How can competences acquired in non-formal adult education and by informal learning be measured? Is it possible to make recommendations and an action plan for validation that would be useful in all EU countries? The AVA consortium, led by EAEA, has initiated a survey to investigate potentials as well as obstacles in order to further develop transparent, coherent and legitimate validation arrangements. In February 2016 the results will be discussed at a European Conference in Oslo.
Many people have skills that they cannot prove with a diploma or a degree, gained through work experience or during non-formal courses. How do they get help to prove the value of those skills and competences to the future employers? The AVA project consortium has launched survey collecting over 50 responses from 20 countries. The respondents have different professional backgrounds, ranging from universities, umbrella organisations of non-formal adult education to adult local and regional education providers. The purpose of the survey is to not only provide a wider context, but also gather opinion and concrete examples to draft an Action Plan for validation of non-formal learning.
One very important recommendation from the first analysis of the survey results is the necessity to improve the dialogue between the formal and the non-formal education systems. An important goal is to find more tools and methods to validate skills of the disadvantaged learner groups. They include for example people with disabilities, low-skilled, unemployed, low-skilled immigrants, low-skilled women in remote areas and senior citizens who face one of the challenges above-mentioned criteria. An improved dialogue between the different education sectors increases mutual trust. This leads to the respective recognition or, better, common development of tools and methodology that could eventually enhance the permeability of the validation systems in the EU.
Fostering the dialogue is one of the objectives of the Expert seminar in Oslo. “We want to work with experts on validation from all over Europe to formulate recommendations based on our survey. We want to find out what the different stakeholders can do – public authorities, but also stakeholders like social partners, and finally also adult education providers. I really hope that we will also be able to go a step further – to discuss not only the ‘what’ but also the ‘how’. How can we implement the recommendations? Based on the results of this debate, we will then elaborate an Action Plan for validation that takes non-formal adult education into account. We also want this Action Plan to reflect the needs and approaches of the non-formal adult education community but could be of real added value for all stakeholders working on the topic” says Gina Ebner, Secretary General of EAEA.
The survey attempts to put special focus on the target group of the project – disadvantaged adults. One example is IWC, the International Women’s Centre in the Netherlands with a group of learners from more than 100 nationalities. Some of the learners are not only from a disadvantaged background; they face many other problems, such as discrimination and domestic violence. Their success stories and benefits of the individual-centred approach to validation have been discussed more extensively in a recently published article by Martin Swart, Learn for Life. A closer look into IWC and the survey as a whole bring several conclusions. First, it is essential to speak the same language as the respondents participating in the validation process. Another factor that helps the target group to advance and that supports them in making next steps forward is systematic documentation of the learning process and its outcomes. Cross-institutional and cross-sectoral cooperation is fundamental to allow people to progress in employment or education paths.
Text: Marja Beckman, NVL and DialogueWeb editor
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Download the third AVA article: INDIVIDUAL-CENTRED APPROACH TO VALIDATION: THE IWC EXAMPLE -Martin Swart, Learn For Life