Since 1992, André Schläfli has been the director of the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning (SVEB), the national organization for further and adult continuing education in Switzerland as well as being actively involved as an expert in all adult learning policies at the national level.
Schläfli represents Switzerland within the UNESCO, OECD, Council of Europe, and at European Union conferences. He is an expert in the OECD for individual learning accounts and actively participates in several international networks. He was a member of the committee of the European Association for Adult Education (EAEA) from 1995 to 2004, first as treasurer and then as vice president. He has published numerous articles on continuing vocational training and adult learning.
Schläfli was the initiator of the national modular Train-the-Trainer System in Switzerland, comprising three qualification levels. Since its implementation in 1999, about 20,000 people have achieved level one (SVEB 1), 6,000 have achieved level two (eidg. Fachausweis), and 100 have attained level three (eidg. Dipl.-Ausbildungsleiter). It includes procedures leading to recognition of prior learning, which is still rarely the case in other education and training sectors in Switzerland.
About 120 organizations have been accredited as Train-the-Trainer course providers. The system is generally acknowledged as the leading training system for adult educators in Switzerland, filling what was once a gap in the formal education and training system.
Schläfli is now working toward enhancing acknowledgment of the Train-the-Trainer system by universities to promote mobility and permeability of the formal system, which would be a further step in the professionalization of adult education on a national level. Another crucial development currently under way is the connection of the Swiss Train-the-Trainer system to the European Qualifications Framework provided by Schläfli in transnational projects.
As a result of a report commissioned by the Swiss government and co-written by Schläfli, the government established a national platform for continuing education in 2000 called “Forum Weiterbildung Schweiz,” which has been the first organization to regularly bring together governmental, non-governmental, public, and private partners to discuss and coordinate Swiss continuing education policies. In directing the forum since 2000, Schläfli has raised public awareness for continuing education policy.
Moreover, the forum played a key role in convincing the Swiss government to implement the first national law on continuing education, which is now in development. This law can be considered a major milestone in Swiss education and training policy – an achievement awaited by the adult education sector for decades.
Schläfli was the initiator of the first Swiss quality label which was designed specifically for adult learning providers. The label, called eduQua, was introduced in 2000 and is now widely acknowledged as the most important quality assurance system in adult education in Switzerland. A number of cantons have established eduQua as a requirement for public funding and about 1,000 institutions have acquired the label and attest to the significant impact it continues to have on the quality learning now provided in Switzerland.
Schläfli was also responsible for the initiation and implementation of Adult Learners Week in Switzerland, which is the only regular public campaign for adult education. The event has enhanced the visibility and contributed to the consciousness of lifelong learning among the population.
Schläfli also organized Swiss participation at the World Conference for Adult Learning CONFINTEA. He was a member of the Swiss delegation in 1997 and 2009, and he is actively involved in disseminating CONFINTEA recommendations in Switzerland.
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