This monograph, written by Helena Jędrzejczak, PhD and Małgorzata Ossowska, PhD, focuses on issues relating to lifelong learning.

The report presents the theoretical context of lifelong learning (LLL) and the results of field studies conducted in 2021 in four cities: Krosno, Ciechanów, Skierniewice, and Wałcz. The empirical research included an analysis of existing data, qualitative interviews (individual and group) and research walks. Maps of local institutions supporting LLL were made on the basis of the group interviews.

The results of the empirical part of the research indicate only partial usage of the local cooperation potential of different institutions in the area of learning. To a large extent, this is due to the use of conventional activities and repeating the same practices. The schematic perception of the target groups by locally active institutions limit the possibility of broadening cooperation. Interviewees were generally convinced that learning is the domain of children, youth, older persons and those required to supplement or upgrade their qualifications, which may perhaps impinge on the potential of the cooperation undertaken in this area. The report identifies good practices and recommendations for cooperation among local organisations on behalf of lifelong learning.

Interviews with university representatives showed that expanding activities to support LLL in local communities is not considered an equivalent goal to other objectives set by higher education institutions. Additionally, universities do not budget for the objective of supporting LLL, and therefore their activities for communities are incidental and fragmented. The desire to maintain an elitist image and the frequent misunderstanding of the local community’s lack of interest in an offer often taking the form of academic classes is also a barrier to expanding activities for the community. The limitations identified above could be overcome by engaging in greater cooperation with other actors and broadening the thinking about what the institutions have to offer in a city-wide perspective.

In the context of financing the LLL offer, the report’s authors emphasise the uncertainty and instability of this offer, which mainly relies on EU funding. In many cases, the end of EU funding for a project meant the end of the activity, regardless of the interest it attracted. Nevertheless, as the authors indicate:

“The cities seem to have taken a directions conducive to community learning – they have recognised their resources and potential, they have an open-minded approach to LLL, and see the need for more diverse relationships both with institutions and groups of inhabitants or even individual residents. Their range of activities is rich and directed at many types of target groups, which provides a solid  base for further developing and diversifying an already attractive offer.”

The report is available at the Integrated Qualifications System website.