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Subject The regional dimension within education, lifelong learning and continuing professional development (Hungary)
> Outine of presentation by Magdolna Benke
Discussion Wilfried Admiraal
    I want to ask something about the partnerships involved in regional development - who are in a partnership?

Magdolna Benke
    At the region’s level there are partnerships between local governments, the regional development agencies, the representatives of employers and employees, and the civil society. Civil society and social dialogue are new resources in Hungary, they are under development, and it seems that they have a very important task. In the future they can deal with new, but very important topics, which may not be in the main focus of interest, for example the harmonisation of sectoral and regional planning aspects.

Wilfried Admiraal
    Are there also partnerships between companies - for instance to share ideas about the professional development of their employees, to work with one another on the same topics? 

Magdolna Benke
    There are HR clubs, where HRD people of companies can discuss common problems and share ideas, but this kind of partnership differs a lot from the other - I mean partnership related to regional development - where the key actors try to represent and strengthen there interests. There are institutions which can organise company training on their own. These companies have financial resources and human resources to manage it from the company side. Others who have no money or no interest to do that try to employ well educated and trained people from outside. But it's important that those who have money can manage it, and the others are waiting for ‘good luck’, try to hire qualified people.

Wilfried Admiraal
    Lack of money could be a reason to build a partnership...

Magdolna Benke
    You are probably right, but I think that it is not money but mentality, this is most important. Because, maybe you have money, but you follow the old structures and can't open yourself for learning. So, lack of money is important, but lack of mentality is more important. 

Regina Mulder
    I was thinking about whose responsibility this regional development is. It's quite a lot and it's going to be something different. When you say that the government is responsible for things to happen like that, then there is a chance that it remains the same political situation, that it looks similar as before 1989. Or is it a responsibility of the people? Is it a top-down approach or a bottom-up approach? Who has the responsibility here?

Magdolna Benke
    Since the  country joined the EU the regions have got much stronger responsibility for their own future. Hungary can expect a lot of support from the EU funds because of the level of development. But there is a long conciliation process between Hungary and the EU, for example how many regional operative programmes we can present to the EU. It is a learning process also, to give the power and the money to the regions - the state cannot control the power and the money as it happened before any longer. Maybe this is why the government is a bit cautious and the EU is cautious too - who wants a big fiasco? 
    But at the same time it is important to focus on the sub-regional level, because regions are not able to set out and develop their own planning if they are only sitting at the desk. They have to go further and contact the sub-regions and utilise every kind of source they have. The problem is that especially the less developed sub-regions won't have any resource to become more developed on their own.

Maria Cseh
    You said that you have found out from your research that there was no participation in lifelong learning. How do you define lifelong learning in the Hungarian context? Different countries and different regions of the world look at this term in a different way. What do we mean by it? How do we measure it?

Magdolna Benke
    Well, I said that there was not too strong emphasis on lifelong learning in the regional development plans and tried to explain that according to different surveys the country demonstrates a low participation rate of adults in lifelong learning. There was a CVTS2 survey by EUROSTAT four years back; they stated that Hungary is below average. They studied the non-formal and also formal  education and training provided by companies for their employees. 

Maria Cseh
    I think what they call lifelong learning is the informal, the non-formal part. According to my understanding, and if you look at the literature, lifelong learning is a larger term, an umbrella term which comprises many things.

Magdolna Benke
    Yes, I agree with you, but if you check the recent past in Hungary, there are very similar findings. According to a survey conducted by the Hungarian Central Statistical Office in 2003 on participation in lifelong learning, approximately 20 % of the population aged 15-74 participated in any kind of educational or training activities within the 12 months prior to the survey. This is why the government has set up huge programmes recently to encourage individuals to participate in adult learning.

Source Recording of discussion at the HRD conference in Leeds, May 2005 (see proceedings).
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