Despite being EU membership candidate and tending to follow European educational trends and harmonize with the European educational standards, Macedonia is still at the bottom of the list of European countries with approximately 2,5 % adults participating in lifelong learning processes.
Macedonia among other EU countries is facing effects of globalisation, problems caused by demographic trends such as aging of population, enormous change of labour market resulting from fast technological development, high percentage of unemployment and migration of population. This emphasizes the need to build knowledge-based societies where lifelong learning will be the basic concept serving as foundation of the overall educational system and the culture of living.
“Education and training 2020” report of the European Commission lists eight indicators that countries should meet by 2020, among which is 15% of adults should participate in any form of lifelong learning. This indicator shows that with 2% of adults participating in lifelong learning the country is at the bottom of the list of European countries.
Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Croatia, Poland, Greece are also at the bottom of the list, whereas the Nordic countries, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, France, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Estonia, Austria and Great Britain have more than 15% of adults participating in lifelong learning.
In an interview for MIA, Elena Rizova, professor of pedagogical sciences at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Institute of Pedagogy, says that Macedonia made a step forward in the last few years by developing the “Lifelong learning strategy 2017-2020”. In her opinion, the strategy should represent the core around which all other strategic documents in the education should gravitate and should be adopted by the Ministry of education and science as soon as possible.
- The number of verified adult education programmes in various fields in the Adult Education Center is increasing and this is a positive indicator. They enable low qualified labour to acquire higher qualifications in their field of interest, says professor Rizova.
She mentioned that the number of nongovernmental organisations and bodies promoting the lifelong learning is increasing. They are offering various programmes of nonformal character aiming at improving people’s life and building up their skills and knowledge.
- Lifelong learning subject in formal education is part of two study programmes (pedagogy and andragogy) at the Faculty of Philosophy in Skopje, Institute for Pedagogy, in the first, second and third cycle of studies. This enables educational profiles to apply this concept in the practical work, stated Rizova for MIA.
She says that the dominant opinion about lifelong learning in the country is that it is reserved only for the adults, which is a misinterpretation of the concept. According to the European Commission and UNESCO lifelong learning encompasses “all learning activities undertaken throughout life with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competences, within personal, civic, social or employment-related perspectives.”
- This definition provides a different, wider dimension of lifelong learning which can take place in formal, nonformal or informal context, emphasizing the social inclusion and cohesion, self-realisation and active citizenship and adaptability to the changes of working and learning environment. Applied in daily life this would mean acquiring higher qualifications, learning foreign language, computer skills, but also developing simple motoric skills such as cycling or dancing or cooking etc.
She clarifies that lifelong learning concept identifies eight key competences, which are crucial for building knowledge-based societies, and citizens lacking those will be left on the margins of the society.
- Those are: communication in the mother tongue; communication in foreign languages; mathematical competence and basic competences in science and technology; digital competence; learning to learn; interpersonal, intercultural, social and civic competences; entrepreneurship competences and cultural awareness competences, emphasized she.
Field research findings show that two-thirds of unemployed people in the country do not have half of these competences, whereas one-third of the employed do not have two of the key competences, says Rizova for MIA, adding that this is a defeating data showing low competitiveness on the labour market.
In her opinion, lifelong learning is a continuum lasting from “cradle to grave” and should result with teaching people how to learn, i.e. to develop positive attitude towards learning.
- It should be seen as powerful weapon to fight unemployment, economic, social and cultural exclusion and marginalisation, and faithful ally of competitiveness, inclusion and social justice in all segments of society. I believe it will take a lot of time and efforts, unfortunately, to raise the awareness of people before lifelong learning is completely understood and accepted as an issue of vital importance for Macedonia, says Rizova for MIA.
She believes that the overall educational system should nourish and serve this concept in order to improve the situation with adults included in some of the lifelong learning forms and achieve the 2020 EU indicators, since lifelong learning is not only a global trend but also a necessity of modern societies.
This means involvement of all subjects included in the learning process, increased efforts by state institutions to raise the awareness of what lifelong learning means for the personal and societal life, and a systemic intervention in primary, secondary and tertiary education curricula by implementing the key competences for lifelong learning.
Neda Dimova Prokikj