ARALE: Annual Learning Festival

Learn for Life
The Netherlands

Every September since 2000, during the course of one week, Learn for Life organises the “Learning Festival” in more than 40 towns in the Netherlands. The event promotes lifelong learning and creates local partnerships within the field of education. This year, the festival starts on the 13th of September.

Advocating adult learning

Since last year, we are working without funding. Initially financed by the Ministry of Education, Learn for Life has now taken over the main responsibilities of the festival for two years. We hope that we will get some funding by the end of the second year in order to cover our costs. However, the whole sector is now experiencing various financial problems.

The “Literacy Week”, another “learners´ week”, also takes place in September, as the 8th of September is the international day for literacy. The “Learning Festival”, however, has a much broader aim and we mainly target hard-to-reach groups. We try to convince people and institutions to participate in both campaigns. For our partners, such as libraries, the start of the academic semester is the perfect time for these festivals.

Many organisations are still willing to do something – and we´re convinced that the festival is still necessary. New activities directed at ICT skills (like taster´s courses) are now taking place. We´re trying to get the moral support of organisations such as the Public Libraries Organisation or “Senior´s Web” – they provide courses for people over the age of 65.

Key elements of success

With our newsletters and the website, we stimulate local organisations to organise events during the festival. Bookmarks and posters help us to promote the festival. Many organisations engaged in adult education face difficulties when organising activities for the festival due to budget cuts. Thanks to the commitment of two volunteers, we are able to stay in regular contact with our partners and convince them to concentrate their activities on the festival.

Spotlight on successful learners and education promoters

Every year, the festival has a different theme, for instance “basic skills for learners above the age of 65”. The festival starts with a national opening ceremony, followed by lectures and workshops where we discuss issues of adult education and European development. In the afternoon, top students are presented with an award called “Toppers”. Starting this year, we have an award for “the top education promoter” – the one that best helps you move on with your studies.

We organise the festival together with the National Agency which invites their organisations to join in the evening. National coordination is very important so that local organisations have the feeling that they belong to a movement.