Lifelong learning is the continuous, voluntary, and self-motivated pursuit of knowledge for either personal or professional purposes. it enhances, not only, social inclusion, active citizenship, and personal development, but also self-sustainability and competitiveness. Lifelong learning recognizes that learning is not confined to childhood or the classroom but takes place throughout adult life and in a range of situations; it takes place on an ongoing basis from our daily interactions with others and with the world around us.
Lifelong learning comprises formal, non-formal, and informal learning; it can be for employing basics, for obtaining new qualifications, for up-skilling or re-skilling for employment, for personal growth, or just for pleasure.
Lifelong learning offers people the opportunity to bring up to date their knowledge of activities which they had either previously laid aside or always wanted to try but were unable; to try out activities and pursuits that they had previously imagined were outside their time or competence; or to work at extending their intellectual horizons by seeking to understand and master some of the recent cognitive advances.
However, lifelong learning is not restricted to those beyond the age of education in formal or institutional settings. The expansion of cognitive repertoire and the increasing of skills and competences can and must continue throughout life, as a vital part of people’s growth and development as human beings and as citizens in a participative democracy, as well as being productive agents in economic advancement. Individual and community welfare is protected and promoted by making such activities, and the resources to support them, available to the widest range of constituencies.
Lifelong learning must be seen as a complex and multi-faceted process. It begins pre-school, is carried on through compulsory and post-compulsory periods of formal education and training, and is continued throughout life. The central elements describing the nature and purpose of lifelong learning are:
• for economic progress and development
• for personal development and fulfilment
• for social inclusiveness and democratic understanding and activity.
Lifelong learning is a public good, for the benefit and welfare of everyone in society. However, the challenge is to provide learning opportunities for all adults, throughout their whole life, especially disadvantaged or socially excluded groups who need them most. The Athens Lifelong learning Institute provides different educational solutions and opportunities to adult learners, especially those belonging to vulnerable groups, in an effort to apply lifelong learning for all, equally. To this end, the use of ICT and new technologies, as well as alternative educational methodologies, such as distant and blended learning are among the Institute’s priorities when designing and implementing educational interventions for adults.