The beginning of the 80's was overshadowed by the
illness and death of Bob Schouten, who had acted as honorary secretary of the
Bureau since its beginning.
In the Steering Committee meeting of March 10, 1981
held in Amersfoort Helmuth Dolff commemorated him in the following terms:
"If to-day there is a sort of international comradeship between adult
educators this is very much to Bob Schouten's merit, who was influenced by de
Saint-Exupéry's statement "le plus beau métier des hommes est d'unir les
hommes" and had made this the main idea of his life".
The decision was taken to establish a fund in his
honour, "to assist workers in adult education at the beginning of their
career, making themselves familiar with international aspects of their work by
studying abroad in one of the countries of Europe".
Capital was accumulated for the Bob Schouten Fund using gifts from associations
and personal friends. The rent was used for travel grants; several
organisations offered to host the holders of bursaries when they wished to
visit their countries.
Two years later Helmuth Dolff died of cancer. Jacob Horn, a direct colleague, wrote:
"Helmuth Dolff was elected as President in 1973
after a long period of active involvement in the Bureau's work. This election
was symbolic of the work the Bureau tries to perform; it took place near the
battlefield of Arnhem
where several of the delegates had been serving on opposite sides- Helmuth
himself as a boy of 15 as well. Helmuth felt very strongly about the value of
international contacts; he was a fine colleague and a good friend..."
(Remembrance of Helmuth Dolff in Steering Committee
meeting of January 17, 1984 by Arthur Stock)
Policy and Structure
As a successor of Helmuth Dolff, Arthur Stock was given
the difficult task of steering the Bureau clear of the rocks that appeared in
In the 70's the Bureau's work had been focused to a
great extent on building a comprehensive system of Adult Education, with
special attention to disadvantaged groups.
In the 80's, a period of economic decline and
"retreating government", adult education organisations were
confronted with economic stringency and were drawn back to their traditional
"firebrigade function" to help in solving specific social problems.
The situation at the best offered narrow-front
advances, which moreover, had been to the disadvantage of other areas of work.
In the educational field there was an ever growing
influence of non-educational sources and it should be endeavoured to change the
stress of their programmes into a more educational one. (Steering Committee
meeting January 17, 1983)
The shift in policy was briefly defined by Arthur
Stock in 1984 when he stated that politicians now tended to think in terms of
trends in society, like the changing age composition in the population, the
introduction of new technology, multi-racial societies, unemployment etc.
In his opinion Adult Education now had to focus on the
educational dimensions of these large social trends.
We shall see these concerns reflected in the Bureau's
activities in this period.
To be able to give guidance on new issues, the length
of the Steering Committee meetings was increased to provide extra time for
working groups on urgent topics.
Examples of Working parties Steering Committee
1980: Meeting of secretaries of National institutes as
structures for advice and negotiation with national governments and their
functioning in a time of economic recession; the priorities set by the
different institutions for activities in the coming years.
1982: Information and Documentation in AE
1985: Programme of conferences/ Women's education
Secretariat and Structure
After the move of the Bureau's office to Amersfoort in 1971
the Bureau depended for approximately 50% on a grant from the Dutch Ministry of
Culture, Recreation and Social Work (CRM).
The hardening economic climate also had a great
influence on the Bureau's situation: the Ministry had in 1981 already
introduced important economies in its subsidies to adult education but in 1982
it also decided to cut its subsidies to international work.
"July 30, 1982
Since 1969 your Bureau has been subsidized on a yearly
basis at the discretion of this ministry.
From this side the work of the Bureau has always been
highly appreciated. . due tor the decrease of the financial possibilities of
the national government it is necessary to revise the priorities with regard to
As this ministry has subsidised the Bureau for a
considerable period , it seems to me that it should be the turn of other
countries, which make use of your documentation material to cover the deficit
in the Bureau's budget.
In order to give your Bureau the opportunity to
explore alternative sources of finance, I am willing in principle to contribute
a subsidy of maximally Hfl. 130.000 for the year 1982.
An eventual application for a subsidy in 1983 could
only be honoured with a maximum of half of the subsidy granted for 1982. For
1984 no subsidy will be allocated.
I hope you will be able to find the necessary support for
your activities elsewhere.
The Minister of Culture, Recreation and Social Welfare".
The Dutch treasurer, Mr van Houte, had already warned
in 1979 that such a decision might be taken and the Steering committee had
taken measures to improve the income from membership fees, but the gravity of
this decision, which involved 50% of the Bureau's budget, required more drastic
Mr Kees Stapel, then elected member in the Steering
Committee, contacted the European Cultural Foundation which resulted in a grant
to bridge the lack of subsidy in the second half of 1993.
