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Challenges and plans: A focus on sustainability and funding

Digitalisation has been the most striking change in adult learning and education last year as digital content and course supply has boomed during the pandemic. Due to the pandemic, more people now have a good command of digital technologies and can access digital learning activities. However, almost one million Finns are still mainly excluded from digital services in adult learning.

There has also been a qualitative improvement in the digitalisation of adult learning and education. For example, new methods and digital tools for outreach have been developed in Study Centers through NGOs :s. Also, the European accessibility directive and its guidelines have been applied to many digital services of the Finnish adult education sector. 

As seen in many countries, outreach has required much more effort from adult education providers than before. Despite that, participation rates in adult learning and education have decreased due to the shift to online learning. The volume of participation has gone down particularly among the disadvantaged groups. The qualitative improvement of online training is not yet reflected in the participation rates. However, there are signs that recovery of participation has started in autumn 2021.

A new roadmap for sustainable development

FAEA finds social and environmental sustainability very important and has a plan to promote sustainability in the work procedures and learning programmes. FAEA is has also undertaken two further education projects in the period 2020-2021 on transformative learning, ecosocial bildung and deep bildung as a co-creative process.

There is a coordination strategy for the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDG’s) in the adult education sector, but the implementation should be further improved. The Finnish ALE sector is mainly focused on the SDG 4.7. FAEA has acquired Certification with OKKA foundation for Teaching, Education and Personal Development on sustainability. The goal is that by 2030 all the liberal adult education institutions have the certification.

FAEA is also represented in the National Commission on Sustainable Development and has made strong advocacy in creating a national road map for implementing Agenda 2030. The preparation of the roadmap will be launched soon.

Follow-up of the continuous learning reform

  • FAEA’s focus in 2021/2022 will be in the follow-up of the continuous learning reform. There is a strong wish to get new public funding for adult education through the reform and the new ecosystem which is set up.
  • FAEA also continues advocacy to strengthen funding for integration training of immigrants. There is a political will to find solutions to the skills deficit in working life, but at the same time, there is resistance from right-wing populist parties that also gain support.
  • Adult education must be innovative also on a regional level to reach out to underrepresented groups. Popular adult education is also advocating for better accessibility for higher education to reach the goal 50%.
  • In addition to sustainability issues, cooperation with other Nordic-Baltic countries will be strengthened through for instance Nordic folkbildung (Folkbildning Norden) and NVL.
  • The preparations have started for the year of Bildung (Sivistys) in 2024, when Bildung will be celebrated and advocated in and outside Finland. 2024 will also be the 150th anniversary of the Finnish Lifelong Learning Foundation (Kvs).