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Lifelong learning is already a reality for many adults. Some engage in learning to keep up with the rapid societal changes, others to improve their knowledge and skills. However, we know from work carried out in different places that a substantial number of adults do not participate in lifelong learning. Some face barriers to access that arise for a range of reasons, including financial constraints and changing human resource development practices in firms.
But for many adults, barriers to participation arise because the available learning opportunities are poorly adapted to their learning needs or the situations in which they find themselves. If lifelong learning is to be a reality for those adults that are now excluded, there is need for more than simply a policy commitment to serve all: we need more policy and program know-how.
In April 1998, the U.S. Department of Education, held an international conference on How Adults Learn. The purpose was to further the understanding of how programs and policies could be better adapted to the learning needs of adults who, so far, have been underrepresented in lifelong learning. In our search for sound answers we sought out the views and experience of researchers, practitioners, and policymakers from different parts of the world.
The results are a rich set of lessons, some provocative questions, and suggestions for new areas of inquiry. I appreciate the willingness of the U.S. Department of Education to publish these results to make them more widely accessible. It is my hope that the publications will continue to work in this area and nourish a constructive debate that will lead to expanded opportunities for adult lifelong learning
Lifelong learning is a reality for adults for a variety of reasons. Some engage in learning to keep up with rapid societal changes, others to improve their knowledge and skills. As adults continue to live longer, and as full participation in society depends increa...
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