KA227-ADU: a new generation of Erasmus+ projects will empower adult education trainers and learners to overcome the crises with culture and creativity!
Following the revision of the Erasmus+ 2020 Annual Work Programme announced earlier in August, two new calls were launched on 25 August 2020, each one providing €100 million to respond to the educational challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The call for digital education readiness was aimed at projects in school education, vocational education and training, and higher education. This call aimed to enhance online, distance and blended learning - including supporting teachers and trainers, as well as safeguarding the inclusive nature of digital learning opportunities.
The call for ‘partnerships for creativity’ was looking for projects in the fields of youth, school education and adult education, whose main aims were to develop skills and competences that encourage creativity and boost quality, innovation and recognition of youth work.
With this article, published on the occasion of the of the European Heritage Days (18 and 19 September 2021) and within the framework of the EPALE thematic focus on “art, creativity and culture in adult education” (jointly promoted by the EPALE teams of Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany and Hungary), we want to provide you with some statistics on where such innovative actions will take place and how they will concretely respond to the challenges of the call.
Based on the information provided by the Erasmus+ Project Results platform, 569 KA227 projects have been funded all over Europe, out of which 207 were in the field of adult education (KA227-ADU)! The majority of the KA227-ADU granted applications will be coordinated by German organisations (Table 1), while it is evident that overall geographical impact will mostly interest the southern EU countries (Table 2), with a prevalence of Italian (11.7%) and Spanish (9.1%) beneficiaries.
Given the focus on “Creativity and culture”, which has been selected by all consortia as one of three topics covered by the project activities, the most targeted topics are “New innovative curricula/educational methods/development of training courses” (10.2%) and “ICT – new technologies – digital competences” (10.0%). Nevertheless, if we group the three following topics listed in Table 3, it is evident that EU organisations have used this call to combine creativity and pedagogical innovation with one of the four pillars of the new Erasmus+ programme: Inclusion and diversity in all fields of education, training, youth and sport. In fact, “Inclusion – equity” (6.3%), “Intercultural/intergenerational education and (lifelong) learning” (6.1%) and “Access for disadvantage” (5.8%) represent together 18.2% of the topics characterising this new generation of projects.
The high level of attention on the social impact of culture is a very relevant result. It will be interesting to follow the implementation of these projects and see how they manage to contribute to key EU initiatives such as the Porto Santo Charter, published by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 25 of April 2021, as well as the wider New European Bauhaus, designed by the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission.
Indeed, the Porto Santo Charter underlines how “the Covid19 pandemic has underscored the importance of culture for the quality of people’s lives. Yet it also contributed to raising barriers, including cultural participation. Strengthening democracy in Europe within the cultural sector requires the removal of these barriers to cultural participation and the transformation of culture into an as inclusive platform as possible. The inequalities that the pandemic has exposed, the fragility of the cultural sector and the propensity for social tensions to arise, require that cultural manifestations be valued as part of the sustainable development of the European project.”
From another perspective, trying to find the most balanced connection between beauty, sustainability and togetherness, “the New European Bauhaus initiative connects the European Green Deal to our living spaces. It calls on all Europeans to imagine and build together a sustainable and inclusive future that is beautiful for our eyes, minds, and souls.”
Going back to the statistical analysis of the 207 KA227-ADU funded proposal, thanks to a deeper study of the descriptions provided by the project coordinators, we have categorised the outputs and targets who are interested in the different projects. Table 4 shows a predominance of training course (17.1%) as the main intellectual output expected by the international collaboration of beneficiary organisations, immediately followed by platforms (12.8%) and toolkits (9.4%).
On the other hand, Table 5 shows that these new educational initiatives have been designed mostly to directly impact on adult learners (29.9%) who are involved in formal education pathways rather than non-formal ones. A finding that we have inferred by comparing the percentage of projects mentioning adult educators (13.3%) with those that involve trainers from the non-formal education organisations (3.7%).
Last, but not least, a statistic that confirms the previously mentioned attention to social inclusion is given by Table 6. It summarises the strategic approaches proposed to cope with the COVID and post-COVID challenges. Many of them focus on the economic problems caused by the COVID-19 crisis, such as the closure of cultural institutions, the cancellation or postponement of events, but also problems caused by the lack of cultural education.
Another general problem, caused by the pandemic crisis, is represented by the consequences that the measures taken by the affected countries have had on the economy and social life. Thus, we are talking about an economic imbalance in business and social changes caused by social distancing measures relating to the physical and mental health of the population. These measures have also aggravated already existing problems in society such as social inclusion, unemployment, intergeneration dialogue but also demographic changes that have not improved in recent years.
One of the general challenges that these projects want to bring into discussion refers to the changes that have occurred in education. With the move of educational activities to the online environment, the need for innovation in education has been addressed by introducing digital tools for a better learning experience. These changes also highlighted the need for lifelong learning in adults, educators and teachers who were taken by surprise by the phenomenon of the digitalisation of education.
Digitisation and innovation are the main areas of interest in this period for all developed projects, because the level of digital skills of the population is very low. KA227-ADU projects aim to educate people in the use of digital tools, but also to raise awareness of their importance in the future.