31.05.2012 EAEAPOLICY

The big picture, where did adult education disappear?

During the last four months the EAEA news stream has dried up considerably. Why?

Helsinki 31.5.2012

Avid followers of our new will have noticed the drop in news items recently. Some of you might have asked yourselves the question why. I think there are many reasons resulting in a lower output. One is structural, the EAEA information unit has been in transition since December, with the host organisation in Finland, the Finnish Adult Education Association, about to make changes to its function, and its constitution. FAEA has hosted the EAEA information and communication unit since 1993, when the office was given to Finland by agreement with the steering committee of EBAE. After 20 years of uninterrupted service the Board of the Finnish Adult Education Association decided to stop hosting the unit. Discussions with EAEA and with other associations followed, and as a result of negotiations one member of FAEA, the KVS foundation, agreed to take over the hosting. This process has been in motion since early February. Meanwhile some of the regular work suffered as a result. With no funding and some negative results from the previous two years extra income became necessary. This was accomplished by selling some services, and in effect some work time. Regular development and improvement work also slowed down to a halt, as new management hinted at more radical changes of the services. This is still open, and will be discussed, once the KVS appoints a new information officer.

But this is not all. The general trend in Europe at the moment seems to be that news sources talk of few things except the financial crisis. A couple of days ago the lastest electronic edition of the DG Education and Culture clunked down in my e-mail box. Lo and behold, not a single word on civil society, the third sector, nor non-formal adult education. It is all about higher education and vocational training. If this is a result of setting the agenda, or simply mirroring the fact that right now not much is happening in our sector i do not know. But i have noticed how increasingly difficult it has become to find news related to our sector. Now i am sure there are stil many things happening and developing. I am blaming myself for not being smart or knowledgable enough to find out what is going on. I am hoping this is a temporary situation, just as i hope the office situation will get sorted soon. Living in uncertainty for longer periods of time is no fun, as very many of you undoubtedly know from personal experience. I guess the trick is not to whine about it, but to build. This requires commitment and community. IT would be naive to say that "we are all in this boat together", or "together we can work this out", or any other simplified truth. The crisis is real, it cuts deep, and it does not become solved by any easy and quick measures. Yet i cannot but think that non formal adult education has a very big role to play, and we have to fight for it. Who is doing that battle, by what means, and with what resources are all open questions. What is your take on this? Am i being too dramatic? Is there something i am missing? Feel free to comment, add, criticise. Only in dialogue can anything be accomplished.

Text: Johanni Larjanko