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Old house
Rural development forms an important pillar of EU's policies and an issue of priority for many European countries. Despite the decline of the primary sector of economy over the last years, rural production is an important aspect of European economy, and rural communities form a proportion of the overall EU population that cannot be neglected. However, the viability of rural areas needs more than agriculture alone. Rural development policies need to place agriculture in a broader context taking into account protection of the rural environment, quality of produced food, increasing competitiveness of the agricultural and forestry sector, enhanced quality of life in rural areas, and, eventually, attractiveness of rural areas to young farmers and new residents.

The role of learning and education, in all their forms, in this direction is crucial: better educated rural citizens of all ages and backgrounds, with ample life-long learning opportunities and access to the contemporary resources of the Information Society and the Knowledge Economy, can resist to urbanisation, protect the natural and human resources of the countryside, understand the new challenges for rural Europe and respond to them with new initiatives, flexibility and adaptability.

In face of this evident need for the promotion of "rural learning", all levels of education, from primary to tertiary, all forms of learning , from formal to informal, from conventional professional training to open and distance learning, have to respond in a coherent and creative fashion.

What is more, for rural learning, just as for rural development more generally, a strengthened bottom-up approach is needed, which can better tune rural learning programmes to local needs.

European Commission - Socrates Programme

RuraLEARN is co-funded by the European Commission, as an Accompanying Measure
of the Socrates Programme