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You are here: Home i In Focus i In focus 2006 i Theme: Work place learning with a human face i Border-less learning

Border-less learning

| Text: Berit Kvam

"Adult learning is a priority", said Norwegian deputy minister Åge Rosnes, when he opened the conference "Quality adult learning. A challenge for the Nordic welfare model?" It was one of many events which form part of "The Nordic Network for Adult Learning" (NVL). It begun in January 2005 as an initiative by the Nordic Council of Ministers. It's task is to develop adult learning.

The European Union aims to be the world's most successful knowledge based economy by 2010. According to the Lisbon strategy, life-long learning is one of the ways to achieve this. The Nordic countries aim to reach this goal as a region through Nordic co-operation. The Nordic Council of Ministers' strategy plan reads:

"Nordic co-operation on adult learning shall, in accordance with the principle of life-long learning, promote and develop adult people's knowledge and competence. This should form a platform for both personal development and participation in democratic processes, as well as strengthen the ability to compete in labour and social life."

As a result, a network for adult learning was created last year. Until 2008, and possibly beyond, the network will gather national experiences on learning, and pass them on within the Nordic region.

The network comprises coordinators from all five Nordic countries, and aims to spread knowledge and experiences from these countries as well as the autonomous areas of Greenland, the Faeroes and Åland. The Nordic Council of Ministers commissioned the Swedish Agency for flexible learning (CFL) to do the job.

"We have a cross-sector dialogue where we include adult education, popular people's education, learning in working life and research. There is a great need to talk to each other, to get an understanding of what kind of competence you can find in each separate system. It's also important for individuals to know where you go for different types of knowledge in order to build on the competence you already possess", says Antra Carlsen, main co-ordinator for NVL.

The idea was not to start a new institution, but rather to build networks and inspire new networks - across traditional boundaries. The co-ordinators have all committed to work half-time on the project, and the idea is to use the home page as the network's spider. All reports, national summaries, a web-based magazine and newsletters are put up on the web page. Soon there will also be a collection of good experiences published there.

NVL works on a range of themes, and each year the presiding country in the Nordic co-operation gets the chance to add a new theme. One theme of priority is life-long learning, which includes documentation of real life competence and valuation, quality improvement in different learning activities, measuring results from different kinds of adult learning institutions - as well as improving basic knowledge like writing and IT skills. New themes are also added when parties from the different countries meet. It is also NVL's task to register new initiatives from various players, and to support Nordic projects based on the various themes.

"We also register things of interest from various milieus. We have, for example, added equality - but in its broader sense; like having equal opportunities for all to learn, in order to develop both personally and in working life. We have focus on older people and their need for learning in order to have the energy to work and to stay on working", says Antra Carlsen.

There are several projects within the different themes. One example is a comparative study of how adult learning is done in the various countries. Another network looks at future knowledge, gathering information from employers, employees and researchers. The idea is that educational institutions should no longer have a monopoly on knowledge - today's learning happens in many different arenas.

"It is incredibly exciting and useful. What's new is that we co-operate across the traditional divides, and our national co-ordinators tell us that the national participants are getting more and more active and interested in debating across these divides and across national borders. It all gives good results and creates innovation", says Antra Carlsen.




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