EAEA News 2006-12-22
The report on and assessment of the EAEA activities of 2006 was done at the General Assembly in Avilés, on 16-19 November, which obliges us to draw the conclusions and think it over and then enjoy the holidays, so we can continue our work with a fresh mind. I would like to thank our hosts, FEUP for the warm welcome in Avilés.
I think that the EAEA took another significant step forward in 2006 in its professional activity. I would like to point out one of our focuses now, the Trends and Issues in Adult Learning in Europe study, which, in the meantime was used to form the background study to the Commission´s communication published recently, called ‘Adult Learning: It´s never too late to learn´.
As it was said on a number of occasions, we should neither underestimate, nor overestimate this achievement. To my knowledge, the EAEA has never been a partner to the Commission before in preparing a study that serves as policy development in adult learning on European level. This holds very important opportunities for the future. On the other hand, it has to be noted that due to the short period of time given, our resources, the diverse nature of the field and the lack of research findings and data, we could not carry out the final and monographic processing. At the same time, the study is a comprehensive overview that is rather the beginning than the end of further systematic work serving the development of adult education within lifelong learning. We will have even more things to do in the work the EAEA has also been invited to be involved in, namely formulating the Communication´s action plan. As you can read on the Commission´s website, the Commission is urging Member States to have an efficient adult learning system, which is more effectively integrated into their national lifelong learning strategies. To help this process, the Commission is proposing to launch an Action Plan on Adult Learning in 2007. The EAEA can only take a step forward if it can submit proposals on national level implementation programmes in close co-operation with its member organisations.
The board has been doing detailed work on, among other things, Organisational Development over the recent years to assess the EAEA´s potential future development, mainly due to the fact that we cannot exploit the organisation´s full potential, since co-operation between personnel and co-ordination is not efficient enough and there is insufficient personnel to cover the occurring tasks. Essentially, the EAEA is a "small" and "poor" organisation compared number to number of its member organisations in terms of human resources and financial resource. Audit and analyses of the EAEA´s income and overheads make this point very clear. The board delegated a committee with the leadership of J.Klerck vice-president, and the participation of Eeva Inkeri and Brid Connolly and they prepared a proposal on organisational development following more than a year´s in-depth work and discussion about proposals they made in co-operation with the board. The GA eventually gave mandates to the newly elected board to continue this work.
Besides the words of criticism on the member organisations´ part, there were numerous proposals on organisational development, all of which circled around one point and there was strong agreement by everyone that serious efforts need to be made to save up for the future of the EAEA, i.e. to strengthen the financial situation and sustainability. There were many precise and proactive proposals, the details of which cannot be listed here, but which have to be kept in mind and made visible and known in order for the newly elected board to be able to consider the members´ opinion and proposals as much as possible. The EAEA´s members and leaders including the president have to learn from the words of criticism in the same way.
Let me now share only a few thoughts that represent the lessons I have learnt. It is the nature of development and progress to raise new issues. We cannot step into the same river twice, even if our human nature means we have a great tendency to do so. The debates, fears and opposing interests that progress naturally encompasses have to be elucidated patiently and carefully, which necessitates higher quality leadership, membership activity and an improved co-operation between these two.
Thanks to everybody who contributed to this.
We will need it even more in the future.
One thing is certain; one cannot think and act along the lines of the sometimes outdated methods, expectations and circles of interest of an earlier developmental phase. A new perspective is needed, the formation of which requires consensus.
I hope that the efforts of 2007 bring all of us positive results.
I start by wishing all of our members and colleagues a Happy Christmas, pleasant holidays and a refreshed and improved co-operation in the year ahead.
János Sz. Tóth