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National Support Services - Germany

National Support Services - Germany


Nationale Agentur Bildung für Europa beim Bundesinstitut für Berufsbildung


    The National Agency Education for Europe at the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NA at BIBB) works on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). We have been responsible for the implementation of Erasmus+, the European education programme for vocational training and adult education, since January 2014. Prior to that, we were responsible for implementing the Programme for Lifelong Learning (PLL) within the individual programmes LEONARDO DA VINCI for vocational education and training and GRUNDTVIG for general adult education in Germany, which ended in December 2013.

    The NA at BIBB closely co-operates with ministries, federal states, social partners, associations, chambers, businesses, universities and educational institutions. At an international level it co-operates with the European Commission and the national agencies in Europe.

    The NA at BIBB is moreover

    • the information and advisory service institution for visits abroad in the context of vocational education and training (IBS),
    • the co-ordinator of the Work-based Learning (NetWBL) network for learning on the job,
    • the agency for implementing the German-Israeli Programme for Co-operation in Vocational Training (ISRAEL programme),
    • the National Europass Centre (NEC),
    • the National Coordination Point for the European Credit System for Vocational Education and Training (NCP ECVET), and
    • the National Coordination Point for the European Agenda for Adult Learning (NCP Agenda).

    In the field of adult education our main tasks include

    • the provision of information, advice and support in the submission of applications as well as project support within the Erasmus+ programme,
    • the creation of awareness for the objectives and future challenges of adult education in the spheres of activity at a national and European level,
    • the networking between projects as well as of European and national processes in the field of education co-operation,
    • the establishing of contacts between experts and stakeholders in the field of adult education (networking),
    • the organisation and execution of specialist events and conferences.

    Concept for the National Coordination Point for EPALE

    Identity and mandate

    We are the National Coordination Point for "Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe", in Germany, which is part of the National Agency Education for Europe at the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (NA at BIBB). We are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and the European Commission. These governing bodies provide our mandate to establish the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe or short EPALE (pronounced i:pæl) as the main point of reference for adult education and learning in Europe. We therefore perceive ourselves as an agency for implementing the adult education agenda.


    We are guided by the ideal of European unity. We are convinced that inclusion and equal opportunities are assets for unity and diversity in Europe and that general, political and cultural adult education as well as advanced vocational education and training play an important role in achieving these objectives. Adult education and advanced vocational training support these objectives in a critical and corrective as well as promoting and supportive manner.

    Another point of reference in our work is the voluntary nature of learning. People learn and educate themselves on the basis of their own subjective motives with the aim of expanding their competence for taking action. Successful learning outcomes rely on the requirement of taking these motives for learning into consideration.

    Participants, recipients, target groups

    The target groups and recipients in our project are firstly and most prominently the employees of organisations that are active in the field of adult education and advanced training in all countries participating in EPALE, who experience European exchange as an advantage and who want to learn from other procedures in order to gain inspiration for their own daily routines. In a second step we address those employees at adult education and advanced training organisations, who have as yet had little European experience in the field of adult education and advanced training; we aim to enable these professionals to develop an interest in engaging in European exchange activities. Ultimately, policy makers and researchers are also target groups for EPALE, although not primarily. Participants include those users of EPALE, who are willing to engage in advanced training not only in a classical seminar context, but by way of discussion and European exchange in relation to work processes, thus enabling themselves to do their jobs in a way that they perceive to be better.

    Another target group for our work as the NCP in Germany are the professionals engaging in adult education within the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany. Our activities regarding public relations for EPALE particularly addresses this latter target group, because in their capacity as the future users of EPALE they are intended not only to request content, but also to generate it. These activities have their roots in our identity as the National Coordination Point for EPALE in Germany.

    General project objectives

    EPALE is intended to be a key reference point and catalyst for the development of general, political and cultural adult education and vocational advanced training across Europe, establishing contact between professionals, multipliers and stakeholders in the field of adult education and advanced training and enabling their internationalisation.

    To this end, the portal aims at providing a single platform for country-specific and European content, which currently is scattered across a range of very different portals and resources. Moreover, the portal aims at enabling exchange on this content. With regards to this content, we focus on the objectives of the European Agenda for Adult Learning and on the internationalisation of organisations for adult education. This places internationalisation at the heart of our activities. The aim is to promote it by way of informal yet professional exchange. EPALE will therefore provide an interactive, virtual space to enable the exchange of materials, experience, up-to-date information and best practices between professionals in the field.


    Our services cover several aspects:

    We contribute to the content development for the platform, that is, we specifically highlight the strategy and added value of the platform so that potential users will gladly and successfully contribute to the platform as well as access and generate information.

