Fundació Jaume BofillUniversitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC)

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We are celebrating the 10-year anniversary of Debats d’Educació by giving the educational community the opportunity to air its views

Carles Sigalés Conde
Carles Sigalés Conde
Director of Psychology and Education Sciences Studies at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

I am a senior lecturer and director of Psychology and Education Sciences Studies at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. In addition to my teaching and research work at the university, I also have extensive professional experience in the field of school education.

The three things I’ve learned

It is now a fact that both today’s and tomorrow’s generations will need to learn throughout their lives
1

In the knowledge society, all citizens need lifelong learning

Everyone needs lifelong learning. Not only people with a degree and a skilled job. Education must give second chances to those who have left the education system early; it must give people the opportunity to continue learning, unlearning and updating their knowledge, once their schooling is over. Lifelong learning should not be confused with occupational training, which is simply a part of lifelong learning. Access to culture, the improvement of personal welfare and the full exercise of citizenship are essential for reducing inequalities, and they must also be objectives of lifelong learning. The challenge that our society faces is to bring new educational opportunities to those who most need them. Educational institutions need to be opened up to the community and support must be given to new initiatives that emerge from the people themselves.

2

ICT will play an all-important role in extending lifelong learning

The need for education for all, regardless of someone’s employment situation, where they may live, or at what stage of life they may find themselves, can only be satisfied through the intensive use of ICT. These tools make it possible to break down the barriers of space and time; they foster communication, collaboration between equals and the exchange of knowledge. As a means or instrument of support, ICT will help to overcome the barriers between institutionalized education and the new forms of access to knowledge. Much of the information that is already available on the Internet, the social networks, the public and private educational initiatives and the open resources, which have an increasingly high profile on the net, must contribute to increasing educational opportunities for all. It is important to ensure that the most disadvantaged social sectors have more access to the Internet and can develop their digital skills.

3

Lifelong learning questions the rigidity and impermeability of educational institutions

It is now a fact that both today’s and tomorrow’s generations will need to learn throughout their lives. Although this is quite evident, we continue organizing the educational system as if everything had to be learnt during the first twenty-five years of life. We insist on designing overloaded curricula that many students do not have time to absorb. We need to rethink education and consider it as a lifelong process. Educational institutions must open their doors to the community and work together with other agents in this process. As they become adults, people must play a more active role in decisions about what they learn. Non-regulated education and non-formal education will gain increasing importance in lifelong learning, as will initiatives that come from people themselves, taking advantage of the opportunities ICT can provide. Institutions such as universities will have to be more decisive in the way that they face this challenge, if they are to respond to this emerging social demand. 

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