Adult Learning for Social Change in Estonia

10 Aug 2018
Jacqueline Sheehy from Dublin works in The Clondalkin Addiction Support Programme (CASP), a community service for drug users over 18 years of age and their families. In October 2017, Jacqueline took part in an ERASMUS+ ‘Making an Impact at European Level’ project and visited Tallinn in Estonia where she attended an international conference on active citizenship, democracy and participation, and met with other adult learning professionals from across Europe.

Jacqueline Sheehy, The Clondalkin Addiction Support Programme (CASP)

The first day consisted of registration and a welcoming reception on behalf of Tallinn University, the organisers and EPALE Network Convenors. We were then given a presentation by Professor Helen Soovali Sepping on ‘Co-producing Change. Social-environmental and Socio-cultural Transitions in Spatial Context.’ It was clear from the start that those in attendance came from very similar backgrounds to me. One such example was Cate and Karen from Melbourne Australia, they too work in a socially disadvantaged area with a group of mixed ages, cultures and educational backgrounds. 



The best thing about this conference was whilst I was among academics much more qualified than myself in terms of research and analysis, I really fitted into the group and I was able to give my own experience and receive very valuable feedback from others during the sessions and conference.

The main part of the conference that challenged my thinking in terms of pedagogy of adults was the presentation of a comparative case study with two different groups of mature students. One group were Church of England priests and the other group were business students. This case study was born out of the researcher’s professional working contexts; his previous employment in the Church of England in comparison to his present employment in the Greenwich School of Management in London. Despite the priests having a more nuanced complexity in comparison to business students in training and education, the business students embraced and participated in the development of professional identities more explicitly.

I was quite shocked to hear how Lithuania is at risk of losing its younger generation, as the number of young people emigrating to other EU countries is very high. It was interesting to learn about the internationalisation of new democratic values in Lithuania through cooperation with Nordic adult educators, in a bid to tackle this issue.

I really found the conference enlightening and I intend to pass on my learning to colleagues at CASP, I would also like to strengthen my own research skills and continue to keep up to date on adult learning policy and social changes both at home and abroad.