Based on the results of the EU funded Social Innovation – Driving Force of Social Change (SI-DRIVE) project the major challenges and needs of education and lifelong learning worldwide are revealed, focusing on solutions via new educational practices delivered by social innovations and embedding civil society. Against this background, a more learner-oriented approach instead of institutional improvements is presented. Based on the results of SI-DRIVE’s global mapping of more than 200 innovative education initiatives and 18 in-depth case studies, the article spotlights the relevant settings and success factors of social innovations in education, leading to a system related typology of social innovation. New ways of repairing, modernising and transforming education as well as separated approaches are illustrated showing the underdeveloped, unexploited and unrecognised potential of this kind of innovation. For setting up a more innovation friendly environment, it is particularly important to realise a paradigm shift towards a learner perspective and rationality. More leeway and new governance structures for integrating and fostering social innovations and unfolding the potential of all societal sectors for enhancing education are necessary. This especially includes a more active and new role of universities in enabling, exchanging, moderating and researching social innovation.
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