In the meantime the two Dutch organisations which
shared their office with the Bureau in Amersfoort
negotiated a grant for a part-time function for bilateral international
relations. This resulted in the offering of a 60% post to the Bureau's
secretary and a 50% post for secretarial assistance by the Dutch Centre of
Adult Education NCVO, on the understanding that this post could also be used
for the work of the European Bureau. This meant relief of ¦ 111.314,-
on the total budget of ¦
177.702,- in 1984 and offered a feasible outcome to the problems.
The economies in adult education were introduced in
the framework of a decentralisation policy where the power of decision as well
as the financial responsibilities were to fall on the local authorities. This
also affected the situation of national co-ordinating bodies, which lost their
subsidy in 1988 in the context of a restructuration operation. This put an end
to the Dutch Centre for Adult Education, NCVO.
On that occasion the Bureau could get back a subsidy
for a 40% assignment, thanks to the support of "the Friends of the
European Bureau", an association which had been founded in 1984 to defend
the Bureau's case. Nevertheless it became clear that for the future other
structural measures had to be taken, to give the Bureau's work a less insecure
footing and meet the need for an increase in staff to answer the many new tasks
In the period 1988-1992 the chair was held by Lenie
Oglesby and she undertook to promote the development of a new structure
together with the realisation of a useful programme which met the needs of the
In this period the Dutch Study Centre for Adult
Education in Amersfoort
was willing to give local support to the Bureau's secretariat.
Mr Jan de Vries, the secretary to this Centre
suggested organizing the Bureau on two foundations:
"organisations, or parts of organisations, that are mainly
involved with "advocating" and
organisations or parts of them that are mainly
involved with more scientific-supportive activities".
As the main responsibilities of the study centre were
in the field of adult basic education however, its interests did not quite fit
the structure of the Steering Committee. This meant that this form of
co-operation was ended in 1992; the Amersfoort office
then had a small independent office placed at its disposal.
To remedy the shortage of staff it was decided in 1988
to put more emphasis on work in subcommittees which were responsible for
specific areas of work, following the model developed by the Women's Committee
The issues dealt with this way were: Women and
Education - Literacy and Adult Basic Education - Education and Training in a
Changing Employment Market.
At the same time a more informal network was
established for educational work with older adults.
As a more fundamental solution to the structural
problems the Steering Committee decided to investigate the feasibility of
opening linkoffices in various regions of Europe.
By the end of 1991 it was clear that the Catalonian government was willing to
fund an office in Barcelona.
Co-operation with International Organisations
In this period of financial stringency the Bureau
became more dependent on project-money to continue its activities. Apart from
the support from member organisations and national governments, support from
international bodies also became a vital element for the continuity of the
In 1985 the fourth UNESCO world conference took place
The Danish officer, Mr Bertelsen, who was in charge of the preparations was
concerned about the input of Non Governmental Organisations and the Bureau was
involved in this endeavour in close co-operation with the International Council
for Adult Education.
UNESCO requested the Bureau to prepare materials to
provide an image of the Adult Education situation in Europe.
As early as 1980 the Bureau had received a subsidy to help finance the
publication of four conference reports and for the preparation of abstracts of
significant adult education publications.
In 1982 a contract was concluded to prepare a new
report on Adult Education Legislation.
The action of the European parliament from 1972
onwards finally lead to the establishment in 1981 of a creditline (article 634)
for Continuing Education and Co-operation between Residential Centres for Adult
A proportion of the funds made available went to the
European Education of Adults largely through the International Federation of
Europe Houses and the International Centre for European Training.
The remainder was intended for a programme dealing
with the contribution Adult Education could make to a number of priority fields
in Europe. It
provided Adult Education organisations with the possibility of organising
trans-national workshops and conferences in fields such as
- Adult Education in disadvantaged areas
- Integrated programmes for socio-economic development
- Adult Basic Education
- Education and training measures for long-term
unemployed adults and
- Education to meet the needs of cultural and
Each year approximately 20 meetings could be organised
in this context.
The European Bureau has been involved in this
programme and in co-operation with its associates has initiated meetings on -
Adult Basic Education (1983), - Adult Education and Local/Regional Development
(1984), - New /Information Technology and Adult Education (1985),- Adult
Education and Social Development in Southern Europe (1988), - Adult Education
for a Multi-Cultural Society (1991)- Women and Decisionmaking (1991).
