The European Association for the Education of Adults and the European Office for Catholic Youth and Adult Education have published a joint position paper on the future of Erasmus+. The paper focuses on the role of non-formal adult education in the new programme, starting in 2021. In their joint document EAEA and the European office identify three educational challenges for Europe: The re-emergence of nationalism, the high number of persons with only low basic skills and the ageing society.

Non-formal adult education has the potential to help solving those challenges. The several thousand member facilites reach 65 million learners a year. The facilities and education centers of non-formal adult education cover large areas of Europe and represent the most important destination for people intending to aquire education outside the formal framework of schools and universities. Especially for the elderly and persons from rural areas the participation in courses, seminars or lectures provides an important opportunity to exchanges views and to form opinions, also on matters of politics. Our facilities on the ground are firmly embedded in their local communities. Through cooperation with local actors like charities, our members have better access to those furthest from the labour market and education and training.

Compared to schools and universities, centers of non-formal adult education are hugely disadvantaged when it comes to access to funding. Many national governments provide only small or no schemes at all to fund the day to the day operations of adult education facilities. In the current Erasmus+ program, only 3,9% of funds are reserved for adult learning. This neglect could cost us dearly. If Europe intends to remain the most competitive region in the world, it is paramount to equip everyone with the skills required for active participation in society and success on the labour market.

A strong adult education part in Erasmus+ holds the potential to make a real difference for all these challenges. To transform Erasmus+ into a true catalyst for adult learning in Europe, we propose the following modifications to the programme:

  • To, at the very least, triple the overall Erasmus+ budget.
  • To ensure improved admission rates for adult education: Significantly increase the budget share of adult learning within the Erasmus+ budget.
  • Lump-sum contributions to staff expenses.
  • Shorten and simplify application forms and the porgramme guide.
  • The introduction of strongly simplified application procedures for micro-projects.

The complete text of our position paper can be downloaded here.