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Lifelong Learning Systems

As the lead UN agency in education, UNESCO helps countries develop and reform their education systems at all levels -- from early childhood through primary, secondary, post-secondary to higher education -- in all settings (formal, non-formal and informal) and for children, youth and adults.

UNESCO offers expertise in the planning and management of education systems to help countries provide quality lifelong learning for all.

This involves strengthening countries’ capacities to provide inclusive education. It also means offering technical support in the formulation and implementation of education policies that respond to contemporary challenges, and are relevant for work and all aspects of life.

UNESCO develops and supports programmes that strengthen all levels of education.Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) which provides for the holistic development of children from birth to eight years old, is a priority area for the Organization. UNESCO works with governments and partners to expand the availability and quality of ECCE around the world. 

Primary and Secondary Education are essential building blocks for ensuring lifelong learning opportunities for all. Following the rise in access to primary education in recent years, UNESCO is helping countries cope with the growing demand for quality Secondary Education.

Higher education is key to the development of knowledge-based societies. As the only UN agency with a mandate in higher education, UNESCO helps develop evidence-based policies in response to new trends and works to make higher education more inclusive and innovative. The Organization connects, informs and guides the global higher education community in areas from mobility to recognition of qualifications, quality enhancement, and inter-university cooperation.

Another key component of lifelong learning is Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) for youth  and adults,which helps build, maintain and renew the skills required for the world of work and social integration. Along with the UNESCO-UNEVOC International Centre, UNESCO helps countries to improve their TVET systems and informs the global debate on TVET.

Building quality and inclusive education systems requires coherent education policies and plans. UNESCO, together with its specialized International Institute for Education Planning, provides technical assistance in education policy analysis and planning to countries. UNESCO’s Institute for Lifelong Learning plays a key role in supporting Member States in their development of lifelong learning policies.

UNESCO also promotes educational policies and practices that can help address global challenges. By promoting Education for Sustainable Development, UNESCO seeks to ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.

In relation to post-conflict post-disaster contexts, UNESCO is particularly attentive to the need  to plan for disaster risk reduction and for building social cohesion.  In this context, it also promotes education as a part of the emergency response and as a key instrument for long-term recovery.