“Communicating about adult education, particularly in the area of basic education, means breaking taboos: that learning how to read, write or calculate after initial education is not a shame,” said Michael Sommer, project manager of the LEK-AE project. The reasons why adults do not have these skills are manifold. While some may not have acquired sufficient skills during their years of school education, for instance due to learning difficulties, others may have simply “forgotten” these skills because they never really needed them in their private and professional lives. For many people, going back to education after initial education constitutes a big hurdle.
The LEK-AE project aims to equip adult education professionals and practitioners with journalistic skills to raise awareness about the role of adult education in contributing to social inclusion, active citizenship and wellbeing – and breaking taboos around going back to learning.
“With the LEK-AE project, we aim to equip adult education professionals and practitioners with journalistic skills to raise awareness of stakeholders and the general public about the role of adult education in contributing to social inclusion, active citizenship and wellbeing, to name just a few benefits,” said Mr. Sommer. “This could be a way to clear barriers around adult learning, and to reach out to those who are furthest away from learning.”
Raffaela Kihrer from EAEA, one of the partners in the LEK-AE project, introducing the first exercise of the workshop
New curriculum for professionalisation of adult education staff
“Adult education organisations and institutions are often quite small and do not have specialised staff for external communication. However, we see that there is a need for it, and one way out is to train adult education professionals themselves to share their experience more widely,” said Wilfried Frei, partner in the LEK-AE project. All materials developed in the project – a curriculum in 6 modules, including a simulation game, an introduction to using webinars in adult education, as well as a communication guide for adult education professionals – were tried and tested during workshops in several European countries. The final meeting and multiplier event of the project, taking place in Berlin on 8 June in the framework of the annual EBSN conference, aimed to present the almost final results of the project.
During an interactive workshop, adult educators and other adult education professionals were invited to try out a part of the curriculum and explore why there is a need for more external communication about their work. In one of the exercises, participants had to search for articles about adult education in a large selection of daily newspapers to find out more about the portrayal of adult learning in the media. “I had never realised that there are hardly any relevant articles about it in the newspapers, despite a few small advertisements of language schools,” said one participant, pointing out the issue at hand.
Adult education professionals sometimes lack confidence in their skills and believe that their work is not ‘newsworthy’. The impact of their work, though, proves the opposite.
While there are specialised media on adult education – such as the ELM Magazine, or national platforms and magazines such as erwachsenenbildung.at or the German Catholic journal “Erwachsenenbildung”, alongside the news section on EPALE – the general media do not report widely about adult education and any developments in this field. An exception are reports on language classes for refugees and migrants; however, they rarely shed light on other offers of non-formal adult education.
Testing one of the modules of the LEK-AE curriculum: Raising awareness about the presence and portrayal of adult education in the media
“One very positive outcome of our project would be if adult education institutions used our materials for internal trainings, and motivate their staff to write articles for EPALE or other platforms, and maybe even approach other media,” said Mr Sommer. “Adult education professionals sometimes lack confidence in their skills and believe that their work is not ‘newsworthy’. The impact of their work, though, proves the opposite.” Professionalisation of adult education staff is key not only for improving the quality of their work, but also to reach out to new target groups.
The materials developed in the LEK-AE project are now available at the project website.
More information: LEK-AE
Text: Raffaela KihrerPhotos: Wilfried Frei