Conference in Norwich 16th - 18th September 2005
Between the 16th and the 18th of September the city of Norwich played host to the UK presidency of the EU conference on adult education, entitled ‘Work and Achieving the Lisbon Goals´. The fine early autumn weather and the tranquil surroundings of the University of East Anglia provided an ideal backdrop for what proved to be a most enlightening and absorbing event.
Delegates were welcomed to the conference on the morning of the 16th and things got underway immediately with a host of speakers and a variety of subjects. Phil Hope, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Skills kicked the conference off and presented on the skills strategy in the UK. He was followed by Tom Schuller from OECD and Ekkehard Nuissl from the German institute for adult Education presenting on demography and migration, and learning places respectively. This, the first of the plenary sessions was followed by a lively debate.
Before lunch on the first day all the delegates were invited to take part in a giant workshop entitled World Knowledge Café whose purpose was to stimulate discussion on demographic trends across Europe and on how these trends affect adult learning and active citizenship. The layout was novel but the discussions were fruitful and the workshop was enjoyed by all.
After lunch the plenary sessions continued with David Hughes from the European Commission for Education and Anders Franzen representing the Swedish Adult Education Initiative. The day´s program continued with the delegates attending individual, smaller workshops that focused on a variety of topics and was completed with a civic reception at Norwich´s imposing City Hall.
Day two began with a sightseeing tour around the historic city centre, taking in the ancient cobbled streets and the mediaeval castle and cathedral. However, once everyone had returned by coach work soon got underway with another very interesting speech, this time from Alan Smith (Grundtvig Co-ordinator, European Commission) who talked about the future direction of the Grundtvig Programme. Mr Smith was followed by Sue Mayer of NIACE and was joined by the afternoon´s other speakers namely Serge Ravet (European Institute of E- Learning), Wendy Jones (BBC) and Ian Nash (Times Educational Supplement). The afternoon of the 17th also provided the chance for delegates to attend smaller workshops which provided a more intimate setting for detailed discussion.
After the workshops were the closing comments of the conference. It was noted, and agreed with by all that Work and Achieving the Lisbon Goals, UK presidency of the EU adult education conference was a resounding success and provided an excellent platform for enlightening discussion about the way forward for adult education in Europe.
(EAEA Budapest Office, Tom Hunter)
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