OED Network: From marginalisation to active citizenship

Wed 29 May 2013 04:22:00 PM EEST

Sweden proved to be the perfect location for a workshop to exchange experiences and knowledge in the field of learning for active citizenship. Local folk high schools are tackling unemployment, the increasing gap between rich and poor as well as racism and xenophobia, which unfortunately also Scandinavian countries are facing.

Around forty trainers and adult education experts from the OED-Outreach Empowerment Diversity network came to the Östra Grevie folkhögskola, the biggest folk high school in Sweden, to see how these problems are tackeld through active citizenship courses, initiatives and events on various level. This was taken as an example and inspiration to discuss how diversity and empowerment of adult citizens can be made reality in and through adult education. The workshop took place in Malmö, Sweden between 17 and 19 April 2013.

Discussions, reflection and benchmarking

At Östra Grevie folkhögskola, in the south of Sweden, the participants had the possibility to discuss ways from "Marginalization to Active Citizenship" also with Ph D Berit Larsson, Women's Folk High School, who looks in her research on 'Teaching citizenship to learning democracy Adult Education and Empowerment' from a theoretical perspective. Dr Larsson underlined the close relationship between democracy, citizenship and lifelong learning, with a particular focus on adult education.

Her input was valuable basis for the discussion and development of the methodological guidelines, produced in the OED network, which have the aim to support trainers and staff in adult education by providing methodology examples for their daily work with marginalized groups. The workshop participants shared experiences on how to reach out these groups, assure diversity and how to include learners´ voices in their daily work and within their institutions.

An inspiration of how to tackle diversity and facilitate active citizenship has been also the visit to the Glokala folkhögskolan in Malmö (meaning 'Glocal folk high school' in English), which is based on the idea of linking closely the global and local level to ensure empowerment of the learners. For example the "Projektverkstaden Underverket ('The Project Workshop') at Glokala aims to create a platform for everyone working with ideas or projects, as well as social entrepreneurs and culture workers in order to exchange and develop social and creative processes.

Methodological guidelines coming up

The result of this workshop, the OED methodological guidelines for adult educators and their institutions, will provide empowerment strategies in order to activate learners from disadvantaged backgrounds and be available by the end of 2013.

This publication and the workshop are also based on analysis of good practice examples from across Europe that tackle the overlap of social inclusion and active citizenship, already available on OED website.

Text: Ricarda Motschilnig