• The adult education sector in Iceland is divided between the formal sector, which includes colleges for further education and the informal sector, which targets adults with less formal qualifications. Lifelong Learning centers operate across the country. Since 2010 the Adult Education Act has shaped the provision of adult learning in Iceland. 

Iceland country reports

Iceland 2021

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  • Developments: New legislative framework for ALE in the works

    The need for a strong adult learning and education (ALE) system had seldom been more apparent than during the global pandemic. Although some challenges related to funding are still visible, there is an effort within the ministry of education to revise the legislative framework for ALE, which is appreciated by the EAEA member in Iceland Leikn.

    The necessity to switch to virtual learning had a largely positive impact on participation, with more adults joining online learning opportunities. Learning programmes continued partly online, partly face-to-face, with necessary sanitary measures in place when needed.


    Regarding sustainability, EAEA’s Icelandic member has a strategy to promote sustainability both in their workplace and in their learning programmes, but the implementation of UN sustainable development goals varies significantly across the sector.

  • Challenges: new funding priorities oversee the potential of ALE

    Funding situation of ALE slightly deteriorated due to changing priorities which put emphasis on funding programmes for the unemployed, distributed through the Directorate of Labour. According to the EAEA member in Iceland, the authorities have to a certain extent disregarded the resources that lie within the ALE sector in Iceland.

    Impact of COVID-19 on ALE

    The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the adult learning and education sector in Iceland. According to the EAEA Icelandic member Leikn, shifting learning activities to a digital environment has attracted new groups of learners. Due to the necessary changes in outreach work, new partnerships with social services etc. have been established. That said, reaching the target groups has been a particular challenge due to the low digital skills of disadvantaged groups and inadequate digital environments. The shift to online learning required greater participation in train-the-trainer programmes to better prepare adult educators for teaching in the digital space.

Iceland 2020

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EAEA members view

General situation of adult education
neutral face has stayed the same in 2021
Funding situation of adult education
coin pile with arrow pointing slightly down has slightly deteriorated in 2021

Participation in adult education

% of persons aged 25-64
22.2% participation rate last 4 weeks (European Labour Force Survey 2019)