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European Year of Lifelong Learning - First conclusions

The official closure of the European Year of Lifelong Learning took place in Dublin, Ireland, on 6 December 1996, in the presence of the Ministers for Education and Employment of the European Economic Area (EEA). Mrs. Edith Cresson, European Commissioner responsible for educat...

The official closure of the European Year of Lifelong Learning took place in Dublin, Ireland, on 6 December 1996, in the presence of the Ministers for Education and Employment of the European Economic Area (EEA). Mrs. Edith Cresson, European Commissioner responsible for education, training and youth policy, took this opportunity to present a first assessment of the Year. Despite a relatively restricted budget, the European Year was characterized by a high level of participation: over 5,000 projects were submitted, 2,500 events organized and 550 projects financed by the Commission. Participation was particularly high at regional and local level, facilitating the involvement of local communities, associative movements, SMEs and Chambers of Commerce. In this context, Mrs. Cresson noted with satisfaction that over half of the organizations having received Community financing during the Year had never previously participated in a European Union programme. Given its strong social connotations, the European Year was able to communicate a number of important messages through organizations working in the field and to stimulate a wide-ranging exchange of ideas, experiences, hopes and concerns. Among the messages of greatest importance were: - The need to find means to bridge the rapidly growing gap between educational systems and the professional world; - The preparation of Europeans for the Information Society; - The need to take into account the diversification of demand in the area of continuing education and vocational training; - The link between developments in the area of lifelong learning and the more general debate concerning the reorganization of working time. The conference provided the occasion for an informal debate between Ministers for Education and Employment on the implementation of continuing education and vocational training programmes. Discussions were based on a document prepared by the Irish Presidency and on the conclusions of the study group on education and training set up by the Commission at the end of 1995.

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