The skills of adults have become the central theme in European adult education policies, after the publication of the results by the PIAAC study in 2013 (in 2016 in Slovenia). The Study showed that one in five adults is facing issues in the area of basic literacy and numeracy skills; one in six adults has a very low level of digital skills. These results led EAEA to propose and be able to launch the LSE project (2017–2018), the purpose of which was to promote research and reflect on the existing educational approaches for the above mentioned groups of adults. As a European organisation, EAEA is well aware that some countries have already formed initiatives to expand the concept of basic skills to introduce more comprehensive practices to develop basic skills. By providing appropriate and suitable programmes for this target group, we can help them to improve low skills levels, while empowering them to contribute to their personal growth and family, and community development. They have also realised that the concept of life skills is wider than the concept of basic skills, because it does not focus on mere survival. Therefore, it is not surprising that life skills and participation are the main themes for EAEA efforts in 2019 in adult education. The organisation committed to promote the concept of life skills in connection with participation in adult education. It promotes non-formal adult education as the driving force for change and development of skills. It’s based on a vision of life skills as building blocks to increase the opportunities of individuals in the labour market and in society in general. EAEA will promote the theme of life skills on a European level with the following activities:
- Grundtvig Award for Life Skills for 2019,
- EAEA Annual Conference on life skills, which will take place on 27 June in Copenhagen,
- a workshop on life skills at the EAEA Younger Staff Training in September.
The role of the SIAE in the LSE project was to prepare the methodology and instruments to collect definitions of life skills among experts and practitioners in Europe, collect good practices and educational approaches, and especially to collect innovative tools to develop life skills in Europe. All project partners participated in the collection of definitions, good practices, and tools. Based on the collected data and document analysis, the SIAE prepared The Report on the Life skills Approach in Europe. To prepare the report, the conceptually coherent methodology was applied, which provided a good overview of the understanding of life skills in Europe and third countries, while also providing a collection of good practices and innovative tools already used in partner countries to develop life skills. In preparing the definitions of life skills in the project, we followed the framework proposed in the Council Recommendation on key competences for lifelong learning. The proposed key competences are included in the concept of life skills for Europe, but are classified in a somewhat different way.
As part of the project, the definition of life skills and the LSE learning framework were created.
Life skills are an integral part of the capability to live and work in a particular social, cultural, and natural environment. Skills are formed in response to an individual’s needs in a particular living environment. The term capability was used to supplement the definition of key competences. It was necessary to emphasise that the critical and ethical dimensions are an integral part of key competence development, which are well represented by the term capability.
In Slovenia, the term life skills is closely related to basic capabilities of adults. These are various capabilities that can help individuals achieve personal development. The combination of skills that each individual needs, depends on their current needs and interests. The goal of adult education is to obtain the life skills and basic capabilities that will allow them to achieve long-term effects. These are reflected in the individual’s autonomy, behaviour, and understanding of circumstances, as well as their new educational needs. Adult education researchers in Slovenia believe that this is the only way to reach target groups and implement goal-oriented educational programmes, as it is a way to make education for adults meaningful.
Estera Možina, MSc (firstname.lastname@example.org), SIAE