Development and Importance of Lifelong Learning in Turkey
Lifelong learning is not limited to schools, it can take place at home, work and in every aspect of life and is one of the basic concepts demonstrating that learning can be sustained with no obstacles regardless of the age, social and economic status and educational level. The concept of lifelong learning arose in line with the needs of the time to keep up with the changes in rapidly developing social and cultural life and has become a significant indicator for the educational level and employment conditions in the developed and developing countries.
As lifelong learning started to develop and gain importance, education became the fundamental component of all educational activities covering the education in and outside the school regardless of the time and space. In the Lifelong Learning Memorandum issued by the EU Commission in 2000, six basic strategies below were stated to be necessary for defining and extending lifelong learning and the general framework of lifelong learning in the 21st century was identified:
- New basic skills for everyone,
- More investment in human resources,
- Developing the innovations and new methods in education,
- Valuing/certifying all kinds of education,
- Reviewing the guidance and counselling services
- Converging education to the learners as far as possible and using the information and communication technologies to reach the segments facing difficulties to access, lifelong learning approach for local and regional initiatives, multi-purpose learning centres and using information networks for a learning society.
2009-2013 Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper
Lifelong learning is not a new concept in our country and the activities to establish a lifelong learning system have been accelerated since 2000s. In this scope; 2009-2013 Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper was adopted in line with the 9th Development Plan. In this paper, lifelong learning is defined as any learning activity an individual performs throughout his life to develop his knowledge, skills, interests and qualifications with an approach linked to personal, social and employment aspects. Learning continues “from cradle to grave” and can take place at any age and place. Lifelong learning covers all kinds of education and training including formal, non-formal and informal learning.
10th Development Plan,
In the 10th Development Plan prepared with the understanding of “Qualified People and Strong Society”: It is highlighted that lifelong learning is one of the most important elements for Turkey’s development and “Harmony between the educational system and labour market will be enhanced through providing the skills and competences required for the work life, adopting the entrepreneurship culture and strengthening the school-enterprise relation in vocational education and training considering the medium and long term sectoral projections based on the lifelong learning perspective”.
Developing the skills and entrepreneurship culture needed in the labour market is among the priority areas for the sustainable development and competitiveness of Turkey. Qualifications are updated continuously to make sure that the skills developed through vocational education meet the needs of the business world. 10th Development Plan underlines that these updates are performed in the scope of lifelong learning perspective.
In the 10th Development Plan, it is emphasized, “employability of labour force will be enhanced by increasing the level of education, and importance will be attached to lifelong education activities to provide skills required by the labour market.” One of the priority reform programmes included in the Development Plan is “Basic and Vocational Skills Development Programme”, and this programme includes priorities regarding improvement of basic and vocational skills of the society and dissemination of lifelong learning. The framework of this programme is as follows: “Rapid change experienced in today’s business life requires basic skills as much as vocational skills of the individuals. These skills enable individuals to be engaged in business life for a longer period, to increase their efficiency in business life and to adapt to the changing working and living conditions more rapidly. In this framework, acquiring basic skills required in business life in addition to vocational skills is important in terms of strengthening the relationship between education system and working life and improving human resource of our country. The aim of this programme is to ensure that individuals acquire basic skills required in business life such as information and communication technologies, foreign language, financial literacy, problem solving, critical thinking, communication, leadership, career planning and job seeking as well as artistic and sportive skills.” In the programme, activities aiming to develop lifelong programmes providing basic skills are handled. All top level documents mentioned in this framework aim to strengthen the basis of Lifelong Learning System of Turkey.
2014-2018 Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper
2009-2013 Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper set the baseline for the lifelong learning system, and it is aimed to give it a more systematic structure with 2014-2018 Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper and Action Plan in line with national and international approaches.
The priorities included in 2014 – 2018 National Lifelong Learning Strategy Paper prepared to increase effectiveness and efficiency of lifelong learning system are as follows;
- Establishing lifelong learning culture and awareness in the society,
- Increasing lifelong learning opportunities and provision,
- Enhancing access to lifelong learning opportunities,
- Improving lifelong guidance and counselling system,
- Improving recognition of prior learning system,
- Improving lifelong learning monitoring and evaluation system