Economic problems seem to motivate the Danes to adult education whether formal or non-formal. Increases at the level of 37 and 46 percent have been registered. At the same time educators and decision makers are looking for new ways and methods.
(InfoNet - Michael Voss)
year ago adult education (AE) institutions and -associations in Denmark started wondering how the economic crisis would affect the field. There were fears that the crisis would impose financial restraints on national and local government with less AE funding as a result. Making a balance sheet in autumn 2009 these fears have not been realized.
Funding is still defined by other long term tendencies. In 2006 as part of a special Globalization Fund Parliament allotted around 300 million Euros to formal AE to be spent over six years. On the other hand non-formal adult education was hit by a drastic reduction of funding in 2002, and local government funding has been reduced year by year ever since.
But until now no special cutbacks have been implemented because of the crisis.
Increase in formal AE
The crisis seems to have a positive influence on participation. Recently the Ministry of Education released new figures on formal AE.
For the Preparatory Adult Education (in Danish: FVU) participation increased with 37 % from the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009. FVU is training in literacy skills and basic numeracy, arithmetic and basic mathematical concepts. For many unskilled workers this is a precondition for entering job related AE and improving their job possibilities. The government has set a target of 50.000 participants in FVU per year in 2012, and it is expected that 36.000 will participate in 2009 (Denmark has 5.5 million inhabitants).
The success of job related AE is even bigger. From the first quarter of 2008 to the first quarter of 2009 participation increased with 46 %.
Both figures come on top of an already rising trend.
"It is very uplifting that so many people choose to improve the qualifications. The economic crisis has resulted in even more activity," says the Danish Minister for Education, Bertel Haarder.
Focus on other values
At the same time the non-formal sector of AE in Denmark is also growing after some years of stagnation. No overall statistics has yet been made, but almost unanimously leaders of the schools of this sector tell about an impressing increase in participation.
Bjoern Salling is head of one of the bigger so called "evening schools". 12 days after publishing the program for autumn 2009 he registered a 60 % increase in enrollment.
"There is no doubt that this is related to the financial crisis. Many people begin to focus more on other values than consumer goods. They want to acquire new knowledge and develop themselves. In evening schools you improve your life quality and relate to other people. Maybe that is what some people are missing under the hardship of crisis," says Bjoern Salling.
Tailor made Individual Preparatory Education
Amidst these successes the education sector are trying to cope with the problem that more than 20 % of young people do not finish an education beyond the compulsory 10 years of basic school. This leaves a huge challenge of providing education for young adults and motivating them to participate. Different parts of the non-formal AE-sector are developing new offers in this field. One example is the Tailor made Individual Preparatory Education (TIPE).
TIPE is based on the experience made by evening schools and non-residential folk high schools working with adult under the age of 30. As a result of a development project a working group of adult educators and academics have come out with the TIPE concept of combined guidance counselling and education.
TIPE is focusing on clarification and personal motivation for learning. The participant gets a personal counsellor, who continues as a mentor in the transition to formal education. The guidance includes both vocational and educational guidance and personal ‘life guidance´.
The participant follows a personal plan for learning, which continually is being followed up in cooperation between the participant and the counsellor. Elements in the plan are teaching in general as well as subject specific matters, educational and vocational training, clarification and documentation of prior learning, elements from the ordinary educational system, building up social network, etc.
While local schools are still experimenting and developing TIPE-like courses, the Danish Adult Education Association is lobbying to make TIPE a recognized education. This is a precondition for government funding and public grants to participants.