Playful solutions to tackle the global learning crisis

Both the World Economic Forum and the World Bank have warned us of a major ’learning crisis’. It effects a large number of children who are not in school, but also those who do attend it. The LEGO Idea Conference 2018 (10-11 April, Billund) tried to offer solutions for it on several levels: the breadth of skills an individual child needs to develop, attitudes and behaviour of adults around them, the collective impact of their community and the social norms and requirements of society. Experts, researchers and practitioners discussed their ideas and practice, ones that all have a certain playful element.

The 2018 edition of the Davos World Economic Forum discussed the main issues around education and learning today. They highlighted the he gap between skills developed by schools and those necessary for the labour market today and tomorrow. Education systems are not responsive to changes in society, and evaluation of the necessary breadth of skills is missing from most systems. As a result children lose the feeling of engagement with their schooling.

World Bank findings underline these statements also by highlighting that 44% of children do not even attain basic level in reading and 53% in maths globally. The head of education at the World Bank, former Minister of Education of Peru, Jaime Saavedra compared education to a car the 4 wheels of are 1. curriculum, instruction and assessment, 2. teachers’ careers, 3. management and 4. infrastructure. The 4 need to change together to move the vehicle forward. The necessary reform takes time.

Rebecca Winthrop of Brookings Institute introduced the notion of leapfrogging highlighting the fact that reforms that need a lot of time will not help today’s children who only have this one childhood. The goal of leapfrogging in education should be to use pedagogical innovation to harness a combination of basic skills and 21st century skills for all children, including those coming from low socio-economic status families. There is a need for action as 75% or countries are committed to developing the necessary breadth of skills while only 13% has plans in place to do so. The goal of leapfrogging would be to overcome skills inequalities and skills uncertainty together. She also emphasised that whole school development doesn’t necessarily mean a need for all children to be in school – and this increases the need for empowering parents and other members of local communities.

Later she also mentioned that it is the nonprofit sector that is leading pedagogical innovation, especially since formal education is resistant to change. The question is when the ‘Wikipedia moment’ of schools will happen (similarly to that of lexicon publishers).Currently 70% successful innovative initiatives have a playful learning methodology (eg. Duolingo, LIMA, BRAC) and only 20% of them are aiming at teacher training.

During the event there was an opportunity to witness, try and evaluate several innovative education initiatives and think about ways of scaling them in different environments. An important issue mentioned in connection to this was the fact that ‘marketing’ is not the job of the practitioner, otherwise what happens in the classroom, stays there and others have no opportunity to learn about it.

The IDEA Prize 2018 was awarded to Sir Fazle Abed, founder of BRAC

In the concluding remarks John Goodwin, Director of LEGO Foundation reinforced their commitment to changing education and highlighted Playfutures as an important platform for policy, research and practice to meet. It should be a vehicle for integration, a place to share examples for shifting mindsets, facilitate leapfrogging by introducing innovations from approaches to scaling, an advocacy tool around the breadth of skills by promoting learning through play. Come and do join us there.


Building bridges between all forms and sectors of education is the future of learning in Europe

LLLP Response to Future of Learning Package

The Lifelong Learning Platform welcomes the prominence given to education and training at the EU level in recent months. At the Gothenburg Social Summit on 17 November, EU leaders had an informal lunch debate on education and culture for the first time. In the run-up to this debate, the European Commission set out a vision for a European Education Area by 2025 in the Communication “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture”. The Commission followed this with the launch of a new Future of Learning package in January this year and the same month the first ever European Education Summit took place in Brussels, gathering over 20 national Ministers for Education to discuss equity and diversity in education.

The Lifelong Learning Platform views these developments as a positive step forward for EU-level cooperation in the field of education and training. This momentum should continue with a clear commitment from Member States and a concrete follow-up to the ambitious discussions at the Education Summit. We wish to stress, however, that the follow-up steps taken by the European Commission and Member States should be rooted in a holistic vision of education, which means looking at education in its universal scope and not exclusively at one specific sector (e.g. schools) or at the sole purpose of labour market demands. This is why we call for a European Lifelong Learning Area which encompasses all levels, sectors and forms of learning - formal, non-formal and informal - in order to truly be of benefit to all EU citizens. After all, not all young people are students and not all students are young people - we need education policies that match this 21st century reality.


European Qualifications Framework - the first 10 years

More than 300 people from employment, education and training organisations joined "The European Qualifications Framework: supporting learning, work and cross border mobility" conference on 15-16 March in Brussels. LLL-P's Steering Committee members were invited to participate at the event.
Participants discussed the following topics in interactive workshops on the first day, followed up by high level panels on the second day:
  • How has the European Qualifications Framework (EQF), and its focus on learning outcomes, supported the modernisation of education and training systems?
  • How has the EQF helped build trust and increase transparency and comparability of qualifications?
  • How do qualifications frameworks facilitate validation of non-formal and informal learning?
  • How can qualifications frameworks support the recognition of qualifications?
  • What is the role of social partners and other stakeholders in the EQF process and what are their future expectations?
  • How have the EQF and the development of qualifications frameworks supported international and global cooperation?


Culture and Education for All: Building the Skills for More Resilient Societies

Joining forces, several civil society organisations invited European and international institutions and various stakeholders to debate a common approach to addressing the links between education and culture. The purpose of coming together for this event was to discuss possible synergies in light of the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage and the  European Commission’s 2017 Communication on “Strengthening European Identity through Education and Culture”, as well as to react to the proposed revision of the key competences and to the future of learning package. To this extent, recent policy developments prompted the organisers to acknowledge the need to rebuild on past common positions, widen their scope, and formulate new recommendations to policy-makers. EPA's President, Vice President of Lifelong Learning Platform, Eszter Salamon was invited to present the LLL-P position on key competences and learning environments as a speaker of the event.


The 9th FEAD Network Meeting Highlights

The 9th FEAD Network meeting took place on 01 March in Brussels and discussed issues related to “The role of volunteers in FEAD delivery”. EPA was represented by EPA Ambassador Herminio Correa. During the meeting an interactive workshop on initiating and running a volunteer programme was organised. The suggested programmes took part in a competition and again the EPA representative was on the winning team. You can see the idea described at the end of the article. It will hopefully inspire people to implement it in reality.


Investing in People – The Way Forward

The European Commission and the Bulgarian Presidency of the European Union marked the 60th Anniversary of the European Social Fund (ESF) by a major conference held in Sofia on 15/16 February 2018. As the title suggests it was a forward-looking event where participants had an opportunity to discuss priorities for the post-2020 MFF in the field of inclusion and social protection. The area defined as most important for further improvement towards cohesion of Europe is education.


Mutual recognition of qualifications and study periods abroad - EU public consultation until 19 February

Parents in Europe have fought for a long time for a smooth transition of their children from one European school system to the other, so that they are not restrained from accepting labour challenges that would need them to exercise their right to mobility as EU citizens by the high probability of their children's schooling being interrupted or hindered. Those parents who have older children have also experienced that exchange programmes, even EU financed Erasmus mobility means that the student's achievements are likely not to be recognised, so it results in extra exams or repeating a year. The EU is planning to make a first step by promoting a certain level of mutual recognition, that would also help parents in their own labour mobility and formal further education. You have the opportunity to contribute to the public consultation on the initiative by 19 February, so it is rather short notice.