AONTAS in Europe: RegALE comes to a close

30 Nov 2023
Writing by Dr Kate Smyth, Strategic Comms Officer

The RegALE project has found that, despite improvements in recent years, there is still a need for greater parity of esteem between adult learning and higher education, and that a continued focus on regional and local structures is needed to combat this, while also working together at national and international levels.

In November 2023, I attended the final meeting and conference for the RegALE Project, funded by Erasmus+ to increase regional and local networks and connections for groups and organisations supporting adult learning from all across Europe. 

The main findings of the project are that while organisations and groups are doing fantastic work regionally in many countries across Europe, greater resources, staff, and investment is needed to ensure that adult education is sustainable into the future and that it has parity of esteem in contrast with higher education. 

Results of the RegALE Project: 

Some of the findings from the project are that there remains a perception across Europe that adult education is inferior to university.

Kate from AONTAS and Sari from KVS Finland at the final RegALE meeting in Brussels, in November 2023
Project partners referred to a new survey of adult education which shows the need for more sustainable, relatale employment for those working in adult learning across Europe.

It also shows that the most influential players are private organisations, for profit, rather than public organisations. And it shows that, consistently across Europe, adults from more under-resourced communities or those living in poverty are less likely to have access to education, and that adult learning is more likely to be open and available to people who already have jobs and a relatively high level of education. 

However, the conference featured a presentation from Anne Rudisuhli on mentoring in lifelong learning, where she suggested mentoring as as a tool for adult learning regionally. There was a focus on skills and employment for this discussion, including how mentoring could help people to work better and have better career advancement. 

Elisabeth Verniers gave a presentation on a programme called “Duo for a Job”, in which a mentor shares knowledge with a mentee – especially someone coming to their region in Belgium from abroad. It focuses on social cohesion and solidarity. There was also an employment focus here, although there were benefits reported for individuals on a personal and social basis too, including how 90% of mentors report increased self-confidence, changes in perception of people from other countries, and greater empathy towards others. 

Lessons learned from RegALE 

The most significant finding from the project is the importance of relationships between adult learning organisations and civil society organisations, especially for non-formal learning, and the need to continue to strengthen those and build on the networks that the RegALE project has developed.

Recommendations include more international study visits and opportunities to learn different approaches to adult education, and ways to apply them in local regions.  

Find out more about the RegALE project here. 

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