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National dialogue on structural sustainability in education and training
Start date: Feb 1, 2011,

In 2010, the national legislature of Iceland, Althingi, adopted a new act on Adult Learning. With this act legislation for all levels and all forms of learning was completed, as acts on Pre-primary, Primary and Upper Secondary Education were adopted in 2008, along with an act on Qualifications of Teachers. Implementing these new acts is a major challenge for all those who work in education and training in Iceland. At the same time, the onset of the present economic crisis poses further challenges for everyone involved, as there are severe cutbacks in spending on education, with dire consequences for students, teachers and families. This has also led to setbacks in forms of cooperation and for the spirit of coming together for different sectors of education, representing different forms of learning. For this reason, increased cooperation, dialogue, coordination and commitment is necessary in order to be able to reach common goals and to move on towards goals in education set by the Government to be reached by 2020.A national dialogue is foreseen, encompassing all relevant stakeholders, from businesses, professional sectors, schools, communities, that will focus on the implementation of the acts on upper secondary education and on adult learning. On the one hand, these dialogues will deal with the lifelong learning strategy in Iceland and the tasks that emanate from that strategy. On the other hand, they will, sectorwise, take up different challenges posed by the present crises, such as unemployment, exclusion, crisis of the apprentice system, etc. Seminars will be organized for different sectors of the labour market, to take up specific problems. Local meetings will also be held for the broader public in order for mutual understanding and consensus building. Fora will be established, based on provisions in both acts previously mentioned, that will formalize cooperation and continued dialogue. A national conference will be held at the end of the project, bringing together concrete results of the exercise and to pave the way forward. A written report will be produced in Icelandic and English to summarise the project. The impact foreseen is that of greater cohesion, mutual understanding, better cooperation and coordination of efforts to implement a national lifelong learning strategy. This will hopefully lead to the bringing down of barriers between different forms of learning, making it easier for those without formal qualifications to access education and to have their previous experience validated and recognized. Furthermore, it is hoped that formal structures of cooperation will be established, making coordination of efforts more successful and to lay basis for commitment to improve education and lifelong learning in Iceland.

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