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Lifelong Learning
When planning for a year, plant corn.
When planning for a decade, plant trees.
When planning for life, train and educate people.
(Chinese proverb, 650 BC)

The field of education and training is regarded as one of the highest political priorities of the European Union and its member states. The idea of lifelong learning (LLL) has been developed in order to support and enhance Europe’s international competitiveness. People must be able to cope with conditions of the global economy, and to find their way in a knowledge based society. This is especially true in the world of employment:
Continuing education and on the job training are necessary both for the individual employee and for the European economy in general, particularly with respect to international competitiveness (see the Lisbon strategy of the EU).

However, those who continuously seek to enhance their knowledge, capabilities and competence also develop their personality in many respects. In return they enable themselves
to participate more fully in society. Therefore, lifelong learning is a pillar of democracy.

Lifelong learning uses methods of teaching and training which meet the special needs of adults. A basic approach is making use of capabilities the learners already possess.

dvv international and its partner organisations in South East Europe disseminate the ideas of lifelong learning. They put them into practice through various projects.


Shortly after the political changes of 1989, dvv international established several offices in South East European countries (see the map inside). This was the starting point of today’s strong network of local offices and partner organisations.

Together, they help modernise local structures of adult education (AE) and vocational education and training (VET), while contributing to raising public awareness of the needs of lifelong learning (LLL). In their countries, they help adjust the education systems to EU standards, thus offering support to these countries in their efforts to integrate into a modern Europe. For the citizens of SEE countries, the work of dvv international focuses on:

  • Employability: Becoming competitive in national and international labour markets
  • Tolerance: Contributing to the foundations of democracy and civil society
  • Integration: Participating in all aspects of society


dvv international continuously co-operates with ministries, employment centres, municipalities, NGOs, associations for education and culture, trade unions, employers’ associations, chambers of commerce and trades, schools, universities and many other kinds of institutions providing various kinds of continuing education and training. Partner institutions are presented with a broad range of support for their practical work and for developing their strategies, such as:

  • Staff training in management, teaching methods, and determination of demand
  • Assistance with writing applications and project management at an European level
  • Advocacy of adult education and lifelong learning. In this way, dvv international also contributes to the UN Decade Education for Sustainable Development which aims to integrate the principles and practices of sustainable development into education and learning from 2005-2014 all over the world.

Institute for International Co-operation of the German Adult Education Association

The German Adult Education Association (DVV) unites about a thousand adult education centres (called “Volkshochschulen“) in Germany. DVV’s Institute for International Cooperation (for short: dvv international) with its head office in the former German capital of Bonn, supports adult education structures all over the world, particularly in less developed regions in Asia, Africa, South America, Eastern Europe and South Eastern Europe.

dvv international runs offices in many countries and cooperates with local adult education providers. Ever since the 1960s, dvv international has decisively contributed to making adult education possible all over the world. It has contributed to modernising approaches in education, teaching and learning.

The work of dvv international is financed primarily by the German government, in particular the Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ), the German Foreign Office and the European Union.