ADULT EDUCATION AND REFUGEES. EAEA's new project Implementing Outreach, Empowerment, Diversity (implOED) aims to engage disadvantaged adults in learning and to make education policies more effective for their needs. The topic is more relevant than ever, as Europe is facing the challenge of integrating millions of refugees.
This article is a part of the article series” Adult Education & Refugees”, which is one of EAEA’s key topics in 2016.
The implOED project reaches out to refugees and other disadvantaged learners to empower them to become active European citizens.
"The project consortium will implement two of the products developed by the OED Grundtvig network: the guidelines for adult education providers on the one hand, and the policy recommendations for national and European policy-makers on the other," describes the EAEA Project Officer Francesca Operti.
OED Grundtvig Network was an EAEA-coordinated project active from 2012 to 2014. It gathered 17 organisations from 14 countries and was recently evaluated as success story by a European Commission group of experts.
"We have the challenge of implementing something that is really urgent; all the partners can see how urgent it is to close this gap between the most traditional policies addressing adults and strategies to outreach the most disadvantaged and empower them," says Susana Oliveira from Kerigma.
According to their capability to make a big impact, partners work in clusters. The first of them addresses policy makers at local, regional, national and European levels with the purpose to inform them about the importance and benefits of the OED Policy Recommendations.
The second cluster addresses adult education providers and organisations in order to convince them of the value and feasibility of the OED Guidelines for Trainers and Management Staff in Adult Education.
"The division into clusters can lead to well-developed and interesting results. It is key that we all make treasure of the exchange of experiences and sharing of information between the two so that the project can really make a significant impact," say Ingegerd Akselsson Le Douaron and Mats Ehn from the Swedish partner organisation, the International initiative Folkbildning – Learning for Active Citizenship of the Swedish Interest Organization for Popular Movement Folk High Schools (RIO/FOLAC).
Group work in the implOED kick-off meeting in Porto.
In 2015, Sweden was among the countries that welcomed highest number of refugees in Europe. According to BBC, the Nordic country welcomed 1,667 asylum applications per 100,000 inhabitants, 2nd most in the continent after Hungary.
The new situation is threatening social cohesion:
"A deeper split between those who are positive and those who are negative towards our new inhabitants has developed in the Swedish society during the past year. The Swedish folkbildning – folk high schools and study organisations – has a very important role in contributing to a positive development," tell the Swedish colleagues from RIO/FOLAC.
The implOED clusters' activities will take place in partner countries between November 2016 and October 2017.
"In the framework of implOED, we are going to organise three national seminars and one round-table meeting for teachers, management and NGOs involved in non-formal adult education, with the aim to discuss and further develop concrete methods [for including adults furthest away from education]. We are going to base our activities on a to-be-developed study on what is done in Sweden, the OED Guidelines for Trainers and Management Staff and 66 best practices from a Swedish national project, Include more," continue Ms. Akselsson Le Douaron and Mr. Ehn.
In Portugal, the topic is also very timely.
"Portugal is struggling with the recovery from a deep economic crisis and we see very clearly that we should focus on policies that promote participation in society, employment and participating in cultural life," says Kerigma's Susana Oliveira.
"The OED recommendations will be quite useful as they will empower all the stakeholders dealing with non-formal education and support them on accomplishing this task. KERIGMA will develop 3 regional workshops and invite all key stakeholders that can support us on the implementation of the OED guidelines," she continues.
EAEA Secretary General Gina Ebner leading the discussion on the contents of the workshops.
Building upon the OED, the consortium is composed of some of the partners that were involved in the Grundtvig Network but includes two new ones, namely Kerigma from Portugal and Solidarci from Italy.
"The meeting in Porto was joyful and efficient. It’s very insightful to get together with colleagues who are so committed in engaging new learners into adult education. Partners have great expectations on what we can achieve together and this is certainly a very good start," concludes Gina Ebner, the EAEA Secretary General.
Text: Aura Vuorenrinne
Photos: Bibliotecas Municipales de Huesca, Aura Vuorenrinne