ARALE conference

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

Interview: Attracting the adults via their children

Keeping adults busy may not seem to be a big ambition for non-formal adult education. But it is the starting point of a project in Foggia, Italy. ”At the same time we want to change the mentality of the adults and make them learn,” says Valeria Caravella.

The economic depression in Italy has changed the conditions of adult education. In Foggia, in the south-eastern part of Italy, the educational institution IRSEF has adapted to the new situation. IRSEF is an Institute for Research and Studies for Education and Training and at the same time a provider of professional, vocational and non-formal education.


“In the present situation of depression it is difficult to attract adult learners,” explains Valeria Caravella for IRSEF.

“It is not only the economy, many people are also depressed. They drink and they fight each other – and they certainly do not go looking for adult education. That is why we developed the idea of getting whole families involved,” she says.

The simple things

At the institute, young people participate in vocational training.

“We invited their parents to come see what the kids were doing, to see what they learn. That made them realise that it was interesting.”

Motivating the adults to actually participate themselves in learning was the next step.

“We invited them to a party, parents and kids, and made them cook together. We had to start with very simple things, but with an educational implication.

Then we organised handicraft activities, visits to museums and so on. In that way we kept them busy and started changing their mentality towards each other and towards learning.

I think we created a sense of community in which they shared and learned from each other’s experiences,” says Valeria Caravella.

International outlook

IRSEF even involved the parents in international cooperation.

“We are doing two projects in Palestine. In that way they learned international cooperating and being part of a network.

All the way we organised it as family activity, even though the young ones and the parents did not do the same things. While the parents were making handicrafts, their children video recorded it,” says Valeria Caravella who works for IRSEF.