Lifelong learning is a very important topic on Julie's political agenda, but it is also part of her personal story as she is herself a product of lifelong learning, having gone to university in her early 50s.
Julie believes in the potential of lifelong learning for personal development and well-being, and ultimately in improving social cohesion for more harmonious societies.
She is a strong advocate for building synergy between education and culture which in her view are both forms of learning. Lifelong learning may occur in response to formal education but it also takes place in a variety of other ways and settings, including non-formal and informal learning, intergenerational learning and volunteering. Everyday life, with its opportunity for rich interactions with other people and cultural opportunities is also full of learning experiences.
Lifelong learning is a space where different fields of action meet, cooperate and reinforce each other, allowing people to develop their creative and critical thinking, to gain in self-confidence, to become problem-solvers, entrepreneurs and responsible citizens, and acquire the intercultural skills needed to achieve more inclusive, open and tolerant communities.
Indeed lifelong learning is also a powerful tool for intercultural dialogue, allowing individuals to open their horizons and challenge their prejudices.
In January the European Parliament adopted a report Julie authored on 'the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values', also called the 'Ward report'; it was an opportunity for her to highlight throughout the report the key role that lifelong learning and informal learning should play as tools of education for citizenship.
Julie is the Vice-Chair of the Lifelong learning interest group gathering civil society organisations and MEPs interested in promoting the issue in the EU agenda.
Learn more about the interest group here
Learn more about Julie's report on the role of intercultural dialogue, cultural diversity and education in promoting EU fundamental values here
Language and terminology:
When working in a European context, one of the first difficulties to be encountered has to do with language, as the same words have different connotations in different contexts. As some expressions recur frequently in my work as a member of the parliamentary Culture & Education committee, it might be useful to state here the meaning attached to them in EU context:
- Lifelong learning: learning in which we engage throughout our lives
- Formal learning: learning that takes place in a formal education or training setting, normally leading to a qualification
- Non-formal learning: learning that is structured and organised but does not lead to a qualification
- Informal learning: learning that occurs through family, social or civic life, not necessarily intentionally