Lifelong Learning

Every person, at every stage of their life should have lifelong learning opportunities to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to fulfil their aspirations and contribute to their societies. 

The Belém Framework for Action refers to lifelong learning as “an organizing principle of all forms of education”. 

“The entire education system is designed to facilitate lifelong and ‘lifewide’ learning and the creation of formal, non-formal and informal learning opportunities for people of all ages… The concept of lifelong learning requires a paradigm shift away from the ideas of teaching and training towards those of learning, from knowledge-conveying instruction to learning for personal development and from the acquisition of special skills to broader discovery and the releasing and harnessing of creative potential. This shift is needed at all levels of education and types of provision, whether formal, non-formal or informal.” (source: UNESCO Education Strategy 2014-2021

The acquisition of knowledge, skills, competences that lifelong learning should enable is not limited, in its conceptual understanding, to that of foundational skills, but also encompasses a larger panel of skills, bearing in mind the emergence of new skills deemed critical for individuals (as learning to learn, skills for global citizenship, entrepreneurial skills, and other core skills).  

A skilled population is the key to a country’s sustainable development and stability. As a consequence, policy attention to technical and vocational education and training (TVET) is increasing worldwide.  

Lifelong learning is about meeting the diverse and context-specific learning needs of all age groups, including the acquisition of basic literacy technical skills through both formal education and effective alternative pathways to learning. Adult learning and education, TVET and literacy, all represent significant components of the lifelong learning process.  

Two ground-breaking reports on lifelong learning by UNESCO (Learning to Be, Faure Report, 1972; Learning: The Treasure Within, Delors Report, 1996) articulated fundamental principles of lifelong learning. The Belém Framework for Action now also affirms the role of lifelong learning in addressing global educational issues and development challenges.

Related links


Are you ready for TVET?

Early childhood care and education

InfographicLifelong learning infographic