Lifelong education and learning
The development of lifelong education and learning in Slovenia began before World War II. Pedagogical theorists who developed the concept understood education as part of a process that begins in childhood and continues throughout adulthood (see, for instance, Karel Ozvald’s ‘Kulturna pedagogika’ from 1927). They argued that initial education should develop the capacity for subsequent autodidactic learning and that mutual learning between an individual and the community takes place throughout one's life.
- The Resolution on the education of expert staff (1970) and the Resolution on the development of education based on the concept of self-management (1974). In practice, the concept of permanent education applied especially to technical, medical and educational occupations. These two documents set the context of continuous education.
- The Directional Education Act (1980) promoted the notion of education as an integral part of one's life and work and specified that all programmes should allow the learner to acquire a professional qualification or progress to a higher level of education. It regulated the entire education system from upper secondary to doctoral studies, and it foresaw education and work to be interconnected in a permanent process to provide the individual with holistic and continuous personal development and creative and innovative work and life.
- The 1995 White Paper on Education recognised the need to improve the quality and diversity of adult education as well as access to relevant programmes. The document also pointed to educational priorities for special groups of adults, such as the unskilled, unemployed, illiterate, migrants, those with other nationalities, women and persons with special needs. It was foreseen that adult education should not only have a compensational role but should also serve as a generator of innovation and development. Overall, adult education and learning were defined as an integral part of a lifelong (permanent) learning strategy.
- The Lifelong Learning Strategy was adopted in 2007 by the minister responsible for education. It incorporates all European definitions and objectives and connects them to the specific conditions in Slovenia.
- The White Paper on Education 2011 laid down under common principles of education that a well-organised system of adult education is a must if we want to give opportunities to every person for life-long learning, also in adulthood.
Life-long learning strategy
The minister responsible for education adopted in 2007 this strategy that specified lifelong learning as a guiding principle of modern education and learning in Slovenia.
The document resulted from the activities of the Education and Training 2010 EU programme.
Objectives of the Lifelong Learning Strategy
- Make sure that all people have access to learning and education in all periods of life, in all areas of life and in all environments with a special focus on ensuring educational opportunities for disadvantaged categories of people.
- Raise awareness that learning results in increased self-confidence, development of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge, skills and qualifications, required for active participation in economic and social life and an improved quality of life.
- Make all people aware that they are entitled to learning and education as well as enhance their co-responsibility for their learning and education.
- Enable all access to tailor-made learning, which means that education and training must adapt to the learner's needs and requirements.
- Develop a positive attitude to learning and understanding the meaning of lifelong learning in all periods of life; such an attitude must be integrated into curricula at all levels of education.
- Improve the level of literacy of all and promote the use of literacy for different purposes and in various contexts.
- In the national policy and the theory and practice of education in Slovenia, reach the integration of all areas of education in a coherent system, which will ensure equivalent and equal opportunities for the development and implementation of different types, forms, contents and purposes of education.
- Develop quality and flexible opportunities and circumstances for continuous learning, education and training as well as opportunities to choose among various efficient learning and teaching methods.
- Encourage and facilitate learning in all areas of life and activities. A comprehensive policy should make this possible through suitable instruments and by linking economic interests with social and cultural objectives.
- Ensure an appropriate balance between investing in education and learning to improve human capital (increased productivity, competitiveness and individual employability) and investing in education and learning aimed at personal growth and active democratic citizenship.
- Facilitate the implementation and use of knowledge, skills and learning as the fundamental source and driving force for the development of local and regional areas as well as the development of social networks within them.
- Promote lifelong learning as a fundamental value with all public resources and media for communication and advertising.
- Promote the development of the ’learning society’ and the ’knowledge-based society’ as well as the ’thinking society’ as their evolutionary upgrade.
- Promote mobility in education and employment.
As a key social and development strategy, lifelong learning has been included in a range of strategic documents and programmes, such as the National Strategic Reference Framework (2007–2013) and operative programmes for the strengthening of regional development potentials and the development of human resources.
National political and strategic documents that reflect the European lifelong learning policies include, but are not limited to:
- Resolution on National programme of higher education 2030
- Resolution on the National Programme of Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia 2022–2030
- National strategy for reading literacy development 2019–2030
- Resolution on National programme of higher education 2030
- Roma Education Strategy
- Resolution on the National Youth Programme 2013–2022
- Resolution on the National Social Welfare Programme for the period 2022–2030
- Digital Slovenia (umbrella strategy of digital transformation until 2030).
