Non-formal adult education in Nordic countries is supported in various ways by the national states. The overall aim is to further lifelong learning on individual, group and societal level. Further it aims at promoting human development by self-motivated learning and thereby strengthening individuals’ possibilities, ability and lust to take responsibility of and affect their own lives.
Non-formal adult education is regarded an arena for realization of active citizenship and strengthening of the development of civil society and the society at large. The national policies aim at enhancing the understanding and development of democracy. The opportunities for human development and active citizenship are to be equal and accessible for all, and especially for those with disabilities and low levels of education.
Besides these overall aims non-formal adult education can complement formal education by furthering general and vocational knowledge and skills that is meeting also the needs of working life. Additionally it can be used for promoting wellbeing and public health, sustainable development, multiculturalism, internationalization and global justice.
The laws on non-formal adult education have been recently revised in Denmark (2011) Iceland (2010) Norway (2006 and 2009) and Finland (2009). In Sweden the law from 1991 was slightly revised in 2007. In Sweden, Finland and Denmark non-formal adult education (folkbildning/folkeoplysning) is regulated by a specific juridical framework separate from the laws regulating adult educational programs for working life and the formal adult education. Norway and Denmark has separate laws that cover non-formal adult education and folk high schools. In addition Norway as Iceland applies a more general framework for adult education as a whole.
In recent years the traditional aims and tasks of non-formal adult education, still expressed on the laws, has been challenged by the ideology characteristic to globalized knowledge economy. On national and level this has resulted in enhanced decentralization, embracing differentiated strategies for survival and development, and an emphasis on the utility and effects of the various forms of learning activities.
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Non-formal Adult Education – national overviews - (pdf-files):
Denmark | Finland | Iceland | Norway | Sweden
Forskningsmiljöer i Norden