22 Jun 2020

AONTAS Advocates for Adult Learning Policy in Europe

One of the most pressing issues for AONTAS and adult learning policy in Europe at the present time is ensuring the continuation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL). AONTAS CEO Niamh O’Reilly, Advocacy Lead Ben Hendriksen and EU Projects Officer Deárbhail Lawless are working hard to ensure that our national government in Dublin as well as our Irish MEPs in Brussels know the important role that the European Agenda for Adult Learning has for adult learning policy development in Ireland, from community engagement through to European cooperation.

In his role as Advocacy Lead with AONTAS and his role as Vice-President and Board Member of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA), Ben has been working closely with AONTAS and EAEA to ensure policy makers and elected representatives understand and are aware of the need for the EAAL to continue past December 2021.

For those who may not be familiar with the EAAL, the EAAL seeks to raise awareness and increase participation in adult learning. The EAAL is delivered as national projects which is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union and co-financed by the Department of Education and Skills through SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority. Since 2014 AONTAS has led this project in Ireland as National Coordinator. AONTAS is one of only three NGO or non-ministry organisations across Europe with the responsibility for the EAAL as the National Coordinator of the programme.

The aim of current project from January 2020 to December 2021 is to develop innovative and community-based methods, identify the needs of learners, and develop policy recommendations for engaging vulnerable and marginalised adults in Irish adult education.

Priority Areas within the project include :

During past projects AONTAS has made sure that community education providers can take advantage of the learning opportunities available through the EAAL. This is important as community education providers often struggle to engage in professional development due to the cost of courses.

Another benefit of the EAAL is the bringing together of professionals from across the adult and community education sectors in Ireland. There are few if any other platforms where experts in the field of adult education from providers, to academics, to NGOs, and public servants from many different agencies and the Department of Education and Skills collaborate and discuss best practice. They collectively identify opportunities for strengthening  and supporting quality adult and community education.

In addition, learners engaged through this project have advocated for adult learning and shared their personal educational experiences both at national and European level with Government representatives, policy makers, educators, researchers, academics, and other stakeholders. Learner voice is utilised and shared as best practice across Europe through the EAAL directly.

If you have benefited from research or training that was funded by EAAL projects in past years, or want to support the ongoing European adult learning policy framework into the future please contact AONTAS to talk about ways you can help our advocacy to keep the EAAL past December 2021.