    We help to select the content for the platform and contribute two forms of content that is made available for discussion and access: 1. topics that are inherently European in character, 2. national topics that are of interest for other EPALE countries and which acquire an international character due to being read by other countries. Another criterion for the selection of content is the "long-standing value" as per the European Commission's mandate. In other words, this is not about short-term provisions such as funding guidelines or short-lived topics, but about issues that have relevance in the long term. A third criterion is relevance to practical application, which is characterised by the fact that the provided information enables professionals and users to gain a relatively fast overview as well as to delve deeper into the matter where required. We identify the topics on this basis and upload these to the platform.

    We act as moderators for the platform by assessing, selecting and uploading content as well as by moderating the discussions in the forums.

    We ensure multilingualism of the platform by translating content.

    With EPALE, we provide an international and European platform that enables quick information and exchange. That is our added value. Topics that are more national in character are relevant to EPALE only on condition of being interesting for stakeholders in other countries.


    We harness the content-related proximity to the European Agenda or Adult Learning and the Erasmus+ adult education team. Owing to our experience and collaboration, we have good contacts to many institutions and associations in the field of adult education and advanced training in Germany. The German Institute for Adult Education – Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE) and the German Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training are important partners and providers of information for us.

    Other important resources include our contacts to the other National Coordination Points for EPALE; we maintain intensive contact with some of these, as this creates synergies.

    EPALE definition of successful learning

    Successful learning in our definition takes place when professionals face a problematic situation, find suggestions for solving this problem from a European point of view in EPALE and apply these in their further action. This means that EPALE users simply research how their own professional problem is solved in other countries or that they discuss this problem with others in a blog or a forum. In the most intensive scenario, the exchange with colleagues from other European countries about these problems of professional action generates ideas for joint activities. Of course, it is very much in the interest of the NA, if these joint activities then generate also ideas for EU projects.


    What do we in Germany mean when using the terms of adult education and advanced training?

    The terms of adult education and advanced training are often used synonymously in Germany. The Kultusministerkonferenz (KMK – Standing Conference of Education Ministers) defines adult education (advanced training) as follows:

    "Advanced training is the continuation or resumption of organised learning after completion of a first phase of education of variable length and usually takes place after entering into gainful employment or raising a family. Advanced training in this sense applies also when individuals control their own learning process. Advanced training includes general, vocational, political, cultural and scientific advanced training. Advanced training can take place by way of classroom training, distance learning, computer-based learning, self-governed learning or in combined form." This definition greatly emphasises organised and formal forms of learning even though it includes also self-organised forms of learning. Since the 1990s, the definition increasingly includes also the informal forms of learning in politics and science that take place in passing and which can occur also in an unorganised manner in everyday life, during a museum visit, at work or in volunteering.

    The aim behind advanced training is to provide all people – independent of gender and age, education, social or professional status, political or ideological inclination and nationality – with the opportunity of attaining the knowledge, skills and competences that they require for the free development of the individual, for co-determination in society and for their professional advancement. The government's duty to support and promote adult education originates in the right to the free development of the individual.

    Generally in Germany, distinction is made between general, political and cultural adult education, on the one hand, and vocational and operational advanced training, on the other. This distinction is highly formal and not content-related. The structures of general, political and cultural adult education in Germany are the responsibility and under the authority of the federal states, whereas vocational and operational advanced training are subject to national policy. However, this separation cannot be maintained in practice with regards to content, because the federal state structures also provide for vocational advanced training (e.g. computer courses and business English).

    Who are the providers of adult education and advanced training?

    The bodies responsible for and providers of public adult education and advanced training include family education centres (Familienbildungsstätten), adult education centres with and without boarding, union and church institutions, training institutes (Bildungswerke), academies, training centres of the chambers (e.g. chambers of industry and commerce, chambers of crafts), private educational institutions, educational institutions within companies. Advanced training is also part of the statutory mandate of universities (scientific advanced training), in addition to teaching and research. The general university entrance qualification can be attained by way of evening classes, distance learning or day-time study at a college. The German Federal Agency for Civic Education and the corresponding federal state offices offer events for political continuing education and provide funding to free providers of political education. Like other countries, Germany, too, features providers of advanced training that offer advanced training on a commercial basis.

    The WB Monitor (advanced training monitor) provides insights into the practical work and location of organisations in the field of adult education and advanced training.

    Where can I find further information?

