Adult Education Academy

Group 8

Comparative Group 8: Developing Active Citizenship through adult learning & education

Identity ∙ active citizenship ∙ lifelong learning ∙ social capital ∙ participation

Active citizenship became a research issue for adult and lifelong learning in 1995 when the Council of Ministers decided to dedicate 1996 to the Year of Lifelong Learning. Moreover, the Lisbon-programme, in the year of 2000, strengthened the importance and relevance of the issue and connected it to Lifelong Learning together with employability. That is why since 2001 comparative adult learning and education researches have been analysing AC with accurate focuses. Learning outcomes of the comparative group will be the collection of different national/regional/local narratives and understandings of AC, together with some distinguished examples of actions, formations of active citizens, or progresses of how to learn for active citizenship as routes and processes of lifelong learning. However, we will analyse similarities and differences collected and try to relate them to some already existing theoretical frames offered by Baert, Johnston, Wildemeersch, Jansen, Jarvis, et al.

Comparative research question

1. What is the meaning of active citizenship in your country (alternatively in your region and/or locality)?

2. What are some identical forms of demonstrating the practice of active citizenship in your country (alternatively in your region and/or locality)?

3. Have a look into your country’s strategy on adult and/or lifelong learning. Explain in what contexts active citizenship is mentioned in it! Please also have a look, where it is not mentioned.

Context of comparison

Context will indicate:

  •  roles of existing or missing law;
  •  impact of existing or missing policies (in case alternatively strategies);
  •  influence of existing or missing discourse amongst civil society groups to develop active citizenship

Interdependencies will relate to:

  •  the level of developments and related actions in grass-route adult learning and education;
  •  the level of impacts of international initiatives and documents;
  •  the balance between economic and social focuses of relevant stakeholders in developing a balanced lifelong and lifewide learning.

Categories of comparison

  •  Community-based actions/initiatives to develop or sustain activities 
    In this focus students should relate active citizenship to actions/initiatives/programmes represented by their own communities, local-regional groups with the aim to develop, sustain, form active citizenship either, with social, cultural, educational, environmental, etc. concerns.
  •  National strategies, programmes dedicating focus to active citizenship development 
    In this particular context, students will relate their practice-based cased to the policy contexts articulated in relevant and available governmental documents to assess how far they meet and/or match regarding goals, contents and expected impacts.
  •  Particular roles and impacts of the international communities (e.g. EU initiatives, UN-based agendas on or incorporating AC, like SDGs), and their calls to develop equity and active citizenship

Good practices

Good practice may refer to:

  •  community-based learning activities with the aim to raise participation in adult and lifelong learning;
  •  learning festivals, adult learners’ weeks to integrate vulnerable groups, e.g. minorities, women, senior citizens, young adults, prisoners, unemployed people, migrants/refugees, etc.
  •  specific intercultural programmes, event with the aims to strengthen identity and belongingness through action;
  •  local/regional initiatives, formations so as to develop collaborations, understanding, recognition and trust amongst citizens of the community.
  •  examples of collecting and sharing valuable knowledge and skills around labour, community and/or environment with sustainability, intercultural or intergenerational focuses

Those above listed dimensions can be used in order to select good practices/practices in general and explain the conditions and realities for and against lifelong learning for active citizenship.


Wildemeersch, D. – Stroobants, V. – Bron Jr., M. (eds.) (2005) Active Citizenship and Multiple Identities Frankfurt am Main: Peter LANG

H. Baert: Reconstructing Active Citizenship. In: Schmidt-Lauff, S. (ed.) (2003) Adult Education and Lifelong Learning. Berlin:Verlag Kovac, Pp. 55-69.

P. Jarvis (2004) Lifelong Learning and Active Citizenship in a Global Society. JACE, NIACE-Leicester. Vol 10., No1., Pp. 3-19.

Further literature can be accessed at:


Dr. habil Balázs Németh PhD, Institute for Human Development and Cultural Science at the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Pécs, Hungary

Balázs Németh is a researcher on European adult and lifelong learning policy development and comparative adult education. He is an associate professor and reader in Adult Learning and Education at the University of Pécs. He is also a founding member of the Hungarian Universities Lifelong Learning Network (MELLearN) and represents the University of Pécs in the European Universities Continuing Education Network (EUCEN) and in the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA). Further research topics of his are: Politics and Adult Education; Comparative Adult Education; History of Modern European Adult Education and Learning City-Region Development


Prof.(H) Dr. Dr. h. c. mult. Heribert Hinzen Senior Consultant, Adult Education, Lifelong Learning and Sustainable Development, Former Director, DVV International

Heribert Hinzen studied at the Universities of Bonn, Cologne and Heidelberg, Germany, gaining a doctorate in comparative studies with a thesis on Adult Education and Development in Tanzania, worked for DVV International from 1977 in headquarters and in offices of Sierra Leone, Hungary, and Lao PDR for South- and Southeast Asia till his retirement in 2015.