Distribution of responsibilities for life-long learning
At the central government level, the main responsibilities related to lifelong learning policies and programmes rest with the ministry responsible for education and the ministry responsible for labour.
The Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS) public institute performs expert technical and administrative tasks related to the implementation of EU education and training and study mobility. In 2007, CMEPIUS was accredited by the European Commission to perform as the national agency for the EU action programme Lifelong Learning, which ended in 2013. Since then, CMEPIUS has been overseeing the Erasmus+ programme that followed and came after the Erasmus+ (2014–2020) and Lifelong Learning Programme.
The Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) is the central public institute and umbrella organization for adult education. The primary purpose of the institute is to develop the field of adult education under the Resolution on the National Program of Adult Education in the Republic of Slovenia (2013–2020) and other national and European strategic documents, as well as developmental guidelines in adult education. Since 2012, the institute has operated as the national coordinator of the European Adult Learning Program (EPUO).
Pursuing the lifelong learning policies
The development of projects, programmes and activities that are important for the implementation of the lifelong learning strategy has been ongoing. Some examples include:
- Study groups
- Independent learning centres
- Project learning for young adults
- Knowledge exchanges
- Education for sustainable development
- Guidance in adult education
- Lifelong learning weeks
- 'Training for success in life' officially recognised programmes.
The amendment to the law in adult education 2020 extended public service to provide guidance on:
- Enrolling in the basic school programme for adults and continuing the educational pat
- Enrolling in officially recognised education programmes for adults that do not lead to educational qualification
- Enrolling in non-formal education programmes for adults
- Revision and documentation of knowledge and skills gained in non-formal education and informal learning for personal development, continuous education and entering the labour market
- independent learning.
Providers of the basic school programme for adults and/or officially recognised adult education programmes and providers of guidance as a public service in adult education constitute a public network.
Legislation allows for informal education and training programmes, programmes for new skills and improving existing skills, to improve one's employability. Such programmes are considered for the recognition of informally acquired knowledge and for obtaining national vocational qualifications.
As for formal education, several relevant updates to vocational education programmes have been implamented. The ministry responsible for education and the ministry responsible for labour developed those updates in cooperation with the Institute of the Republic of Slovenia for Vocational Education and Training, schools and other social partners. Vocational standards served as the basis for the updates. These standards stipulate the required knowledge, skills and competences and are weighed by credit points. The modular structure of vocational education programmes provides students with increased choices regarding the level of education and vocational qualifications.
The short-cycle vocational study programmes are devised by common European principles applicable to short higher education programmes. They are developed in cooperation with social partners, weighted by credit points and based on study outcomes. Higher vocational colleges provide learners with the choice of content, assess prior knowledge and issue certificate supplements. The legislation allows for informal programmes, in the scope equivalent to a maximum of 35 CPT.
Schools may use personal education plans for adults. This means that the methods of working with adults are adjusted to a learner's prior formal and informal experience and knowledge levels.
The research project Networking for Lifelong Learning impacted the management and the provision of lifelong learning programmes. The project was a part of the outcome-oriented research programme Slovenia's Competitiveness 2006-2013. The Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Research and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Technology part-funded the programme. The findings of this research project helped tertiary institutions identify the target groups for lifelong learning and their interests. They also assisted in developing the appropriate study and training programmes, helped identify potential partners in programme implementation, such as business networks, location-based networks, excellence centres and technological parks.
Efforts to improve the implementation of lifelong learning are also evident in the development and implementation of tertiary education institutions’ strategic documents.
As for formal lifelong learning, projects include accredited training programmes. They are frequent for the continuous professional development of education staff. The modular study programmes for formal educational qualifications for specific occupations or activities (such as management or healthcare). The target groups are students at individual universities or independent tertiary institutions. In addition to their selected study course, educational institutions offer them complementary programmes, for instance, foreign languages and programmes aimed at improving information, communication, technological, social and similar competences. Another target group are the alumni. They can take various courses, in particular, to refresh and improve their knowledge of new technologies and methods, such as building energy-efficient buildings, use of new materials and modern project management.