Annex C. A framework for the governance of adult learning

This annex summarises the basic concepts, definitions and framework used to assess the governance of adult learning in Slovenia.

Adult learning

For the purposes of this report, “adult learning” refers to any formal or non-formal education and training, or informal learning undertaken by adults who have previously finished “first chance” formal education. This is related to but distinct from “lifelong learning”, and may take place in the workplace, in training or education centres, online or in other contexts (Box A C.1).

Box A C.1. Adult learning and lifelong learning: Definitions

Lifelong learning encompasses all learning activity “from cradle to grave”, including all stages of education and training, and taking place both in the formal education system and outside of it.

Adult learning encompasses any education or training activity undertaken by adults for job-related or other purposes, and includes:

  • formal education or training: education or training activity that leads to a formal qualification (at primary, secondary, post-secondary or tertiary level)

  • non-formal education or training: education or training activity that does not necessarily lead to a formal qualification, such as on-the-job training, open or distance education, courses or private lessons, seminars or workshops

  • informal learning: learning that results from daily activities related to work, family or leisure. It is not organised or structured in terms of objectives, time or learning support. It is in most cases unintentional from the learner’s perspective.

For the purposes of this report, adult learners are defined as individuals aged 25+ who have left the initial, “first chance” education system (either primary, secondary, post-secondary or tertiary level) but are engaged in learning.

Sources: OECD (2001[7]), Education Policy Analysis 2001,; Werquin (2010[8]), Recognising Non-Formal and Informal Learning: Outcomes, Policies and Practices,; OECD (forthcoming[9]), Skills Outlook 2019 - Skills and Digitalisation; OECD (forthcoming[10]), Getting Skills Right: Future-Ready Adult Learning Systems.


In developing the basic concepts, definitions and framework for this report, consideration was given to various definitions of governance, levels and types of relationships.

For the purposes of this report, “governance” refers to the delineation of responsibilities and mechanisms for co-operation between ministries, municipalities and stakeholders. This drew on the following definitions (Table A C.1).

Table A C.1. Governance: Definitions considered for this report



The processes of establishing priorities, formulating and implementing policies and being accountable in complex networks with many different actors.

OECD Governing Education in a Complex World

The exercise of political, economic and administrative authority necessary to manage a nation’s affairs. Good governance is characterised by participation, transparency, accountability, rule of law, effectiveness, equity, etc.

OECD Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment

The exercise of political, economic and administrative authority in the management of a country’s affairs at all levels. Governance is a neutral concept referring to the complex mechanisms, processes, relationships and institutions through which citizens and groups articulate their interests, exercise their rights and obligations and mediate their differences.

United Nations Compendium of basic United Nations terminology in governance and public administration

Sources: Burns and Köster (2016[11]), Governing Education in a Complex World,; OECD (2006[12]), Applying Strategic Environmental Assessment: Good Practice Guidance for Development Co-operation,; United Nations Economic and Social Council (2006[13]), “Definition of basic concepts and terminologies in governance and public administration”,

The concepts of co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration are central to this definition of governance. The terms “co-operation” and “collaboration” are used interchangeably, and represent a deeper form of relationship than co-ordination (Box A C.2).

Box A C.2. Co-ordination, co-operation, collaboration: Definitions

Co-ordination: joint or shared information ensured by information flows among organisations. “Co-ordination” implies a particular architecture in the relationship between organisations (either centralised or peer-to-peer and either direct or indirect), but not how the information is used.

Co-operation / Collaboration: organisations share information, and have a joint intent and purpose. “Co-operation” or “Collaboration” may also involve a structured relationship between organisations.

Source: Adapted from OECD (2011[14]), Estonia: Towards a Single Government Approach,, in OECD (2012[15]), Slovenia: Towards a Strategic and Efficient State,

This report considers governance and co-operation between actors at different “levels”. These levels are:

  • inter-ministerial co-ordination (also known as “horizontal governance”): co-ordination across different parts of the public administration is essential to ensure policy coherence and avoid duplication, inefficiencies or even policy action with contradictory effects (OECD, 2017[16]). A number of OECD countries have put in place holistic governance arrangements to promote co-ordination, co-operation and collaboration across government (OECD, 2010[17]), including on skills policies.

