ARALE conference

The ARALE Conference took place in Brussels on 2nd and 3rd of October 2013.

Enthusiasm raises awareness

Enthusiasm for learning is the goal. But enthusiasm is also an important tool for raising awareness of adult learning. And enthusiasm certainly was present at the conference on Awareness Raising in Adult Learning and Education (ARALE).

The conference took place in Brussels on October 2 and 3 with around 70 participants from 20 European countries plus Israel and Japan. At the conference the results of a survey on EAEA-members’ awareness raising activities were presented, debated and not the least: new experiences and viewpoints were added. The survey is part of the ARALE project.


Berni Brady from AONTAS, Ireland, described one way to introduce enthusiasm into awareness raising:

“We make our campaigns into celebrations of learning, including Star Awards and big events,” said Berni Brady from AONTAS, Ireland. She presented the Irish Adult Learner’s Week, one of the examples of campaigns directed at the general public.

Looking forward

Another way of creating enthusiasm also came from Ireland. Clare McNally from the National Adult Literacy Agency told the conference participants about their TV advertising campaigns towards a “special target group”, adults with reading problems.

“We focus on the possibilities and opportunities that occur when dyslectic people take the difficult step of taking an adult education reading and writing course – not their difficulties and setbacks,” said Clare McNally.

“Since then I never looked back,” was the repeating optimistic statement of the case persons in the TV-spots.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Enthusiasm alone will not do it. You have to combine it with professionalism. That was one main point in the lecture of Amelie von Zweigbergk from Sweden, introducing the third aspect of awareness raising – for a very special target group: policy makers.

With the benefit of being a former politician and now working for adult education (she is an EAEA Board member) she gave a hand-on instruction on how to talk to politicians.

“You must prepare your story. You must prepare your message, and you must know all about the minister, who has given you 15 minutes – and wants to get it done quicker,” she said.


Eight different awareness raising efforts were presented. Eight workshops took place. In addition participants heard an introduction to another project on the Benefits of Lifelong Learning (BeLL), a panel debate and an introduction to Erasmus + by a representative of the European Commission.

But the reason that most participants left enthusiastic was the sharing of experiences.

In the final session Zvonka Pangerc Pahernic from Slovenia summed up, what conferences like this are about: “stealing and sharing – dreaming and daring”.