Regarding the level of participation in lifelong learning, there has been a significant change in Slovenia in 2021. In 2011, the country was among the more successful in the EU, but after that year, the proportion of those included decreased yearly, reaching its lowest point in 2020 at 8.4%. However, the share of adults participating in organised educational activities has changed significantly, with the country achieving a record high of 18.9% in 2021.
Significant fluctuations in the proportion of adult education activity raise questions about the factors, reasons and obstacles that affect educational activities and why a considerable proportion of the population is educationally inactive.
At the SIAE, we attempted to answer these questions in the research on Adult Participation in Lifelong Learning: State, Characteristics and Reasons. We used both quantitative and qualitative methods in our study. While the quantitative part of the research was mainly based on the statistical analysis of data obtained from the Active and Inactive Population Survey, the qualitative aspect was based on interviews, analysis of focus group discussions and policy evaluation. As these changes occurred during the COVID-19 epidemic, we specifically analysed the educational path of those who lost their jobs during the pandemic.
The results showed that the significant increase in adult participation in lifelong learning in 2021 is mainly based on increased participation in non-formal education programmes. Participation in formal education is more modest. A particularly significant increase in terms of participating in programmes for work-related purposes has occurred.
Differences between groups that are otherwise more or less educationally privileged have remained unchanged or even increased. As well as in previous research, this research also showed higher involvement among women, the employed and those born in Slovenia. People tend to participate less in education as they age (with the highest number of participants recorded between 25 and 34 years of age and the lowest after 55). The significant inactivity of older adults in Slovenia is not in line with the concept of active ageing, which sees lifelong education and learning as a basis for participation in economic, political, cultural and social life.
The level of formal education attained is the factor with the most significant impact on participation in education.
Recent findings indicate two distinct jumps in terms of education level in the population. The first one is observed among adults with at least completed higher education, as they show a much higher participation rate than those with low education levels (Figure 2). The second jump confirms that individuals without completed 4-year secondary education are rarely educationally active. The highest participation rate was observed among adults with a completed master’s degree.
From the perspective of achieved formal education, we were particularly surprised by significant differences in educational participation between residents with the lowest and highest achievements. While the index of differences in educational activity among adults in Scandinavian countries was low in 2021 (1.8 in Denmark, 1.9 in Finland and 1.6 in Sweden), it reached a value of 9.3 in Slovenia. Differences between those with the highest and lowest education levels have even increased by 1.9 percentage points in four years, which means that despite the country’s directions and some measures, the less educated are marginalised in this sense. The question arises regarding the increasing differences – are they a result of poor care for the least educated, low motivation, negative experiences with previous schooling, less developed learning habits or an unsupportive work and home environment hindering them?
These data and findings are a small part of the knowledge we have gained in the mentioned research. It will be completed in July 2023, and in-depth findings will be presented in a special monographic publication expected to be published this year.
Jasmina Mirčeva, MSc (firstname.lastname@example.org), SIAE