    Detailed information on adult education and advanced training in Germany is available on the website of the German Institute for Adult Education – Leibniz Centre for Lifelong Learning (DIE) under the heading Subject Information – wb.fakten (available in the German and English languages).

    The publication "Portrait Adult Education Germany" is also available in the English language.

    Manuals, introductions and reference books:

    Dinkelaker, J. & Hippel, Aiga v. (Hrsg.) (2015): Erwachsenenbildung in Grundbegriffen. Stuttgart. Kohlhammer.

    Fuhr, T., Gonon, P. & Hof, C. (Hrsg.) (2010): Erwachsenenbildung - Weiterbildung. Handbuch der Erziehungswissenschaft 4 (Studienausg.). Stuttgart: UTB GmbH.

    Nolda, S. (2008): Einführung in die Theorie der Erwachsenenbildung (1). Darmstadt: WGB (Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft).

    Nolda, S., Nuissl, E. & Arnold, R. (Hrsg.) (2010): Wörterbuch Erwachsenenbildung (2). Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt. (auch online unter:

    Tippelt, R. (Hrsg.) (2009): Handbuch Erwachsenenbildung, Weiterbildung (3). Wiesbaden: VS, Verl. für So-zialwiss.

    Wittpoth, J. (Hrsg.) (2003): Einführung in die Erwachsenenbildung. Opladen: Leske + Budrich.

    Nuissl, E. & Pehl, K. (2004): Potrait Continuing Education in Germany. Bielefeld. wbv. - online unter

    Brandt, P. & Nuissl, E. (2009): Potrait Weiterbildung in Deutschland. Bielefeld. wbv.

    Important magazines in the field of adult education

    DIE-Zeitschrift für Erwachsenenbildung (

    Erwachsenenbildung. Vierteljahresschrift für Theorie und Praxis

    Hessische Blätter für Volksbildung

    REPORT Zeitschrift für Weiterbildungsforschung (Download:

    Weiterbildung - Zeitschrift für Grundlagen, Praxis und Trends

    Other specialist magazines at a glance:


    Institutions and associations


    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Baden-Württemberg, Thouretstraße 6, 70173 Stuttgart
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Bayern, Salvatorstraße 2, 80333 München
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Berlin, Bernhard-Weiß-Str. 6, 10178 Berlin
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Brandenburg, Heinrich-Mann-Allee 107, 14473 Potsdam
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Bremen, Rembertiring 8-12, 28195 Bremen
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Hamburg, Dammtorstr. 14, 20354 Hamburg
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Hessen, Walter-Hallstein-Str. 3, 65197 Wiesbaden
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Werderstr. 124 19055, Schwerin
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Niedersachsen, Leibnizufer 9, 30169 Hannover
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Völkliner Straße 49, 40221 Düsseldorf
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Rheinland-Pfalz, Mittlere Bleiche 49, 55116 Mainz
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Saarland, Hohenzollernstr. 60, 66117 Saarbrücken
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Sachsen, Carolaplatz 1, 1097 Dresden
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Sachsen-Anhalt, Turmschanzenstr. 32, 39114 Magdeburg
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Schleswig-Holstein, Düsternbrooker Weg 94, 24105 Kiel
    • Arbeitskreis Weiterbildung der KMK, Thüringen, Werner-Seelenbinder-Straße 7, 99096 Erfurt

    Social partners

    • Deutscher Industrie- und Handelskammertag (DIHK), Breite Straße 29, 10178 Berlin (
    • Zentralverband des Deutschen Handwerks (ZDH), Mohrenstraße 20/21, 10117 Berlin (
    • Bundesvereinigung der Deutschen Arbeitgeberverbände e.V. (BDA), Breite Straße 29, 10178 Berlin (
    • Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie e.V. (BDI), Breite Straße 29, 10178 Berlin (
    • Bundesverband der Freien Berufe (BFB), Reinhardstraße 34, 10117 Berlin (
    • Gewerkschaft Erziehung und Wissenschaft (GEW), Hauptvorstand, Reifenberger Str. 21, 60489, Frankfurt am Main (
    • Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund (DGB), Henriette-Herz-Platz 2, 10178 Berlin (
    • dbb beamtenbund und tarifunion, Friedrichstraße 169/170, 10117 Berlin (
    • Deutscher Stätetag, Lindenallee 13-17, 50968 Köln (
    • Deutscher Landkreistag (DLT), Lennéstraße 11, 10785 Berlin (

    Adult education centre associations

    Denominational adult education

    Universities and other institutions of higher education


    Robert-Schuman-Platz 3 53175 Bonn

    +49 (0) 228 107-1698
    +49 (0) 228 107-2964