On Day Five of the AONTAS Adult Learners' Festival we took part in the seminar titled The European Union: Solidarity in a Time of Uncertainty. Read our impressions (following the initial explanation of our attempts and impressions of Day One, Day Two, Day Three and Day Four):
This concluding event of the learning festival paid tribute to the Irish national coordination of the European Agenda for Adult Learning with special emphasis on the Learning Today for a Better Tomorrow project, to the EPALE platform, the 30th anniversary of the Erasmus programme, i.e. European cooperation in the field of education, and to the professional development of adult educators via An Cosán blended learning. The importance of learners’ stories was brought to the forefront with Una Buckley once again proving what a convincing learning ambassador she is.
In his plenary speech, David Mallows reminded us of the broad definition of adult learning and called our attention to its wider benefits. Adult learning is so much more that merely the acquisition of skills needed for work! Our week in Ireland proved this several times. I also definitely agree with his elaboration of the so called ‘low-skilled adults’. Who are they? The ones with low educational level and/or the ones who scored low in PIAAC? The latter were tested only with regard to numeracy, literacy and problem solving in technology-rich environments – the three types of skills measured in this piece of research. What about other skills which they possess and which should be recognized, validated and thus might become the basis for meeting challenges in life and at work?!
On Friday's great event we met Liz Walters, AONTAS president and Director at An Cosan Virtual Community College (VCC), for the second time during our study visit to Ireland, and I was again impressed by her overview of the virtual training as part of learning in disadvantaged communities.
Following the EU common values the An Cosan VCC in Dublin focuses on the respect for human dignity and equality. They are trying to create a future in which widespread education for the socially disadvantaged could become reality. Through community education, using virtual and online technologies they enable adults of all ages to exit poverty. As they realise the importance of collaboration, they have established the network of partnerships all over Ireland. Their work is constantly in progress and I wish them all best because as Liz Walters said: 'VCC is changing lives, it is changing communities'. And that is what really matters.
It was an interesting seminar with compelling speakers and active audience. After Zvonka introduced the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE), she shared our exciting experience and impressions from our one-week study visit in Ireland. We have already met some of the participants of the seminar during the week and especially Una was very impressed by our Zlatko, his enthusiasm … and his rapping skills! Therefore, the organizers invited him on stage to share some of his lyrics. Among other he sang: damned be the day in which you don’t learn anything new. And I totally agree! It was a nice day and despite being quite tired, I was a bit sad the week was already over …
On our fifth day in Ireland we were faced with AONTAS EU Seminar. Again, a whole bunch of great speakers, some very emotional, so even in my masculine eyes some tears have gathered. I somehow managed to keep them in. Zlatko, the learner voice from Slovenia, has rapped a part of a song Svet je tvoj! (The world is yours!) by Nina Pušlar & Zlatko on the occasion. Here’s a translation:
Be yourself and respect all the people, if the others are dirty, at least you shouldn't be,
Collect good deeds you do, work hard as a bee, I see what is going on but it does not affect me,
Catch your dreams, many have succeed, there are thousands of excuses, so at least you try.
Think positive, and you might also fail, it's not bad if you fall, but you must stand tall.
By the way, dear AONTAS colleagues, I have filled in the evaluation questionaire, but forgot to leave it with you. I gave you all the maximum points! Thank you again!
See also the Slovenian blog on the fifth day of our study visit.