Learning all our Lives (Brussels, Belgium)
At Inclusion Europe’s annual conference held in Brussels on 18-20 May 2006, participants stressed the role of education as the key to inclusion, non-discrimination and social justice. They demanded more and better life-long learning programmes for people with intellectual disabilities.
“Education determines the life opportunities for every citizen. Learning does not stop on the day we leave school. It is with us every day of our lives. Everybody has the ability to learn something new. Life long learning is the key to keeping up with an ever faster evolving and changing world,” stated Ingrid Körner, the new President of Inclusion Europe.
More and more governments recognise the importance of life-long learning. Gisèle Mandaila, Belgian State Secretary for Families and People with Disabilities, stressed: “Life-long learning programmes are very important as they can bring more autonomy to people with intellectual disabilities. People become stronger because they gain a better understanding of their environment and the mechanism of their daily lives.”
This was confirmed by Patrick Gohet, the French Interdepartmental Representative for People with Disabilities, who outlined the inclusive policies of the French government in this sector.
The 250 participants discussed the objectives and needs of adult education for people with intellectual disabilities based on the four pillars of UNESCO’s definition of adult education
The following recommendations were endorsed by all participants:
- life-long learning programmes should target all citizens, including adults with
- intellectual disabilities;
- the programmes should not only focus on vocational training, but on all topics that are important to gain autonomy and self-esteem as well as contributing to the inclusion of people into society;
- life-long learning should offer a broad range of choices in terms of topics and ways of learning, both formal and non-formal education must be available;
- learning programmes must be of good quality and meet the needs of the learners in today’s society;
- awareness raising about the learning abilities of adults with intellectual disabilities is necessary among family members, professionals, employers, disabled people themselves and within the community as a whole.
Members of Inclusion Europe and the participants of the conference will now use these recommendations to promote the inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities in the life-long learning process, to all relevant stakeholders at national and European level.