International Winter School: Comparative Studies in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

    Comparative Group 8: National/regional adult education and lifelong learning policies

    national/regional policies, adult education, lifelong learning

    The analysis of national/regional adult education and lifelong learning policies can follow the models proposed by Lima and Guimarães (2011): democratic emancipatory model; modernisation and state control model; and human resources model. This analytical proposal includes several criteria allowing the identification of political orientation and priorities, organisational dimensions and conceptual elements and the interpretation of main subjects underlying adult education policies in recent decades. These models seek to embrace a wide range of adult education policies adopted in different countries and regions, many of these reflecting the impact of the European Union or other international governmental organisations. Built on a continuum, these analytical models are not exclusive but can show hybridisation, as a national or regional policy can present characteristics of different models. Some countries or regions favour policies based on upskilling of the workmanship through learning programmes, its adaptation to the labour market needs and the raise of productivity and economic competitiveness; others are more directed at developing education and training systems, favouring formal education and training, school certification and professional qualification of adults that are part of more formalised and ruled labour markets; others still are oriented towards democratic and emancipatory principles, fostering participation and equality of opportunities within liberal adult education and popular education programmes.

    The expected learning outcomes of this comparative group is to gain insights on: 1) different as well as similar national/regional adult education and lifelong learning policies in several countries or regions, and 2) understanding such similarities and differences according to national/regional historical and contextual aspects.

    Comparative research question

    According to analytical policy models proposed by Lima and Guimarães (2011):

    1. how can recent national/regional adult education and lifelong learning policies adopted be interpreted?
    2. what national or regional historical and contextual aspects can be used to understand such adult education and lifelong learning policies?

    Context of comparison

    The main cases that will be compared are the single national/regional adult education and lifelong learning policies of countries to which students belong; and in comparing these cases, the comparative group will engage with a number of relevant interdependencies between:

    1. Political priorities (ends targeted by these policies, domains of programmes and forms of provision, target groups and funding allocated),
    2. Political orientations (laws, rules that allow a policy to be adopted and set the conditions for people to work in and join forms of provision),
    3. Organisational dimensions (centralised or decentralised services promoting adult education and lifelong learning, management procedures in forms of provision, quality assurance norms, control and evaluation of programmes)
    4. Theoretical references of adult education and lifelong learning (aims of programmes, pedagogic methods favoured, adults’ forms of participation and assessment)

    Categories of comparison (selection for the transnational essay is based on participants research interests)

    1. Political priorities of specific programmes or forms of provision (domains included such as formal, non formal or informal education and training domains, specific target-groups, funding allocated)
    2. General political orientations that may be found in national/regional programmes, laws, rules and norms that allow a policy to be adopted. In general it includes legislative apparatus and the conditions by which a policy can be implemented (access requirements, services involved, programmes to be developed)
    3. Organisational services or other formal structures promoting adult education and lifelong learning forms of provision (services that implement programmes proposed to adults, adult educators/trainers involved, quality assurance, evaluation of programmes and forms of provision)
    4. Theoretical references of adult education and lifelong learning considering a) democratic, emancipatory and humanistic aims and practices, b) modernisation and State control aims and practices – stressing formal education and training; and c) human resources management aims and practices – favouring learning relevant for raise of productivity and economic competitiveness, referring specifically to pedagogic methods favoured, forms of participation of adults involved, adults assessment.


    Lima, L. C./ Guimaraes, P.: European strategies in lifelong learning. A critical introduction. Opladen: Barbara Budrich Publishers, 2011.

    Holford, J./Riddell, S. / Weedon, E. / Litjens, J. / Hannan, G. Patterns of Lifelong Learning: Policy and Practice in an Expanding Europe. Berlin: Lit Verlag, 2008.

    Prof. Paula Guimarães, Universidade de Lisboa, PORTUGAL

    Paula Guimarães received her PhD in Educational Sciences (Educational Policy) in 2011. She has been working as an Assistant Professor of the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon since January 2012. She lectures themes concerning adult education. She was vice-president of the European Society for Research on the Education of Adults (ESREA) and co-convenor of the ESREA network Adult Democratic and Citizenship Education.


    Co-Moderation: Catarina Doutor, Universidade de Lisboa, PORTUGAL

    Catarina Doutor is a PhD student in education at the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon (Portugal). She has participated in research projects that focus on the themes of literacy, adult education and non-traditional students in higher education. Her research interest includes the transition of Portuguese - Speaking African countries' students to Higher Education in Portugal, with a particular emphasis on the biographical learning and the identity process.



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