The aim of IntALWinE (2003-2005) has been to draw on and build up the strategic potential of learning festivals, with a view to developing a more consolidated European framework of cooperation. The cooperation was meant to lend support to national learning festivals.
The overall aim of this network was to increase the technical skills of coordinators and facilitate the involvement of learners. Furthermore it aimed to produce and circulate materials, and to lend to the visibility and status of learning festivals in support of advocacy work for lifelong learning.
The 16 participating countries were: Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Lithuania, The Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and The United Kingdom. The coordination held the Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning - UIL, Germa
The working process:
The network has concentrated its work on three interrelated areas, organized in thematic working groups: 1) bringing to the forefront the voices and perspectives of learners themselves, 2) improving the effectiveness of learning festivals, and 3) manifesting and maximizing the value of learning festivals as mobilization and advocacy tools for learning and democracy building.
The working groups prepared concrete activities and outputs of the network. For example they organized an International Learners Forum and a Study Tour of International Learners, and coordinated the related publication on so called " I did it my way. Journeys of Learning in Europe". Furthermore they concentrated on the operational improvement of learning festivals, identifying best practice, suggesting models for cooperation and developing methods for data collection and evaluation. The third group focused on the mobilization and advocacy potential of learning festivals for learning and democracy building for providing the core content of the final publication.
The main achievements:
a) Tools for the operational improvement of learning festivals developed
The systematic collection and review of tools for the organisation of learning festivals are of an useful and inspirational kind. They help to disseminate the national experiences made by the project partners. The tools aim to be helpful for current and new organizers who would like to establish a learning festival.
b) Advocacy and mobilization potential of learning festivals developed and advanced
The publications and website of the project are powerful devices to underscore the mobilization potential of learning festivals, and are in themselves advocacy tools at international level. Through the process of producing them collectively, the project partners have gained new insights into the advocacy potential of their own national festival. They are able to further tap on the advocacy potential of their festivals. The project strengthened and the European/international learning festivals´ movement as a whole. The visits and international prestige of the project backed up and will continue to back up the national lobbying work as well, especially in times when there is a threat of funds for learning festivals being cut in countries.
c) Voices of learners strengthened
The voices of learners have been strengthened three-fold, through
1) the joint publication of learners´ stories from fourteen European countries (in six languages), which has been made available and been distributed in print version and online,
2) the participation of learners themselves in the project activities, and
3) giving space and the opportunity to learners to formulate their own policy recommendations and to include them in the final publication of the network, as well as online. The learners´ voices have also been strengthened in a way that learners from different European countries have begun to link with each other, share experiences and mutually reinforce their lobbying power, both in their own countries as well as at European level as an international group.
Within the project´s partner countries, the publication "I did it my way" (either in one "international" language or in the national translation) served as a successful promotional tool in their daily work. In some cases, (e.g. Hungary, Estonia), it helped set up a national learners´ forum for adult learners to interact and gain a common voice.
d) European framework of cooperation consolidated
The cooperation between partners from 15 European countries over three years of time has formed a solid network. It provided the space for exchanging experiences and learning from each other, and promoted the creativity in further refining advocacy strategies through learning festivals in the partner countries. Already while the project was ongoing, project partners went to visit activities of other partners outside the project´s work plan, or planned joint activities beyond the project duration. Two more partners were recruited during the project.
However, beyond these outcomes, the project had additional value in several aspects:
- It provided the space to generate mutual encouragement for the project partners (and beyond) to continue their national ALW or learning festival despite tight budgets and hard work,
- It lent support and prestige to the national ALWs and learning festivals, by drawing the attention of ministries and supporters to their own country fellows being part of the European network,
- It helped launch new initiatives in the partner countries, such as the development of national/local adult learners´ forums,
- It raised the interest of other European countries to mount an ALW or learning festival.
Ruth Jermann, Deputy Director of the Swiss Federation for Adult Education (SVEB)
Swiss Learning Festival
Swiss Federation for Adult Education (SVEB)
Unesco Institute for Lifelong Learning