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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



EPALE podcast: What is the role of adult learning in active citizenship?

by Simon BROEK
Language: EN
Document available also in: NL

/epale/en/file/epale-podcast-2EPALE Podcast

EPALE Podcast

As part of EPALE's May focus on citizenship education and active citizenship, EPALE's Thematic Coordinators Andrew McCoshanDavid MallowsGina Ebner and Simon Broek got together to discuss the following questions:

  • What is the role of adult learning in active citizenship (e.g. prevention of exclusion, re-engagement, community building, learning democratic values, removing prejudice)?
  • To what extent is adult learning contributing to active citizenship? Is there a threat to focusing too much on work skills and basic skills through individualised learning pathways? Are we forgetting about the engagement role of adult learning?


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  • Marissa VAN DER VALK's picture

    Dear Andrew, Simon, David and Gina,


    This podcast is an interesting initiative and I thank you very much for your opionions  and knowledge shared.

    For me Active Citizenship and adult learning are very much linked too. Not always in the form of basic skills in the workplace. Just before this blog / podcast was published, I came across this initiative on our twitter account; it's about an initiative from ProDemos that has a toolbox with which current City Council members can educate (other) local citizens to become politicians for their neighbourhood themselves in the upcoming elections of spring 2018. Because of course people are 'active' and 'commited', but they are affraid of 'politics' as it looks difficult, unpleasant and 'far away'. It isn't of course and this kind of learning should be stimulated.

    How do you feel about that?

    This is where you can find out about the ProDemos initiative(link is external) (in Dutch)



  • Sinead Whitty's picture

    Thanks for this interesting discussion on the links between adult education and active citizenship. You have made compelling arguments of how one enhances the other. Plenty to think about!

  • Brian Caul's picture

    In my view, one of the most important bridging skills between adult learning and active citizenship is that of critical thinking. Individualised basic skills training is of course important to help learners to function adequately. However critical reflection and interaction (preferably across cultures) develops one's capacity to understand the nature of  a society and its government; and perhaps even challenge sometimes the legitimacy of its policies and practices. The ability to question is also essential to safeguard the health of a society and act as a bulwark against exploitative xenophobia and other forms of prejudice and discrimination.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking podcast.

    Brian (Northern Ireland)

  • Simon BROEK's picture

    Dear Brian,

    I fully agree! I believe that educational policies (especially in adult learning) tend to work like a pendulum between transversal competences (like critical thinking) and technical competences and skills. While in the last decade the emphasis might have been more on the technical competences and skills, I have the impression that we are slowly moving towards the transversal competences (again). Indeed very much needed in current times!