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Adult Learning: National and European Challenges, Greece

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A fundamental component of the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) approach is to increase Europe-wide best practice, through the sharing of information and learning, by facilitating collaboration between national coordinators in the EU. Consequently, AONTAS has been given a number of opportunities to present the outcomes of our EAAL project ‘Learning Today for a Better Tomorrow’ (2015-2017) at four other closing events in Europe including Greece. In our latest blog Bríd Greenan, AONTAS Information Officer shares her experience of presenting in Greece.

As Ireland prepared for Storm Ophelia I was preparing to speak at the EAAL conference in Athens, Greece where it was 27 degrees. The event was hosted by the Ministry of Education, National Coordinators of the EAAL in Greece.

In Ireland, AONTAS is the National Coordinator of this important project which aims to increase participation in lifelong learning. At EU level AONTAS has been recognised as leading the way in prioritizing learner voice by increasing the learner profile and raising awareness of the wider benefits of adult learning. Another key element of this project included the One Step Up Information Referral Service which supported learners to access information on their education and training options. AONTAS was invited to present on the One Step Up project which is part of the EAAL activities in Ireland and recognised as a best practice tool in Europe.

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The event took place in the National Library of Greece within the amazing Stavros Niarcho Foundation Cultural Centre and park with over 130 stakeholders from Ministries of Justice and Social Integration, Universities, NGOs and Lifelong Learning Centres in Greece.

Speaking at the conference the Deputy Minister of Education Dimitris Baxevanakis stressed the need to create a human potential capable of coping with the new model economy and underlined the important role played by all stakeholders in achieving this goal.

Adult Learning Policy

The morning focused on adult learning policies on education and training and included Cedefop expert, Anastasia Pouliou who presented on Cedefop’s role in European policies, lifelong learning and the New Skills Agenda. Following this Graciela Sbertoli, Chair of the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) spoke about stakeholder cooperation for developing policies in the field of basic skills for adults, talking about the importance of identifying all stakeholders and creating synergies, a word that actually comes from the Greek dialect. Graciela also spoke about the importance of creating a culture of trust, (Norway and Scandinavian countries are very trusting in people and their institutions) and the importance in investing in digital tools.

Digital Tools of Adult Learning Stakeholders

As Greece looks to create an electronic platform for education and training, the afternoon showcased best practice online tools from Berenice Cappe, AEFA France and an input on EPALE by the Ministry of Education and Culture.

I presented on the One Step Up project giving a demonstration of the website and highlighting how adult learners have found their options through using this service.

Sharing EAAL Activities

The final part of the conference showcased a number of NGOs presenting their activities under the EAAL.

METAdrasi – Action for Migration and Development, works with refugees and immigrants, providing preparation courses and practical training for the job market. They also developed a multi lingual guide for education in Greece as part of the EAAL activities.

Other activities included NGO Epanodos who organised seminars and a guide for staff and educators in second chance schools in prison where there are low levels of education and 5,000 foreigners who don’t speak Greek.

While these activities have made some way towards improving the Lifelong Learning participation rate in Greece (3.3% in 2015 to 4% in 2016), the comments from the adult learning organisations and practitioners are somewhat familiar to those in Ireland - the importance of the political will to enhance lifelong learning and increasing funding for non-formal education.  

For more information on the One Step Up project contact Bríd Greenan at bgreenan@aontas.com