a social right. He also examines State responsibility, along with that of other social partners, for its realization and underlines the key importance placed on lifelong learning in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Special Rapporteur also looks at the special role that devolves upon technical and vocational education and training for skills development and analyses the issues in financing lifelong learning.

Finally, the Special Rapporteur offers a set of recommendations with a view to promoting learning as a right and its pursuit from a lifelong learning perspective, in keeping with State obligations as set out in international human rights instruments.

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