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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe

 
 

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Small events with a large reach (4/7)

13/07/2016
by Simona Kavčič
Language: EN

The fourth Promoting Adult Skills (PAS) event was organised on 25 May at the Novo mesto Adult Education Centre, and addressed the always popular field of social and civic competences. We used the attitude towards the Roma people and immigrants as the basis for the discussion on the significance of prejudice, constructive understanding, tolerance, expression and understanding of different views and compassion. We challenged Einstein’s thesis that prejudice are harder to break than atoms, and we agreed that prejudice are persistent primarily since they strengthen the feeling of belonging and safety.

The vision of cultural diversity and pluralism sometimes seems nearly reachable, however, it is then put to a test – the last example are the mass migrations to Europe. Our tolerance and ability of a multi-cultural dialogue are once again put to a test, while its results do not seem very promising.

Together for symbiosis

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Participants in the debate (see programme), moderated by Ms Vera Klopčič PhD, had different experience with prejudice. Some were children from mixed marriages, while others encounter the members of the Roma community or immigrants in day-to-day life or in the line of work. They were able to acquire first-hand experience that prejudice and stereotypes occur on both sides (i.e. in the majority as well as the minority group), therefore, solutions must also be sought there, or, even better, together! Consequently, the phrase “Nothing for the Roma people, without the Roma people” served as the moto of the event, and it was especially convenient that the members of the Roma community were present among both the speakers as well as the audience.

 

Prejudice are also active within the minority population, e.g. when educated members of the Roma community do not accept the uneducated and poor members of their community, they are ashamed of them, and sometimes even deny their Roma background. Young, educated members of the Roma community can definitely make a change, but they must tread carefully, while keeping constant contact with those, who they represent, or they shall otherwise lose their trust. An interesting event is also the emergence of a new hierarchy, when Roma see the new age immigrants as a threat due to the fear for their social income. This once again supports one of Einstein’s theories, i.e.: everything is relative.

During the debate the renowned expert and a member of the Roma community, Ms Hedina Sijerčić MA from Sarajevo, defended the position that we should not only improve a single aspect, but we should address the problem of minorities or immigrants as a whole. She listed 5 key priorities: satisfaction of living and other existential needs, employment, health insurance, education and respect and fostering of the culture of a specific nationality. She believes that the last two fields are the most neglected, due to which adult educators face various challenges.

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During the event workshops the participant had to choose among three topics, i.e.: Inter-cultural bridges; What do I need to know about shopping? and Support to adult educators in the development of financial literacy. In the first workshop nationals of eight different countries discussed with others their experience in the field of cultural diversity and tolerance of differences upon their arrival to Slovenia. The shopping workshop, which was attended by Roma participants, was dedicated to examination of differences between the needs and offered goods, while the participants highlighted the traps which wait for the customers at stores and became familiar with the didactical game of Romonopoli. The topic related to the development of financial literacy was dedicated to professional staff in the field of financial literacy and financial education of the Roma people, both children and adults. Representative of the Novo mesto social centres presented his view of the counsellor that financial literacy is essential for the vulnerable groups of adults and especially for the recipients of social transfers.

 

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We humans are social beings and, with rare exceptions, we live and work in communities. If we comply with the applicable rules of a specific community, the community will accept us, if not, it will exclude us. In order to adjust to the community, one must sacrifice some of his/her own individuality – and if we adjust too much, we lose our originality. So, how can we overcome something as old as the earth, which has been in our lives for as long as we have become aware of ourselves? Perhaps this is the time for new (learning) communities and new rules. New rules, which are based on the respect of diversity, identity and personal dignity of each and every individual. However, in order to achieve this, we must advance – as individuals and as the society!

 

Similar to the events in CeljeSlovenska Bistrica and Kranj, this EAAL professional event also ended with the adoption of the Manifesto, similar to the Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st century or its shorter version (EAEA). The manifesto will be published on the website of the Novo mesto Adult Education Centre.

Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MA (zvonka.pangerc@acs.si), Slovenian Institute for Adult Education

 

Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik works at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education in the field of promotional and information activities. She is the national coordinator for the implementation of the European Agenda on Adult Learning. She is interested in effective promotional approaches and promotion of cooperation and connecting of stakeholders in adult education.  

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