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How to make territories actors of the implementation of LLL in proximity of the public? What cooperation should be developed between territorial collectivities?

Roundtable discussion

Borboly Csaba, Committee of the Regions

 

Ladies and Gentlemen!

I will begin by thanking you for the opportunity to participate in this roundtable discussion, a well-organized event in the heart of a beautiful city.

During my speech I will focus on the following aspects:

  • Best practices in this field in Harghita county, Romania
  • Recommendations of the Committee of the regions concerning Lifelong Learning
  • How regions should implement Lifelong Learning strategies and tools.

At this roundtable, I represent the Committee of the Regions, the European institution with a mission to best represent the interests of regional and local institutions and communities.

I also represent Harghita County Council, a rural region in Romania.

Last year I was nominated rapporteur of the Committee of the Regions on aspects of European higher education in the world.

This opinion summarized the possibilities for making regional higher education institutions more competitive in the global market.

In the opinion adopted by the Committee, we clearly stressed the importance of knowledge transfer from higher education and research institutions to regional public and private authorities.

This is a key factor in rural development and an opportunity for less developed regions to catch up.

We also made clear that regional partnerships and connections of any education institution are of key importance – that refers to higher education and adult learning institutions as well.

I shall begin by pointing out some best practices in Lifelong Learning that we have experienced in Harghita County, Romania.

We have several NGO-s and public institutions which deal with adult education, from traditional crafts to business skills.

We must say however, that Lifelong Learning in Romania is still in its infancy.

Basically, in our region, adult education meets the following demand:

It is either a necessity in professional advancement, a compulsory criterion for obtaining funding, or a personal interest and hobby.

Nowadays, there is a great opportunity for education institutions to explore the benefits of e-learning as a way of extending their offer to the wider community.

Distance learning benefits people in remote areas and people have the opportunity to take structured courses in their own homes.

With the help of the Sekler product movement, Harghita County Council has helped hundreds of small subsistence farmers become business man, by adult education courses, where they got the necessary knowledge and skills to become competitive in regional and local markets with their traditional products.

Our experience can be summarized as follows: adult education can really make a difference if it is planned for local needs taking into account local aptitudes.

In the next part of my speech, I will analyze some recommendations of the Committee of Regions in the field of Lifelong Learning.

Recently, there have been several important opinions of the CoR concerning different aspects of European education.

The opinion on Opening up Education stated that access to relevant courses should be available to all learners regardless of the level of education.

New teaching methods, targeted study plans and alternative forms of validation can be helpful in this regard.

The opinion on rethinking education highlights the importance of transversal skills, especially in the business field.

Skills have become the global currency of the twenty first (21st) century.

The value of this „currency” is determined by its scope for use and potential for development.

Without investment in skills, people will stay on the margins of society, technological progress does not translate into economic growth, and countries can no longer compete in our knowledge-based global society.

The opinion on Recognition of skills and competences through informal learning underlines the value of informal education and stresses the importance of

Partnerships, between government bodies at national and local level, education providers, businesses, employees and their organizations as well as civil society organizations.

In the final part of this presentation, I will outline some recommendations for implementing Lifelong Learning at regional level.

Adult education has a more significant role to play particularly in those countries where a series of educational „reforms” haven`t permitted people to gain modern, competency-based knowledge within the school system.

Because adult education is more flexible and operates with smaller systems it has more mobility and it is more receptive to different trends; new methods and technology can be more easily adapted.

In addition to vocational training, the development of adults’ universal and transversal competences is becoming more and more relevant.

Most of the time a person’s aptitude does not only depend on his or her professional knowledge, but on teamwork skills, independent decision-making, creativity, the ability to plan and execute tasks and communication in more than one language.

The development of these competences tends to get lost in the course of the compulsory educational process.

There are at least two domains-for example in Romania- where I think adult education has a key role:

Firstly, environmentally aware and socially responsible behavior,

And secondly, the development of business skills.

Adult training should be more varied and innovative; it should be brought closer to the people, taking advantage of social media and internet.

It should operate in a more open form, it should take into consideration the expectations and feedback of society and respond to these expectations.

There is a key role for local authorities in creating partnerships to involve people from business, education and civil institutions.

Development funds should be allocated to local or regional authorities rather than national ones.

Vocational training is important and should take into consideration the specific needs of each region : the rate of industrialization, demographic tendencies, migration trends, cultural values, and so on.

Finally, the Committee of Regions fully supports the concept of lifelong learning to further inclusion, mobility, economic development and improving the quality of life.

It also sees a key role for local authorities in facilitating this important change in education.

Thank you for your attention!

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