ARALE: Establishing a “Danish Research and Development Centre for Adult Education”

A “Danish Research and Development Centre for Adult Education” (20-25 employees) existed, until it was discontinued in 2002, after a change in government. Since then, research into the area has been sporadic. Regarding statistics it has also been sporadic – and flawed. Based on a proposal from the DFS/DAEA the government established a National Commission on Non Formal Adult Education, in 2009. Its task was to make recommendations, both for the laws on Non Formal Adult Education and for initiatives from the providers themselves – from the government and from the municipalities. Members of the Commission were governmental civil servants, representatives of the organisation of municipalities, the associations of providers and organisers in Non Formal Adult Education, including two representatives from the DFS/DAEA.

One of many DFS/DAEA-proposals in the Commission was the establishment of a national Institute for Non Formal Adult Education – and the proposal did end up on the official list of proposals from the Commission. This was a result of thorough documentation on the need for such a centre, as well as renders from several bilateral discussions between DFS/DAEA-representatives and other members of the Commission. When the report of the Commission was published, the government promised to implement this proposal.

The DFS/DAEA participated in a series of meetings with governmental civil servants on how to implement the proposals of the Commission, always stressing the importance of the institute. During this period we renewed our documentation and our arguments. The government made it known that it would propose a three-year governmental funding period for the centre, 800.000 euro, all in all. The DFS/DAEA saw this as a very small – but important – beginning. Nevertheless, there was no final decision on the matter before the election of October 2011 – and a new government was appointed in November 2011.

The new government moved Non Formal Adult Education from one department (and one minister) to another. Immediately the DFS/DAEA approached the new minister and the new civil servants, arguing – among other things – for the proposal. Formal meetings on how to establish the institute concretely were held in the department. At the same time, the DFS/DAEA had informal meetings with other NGO:s within the area, to harmonise our concrete proposals on structure and tasks for the knowledge and documentation centre.

Yet another change of minister in charge of the matter, in December 2012, was necessary before a final decision was made – and in April 2013 the task of hiring staff for a Danish Institute for Non Formal Education could finally begin.

What was achieved?

The establishment of a small-scale institute with the potential of producing relevant documentation – mapping and coordinating relevant research in the area. The aim was a permanent research institute. Efforts must continue to make it permanent, and to improve funding.

Which were the key elements of success?

The partial success was due to the following elements:

  • It was a long time effort
  • It was an effort combined with lobbying for other improvements for non-formal adult education
  • It was based on thorough documentation
  • Our association combined formal and informal contacts with politicians, civil servants and other actors in the field
  • We “volunteered” our labour in assisting the civil servants with defining and writing the concrete proposal