Developing Lifelong Learning in Turkey
Today, the importance of Lifelong Learning is understood by all segments of society, and projects are focused on this. We talked to Irmak Tosun and Gizem Harman, who supported the implementation of this project in the WYG Turkey Project Management Department regarding the “Project for the Development of Lifelong Learning in Turkey”, of which the Ministry of National Education is the beneficiary institution.
Lifelong learning is defined as all kinds of learning activities undertaken throughout life in order to develop knowledge, skills and competences from a personal, social, communal and/or employment-related perspective. Lifelong learning includes all education, training and learning activities that support the development of knowledge and competences. Its aim is to enable all citizens to actively participate in all phases of social and economic life so that they can adapt to a knowledge-based society and have greater control over their lives. Turkey continued to align with the European Union (EU) acquis and standards on education, vocational training and youth . The Ministry of National Education (MEB) was restructured in September 2011; the General Directorate of Lifelong Learning and the General Directorate of EU and Foreign Relations were established among other changesç The General Directorate of Lifelong Learning works with the following vision: “in order to ensure employability and socio-cultural development of individuals with different education and age levels, to improve their knowledge, skills and competences, to increase their access to learning and ultimately to realize a transformation from a learner to a learning Turkey”. .
As stated in the 2011 EU Progress Report, Turkey has improved its performance in all areas where the criteria are set at EU level, but overall it is still below the EU average in terms of participation rates in lifelong learning, especially for early leavers and adults.
Financial aids made during Turkey’s candidacy to the European Union were gathered under a single roof under the title of Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA), with the amendments that started in 2007. Within the scope of the aid plan prepared for candidate countries and candidate countries, five components have been determined, of which the Ministry of Labor and Social Security (MoLSS) is responsible for IPA’s IV. component, which is the Human Resources Development Operational Program. One of the five priorities determined within the scope of this program is “Promoting Lifelong Learning”. The aim of this priority has been determined as the dissemination and improvement of Lifelong Learning (LLL) opportunities in our country, and increasing the adaptability of workers, businesses and employers. Two measures have been identified regarding the use of resources related to this priority. These are Developing Skills and Competencies Necessary for Lifelong Learning and Increasing the Adaptability of Employers and Employees by Investing More in Human Capital.
The total budget of the Lifelong Learning Operation is 15 Million Euros. The Project for the Development of Lifelong Learning in Turkey, carried out within the scope of the program aiming to develop and implement lifelong learning strategies appropriately and comprehensively, was planned and put into practice within the scope of “Developing the Skills and Competencies Required for Lifelong Learning”, which is the first of the two measures determined for this priority.
The Project for the Development of Lifelong Learning in Turkey, of which the Program Authority is MoLSS and the Ministry of National Education is the beneficiary institution, started to be implemented on 26 May 2011 and will continue to be implemented for 24 months with the support of the consortium of Cambridge Education and WYG Turkey. The budget of the project, which will end on May 24, 2013, is 7.4 Million Euros. The draft of the lifelong learning policy document, which forms the basis of the project, was prepared as a sub-component of the Project on Strengthening the Vocational Education and Training System (MEGEP) carried out in 2006. When we look at the statistical results of 2007, considering that the participation rate in formal and non-formal education still remains at 17.2, it can be easily understood that the project has been prepared so comprehensively and that a high budget has been allocated.
Within the scope of a system designed to value all types of learning, the project, which aims to build an institutional framework and capacity on the basis of lifelong learning perspectives in line with EU practices towards the objective of supporting individuals’ access to education in order to increase employment opportunities, has 18 outcome areas. As it can be understood from its budget and project objectives, in order to facilitate the implementation of this large and comprehensive project, the result areas are grouped under 6 components. These components are listed as follows : initial stage, the activities to be carried out at the national level to develop an LLL approach in line with the National LLL strategy, the activities to be carried out at the local level to develop an LLL approach in line with the National LLL strategy, the awareness raising of LLL in Turkey, the activities for the grant program, and the Closing stage.
The project covers 13 geographical provinces, with its head office in Ankara. There are also regional offices in Erzurum, Kayseri and Şanlıurfa, and support is provided for the implementation of the project at a more local level. In addition, the project is supported by 78 designated pilot institutions. With the Development of Lifelong Learning project, it is aimed to establish Lifelong Learning Coordination Units all over Turkey.