How do European policies impact adult education and lifelong learning? This question was the backbone of the European Policy Impact Seminar, organised by the National Adult Learning Organisation (AONTAS), one of EAEA's Irish member organisations, in Dublin on 28th of April 2016.
From left to right: Adult Education expert Denise Shannon (Léargas), CEO Niamh O'Reilly (AONTAS), President Per Paludan Hansen (EAEA), Secretary General Gina Ebner (EAEA) and President Lise Waters (AONTAS).
One of the highlights of the seminar was the launch of the 'European Agenda for Adult Learning Report – Taking the Next Steps' for Ireland. Niamh O'Reilly, CEO of AONTAS and an EAEA board member, underlined the importance of the learner's voice in any advocacy process, as she presented the document.
"Learners are the best advocates for adult education. The light in their eyes when they explain how adult education changed their life is the most convincing argument," says Ms. O'Reilly.
Gina Ebner, Secretary General of EAEA, presented the impact of European policies on adult learning.
"The weaker a country is, the more benefits they get from the European level," she explains.
"National policy makers look at best practices in other European countries to see how to achieve positive changes in their countries. This is why transfer of innovation for policies and programmes is hugely important. From a civil society perspective, Europe is a driving force in countries where adult education is weaker."
The conference participants discussed the link between the various levels: local, national, regional, European and the impacts they have on each other. The role of civil society was underlined.
"It's great to hear that Ireland is well-known in Europe as the champion of community education," said Jim Prior, one of AONTAS’ Board Members. Another participant reminded the audience of the importance of guidance in adult education.
Around 40 stakeholders from Ireland and Europe attended the seminar. The event took place while the EAEA Executive Board was having a meeting in Dublin. The seminar was hosted by the Department of Education and Skills of the Irish Ministry of Education.
Text: Tania Berman
Photos: Tania Berman, AONTAS