These meetings have been most useful for establishing
closer contacts between member organisations of the Bureau and spreading new
ideas. Moreover the budget made it possible to collect basic documentation for
these meetings and to publish this material in the Bureau's new publication,
The follow-up of these meetings however could only
take place on the national level, through the work of the national associates
of EBAE: unfortunately the scheme did not offer possibilities for a
trans-national follow-up by e.g. the establishment of more regular trans-national
network activities or through the development of experimental trans-national
A sort of intermediate solution was found by the
Bureau by organising a series of interrelated meetings, which built on each
others experience and developed related issues, as was done in the 4-year
programme, Education and Training of Adults in a Changing Employment Market,
which started with a large conference in Toulouse in 1987.
The overall aim of this series was to study the part
played by informal, general and community-based education in the vocational
education and training of adults.
In this framework the following meetings were
- Education and training for unemployed adults in the
mid-life years (1987);
- Special programmes for the long term unemployed
- Women's Vocational Education and Training (1988);
- Liberal and general education programmes in the
framework of provision made for unemployed adults (1989);
- Educational guidance for adults (1990, 1991);
- Tutor Experiences on grassroots courses for Women
In 1989 the Bureau undertook a seminar in Valkenburg,
for organizers involved in the credit-line programme, in order to discuss and
analyse developments and links with EC policies as recommended by the EC coordination
meeting held in Brussels,
This Valkenburg meeting made recommendations on the
future programme of the credit line and also made suggestions for other forms
of working and emphasised the need for more effective co-operation among adult
educators, working in common areas. A possibility was for existing umbrella
organizations to be funded to co-ordinate activities in particular fields.
Following the Valkenburg meeting, the Bureau elaborated a co-operative plan of
action together with two other European organisations EZA, the European Centre
for Workers-Questions and CEPFAR, The European Training and Development Centre
for Farming and Rural Life. This plan was submitted to the European Parliament.
Following this step the EC increased the budget
available for meetings, which enabled the Bureau to launch four new activities
After a period of ten years, in 1991, the Commission
decided to review its policy in this field, with the aim of reducing the
dispersion of funds over many small activities and secondly, to give Adult
Education a more prominent place in the work of the Commission.
The Bureau collaborated with CEPFAR and EZA to help
establish the basis for such a new policy:
CEPFAR prepared an analysis of the situation for Adult
education in the rural world,
The Bureau worked on an inventory of organisations and
establishments dealing with continuing education in each memberstate of the
Community and EZA drew up an inventory of the aims and needs of
Adult Education in the following ten years.
International Council of Adult Education
Thanks to its contacts with the Kellog Foundation the
International Council was able to give support to the Bureau's work on two
At the end of the seventies the International
Council provided a grant to the Bureau
which made it possible to publish four issues of a new periodical
"Newsletter". When the subsidy period for this activity came to an
end its was possible to continue the publication during the 80's with the help
of associates, who helped to publish special issues, and by using the
Newsletter to publish the basic documentation for conferences within the
framework of budget-line 634.
In 1988 the Bureau received a second grant to help it
to carry through the structural changes that had become necessary.
Membership; Growth in Southern and Eastern Europe,
After the publication of the French version of his
booklet on the history of the Bureau, Mr Schouten received the following letter
from Professor de Sanctis, which opened up a new period in the relations with Southern
"In reading the pages of your historical study I
was sorry to see that my country has played an extremely limited role in the
life of the Bureau. This situation grieves all those who endorse the motto of
A. de Saint-Exupéry "Le plus beau métier des hommes est d'unir les
hommes" and wish to make a contribution to the development of adult
education. I think that in the future we need to overcome this distance by co-operation on the European level with
colleagues who see their task in overcoming traditional education and in
answering the educational needs of workers.(...)
At any rate I endorse my readiness to co-operate fully
with initiatives of the Bureau with the aim of a more intensive collaboration
between those working in the field of adult education in Europe".
Professor Filippo M. De Sanctis, letter of 15-4-1980
Professor de Sanctis became a member of the Steering
Committee and the University
took an active part in the preparation of publications like the Directory, the
survey of Adult Education legislation and the Italian version of the Bureau's
list of terms in 1982. The meeting organised in Pistoia in 1986
was a great stimulus for the contacts with Southern European organisations.
