The Cyprus Lifelong Learning Strategy (CyLLLS) 2021-2027 for Cyprus responds to the national political priority of developing a framework for lifelong learning by setting the strategic objectives and targets for this reference period. The work on the strategy was implemented with the financial support of the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support (DG REFORM). The CyLLS 2021-2027 is coordinated by the Office for European and International Affairs, Lifelong Learning and Adult Education (MESY) of the Cyprus Ministry of Education Sport and Youth. The National and Technical Committee on Lifelong Learning is responsible for developing, supervising, monitoring and updating the strategy.
The strategy was preceded by extensive research. Secondary research it included the study of numerous national and European policies related to the lifelong learning to develop a knowledge base on this topic. Critical analysis of the literature, research and online study visits to countries such as Estonia, Austria and Slovenia, where good practices and examples were examined, provided a good overview of the factors and actions that make lifelong learning systems effective. In the context of the field survey, continuous consultations took place. interviews and discussions with policy makers, key stakeholders, social partners and experts to identify needs and gaps as well as to attract of interest and the development of future synergies between them.
The European Commission points out that education and training are essential for building the knowledge economy and promoting individual and social progress, economic and sustainable development, as well as social cohesion and inclusion. At national level, the MESY recognises that the culture of lifelong learning needs to be fostered from the early stages of education. It is also appreciated that activities related to the lifelong learning system fall under the competence of many public authorities and bodies. The CyLLLS 2021-2027 aims to align its vision with the strategic measures and actions of other national authorities, as communicated through their objectives and operating frameworks.
The lack of an institutional framework for lifelong learning in Cyprus and the absence of a dedicated authority to oversee related activities limited the opportunities for progress in the past. In addition, there is no mechanism for monitoring, aligning and evaluating the impact of different national actions in the field of lifelong learning, which could ensure the quality and assess the performance of the system. The adult learning sector also appears to be fragmented with few oversight mechanisms, due to the lack of a legislative and policy framework as well as quality assurance mechanisms clarifying its functions and standards. Learning outcomes achieved in non-formal and informal education cannot be validated or recognised, as a formal process has not yet been institutionalised. The culture of lifelong learning needs to be fostered from the early years of school education. Teachers at all levels are therefore called upon to inspire the spirit of ‘Ageing is not taught’ through their practice. The identification of these needs and gaps, as well as the desired future outcomes, as described by stakeholders, has led to the development of the vision and strategic priorities set out in this strategy. In addition to the above information and data derived from the in-depth analysis, it should be noted that the coronavirus pandemic inevitably affected the labour market, as a result of reduced economic activity in recent years, with negative effects on the employability of young people.
Strategic Priorities and Objectives
To achieve the vision of the CyLLLS 2021-2027, four strategic priorities are set as key objectives to be achieved by 2027. These objectives are essential to provide the long-term strategic framework for lifelong learning towards the development of a knowledge-based and inclusive society and guide future actions:
1. Establish the governance, monitoring and evaluation framework including policy arrangements and action plans with clear stakeholder roles and sound financial management. In addition, key performance indicators and criteria for quality assurance and continuous improvements are needed.
2. Reducing youth unemployment and upskilling/reskilling young people and the workforce by providing learning opportunities that reflect labour market needs and take into account the digital and green transitions. The focus is on people at risk of unemployment and on the upskilling/reskilling of the workforce at national level.
3. Increasing adult participation in lifelong learning by improving the quality of the adult learning sector, motivating individuals and businesses, removing barriers, as well as increasing the visibility and strengthening of information and communication.
4. Improving the professional practice of adult educators and supporting trainers at all levels of education in developing lifelong learning skills.
To support and monitor the achievement of strategic priorities and objectives, specific Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been defined. These indicators provide the required benchmark to measure the achievement of the targets set, including the timeframe for achievement and the requested target for 2027. Finally, this strategy will be accompanied by an action plan, which will support the National and Technical Committees in fulfilling their mission. A draft action plan, which will be presented as a separate document, will be prepared in consultation with all key stakeholders and social partners. The Action Plan will include indicative actions aligned with the above strategic measures and can be used as a mapping tool to define the timing of activities and bring together other authorities’ endeavours towards a common work line within the national lifelong learning system. The National and Technical Committees, responsible for the implementation and monitoring of the strategy, may review and update the action plan and KPIs as necessary during the implementation of this strategy. This strategy, including its priorities and draft action plan, should be seen as an evolving document, taking into account the dynamic nature of the external environment that may diversify until the strategy is finalised. In this process, the annual monitoring and evaluation mechanisms will provide information and recommendations for amendments, always in consultation with key stakeholders.