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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Chapter 3 on EBSN's Berlin Declaration

by Graciela Sbertoli
Language: EN
Document available also in: ET


The European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) has been working at policy level since 2010 to assist national and regional stakeholders in the creation and implementation of consistent, efficient and sustainable policies for the provision of basic skills learning.

During the EBSN’s annual conference 2018, in Berlin, EBSN members and other participants agreed on a conference declaration summing up the network’s recommendations on how European policy-makers should work for the development of coherent, cohesive and adequately financed national policies to implement the Upskilling Pathways initiative. Please read the EBSN Berlin Declaration, with special attention to the elements presented in the bullet points and then take a look at the respective parts in the questions for reflection box. 

The EBSN asked policy researcher Satya Brink to answer some questions relevant for this chapter and also to chapter 2. These questions concern the identification and implementation of advocacy and governance strategies putting forward and supporting national policy initiatives in basic skills, potential tools to indicate return of investment of such policy measures. As the Director of research on Lifelong learning in the Canadian government (an associated member of the EBSN), Satya Brink was the co-chair of the OECD Governing Board for PIAAC. Please read the written interview from November 2018.

An argument for taking measures in adult learning with a special focus on improving literacy level of the working-age population is presented by the OECD. A quotation from an OECD leaflet in 2017 within their “Adult Skills in Focus” series shows the importance of encouraging all European governments to renew their focus on adult learning in the year’s ahead:

Between 2012 and 2022, the literacy proficiency of the working-age population in the countries that took part in the Survey of Adult Skills is set to improve, mainly driven by the relatively low proficiency of the cohorts who will reach 65 between now and 2022 and the much higher literacy skills among the incoming age group. The participating countries are thus reaping the distant rewards of their investment in education since the 1970s. What these data show is that high quality schooling alone will not be enough to raise the quality of the workforce nearly as quickly as skills requirements are rising. Governments therefore need to redouble their efforts to make lifelong and lifewide learning a reality for all.”



Question for reflection after reading this chapter:

  • What are your country’s main challenges, gaps, possibilities and strengths regarding the policy elements expressed in the EBSN’s Berlin declaration (i.e. social inclusion, learner involvement, diverse learning settings, access to workplace and workplace learning opportunities, systems of validation/accreditation, teacher education, systems for information and guidance, migrant education, digitalisation)?
  • What three elements would you identify as being the most challenging in your national situation?
  • How would you need to work to ensure cohesion between all the elements mentioned in the declaration in your particular situation?
  • Is there anything you would have liked to change, add or omit in the EBSN’s  Berlin declaration? Why or why not?
  • Which ideas from the interview with Satya Brink and the mentioned OECD document are most interesting for your country’s stakeholders? Why?


Recommendations for further relevant resources are welcome in the comment section below!
The Capacity Building Series of EBSN provides free open educational resources (OERs) and massive online courses (MOOCs) through EPALE, to help the implementation of the European Commission recommendations on Upskilling pathways in EU Member States. EPALE is funded by the Erasmus+ programme, as part the European Commission’s ongoing commitment to improving the quality of adult learning provision in Europe. The project is implemented with the support of the Education, Audiovisual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA).

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