The importance of adult education
Brussels Education Centre and Ellipsgebouw, 16th and 17th October 2018
On the 16th and 17th October, two conferences related to adult education have taken place in Brussels:
- “Transforming lives, society and adult education through Life Skills”
- “Transforming lives, society and adult education through outreach, empowerment and diversity"
The two events were organised by the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) and the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union. The aim of the conferences was to present the outcomes of two Erasmus+ projects coordinated by EAEA: Implementing Outreach, Empowerment and Diversity (implOED) and Life Skills for Europe (LSE)
The first session (16th October) was dedicated to the importance of life skills as key instruments to make people develop themselves in a social and personal way. Literacy, numeracy and digital capabilities are essential life skills, but they must be complemented though other capabilities, such as personal, interpersonal or civic capabilities and the ones related to health and finance.
The need for a new approach to adult education was underlined: this new approach should recognize that adult education is extremely useful for social integration, therefore participation in adult education should be encouraged and the main determinants of low rates of participation in adult education (such as motivations of participants, lack of time, no confidence in learning systems due to bad experiences at compulsory school, financial barriers, etc.) should be further studied.
During the second session (17th October) Oriana White and Ana Pimenta talked about their experience as adult learners: they did not have the basic knowledge necessary in order to go to University, but adult education allowed them to improve their capabilities. In their speech they underlined how adult education helped them to take part in society and to enhance their self-esteem.
The connection between health and life skills was also highlighted: it is an important aspect that should not be forgotten when developing a good method of adult teaching.
Although life skills are often interpreted as a way to integrate people in a society already constructed, we should not forget that “our society” is changing really fast and that life skills can contribute to this change. Adult education should be viewed as a way to contribute to create active citizens and to build a new society, peaceful and respectful of human rights.