These links were also stimulated to a great extend by
the initiative of the French member organisation Peuple et Culture to bring
together Southern European colleagues at a meeting in Toulouse in 1982, which
lead to a series of meetings to which the Bureau's secretariat was also
This led to the entry of new members from Spain, Cyprus, Italy and Yugoslavia in the
The Southern European presence in the Bureau strongly
influenced its programme. In the years of economic problems the Bureau had a
great deal of help from their experience in difficult situations and their
activities in local development greatly stimulated the Bureau's programme.
The relations with Middle and Eastern
Europe started on an informal basis in the seventies
by bilateral study visits and exchanges of information.
Thanks to the relations of Europäische Akademie Berlin, the
meetings organised in Berlin
in 1979 and 1980 attracted participants from Poland, Hungary and Rumania.
At the beginning of the 80's Steering Committee
members visited various organisations and further contacts were stimulated by
the common work in the International Council of Adult Education.
In 1986 the Bureau received the first application for
membership from an organisation in Central
Europe, TWP in Poland.
In the discussion on the Bureau's fee structure in
1985 the starting point was that financial and political barriers were less
important than the aim to have the whole of Europe
in membership. In subsequent years the membership increased, following the end
of the Cold War.
At the request of the International Council of Adult
Education the Israeli Association of AE had been accepted as an associate
member of the Bureau in 1976, whereas the Palestinian Liberation Organisation,
PLO had become a member in the Arab region of ICAE.
In 1984 it was decided to adopt the regional division
of ICAE for the Bureau's membership as well, which made, that the Israeli
organisation was accepted as a regular member and got a place in the Steering Committee.
Programme of Activities
In 1980 the first meeting on Women and Adult
Education was held in close co-operation with the National Institute of
Adult Education (England
This event lead to the establishment in 1985 of a subcommittee
of the Steering Committee to promote the participation of women in Bureau
activities and decisionmaking in Adult Education. The remit of the committee
also included identifying major research needs and the production of
publications concerning women in European Adult Education.
For a detailed description of the working methods and
activities of this committee we refer to the article of Lenie Oglesby, who, as
an elected member in the Steering Committee, was a driving force in this
committee, and served the Bureau as president in the period 1988-1991.(See
A grant from Deutscher Volkshochschul Verband, DVV
made it possible to explore policies and activities in the fields of Health
and Adult Education (1985) and Adult Education for a Multi-Cultural
Society (1986, 1991).
Important issues in the 1986 meeting were programmes
to deal with the covert racism in the majority population, the promotion of the
employment of ethnic minority staff in adult education institutions and
didactic use of the media.
Also in the 80's the Bureau continued meetings
providing an occasion for specialists in various fields to exchange information
about their work and to draw up plans for common action.
1982/1988: Information and Documentation in AE:
Application of information technology in AE Documentation and possibilities for
further co-operation between documentation centres.
1983: Meeting of editors of AE journals;
Policymaking in Adult education
As a forerunner to the 1985 UNESCO world conference a
meeting was organised in Sweden, 1994 to
discuss the survey of Adult Education legislation prepared by the Bureau and
the outcomes of the questionnaire circulated by UNESCO.
"Adult Education is on the defensive and apologetic. It
must become more positive.(...) The division between general and personal education on
the one hand and occupational education and training, on the other, is becoming
more worrying. It is not simply a question of where the money is going but that
there is a wall between the sections. While we work on the margins we will be considered to
be marginal. There is little regard paid to the social and
political importance of education for adults. Yet this is most important".
(Peter Clyne, Common trends in national reports
prepared for the UNESCO International Conference)
Following the decentralisation policy in various
countries of Europe
increased attention was also given to the role of local and regional government
in policy making. The role of Adult Education in local/regional development was
a common interest which connected organisations in Northern and Southern
Europe. Meetings in Pistoia (1984)
(1988) further elaborated this issue.
It was a paradox that the local authorities that made
possible so many developments and were the example for many countries were
"legislated away in England and Wales and
replaced by centrally imposed restrictions". (Don Clarke, Report
Education and Training in a Changing Employment Market,
Following the meeting in France in 1979, the issue of
unemployment became a most urgent one in the 80's.
In 1984 a meeting was organised in Amersfoort, in
co-operation with the Dutch Study Centre for Adult Education, SVE, which dealt
with projects connected to the local situation and geared to a combination of
general and vocational education. Various examples were given of the use of
modular systems, job creation and the use of guidance and counselling.
The issue was also the main interest in the 4-years
programme Education and Training in a Changing Employment Market, which was
aimed at intensifying the part played by informal education and development
work in the field of vocational education for adults.
