ARALE conference

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

The long and winding road

Destruction, dreams and hope. Not the usual vocabulary of a presentation on advocacy for adult education. But those were the words that Trine Bendix used to tell the story on how her organisation succeeded in convincing the politicians of the need of a research institute for non-formal adult education.

Destruction was the first slide of the story of Trine Bendix from Danish Adult Education Association (DAEA). It referred to a 2001 decision by a new government to immediately close down a well-established and well-working research and development centre for adult education.

Dreams was the starting point of the advocacy project that the DAEA submitted to ARALE; dreams about having a new centre established to document the efforts and effects of non-formal adult education and to help develop new methods.

The long and winding road was the four years of lobbying and awareness raising with lots of initiatives, meetings, documents, but also with some frustration, mistrusts and dead ends along the way.

One of the important stepping stones was the National Commission on non-formal adult education. The two DAEA-members in the commission raised the idea of a research centre and convinced the other members of its rationale, so it ended up as one of 33 proposals from the commission.

“The minister at the time promised to implement the proposal. But still there was a lot of work to do, “ Trine Bendix explained.

Changes of ministers and changes of government made it necessary to start all over again a couple of times: “In that situation it was very important that we had good “travel companions” – in the sense of allies among other NGO’s and not the least among civil servants in governmental departments,” she added.

Hope was the last key word of Trine Bendix, meaning hope that the new Danish Institute for Non-formal Education - now firmly established, though on a small scale - will succeed and grow.