It was no coincidence that Tallinn in Estonia was chosen as the location for this year’s EAEA Annual Conference as it represents the home of a unique partnership in the field of adult education: a well functioning cooperation between the state and the non-governmental organisation sector.
Terje Haidak, the Head of Adult Education Department in the Ministry of Education and Research in Estonia underlined that the cooperation has been important in increasing the levels of participation in adult education in Estonia. Since 2007 the percentage of adults participating in lifelong learnig has increased from 7% to 17%.
”The NGOs communicate the needs and intrests of adults to the state through different working groups or participating in the drafting of strategy papers. NGOs help us design better adult education policy,” Terje Haidak said.
She also highlighted the role of NGOs in popularizing adult education and introducing learning opportunities to adults.
”NGOs serve as a link between the government and the learners, or potential learners.”
A good example of this work is ANDRAS, EAEA member organisation who received the EAEA Grundtvig Award of 2018 as a recognition for its network that has popularized adult education widely in the country. The EAEA General Assembly and Annual Conference were hosted by ANDRAS and ENAEA.
NGOs serve as a link between the government and the learners, or potential learners.
Cooperations in the digital world
The keynote speaker Soili Meklin from the Snellman Summer University in Finland approached the theme of cooperations and partnerships from the point of digitalization.
The Snellman Summer University serves as an example of a non-formal adult education centre that has taken big steps in recent years towards providing well-functioning online learning to adults. The Principal Soili Meklin emphasized the need for good cooperation between different partners and stakeholders.
”We have formed a whole ecosystem to enable functioning online learning. Cooperation between financial, technological and pedagogical partners has been essential,” she said.
”We also have special technical hosts to support teachers and the learners in e-learning.”
She also reminded that despite of the growing need to provide digital tools and distance learning opportunities, the human factor can never be overlooked when organising education.
”Nothing works in digitalization if the human element is overlooked.”
Finding new angles to cooperations and partnerships
A world café organised on the theme of cooperations and partnerships enabled the participants of the event to discuss the topic from various angles. Besides the cooperation between governmental and non-governmental bodies and the cooperation on digitalization, the groups discussed about cooperation with the business sector, bottom-up cooperation, cooperation on democracy, partnerships for Upskilling Pathways and cooperation with other education providers.
”Strengthening the old and finding new cooperations and partnerships are crucial for adult education in the future. At the same time we need to make sure to be true to our values,” summarized EAEA President Per Paludan Hansen at the closing remarks of the conference.
The EAEA Annual Conference gathered around 100 participants in Tallinn, Estonia, on 28 June and was organised together with the EAEA General Assembly and the EAEA Grundtvig Award ceremony.