EAEA ANNUAL CONFERENCE 2016: SHARING INNOVATIONS IN EUROPEAN ADULT EDUCATION
Topical European developments and adult education innovations were among the issues discussed at the EAEA Annual Conference of 2016. The Conference gathers EAEA members yearly to reflect on the past and the future of adult education in Europe. The Conference was held in Brussels in 28–29 of June.
Europe has faced many changes this year which are also reflecting to the field of adult education. The “Brexit”, the referendum held in UK that indicates the renunciation of UK from the European Union, was among the topics raising concerns also in the European adult education community.
EAEA will guarantee its support for all its members, whether in- or outside the EU, assured EAEA President Per Paludan Hansen at the EAEA General Assembly held as part of the Annual Conference.
“The UK continues to be one of our leading partners in adult education in Europe,” he stressed.
Another topic that has recently shown also on the agendas of the European adult educators is the refugee situation in Europe. Also many EAEA members are active in welcoming refugees and providing them with educational services.
“Europe is facing a humanitarian catastrophe. Adult Education can play a key role in the crisis: adult education providers and civil society organizations provide fundamental support to respond to the arrival of refugees and to their long-term inclusion in their host countries. Therefore, ‘adult education and refugees’ is EAEA's key topic in 2016,” the EAEA President said.
Tools for advocacy and action
The Annual Conference also provided an opportunity to share innovations and experiences in adult education. The annual EAEA Grundtvig Award ceremony celebrated innovation in adult education by awarding [http://www.eaea.org/en/home/news/eaea-grundtvig-award-2016-goes-to-st.-andrews-refugee-services-tlc-pack-and-idcirs-projects.html?p45=2] the adult education projects with the theme of refugee education.
The Conference also presented highlights from projects lead or partnered by EAEA. The AVA – Action for Validation project [http://www.eaea.org/en/projects/eaea-coordinated-projects/ava.html] final conference introduced the action plan produced in the project to raise awareness on validation of non-formal and informal learning and to make different sectors – civil society, policy makers and the business sector – involved in the process.
“The AVA consortium is proposing a way forward to reduce the fragmentation of policy and practice at all levels”, EAEA Secretary General Gina Ebner summarised.
The Live and Learn project [http://www.eaea.org/en/projects/partner-projects/live-and-learn.html] premiered at the Conference the short video documentaries on adult education that were produced in the project. The documentaries share adult education stories of learners and of teachers.
“The learner stories are testimonies of the power of learning and thus the strongest possible tool for advocacy,” stated the project coordinator Markus Palmén.
The videos [https://vimeo.com/album/4012888] are open and free for dissemination for everyone.
A stronger commitment to the financial of education of young adults was called at the EDU-FIN [http://www.eaea.org/en/projects/partner-projects/edu-fin.html] project workshop. The project aimed at preventing the indebting of young adults at risk. The project produced a curriculum on financial education [https://edufin2014.files.wordpress.com/2014/11/the-edu-fin-curriculum1.pdf] especially for young adults.
The innovation of the project stems from the involvement of the target groups every step of the way: from planning phase to the management and project evaluation.
“Valuing [the target groups’] prior knowledge, their objectives and their needs is key to engage them into the learning process and to assure positive learning outcomes,” the project representatives conclude.
Text and photos: Helka Repo, EAEA Communications Officer