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Foggy Forest


Republic of North Macedonia Perspective

Daniela Bavcandzi

Daniela Bavcandzi photo 1.jpg

Daniel Baril, Chair of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, places “learning and education as a condition for a hopeful future”. The Republic of North Macedonia has still a long way to go for a hopeful future, nevertheless the path is paved in.

As signatory of the UNESCO’s Incheon Declaration and following on from the Marrakech Framework for Action (MFA) – North Macedonia commits to ‘..prioritizing literacy, vocational training, sustainable development education, digital skills, health education, global citizenship education and transversal skills...’ and ‘…to a renewed and actualized vision of adult education, culminating in a new right to lifelong learning: a right to learn at any age, in any relevant learning site and through learning pathways and educational means adapted to all learners’.


According to Eurostat 2018 data, only 2.4% of the North Macedonia’s adults are in adult education (AE), way below the 20% target under the SDG4 indicator. Thus, AE’s potential in the economic and social development is yet to be fully embedded in the central and regional development planning.  


However, in the past 10 years, considerable positive change has happened. The most evident and palpable, is the opened gates to the international expertise in adult education and life-long learning (LLL), the networks created that enabled the transfer of knowledge and the training/mentoring of local experts. The main such ‘AE expertise and knowledge pathway’ was created under the largest project in AE/LLL in the country – the EU-funded ‘Enhancing Lifelong Learning through Modernizing the Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education Systems’, delivered 2016 – 2017 by the British Council and DVV International.  It was a follow up of the first ever operational document in AE – the Education Strategy 2018-2025.


 This EU-funded project gathered the largest team of renowned international AE experts that ever worked in the country, the most senior amongst them, the honourable Prof. Chris Duke, who inspired with his depth of knowledge, wealth of experience and infectious enthusiasm and positivity. Together with experts Mr. Heribert Hinzen, and Mariana Matache to name just a few – Prof. Duke ‘fathered’ the project’s capital result - the National Lifelong Learning Strategy. 


As with other project results – such as the Adult Education Strategy, the LLL Strategy was adopted to serve as a framework for future LLL / AE actions by stakeholders and international donors. In 2019, North Macedonia entered the EPALE family, and since 2020 it has been setting the national system for verification of non-formal and informal prior learning, now in its final piloting phase. The national Concept framework for the secondary education of adults was adopted by the Ministry of Education in 2022, with many recommendations for implementation and reform in AE.


All these milestones were achieved on the path set by the EU-funded LLL project and its catalytic wealth of expertise and knowledge repository, that remains valid to the country's achievement of SDG4 by 2030 till today. The legacy of the above-mentioned team, now continued and realized by the national expertise and national bodies, provides ample ground for a hopeful future of the AE in North Macedonia, albeit still far away.


In loving memory of Prof. Chris Duke

About the Author

Daniela Bavcandzi is a developer and first Project Manager of the ‘Enhancing Lifelong Learning through Modernizing the Vocational Education and Training and Adult Education Systems’ project. Email:


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