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Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality ? Some critical reflections on the European Union's lifelong learning policies

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Lifelong learning has become a (still) increasingly popular slogan in the field of EU educational policy. Embedded in an international and historical account of the discourse on lifelong learning since the 1970s, this paper describes how lifelong learning has emerged as the central strategy in EU education and training policy, and provides a closer look at the EU's underlying concept of lifelong learning and its objectives. Based on these illustrations, it provides some critical thoughts on the EU's use of the term lifelong learning and its lifelong learning principles. Within this context, it calls for cautiousness: is lifelong learning just used as a powerful label, i.e. an elastic concept tailorable to any needs, or is it underpinned by a solid, comprehensive concept and strategy of lifelong learning? Following this line of argumentation, this paper also sets the EU's lifelong learning policies in the broader light of the highly debated EU convergence policy in the field of education and training.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Paderborn, Germany

Publication date: February 1, 2006

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