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Committee of the Regions' opinion on the proposal for a European Parliament and Council Decision establishing 1996 as the European Year of Lifelong Learning

Further to its November 1994 session, the Committee of the Regions has published its opinion the on Commission's proposal to declare 1996 the European Year of Lifelong Learning. The Committee proposes that local and regional authorities could play a key role in two areas whic...

Further to its November 1994 session, the Committee of the Regions has published its opinion the on Commission's proposal to declare 1996 the European Year of Lifelong Learning. The Committee proposes that local and regional authorities could play a key role in two areas which relate directly to the European Year: - Promoting cooperation at all levels between education and enterprise; - Fostering the creation of a "European education and training area". Whilst the Committee recommends that regional authorities back this major Commission venture, it states that the emphasis of the Year should not be on large spectacular events but on a programme of information and exchange that would be of lasting value. In particular, this might include areas such as access to and use of information technology and distance learning. Among other points, the Committee calls on the Commission to consider the convening of a European conference in connection with the Year of Lifelong Learning in order to focus attention on the links between study leave, job rotation schemes and lifelong learning. It is the view of the Committee that the European Year must be rooted in the broadest possible definition of education and training, with an open approach to new training and information technologies. In particular, the Committee feels that the focus must not be solely on vocationally-oriented education and training but encompass the concept of "learning for life" by seeking to harness new technology to that end. For example, this would include training to access electronically-based information in libraries and out-of-school education. As countries who have signed Association Agreements are eligible to participate in the European Year of Lifelong Learning, the Committee urges the Commission to consider appropriate ways of relaying information and experience regarding "education as an integral part of citizenship and training" to Central and Eastern countries. The Committee recommends that the European Year focuses on: - The stimulation and education of young people who cannot be accommodated in the traditional education system; - Educational barriers. In conclusion, the Committee of the Regions also recommends that special attention be focused on the education of vulnerable groups such as, disabled persons, refugees, immigrants and the elderly.

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