EU Travels Blog Series 2022 - Mechelen, Belgium

28 Jul 2022
“This was such a good experience as it brought together adult learning colleagues from across Europe for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic.” Earlier this summer, Dearbháil Lawless, then Head of Advocacy and recently appointed AONTAS CEO, visited Mechelen in Belgium for the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) General Assembly.

The two-day General Assembly was dedicated to the topic of “transformative learning and values.” The focus was on how adult learning can change people’s lives, and how it can change societies.

The sessions and workshops linked this theme with the broader challenges facing European countries, such as sustainability, climate change, and technology and digitalisation.

Dearbhail Lawless, Deborah Oniah and other members of the EAEA Board at the EAEA General Assembly
I attended the event with adult learner and advocate Deborah Oniah, who gave a speech on-stage at the event. Deborah previously shared her story with AONTAS, where she spoke about returning to learning, recovering from trauma, and finding a home in Ireland, and she shared her experiences with the General Assembly audience.

According to the EAEA, Deborah is an “important voice for the migrant community in Ireland and she is now trained in and facilitates intercultural dialogue.”

At the conference, Deborah stated that, “transformative learning allows each learner to take individual learning lessons from the shared curricular in the classroom.”

This means that everyone who goes back to education has the opportunity to learn at their own pace, in ways that are best suited to their learning needs. Transformative learning is led by learners.

Throughout the two days of the event, colleagues in adult learning from across Europe shared experiences and discussed challenges like the difficulties of the pandemic and the war on Ukraine.

There were opportunities to learn about the latest policy developments in Europe, such as the New European Agenda for Adult Learning (NEAAL) and project funding opportunities.

To find out more about the different innovative practices and examples shared at the conference click here.

This study visit took place as part of an Erasmus+ KA1 Mobility project called Build Action Mobilise (BAM). For more on AONTAS’s EU Projects, click here.

For more information, contact our Ecem Akarca, AONTAS EU Projects Officer, at: 

To apply for Erasmus+ Adult Education funding in Ireland, contact Léargas