We need to scream loudly about adult education: advocacy at the heart of EAEA training programmes in 2021

“It’s very important to be visible and to have influence on the discussion. We need to scream loudly about adult education – sometimes we do it literally,” said Gina Ebner during the EAEA Younger Staff Training 2021. Advocacy for improved adult learning policy has been the cross-cutting theme of two EAEA training programmes organised this autumn.

Digitalisation takes centre stage at the EAEA YST 2021

How can we make a strong case for adult learning, no matter what context we work in? What challenges do we share across Europe?  How do European strategies in adult learning fit into national and regional policies in adult learning? These were some of the issues discussed by the participants of the ninth edition of the EAEA Younger Staff Training (YST), which took place between 13 and 17 September 2021 and welcomed 15 participants from across Europe. For the first time, the YST took place in a hybrid format: while most participants joined the face-to-face training in Brussels, Belgium, a few were unable to travel and opted for virtual sessions. 

The need to offer new and flexible approaches to learning has also been extensively discussed by the YST participants. During the training, looked at how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed adult learning practice in the past year and a half, sharing inspiring approaches and initiatives. During study visits at Maks and BeCentral, the participants got to exchange with other professionals who work directly with adult learners on the impact of digital transformation. They also reflected on their own practice from the perspective of change-oriented education at the workshop based on the results of EAEA’s FutureLabAE project. 

zoom participants
EAEA Younger Staff Training took place in hybrid format.

An input session with Klara Engels-Perenyi from the European Commission introduced the participants to recent EU strategies in adult learning, such as the European Skills Agenda as well as the new European Agenda for Adult Learning, which has since been officially adopted. During a hands-on workshop, they got to try out planning their own advocacy campaigns that would highlight the benefits of adult learning to policymakers. 

The programme of the YST was very rich and really insightful. At the same time, I learned a lot from the fellow participants when they talked about their home countries and their experiences. It was an interesting exchange,” said Saambavi Poopalapillai, a participant representing the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning, who attended the face-to-face edition of the YST. 

It’s been fantastic to be able to attend the course virtually as I could combine it with my current work as a teacher. The course gave me new perspectives on the approach of ALE providers and useful tools for ALE advocacy. I will for sure use them in the near future,” shared Anna Delort from ACEFIR, who attended the virtual sessions from Girona. 

Making adult learning a priority: shared challenges and opportunities 

“The New European Agenda for Adult Learning supports adults in becoming agents of change,” said Teja Dolgan, Head of Adult Education at the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport in Slovenia. Ms Dolgan was a guest speaker at the EAEA Executive Staff Training (EST), a virtual seminar that took place on 7 December 2021.

The text of the New European Agenda for Adult Learning (NEAAL) had been finalized with the strong support of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, and is likely to have a significant impact on the adult learning and education sector in Europe. The NEAAL is an ambitious policy document, outlining a plan for the further development of, in particular, community and non-formal ALE. That said, its take-up in EU Member States depends on the national context and Ms Dolgan encouraged the participants to actively promote the document.

More than a policy update, the seminar intended to bring together executive staff of major adult learning organisations in Europe to discuss shared challenges in advocacy. 14 participants from across the continent exchanged on the priorities of their advocacy strategies, contact building and examples of successful campaigns. EAEA is looking forward to organising the next edition of the EST, scheduled to take place in Brussels in the autumn of 2022.

For more information about EAEA webinars and training programmes, please consult our website or contact our Head of Capacity-Building Aleksandra Kozyra at aleksandra.kozyra (at) eaea.org.

zoom picture of participants
Participants of the Executive Staff Training 2021.

Text: Aleksandra KozyraPhotos: EAEA

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