EPALE summary - October focus on projects and partnerships
Epale - 06/11/2018
Can you believe October is already over? Adding insult to injury, we’ve already been swamped by Christmas gift recommendations, decorations and other seasonal tat. In order to escape this horror, let’s look back at some of the highlights of our October theme of projects and partnerships.
My colleague Aleksandra Kozyra looked at the benefits of cooperation and partnerships and discovered an excellent example in the Nordic and Baltic countries, where cooperative structures between adult education associations were nurtured and developed. Ireland serves as an example how cooperation can promote learners’ voice and foster learner-centred approaches. It is clear that Erasmus+ (and its predecessor Grundtvig) has created many partnerships across Europe and thereby contributed enormously to innovation in adult education. An excellent example in Belgium – Le Monde des Possibles – demonstrates the link between funding, cooperation and innovation.
Paul Guest described the challenges of terminology when discussing European tools. Based on the experience of a peer learning event, where complementarities among National Qualifications Frameworks (NQFs), the European Credit system for Vocational Education and Training (ECVET) and the European Commission’s Upskilling Pathways initiative were explored, he underlined the necessity to make terminology meaningful for practitioners. As in the example above, he also emphasised the need to put the learner at the centre and create a real engagement. He finally pleaded for more cross-fertilisation of information and ideas among policy actors and practitioners, working in adult, community and wider education, at both national and European levels.
In her article, Paula Guimarães analysed some of the challenges that adult education faces in Portugal. She explained that there’s still a lack of participation although there have been initiatives in the area of adult learning, such as the Iniciativa Novas Oportuidades. Due to a lack of coherence, stop-and-go approaches and an emphasis on formal programmes, they have not been sufficiently successful. Paula then underlined the fact that adult education is not really a recognised profession in Portugal that can have relevant impact.
Andrew McCoshan presented the outcomes of a workshop on longer-duration VET mobility for young people – a goal of the Erasmus+ programme. He outlined the challenges for the young learners – from financial issues to culture shock, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. Equally, employers, both a sending and receiving organisation, are confronted with issues such as quality, funding, hosting etc. In order to help overcome these challenges, the workshop formulated a number of recommendations.
A very concrete example of work with adult learners was provided by Diane Gardner – Citizen Literacy develops adult literacy courses, tutor training materials and digital learning resources for teaching adults how to read and write. At the heart of the project is the use of a synthetic phonics-based system that takes a systematic and structured approach to using phonics to teach reading and writing skills. The courses are designed for adults with severe literacy issues, where the participants learn to read and write by blending phonemes together to create words. The course can very well be supported by a smartphone app structure where the learner gains phonological awareness by listening, reading, writing and speaking using the app’s many useful tools such as voice and writing recognition. If you are interested in this approach, do get in touch with them (link is external), they’re very interested in cooperation from all over Europe!
Markus Palmén finally took us into a completely different but very future-oriented direction. He questioned the carbon footprint of Erasmus+ and indeed, there’s a lot to be considered. We all know about mobility projects – they already move a high number of people across Europe. But also strategic partnerships all tend to have a number of partner meetings that necessitate travel across Europe. He pleads for a reflection on how the programme could improve its impact. A second article then goes a step further and provides concrete ideas and tips on how to run projects more ecologically (compiled by the environmental NGO ECOS (link is external)). From working mainly online to choosing accommodation close to the meeting venue, from prioritising trains and buses whenever possible to vegetarian meals, there’s plenty that can be done!