  • co-operation between ministries and municipalities (also known as “vertical” or “multi-level governance”): the effectiveness of mutually dependent relationships between public actors situated at different levels of government is essential for the outcomes of decentralised responsibilities and policies (Charbit and Michalun, 2009[18]). In many OECD countries, the responsibility of skills policies is shared between central and sub-national governments.

  • co-operation between government and non-government stakeholders: effective government engagement with stakeholders – businesses, professional associations, education providers, researchers and experts, non-government organisations (NGOs), the general public and others – is essential for developing and implementing effective skills polices. Government officials must be prepared to convene, facilitate, enable and partner with various groups and interests to find consensus regarding societal goals and the accompanying public policies and programmes (Lenihan, 2012[19]).

  • co-operation between local actors (local or sub-national co-operation): co-operation at the local and regional levels can occur between stakeholders and/or municipalities. It can be an effective way of harnessing economies of scale, addressing regional overlaps or gaps in service delivery, sharing lessons and expertise, and more effectively engaging with the national government.

In this report, the OECD has considered various factors that influence the effectiveness of governance and co-operation at different levels (Table A C.2). Put positively, these factors represent “enabling conditions” for effective governance.

Table A C.2. Factors influencing the effectiveness of governance arrangements

Strategic education governance

Multi-level governance

Multi-level governance

Public governance

Strategic Education Governance (SEG): Organisational Framework

Mind the gaps: Managing Mutual Dependence in Relations among Levels of Government

Governance of Public Policies in Decentralised Contexts

Bertlesmann Sustainable Governance Indicators

Strategic thinking

Information / knowledge symmetry

Information symmetry

Strategic capacity


Human capacity

Human capacity

Inter-ministerial co-ordination

Capacity for policy

Fiscal capacity

Fiscal capacity

Evidence-based instruments

Whole-of-system perspective

Administrative scale

Administrative scale

Societal consultation

Stakeholder involvement

Coherence of national policies

Coherence of national policies

Policy communication

Knowledge governance

Shared objectives

Effective implementation



Organisational reform capacity

Citizens’ competence

Legislative structures and resources

Media reporting quality

Party inclusiveness and interest group capacity

Sources: Adapted from OECD (2018[20]), Strategic Education Governance – Project Plan and Organisational Framework,; Charbit and Michalun (2009[18]), “Mind the gaps: Managing Mutual Dependence in Relations among Levels of Government”,; Charbit (2011[21]), “Governance of Public Policies in Decentralised Contexts: The Multi-level Approach”,; Schraad-Tischler and Seelkopf (2017[22]), “Sustainable Governance Indicators 2017. Concept and Methodology”,

Throughout this project, the OECD considered a range of mechanisms that can facilitate co-operation between different actors and levels of government (Charbit and Michalun, 2009[18]; Charbit, 2011[21]). These mechanisms are:

  • legal mechanisms and standard setting: legislation, regulation, constitutional change that assign responsibilities and commensurate resourcing, as well as standards for inputs, outputs and/or outcomes of a service

  • contracts: commitments to take action or follow guidelines that transfer decision-making rights between parties

  • vertical and horizontal (quasi-)integration mechanisms: include mergers and horizontal and vertical co-operation at the sub-national level through inter-communal structures and joint municipal authorities

  • co-ordinating bodies: government or non-government groups to promote dialogue, co-operation and collaboration, build capacity, align interests and timing, and share good practices among levels of government

  • ad hoc/informal meetings: between representatives of different levels of government to facilitate dialogue and horizontal, vertical and cross-disciplinary networks, and complement formal mechanisms

  • performance measurement: using indicators to measure the inputs, outputs and outcomes of a public service, and monitor and evaluate public service provision

  • experimentation and pilot projects: trying governance mechanisms for a defined time and/or area, in order to learn what is effective in a given context.

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