General legislation of adult education in Spain

Adult education is regulated by the Education Acts of the last two decades in Spain (LOGSE,
LOCE and LOE)5
. These Acts recognise the increasing importance of lifelong learning as a
means for the social cohesion and development of a democratic society.
It is important to observe that, in Spain, educational powers have been decentralised
and transferred to the governments of the different Autonomous Communities or
Regions, so that the latter are in charge of developing and applying the respective regulations
with regard to adult training. Consequently, Spanish general laws on education function as

For a better description, see the document “Proposal for a recommendation of the European Parliament and of the
Council on key skills for lifelong learning” (10-11-2005) on:
LOGSE (Organic Law 1/1990, of October 3, on the General Ordering of the Educational System)
LOCE (Organic Law 10/2002) of December 23 on the Quality of Education)
LOE (Organic Law on Education, of 20 April 2006. Law Project passed definitively by the Parliament)
framework laws, establishing general principles to be developed by each Autonomous
Community according to specific local needs and goals.
The General Educational Act, LOE (Ley Orgánica de Educación,) establishes the current
legal bases for adult education; the importance of which has been stated with the LOGSE (Ley
de Ordenación General del Sistema Educativo,) in 1990.
The LOGSE (1990),

 established three main fields of action:
1. Instrumental or basic, with the aim of acquiring and updating basic training and
favouring access to the different levels of the educational system;
2. Work, with the aim of improving personal qualifications or acquiring training in order to
be able to work in other professional fields;
3. Participatory, with the aim of developing the ability of participation in social, cultural,
political and economic life.
With the aim of regulating and broadening adult training, the legislation allows the
establishment of collaboration agreements with universities, local bodies and other public or
private organisations. Furthermore, legislation fosters collaboration with the different Public
Administrations with a remit on adult education, especially with the Labour Administration.
The “Organic Law on Qualifications and Vocational Training” (“Ley Orgánica de las
Cualificaciones y la Formación Profesional” 5/2002), structures the three large branches of
vocational training in Spain: for youth in their initial training period, for unemployed individuals,
and for working people.

The recently passed Education Act (Ley Orgánica de Educación, LOE) establishes the following
aims for adult education:
A) to acquire basic education, to expand and to update knowledge, skills and abilities in an
ongoing manner and to facilitate access to the different offerings of the educational system.
B) to improve professional qualifications or to acquire preparation to enter other professions.
C) to develop personal capacities in communicative, expressive, and interpersonal relations and
in the construction of learning environments.
D) to develop capacity for participation in economic, political, cultural, and social life and to
exercise the right of democratic citizenship.
E) to develop programmes that address the risks of social exclusion, especially for the most
disadvantaged populations.
F) to respond adequately to the challenges of the progressively ageing population, assuring
older people the opportunity of upgrading and updating their competences.
G) to predict and to peacefully resolve social, family, and personal conflicts
H) to promote effective equality of rights and opportunities between men and women, as well
as to analyse and to critically assess gender inequalities.
The LOE, like the LOGSE,

 encourages autonomous learning in adult education and training.
The legal framework for adult education and training of those with deficits in basic skills has
been based on the following axes:
- In general, adult training is directed towards people over 18 years old, for this is the
maximum age in Compulsory Secondary Education (which normally ends at the age of 16).
Exceptionally and on demand, students over 16 may be allowed to have access to adult training
if, for reasons related to compatibility of timetables, they are unable to continue their studies in
normal educational institutions.
- Two modalities have been established: attendance-based and distance-learning. The latter is
especially encouraged because it implies some advantages for areas with small and dispersed
town settlements, as well as flexibility of schedule.
- Adult training can be provided in public educational institutions or in private institutions under
the inspection of the Educational Ministry. They may be ordinary educational institutions or
specific institutions for adult training. In the case of vocational training for adults, training is
mostly provided by Collaborating Centres (Centros Colaboradores) by means of agreements
with the Labour Administration.
- The aim is for students to be able to enrol from any level; over time, they may be able to
access higher levels, to validate informally acquired knowledge and to adjust to the agendas,
needs, experiences and interests of the adults who wish to be trained. An initial evaluation is
conducted (VIA, Valoración Inicial del Alumnado, Initial Evaluation of Students) when learners
enter adult training in order to place his or her knowledge and skills on an “official” level; on the
basis of this, the most suitable educational pathway is developed, taking into account the
student’s needs and interests.
- In addition to the certificates obtained through general training, other certifications are being
encouraged, such as the Certificado de Profesionalidad (Royal Decree 1506/2003 of March 28),
which aims to identify professional skills, to structure Occupational Vocational Training and to
provide national validity to vocational certifications in order to favour labour market
transparency and labour mobility.

 In addition, other kinds of certificates are issued for nonofficial training courses, in which the speciality of the course and the number of teaching hours
- It is understood that today’s cultural and productive developments, within a framework of
greater competitiveness, require longer and more versatile basic training. Not having access to
training implies a strong risk of social exclusion. Thus, adult training is conceived as a powerful
tool for fighting against social inequalities; this is why the social groups or sectors with
deficiencies and needs in basic training or with difficulties with regard to their professional
placement receive priority attention.
- As we indicated above, these programmes belong to three main areas, although each
Autonomous Community defines them according to its needs: basic training, job training (workbased) and training for social participation (community-based).

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