The Training of Adult Educators and Volunteers
This issue had been dealt with extensively in the
sixties in the context of the growing professionalisation in adult education.
The conference in Geiranger, Norway 1982,
came back on this issue with special attention to qualifications in this field.
Following this meeting the Bureau collected national
reports on the state of the art in the training and further training of adult
educators in sixteen countries of Europe,
which were published in co-operation with the University of Surrey.(see
Chapter VII, written by Derek Legge)
A special issue in the Geiranger meeting was the
co-operation between volunteers and professionals which was dealt with more in
depth in 1987. The conference in Malle,
considered especially the ways and means to organise training based on
experience in voluntary work, the rights of volunteers and support services for
In this meeting there was a keen awareness that the
growing recognition for volunteer work was also due to the fact, that it served
as a cheap solution for getting work done while being based on exploitation.
Information and Counselling Services
Thanks to the invitation of Europäischer Akademie Berlin it was
possible in 1981 to investigate the situation for information and counselling
services in various countries, with special attention to the outreach dimension
of advisory services and the value of the independent counselling and advisory
centre, as contrasted with a network approach.
The activities in this field were able to be continued
at the end of the 80's thanks to the support of the European Communities
Co-operation with the Media and new Technology
The 1982 conference in Denmark, a
follow-up of the 1976 meeting in Belgium, dealt
with practical experiences in e.g. the Dutch Open School and the
new British Channel IV as well as the possibilities offered by local
The Conference on New Technology, held in Woburn, England, 1985
offered an opportunity to learn from the experience of the nearby Open
University. The meeting advocated the training of Adult Educators and staff at
all levels to ensure adequate expertise in the use of information technology;
this should include reference to changing roles.
Greater attention should be given to the education of
the population at large to ensure the establishment of democratic control over
developments. "Only in this way can dangerous divisions in society be
Literacy and Adult Basic Education
In 1982 a studytour was organised to Israel which
paid particular attention to literacy, language training for immigrants and
community work. Literacy was especially important for women, who had immigrated
from Arab countries. A special newspaper for new readers and immigrants brought
them into contact with developments in the world around them and served as a
basis for political awareness.
In the context of the 1988 restructuring of activities
a special subcommittee for Literacy and ABE was established, under the auspices
of the Dutch Study Centre for AE.
"It is clear that on matters of methodology of teaching, learning goals, tutor training
and strategies for development of the field there is emerging a common core of
thinking(...)Key words in this respect are Student-centred learning, use of
every-day experience in the learning process, contributing to emancipation
processes in the learner and society etc. (...) As a follow-up of the 1987 conference in Angers a group of colleagues from
6 countries discussed the possibilities of a network and prepared a working
plan for the first years dealing with the systematic exchange of information
and cooperation in the fields of -Tutor Exchange, -Student Exchange, -Policy matters,
-Research and development, -Tutor Training, -and -Documentation".
For the work of the subcommittee on Adult education in
a Changing Employment Market we can refer to the paragraph on co-operation with
the European Community.
After the end of the period covered by the grant of
the International Council of Adult Education it became necessary in the
beginning of the eighties to raise the funds for each newsletter specifically.
In a number of cases steering committee members could
raise funds in their own countries for the preparation of specific issues or
could give local support with editorial work. A number of issues were also
published as basic documentation for theme-based conferences and could be
financed in the framework of the EC credit-line 634.
During the eighties it was possible to secure the
publication of two issues a year in this way.
This format however allowed for little opportunity for
news on the EBAE members or general information on the field of AE in Europe.
In the framework of the 1988 restructuring it was
therefore decided to publish a new style Newsletter, which would contain
information about recent developments within the EEC and non-EEC countries
which had a bearing on developments in AE; conference and seminar publicity,
the work of subcommittees and networks as well as news on innovative
developments in the field.
To remedy the loss of the old style newsletter Fact
Sheets were published on particular aspects of adult education work (e.g. Activities undertaken in the framework of the
Literacy Year, 1990).
Directory of Adult Education Organizations
This publication was set up in 1971 to improve the
possibilities for communication and was gradually improved. The 1979 issue gave
a short description of the structure of adult education in the 13 countries
concerned and covered nearly 800 organizations. The 1983 edition gave 1100
addresses. This issue was made possible by a grant from the European Cultural
As it is a difficult
task to provide a more or less representative survey of a field as diversified
as AE, local support was provided by the members of the steering committee in
the countries concerned.