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Life-long Learning

Education should not end with a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree; it should be an open-ended pursuit throughout life.

Education and employment constitute a double-helix of mutually reinforcing activities. The traditional model of higher education as a full time engagement in a physical institution and a prerequisite to career fostered a system in which education precedes employment. That model is no longer necessary or effective.

More and better quality education is the essential foundation for productive work in the increasingly complex environment of the 21st century. Work experience converts theoretical knowledge and raw skills into finely tuned, mature human capacities.

The rapid pace of social and technological change, the extension of the life span and working career, the increasing frequency with which people change their employment and even their career paths make it necessary to transform education from a separate, discrete stage in human development preceding career to a parallel track in which education and employment proceed side by side throughout the course of life.

  • Lifelong learning is the "ongoing, voluntary, and self-motivated" pursuit of knowledge. Education need not end with a bachelors, masters or doctoral degree; it can be an open-ended pursuit throughout life. The increasingly complex nature of work in a technologically sophisticated, rapidly changing world necessitates that training and education be continuous and on-going.
  • “The high-tech information society is, by its very nature, a changing society that is continuously requiring the mastering of new information and new techniques usable in occupational pursuits. We have, since the early 1960s, been talking about “life-long”, “permanent”, or “continuing” education which means that no matter how much formal education a person has been able to acquire at the beginning of his or her life, relearning and new learning has to take place continuously throughout the rest of this person’s life. Today, in some countries, the costs incurred by enterprises for the upgrading of the competencies of their personnel are of the same order of size as for the entire public system of education” (Torsten Husén, “Education by the Year 2025”, 1999-2000)
  • The words “permanent job” are rapidly disappearing from the lexicon. The average American may change jobs ten or even fifteen times during his or her career.
  • Today rising levels of unemployment co-exist side by side with a growing shortage of skills in the global workforce, because human resource development is not keeping pace with the changing demands of the workplace. Connecting learning with the world of practice during schooling and continuous learning at the workplace to keep up with the trends are the key to lifelong learning.

Fostering Lifelong Learning

Lifelong learning can be fostered in these ways:

  • Shift away from education as a preparation for work towards the concept of education as lifelong learning.
  • Preparation for career should include essential skills for problem solving, teamwork, communications and interpersonal relations.
  • Stimulate active rather than passive learning and encourage students to become critical, creative thinkers, with the capacity to go on learning after their college days are over.
  • So stimulate curiosity in the student and encourage questions.
  • Respect diverse talents and ways of learning.
  • The primary objective of education should be to create environments and experiences that bring students to discover and acquire knowledge for themselves, to make students members of communities of learners that make discoveries and solve problems.

Further Reading