And it is right that the "new" should build on the experiences and achievements of what has gone before. Sometimes this is thanks to vision, careful planning and perseverance along the path set out for us. Other times it is the result of intuition, trust in a "higher" reciprocal connection of people and things, and an adaptability that is based on learning and identifying (rather than imposing) the rules of life. After exactly three years in the role of national coordinator for the realisation of the (renewed) European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL; 2011), I am able to state that it is these latter elements that have influenced the success of this activity.
This financially supported European Commission initiative has been designed and implemented intuitively, above all in the field of awareness-raising, where through the Lifelong Learning Week (LLW) we have for 20 years been paving the way for a culture of lifelong learning. But we also needed something that was the polar opposite of the thousands of events scattered throughout the country. We have created this in the form of the Learning Parades (LPs) – Days of Learning Communities. Twenty-one Learning Parades have taken place over the last three years – seven each year – with the creative cooperation of LLW coordinators. The majority of coordinators who hosted a Parade in the first or second year have repeated it at least once. In many cases they have been persuaded to do so by partners in the local environment, who needed a connecting and driving force and found it in adult education centres and other LP coordinator institutions. It is not only people and institutions that have formed connections: the idea of an intense, colourful open-air event in a public place has simply fallen on fruitful soil, found a place among existing activities, and exposed them to the attention of both public and media. There is a clear desire to hold further LPs that are even more focused on those who, for various reasons, have been educationally deprived and marginalised.
The latter were the focus of this year's professional events aimed at promoting adult skills (PAS events). These brought numerous findings and messages for four target groups (young people, the unemployed, immigrants and the rural population) and for those partners in the local environments, who through liaison and synergy can contribute to improving the lives of the members of these groups. In this case, too, a decisive role was assumed by the LP coordinators, who are becoming the pillars and the driving force of development and the establishment of partnerships in these milieus. This is, of course, not only because of the EAAL project and other approaches to promotion. Instead, it is the reflection of a rich store of experiences and approaches in the fields of literacy, guidance, evaluation, quality assurance, provision of formal and non-formal forms of education, etc. We have shown some examples of these excellent practices in our first four video publications.
We recently completed a European Commission questionnaire on the EAAL 2015–2017 project, and also on the added value of activities in the 2011–2015 period. In addition to those aspects listed above, we mentioned the heightened profile of adult education and lifelong learning, and also of the EAAL and other political instruments at the national and European levels. We highlighted the exchange of interesting "outreach" approaches designed to go beyond "preaching to the converted", the inclusion of learners' stories and appearances by model participants at LPs. Appearances by representatives of national and local politics have also been valuable. The latter were given the opportunity to talk about their views and measures, and at the same time to mingle with education providers and participants and listen to their voice.
In an earlier blog post on the EAAL project I mentioned that the Commission had asked us to set up a national coordination mechanism and establish a close connection between the EAAL project and EPALE. We have recently learned that Slovenia's project has been approved. It envisages a bolstering of the National Committee for LLW with representatives of numerous national institutions which are also stakeholders in adult education. Over the course of two years we will build up the strategic plan for LLW and transform it into a more comprehensive awareness-raising strategy. Action plans will be drawn up on the themes that we have identified as important in the 20 years of the LLW and the three years of the LP (e.g. inter-sectoral integration, ways of reaching marginalised sections of the population, the key role of educators and also of learners, media and visual promotion). The focus of our efforts will be on enhancing the PAS events, which will continue to be based on the target groups mentioned above. In 2016 the emphasis will be on improving the employability of members of these groups, while in 2017 we will focus on their active inclusion in the learning community.
At this moment, then, we may be happy about everything we have achieved up to now, while at the same time planning new shared challenges with confidence and creative enthusiasm.
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik (firstname.lastname@example.org), Slovenian Institute for Adult Education
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik works in the field of promotional and information activities at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education. She is the national coordinator responsible for the implementation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning. Her primary interests include promotional approaches and promotion of integration and cooperation of stakeholders in adult learning.