Involving partners as mediators for the publication and mobilisation for the qualification of the public, particularly those most vulnerable, has been one of the strategies pursued by the Qualify Centre of the Henriques Nogueira School Group in Torres Vedras, according to Ana Miguel, coordinator of this Centre .
Among the Centre's many projects, the creation of a card which allows the students to have free access to the shows at the Theatre-Cinema of Torres Vedras is worth highlighting. With this initiative, the Centre has encouraged adults to get to know the cultural spaces of the city, and, above all, to create habits of consumption of cultural products.
ANQEP: This Centre had already been a New Opportunities Centre (Centro de Novas Oportunidades). Do you notice differences in the type of people currently seeking out the Centre?
Ana Miguel: Yes. Considering we are a centre promoted by a school which has always dedicated a large space to the training of adults, they have naturally become accustomed to knocking on our door in search of training solutions. People come looking for information to confirm what they have heard in the media, to know for certain what this is and what pathways exist. So, basically, we are essentially in the sphere of more adult audiences who want to improve their qualifications. However, in recent years, there has been a rejuvenation of the target public. Today, we also have young adults who come to us to find out what the possibilities are for completing secondary education, since they were not able to complete it a few years earlier.
ANQEP: What strategies does the Qualify Centre use to mobilise more vulnerable or less motivated target audiences for qualification?
A.M.: We try to maintain a close relationship with the people. Therefore, when there are events, promoted by the community, we always try to be present so that we can have a direct relationship and reach people. However, the mobilisation of our audiences is now very much done through our own partners. We use the partners as mediators.
ANQEP: Do you essentially use the partners with whom the Qualify Centre works?
A.M.: Yes. With regard to the most vulnerable groups, I would highlight our integration in the Torres Vedras Social Network, which includes a large number of partners.
ANQEP: And also IPSS (Private Social Solidarity Organisations)?
A.M.: Yes, because their day-to-day work is in fact being in contact with people who may need different types of support. These entities know us, know what our work is and can also pass on the information.
ANQEP: During a first phase, did the Centre make itself known to these entities?
A.M.: At first, we were invited by the Torres Vedras Social Network to present the Qualify Centre during a plenary session, largely due to the "Back To Network" project. This is an Erasmus + project, involving Dutch and Hungarian partners, to find solutions to help the unemployed get out of that situation. When we were invited to present this project, at the end of our presentation, the social councillor proposed to the Plenary of the Social Network that we be invited to join this network, which was voted for favourably. By becoming integrated in the Network, we were given the opportunity of having a partnership with all its members (representatives of Social Security, the IPSSs, etc.), which allows us to transmit information on the existence of the Centre and the education and training modalities to audiences known to these entities. We are essentially replicating information through partners.
ANQEP: The Qualify Centre also has a good relationship with the Employment Centre...
A.M.: Of course. We had a protocol in the time of the New Opportunities Centres and, of course, we have been developing this partnership. The Employment Centre sends us all the people they think would fit in our framework. Every day someone comes along who says, "I come from the Employment Centre… I'm in this situation and they told me to come here." Last year, we also built a group profile and potential students with this profile were invited to attend an information session. Our goal was to mobilise them for qualification.
In addition, we have a partnership with the City Council, through its "Employ yourself from the foundation" (“Emprega-te a fundo”) programme (a one-week training programme for unemployed residents). During this training week, we offer a module that is called "Qualification Responses". There are several training modules, the objective being that, at the end of that training week, the unemployed person will be in possession of a set of information that may be useful to them.
We are also partners of the City Council within the framework of the Local Plan for the Inclusion of Roma Communities (PLICC), which results from the fact that our municipality has joined the "Romed" programme (a national programme that is being implemented in seven or eight municipalities). The PLICC has several components and we are involved with the one relative to education.
ANQEP: But have you ever carried out any activity within the scope of this programme?
A.M.: At the time of the New Opportunities Centre, we worked with a group of Roma, mobilising them for a course of basic skills which was realised with the support of the City Council. More recently, we have represented, under the "Romed" programme, what is called "GAC" – Active Roma Group. This group works to transmit the perspective of people with Roma ethnicity to the municipality, relative to aspects they would like to see achieved. And in this context, we offered an information session last year to present all training possibilities. In terms of mobilisation for training, the result was not extraordinary, but we are working on that.
ANQEP: What dissemination strategies do you use?
A.M.: Formally, we do what we were asked to do. We placed the sign in a noticeable area of the school, next to its name, in a visible place. As the street is very busy, everyone sees the Qualify Centre sign.
Obviously, we also have a space on the school website and, in institutional terms, we are part of the School’s Pedagogical Board. This school has two representatives of the adult training offers on this board: one from the Qualify Centre and another from the EFA Courses. This is very important. There are Qualifying Centres that are not represented on the Pedagogical Boards.
Through this representation, we resonate in the General Board in the Local Network of Education and Training. As we have already mentioned, we are part of the Local Network of Torres Vedras. We also have a space in the Education Portal of Torres Vedras and a strong Facebook page, in our opinion. It has an area dedicated to information but also integrates suggestions of cultural character and everything that we think is interesting for the reinforcement of adult education and training. When we have more distinguished moments like diploma presentations, when we have always been lucky to have the media at our side.
In addition, we have done everything we thought we had to do, such as dissemination sessions in some towns.
We still have many people who seek us out because they know someone who has already come here and recommends the Centre, as well as our young people who tell their parents.
ANQEP: We became aware of the project "Culture at the Service of Adult Education and Training" which led to the creation of the so-called Theatre-Cinema Card. Can you tell us about this project?
A.M.: Last year, when we participated in the "Lifelong Learning Week" promoted by the "Right to Learn" Association, we developed several activities at the local level and one of them took place in the Theatre-Cinema, with the idea of formalising a protocol that encourages students who are in the RVCC (Recognition, Validation and Accreditation of Skills) Process and EFA (Adult Education and Training) courses to attend free performances in this space. Basically, we wanted to encourage people to get to know the cultural spaces of our city, and, above all, to create habits of cultural product consumption. The Theatre-Cinema card has two modalities: a group modality (for EFA courses, with a mediator that organises and manages the attendance of certain shows). This mediator analyses the programming and, if there is any show that is relevant and pertinent to the training process in question, organises the group visit. In the RVCC process, we decided that this would not be the case. We have an individual card and it is the adult who is responsible for their cultural self-training. This card is for two people, so that the adult in the RVCC process can take someone, providing access to all the shows organised by City Hall.
In the scope of the RVCC processes, usually in the area of culture, language and communication, the Theatre-Cinema’s programming is presented, through the summary and the synopsis that is sent to us. With this synopsis a script, a questionnaire and topics of reflection is developed, which are given to the adults. These reflections, which are inherent to the shows they have chosen to watch, should be integrated into their reflective learning portfolios. Our focus is that all portfolios integrate echoes of this partnership.