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Country reports 2022 out now

Each year, EAEA asks its members to respond to our country reports survey, which offers unique civil society view on adult learning and education (ALE) in Europe. We are proud to present the 2022 EAEA Country Reports.

Although the situation of adult education in Europe is very fragmented and strongly depends on the respective country and its approaches to and traditions, there are some trends that can be observed across Europe.

A frequently expressed concern is the fact that much less attention is paid to ALE than to “normal” education, i.e. the formal education sectors. However, EAEA members emphasise that the ALE sector is very active. Moreover, the situation of ALE seems to have become more stable since the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Positive outlook on the financing of adult education in many countries

EAEA members seem to be slightly more positive about the funding situation of adult learning and education in their country in 2022 than in previous years. A change in the priorities of their government(s) was the most frequently cited reason for these changes. EAEA sees this as a very positive development, which we will continue to monitor closely, especially in the context of the energy crisis which intensified in the second half of 2022.

Non-formal adult learning not visible on the country reports of the European Commission

At the end of May 2022, the European Commission published its country reports and country-specific recommendations in the framework of the European Semester. Some countries reported that the country reports only partially reflected the situation in their country. A frequently heard answer as to why this was not the case, was that not enough attention was paid to non-formal ALE in the country reports. This also underpins the feedback often given to EAEA by members that the country reports do not fully capture the entire education landscape.

Some members also reported that the situation in their countries is, from their perspective, fundamentally different to what the EU country reports describe. They noted that the reports were not evidence-based or did not take into account evidence from non-formal ALE, that civil society was not involved in consultation processes, and that there were no concrete plans to implement the recommendations at the national and regional levels.

2022 was an important year for adult education policymaking

CONFINTEA VII, the UNESCO Conference on Adult Education that takes place every 12 years, was held in June 2022. Some EAEA members attended the conference, either as civil society or as part of the national delegation. The conference was a key issue for many EAEA members, especially those from non-EU countries where CONFINTEA is the central framework for ALE policy. However, some members reported that they had tried to engage in the process at the national level, but could not reach the relevant ministries. Generally, the EAEA's members consider the outcome of the conference, the Marrakech Framework for Action (MFA) a relevant adult education policy document in their countries. 

Sustainable Development Goals: the implementation varies

Sustainability continued to be an important issue for EAEA members last year. Many organisations reported having a strategy to promote sustainability in the sense of a "whole-institution approach" in their workflows, while others were still in the process of developing one. Another visible trend was the different implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in learning programmes across European countries. EAEA members reported that this varied in their countries from one organisation to another, and overall there is potential for further implementation. EAEA will take up this topic in the annual theme of 2023, which will be dedicated to the ALE and green transition.

Raising awareness on ALE and campaigning for digital skills

In the past year, EAEA members have been involved in various campaigns and advocacy activities. In countries where the adult education sector receives less attention or focuses too much on vocational education and training, the advocacy work focused on raising awareness of the importance of (non-formal) ALE.

In general, organisations have focused their attention on campaigning to improve adults' digital skills. This is also linked to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many EAEA members stated that learning opportunities remain hybrid even after the pandemic has ended.

Learner voice

In the 2022 survey, a new topic was added to the EAEA country reports, namely learner voice. EAEA wanted to know what opportunities there are for adult learners in member countries to get involved in decision-making processes on learning programmes, but also ALE policy-making and governance.

About two-thirds of EAEA members indicated that the voice of learners is represented by ALE associations, while one-third of respondents indicated that adult learners do not currently have a representative body or the opportunity to engage actively in decision-making processes. More than 80 per cent of respondents indicated that legislation does not currently require adult learners' voices to be included in decision-making processes. However, as this topic has become more significant in recent years, several members are launching initiatives to bring in the perspective of learners.

2022 country reports are based on responses from 22 members across 19 countries. Some of the reports are not public yet, we are still adding new reports to the website in December 2022.