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EPALE - Plataforma electrónica dedicada a la enseñanza para adultos en Europa


Maria Casal Ribeiro, a Community Story from Portugal

por EPALE Moderator
Idioma: EN
Document available also in: FR

Maria Casal Ribeiro

I am 61 years old and work as a Development and Training Department’s trainer at CML Centro Qualifica. I have 15 years’ experience in adult education, tackling early school leaving and the recognition of skills. We have helped 1400 adults gain the qualifications they need. I also work as the Internships Coordinator for international projects. I am a VET trainer, citizenship facilitator and I work in project cooperation to support migrant/refugees/asylum seekers in gaining qualifications to increase their language and digital literacy skills. I am an autobiographical expert as part of the Erasmus+ projects’ (Giovanna, Silvia, Motivate) awareness on human rights and gender equality. I am interested in citizenship and social inclusion through non formal education and autobiographical methods and I train field facilitators.

When searching adult education topics in 2016, I discovered a vast platform on adult education (EPALE) covering a wide range of themes. I filled out the surveys and wrote news on Lisbon Council’s Development Department work in the VET field, on adult education lifelong learning, and on the Erasmus+ Silvia project and Motivate. I also attended EPALE discussions. The platform is an excellent place to search for good practices on different themes, trustworthy documents on adult education, migrant inclusion and gender issues. It is a good place to find partners and learn about good practices on different themes to enrich your work on a daily basis. Finally, it provides knowledge and learning to innovate and diversify tasks at work. It offers personal distinctive development and lifelong learning qualifications, thus improving methods to best serve others.

In fact, the work that we have been developing for many years at Lisbon’s Council Development and Training Department already includes several strategies to cope with basic qualifications for adults. This meant that for us, the inclusion of digital tools was undeniably one of the best choices that the team have decided to adopt, both for trainers and trainees who attend our education and training sessions.

This learning process and experience has helped us to cope with this unexpected crisis.

In the light of this, due to the national state of emergency and lockdown provoked by the COVID19 virus outbreak, Lisbon’s council organisation decided that workers who could do their jobs remotely should work from home. All trainers could receive their training and carry on with their VET activities, promoting adult education and Lifelong learning (LLL) online. Previous pedagogic preparation, tasks and projects that could be offered through digital platforms were welcomed and the necessary equipment such as VPN and ITC tools were quickly sourced in order to provide access to software and the internet, ensuring that the tasks ran smoothly and safely. Platforms like Teams, Skype, and Zoom are a great way to support workers, learners and even disadvantaged groups.

Several training opportunities are offered to citizens using Facebook; whether migrants, refugees or ethnic minorities. Other platforms include the Program for Digital Literacy Inclusion (PILD) which offers video workshops and brief webinars on how to use a wide range of tools and devices, all available in open sources. This helps to reduce inequality. For example, by sharing documents on Google Docs we can all share and edit the documents and thus continue with our training sessions. PILD was previously run with students in libraries, parishes and municipality’s facilities. Today it continues online, allowing the individuals to acquire a variety of skills. It is the best way to include those groups most at risk of isolation/exclusion.

When part of your work involves recognising adult skills, remote strategy helps us to monitor the students’ progress and to continue mentoring them. In this way, the students’ learning pathway is not interrupted.

For me, it has been both a personal and professional challenge. Remote working defies my own ability to master several platforms and innovative procedures with digital advanced tools. I have used Teams platform for the first time for group work, I have attended online meetings for group tasks, and I have been involved in transnational meetings for the international projects we are involved in. I have been working from a distance, carrying out all the tasks needed to implement the relevant professional and individual responsibilities.

It has been a time of setting myself challenges, of challenging myself to experience and learn new ways of working and of being a better professional. To qualify autonomously and to experience and appreciate lifelong learning and personal upskilling.

 It has also been a time of learning a different kind of  discipline and to abide by several rules  in order to separate effectively my everyday personal life from work. I have had to stop myself from filling my working day with household tasks or tending to my family. I found the webinars and videos at Academia Lx V+ on how to cope with restrictions very helpful for putting in place certain measures in my everyday life.

At work, the development and training department’s team began to adapt a number of the e-learning courses to the needs of their participants. One of these was the cybersecurity course for Lisbon city council workers which was adapted so that people could be better prepared to stay safe online.  The team produces and provides online workshops, webinars and e-learning courses to better prepare workers to deal with remote learning.

Didactic resources have been created on themes like communication and the use of ITC. Learners can chat, ask questions and raise doubts. 

The Covid19 lockdown is making things happen at a higher speed. The educational paradigm is changing; transitioning from traditional books and whiteboards to online resources and multimedia.

This is the same whether the student is an adult, youth or child. Democratic institutions are finding their own ways of working to best serve the public and to continue to deliver their high-quality services so that our society remains healthy until the pandemic restrictions come to an end and we can walk together again.

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