“{Educational} Outreach is a process whereby people who would not normally use adult education are contacted in non-institutional settings and become involved in attending and eventually in jointly planning and controlling activities, schemes and courses relevant to their circumstances and needs.” (Kevin Ward, Replan Review 1, August 1986)

Like a number of the terms used in post-compulsory education, the word ‘outreach´ tends to be used rather loosely. There is no single and universally accepted definition. While the central connotation is to go outside a centre or institution (a staff activity), a number of other meanings have accrued to the word: to make people in different locations or groups aware of what a provider can offer (a marketing or recruitment strategy); to mount learning programmes in community locations (a delivery mechanism); to liaise and make contact with community organisations and groups (a networking process); to work in an informal and participative way with people outside a centre or institution (a particular approach or way of working), to develop new learning programmes in response to identified needs (curriculum development).


Gutierrez (1994) defines empowerment as the “process of increasing personal, interpersonal, or political power so that individuals, families, and communities can take action to improve their situations”. Thanks to the increase of confidence, motivation, self-reliance, insight and understanding of the people involved in the process, empowerment is instrumental to have more control over all aspects of their own life.

Being empowered presupposes not only some level of common sense and emotional maturity and but also the access to appropriate information and know how. The United Nations Committee on Economic Social and Cultural Rights declared education is an “empowerment right” which enables persons, adults and children alike, to participate fully in their communities. Nevertheless, traditional teaching approaches are not effective for this purpose. It is crucial to use different approaches to lifelong learning, including aspects of social learning and more interactive methodologies that give a central place to learning by doing.

Empowerment has proved to be one of the most powerful approaches in promoting the inclusion and integration of disadvantaged groups. As empowerment is aimed at changing in power relationships that can apply to individuals, groups, organisations or communities, this concept may be considered as one of the prerequisites for modern democracy, which also include constitutional foundation, democracy as a process, participation, deliberation, and recognition and involvement of others.


Diversity is a reality created by individuals and groups from a broad spectrum of demographic and philosophical differences. These include but are not limited to age, ethnicity, class, gender, physical abilities/qualities, race, sexual orientation, as well as religious status, gender expression, educational background, geographical location, socio-economic status, language(s) spoken, physical appearance, marital/parental status, political affiliation, or other ideologies. Diversity includes not only ways of being but also ways of knowing.

Diversity encompasses a commitment to recognise, accept and appreciate the variety of characteristics that make individuals. The concept itself doesn´t require only a simple tolerance, but needs a mutual respect of each person´s individuality. It is important to support and protect diversity by valuing individuals and groups free from prejudice, and by fostering a climate where equity and mutual respect are intrinsic.

Active citizenship

Active citizenship means that citizens have the capability, opportunity and will to participate in different spheres of society such as work, civil society organisations, politics and culture. Active citizenship addresses the relationship between the individuals and their communities. It is founded on democratic values and human rights and stresses involvement and participation.

Active citizenship is fundamental to democracy. There is no such thing as democracy without active citizens – citizens who are conscious of their rights and responsibilities and have the ability to make their voice heard and to take action. Our societies are facing deep and difficult challenges: financial crises, unemployment, widening gaps, migration, racism and xenophobic tendencies, gender inequality and climate change. We can learn from history that there are no positive solutions to these challenges without the involvement of active citizens and a vibrant civil society based on human rights. In a globalized world active citizenship should be conceived in a multidimensional way including the local as well as the regional, the national, the European and the global level.