Adult Education links with Europe

Working in an organisation that covers England and Scotland with sister organisations in other countries, it’s often apparent that discussion of adult education in England can be a bit parochial and inward looking unless we are open to learning from further afield. I’m looking forward to meeting colleagues from ABF, the Swedish WEA, in London this week. It’s always instructive to compare notes about our students’ experiences and opportunities as well as the social and policy contexts for our work.

ABF_logo

Making connections between European countries has never been easier. EPALE, the European Platform for Adult Learning in Europe is a virtual space where all adult educators can exchange ideas, resources and views. It’s free to register on their website here.  Further information about EPALE’s UK launch can be found here.

EPALE-Infographic

It’s important that engagement with other countries is also open to students, especially if they might not usually have opportunities to experience life in different nations or cultures.

The WEA’s Europe, Democracy and Citizenship in the 21st Century project is aimed at adults who want to learn more about Europe and the European Union and then take back what they have learnt back in to their communities. The course includes a study visit to Brussels and is designed to enable students to gain knowledge, new information and contacts as well as new skills.

EU WEA

The course will consider the following:
•   What is Europe?
•   What is the European Union and how and why has it developed as it has?
•   How does the EU work and could it work better?
•   How can our communities be heard and how can we influence decision making?
•   How does Europe need to change for the people?

The WEA is raising money for the study visit to give opportunities for those who would not normally have them and we are grateful for EU Parliamentary support for the project.

You can find out more about the project here.

Making another world possible!

This blog takes its title from ‘a programme of ideas’ published by ABF (Arbetarnas Bildningsförbund), the Workers’ Educational Association’s sister organisation in Sweden. You can read the full document at http://bit.ly/YiGVpo

Ruth Spellman, our General Secretary / CEO, and I met a group of colleagues from ABF in northern Sweden last week as they visited London. As always happens when we get together with our Swedish friends, we found a lot of common ground. We compared experiences about education for family learning, active citizenship, digital inclusion, social justice, decent work and culture. It was interesting to hear about their work and especially about how the Swedish government expects citizens to be ‘digital by default’ already and to be computer-literate as they engage with public services. There were certainly no awkward silences and we agreed on some practical actions to follow up their visit.

ABF_logo

One of our educational themes in the WEA in England and Scotland is ‘Health and Wellbeing’. The others are Employability, Community Engagement and Culture. Here’s what ABF has to say on health and wellbeing, translated from Swedish to English.

Good health and a fulfilling working life

ABF seeks to create opportunities and conditions which allow everyone to look after their mental and their physical health. Everyone should have the right to live in a good living environment and work in a secure and safe working environment. Good health, a fulfilling working life and quality of life must be the right of everyone.

More people are living longer and are physically healthier than before. This is not true of everyone, however; the class-related differences are clear where people’s health is concerned. Those with a shorter period of education and those who do manual work are at much greater risk of illness than other groups. In addition, the differences in health between the sexes and between different ethnic groups are striking.

The causes of increased health and exclusion from working life are numerous. They include poor work environments, too little say when it comes to work and leisure, low wages and poor living habits.

Many employees bear witness to the fact that their knowledge and skills are seldom utilised. This explains the increased injustices between those with long and those with short periods of education with regard to public health and quality of life. The key to a good psychosocial work environment is influence over one’s own work situation. With a changed and learning work organisation, the knowledge that springs from work can be managed and developed.

Ill health is also due to lifestyle factors such as the consumption of alcohol, poor diet and insufficient exercise. Good public health is not only about prolonging life; it is just as much about improving the quality of life for everyone.

ABF aims to work towards a good living environment, better public health and a fulfilling working life. By increasing cooperation between the member organisations, liberal adult education can become an important part of public health activities.

It’s interesting to see how adult educators in other countries think about these issues and we look forward to our continued future collaboration.