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Portugal: meeting on lifelong learning

Lifelong learning (LLL) should play a role in sustainable development. That was the common view of different VET interests at the second meeting of the LLL week (Encontro da II Semana Aprender ao Longo da Vida) I, held on November 18, at the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, in Lisbon.

Organised by the association The Right to Learn, with the support of several organisations, including the National Agency for Qualification and Vocational Education (ANQEP, Agência Nacional para a Qualificação e o Ensino Profissional), this meeting marked the end of a working week dedicated to LLL. According to Rui Seguro of The Right to Learn, it aimed to ‘innovate’, demonstrating ‘how education and adult education can guarantee a more balanced and fair future’, within the frame of more equal public policy.

Armando Loureiro from the Portuguese Association for Adult Education and Training (APEFA, Associação Portuguesa de Educação e Formação de Adultos) recalled that ‘today we live a time of expectation that we must not to fail to meet’. That is why ‘we need to be demanding in going forward’, he said, creating ‘favourable learning contexts and demand for consistent policies.’ 

Alberto Melo from the Portuguese Association for Culture and Permanent Education (APCEP, Associação Portuguesa para a Cultura e Educação Permanente) welcomed the return of adult education and training subjects to the political agenda, followed by assurance of restraint in respect of political interruptions.

According to Gonçalo Xufre from ANQUEP, revision of the legislation that regulates the national qualification system includes ‘a detail of extreme importance … the creation of specialised centres in adult qualification.

Fernando Pinto do Amaral from National Reading Plan, brought to the debate the importance of reading books for adult education and training, allowing ‘permeability between informal and institutional’ learning.

This connection was reinforced by António Nóvoa, with a play on the Portuguese language traffic sign ‘prohibited parking along the road (proibido estacionar ao longo da vi(d)a). ‘Do we have or not the right to stop along the road (our life)?’. Deconstructing concepts such as LLL becoming an obligation (from right to duty) and associated with what he called ‘the horrible triple E: employability, excellence and entrepreneurship’, António Nóvoa refuted the idea that LLL can be reduced to employability and stated that excellence generated ‘unbearable competition in people and institutions’. As for entrepreneurship, we need ‘leisure and not just business’. He stressed the importance of placing LLL at another level, appealing for ‘our need for critical reflection [associating] … the awareness that we may need to park several times on our life journey.’

The opening session was closed by Dulce Mota from the Association of Third Age Universities Network (RUTIS, Associação Rede de Universidades da Terceira Idade). She gave a presentation on the project, which involves 297 senior universities throughout the country and 40 000 graduates.

Source: ANQUEP