Adult education in Europe:
At the heart of a policy for lifelong learning
At their Lisbon summit in the year 2000, the Member States of the European Union set themselves the goal of fostering a ‘Europe of knowledge’. In its Memorandum on lifelong learning and its communication entitled ‘Making a European area of lifelong learning a reality’ in 2000 and 2001, the European Commission emphasised the need for global strategies for lifelong learning and stressed the importance of hitherto largely ignored aspects such as informal learning and continuing education for adults right through to the later stages of their lives.
The need for adult education provision has been growing rapidly. However, the development of reliable structures, ongoing quality improvement and innovation has been extremely uneven in this area. In several parts of Europe, the regular investment needed in educational, administrative and technical staff and adult learning centres with modern teaching and learning aids is not yet guaranteed.
Education and training 2010 Diverse systems, shared goals
Socrates-Grundtvig: The European programme for adult education
The Socrates-Grundtvig programme promotes the exchange of experiences within Europe in all sectors of adult education. Through cooperation projects, learning partnerships and networks, along with thematic seminars, transnational training and individual mobility grants, the aim is to share experiences and help develop a European dimension in all aspects of adult education.
GRUNDTVIG - EUROPEAN COOPERATION IN ADULT EDUCATION
The aim of the Grundtvig programme is to address the teaching and learning needs of institutions and individuals involved in adult education. In particular, it aims to respond to the challenge of an ageing population and to provide pathways for adults to improve their knowledge and competences.
Through Grundtvig, the European Commission provides funding to promote exchanges of experiences and to improve the quality and accessibility of mobility throughout Europe in the area of adult education. It is open to all kinds of institutions and organisations, whether working in formal, non-formal or informal adult education. It complements and interacts with other programmes within the Lifelong Learning Programme to cover the whole spectrum of lifelong learning.
Why the name "GRUNDTVIG"?
Nikolai Frederik Severin Grundtvig (1783-1872), a Danish clergyman and writer, is regarded as the founder of the Nordic tradition of "learning for life". His "folk high school" concept was based on the idea that education must be available to all citizens throughout life and should encompass not only knowledge but also civic responsibility, personal and cultural development.
Many paths to Europe
The variety of support offered under Grundtvig gives all adult educators the opportunity of gaining suitable access to European cooperation.
Grundtvig 1 and 4 are centralised actions managed directly by the Commission while Grundtvig 2 and 3 are decentralised actions managed via the national agencies.
• Grundtvig 1
Cooperation projects and courses
Grundtvig 1 projects bring together partners from at least three countries (on average six) to work on innovative products and results for European adult education. They may relate to any stage of adult education: analysis of needs, guidance, course development, the design of teaching and self-learning material, learning certification, or quality assurance methods.
Training programmes for teaching and administrative staff in adult education are also eligible for support.
• Grundtvig 2
Learning partnerships are small-scale cooperation projects involving mostly local adult education institutions from at least three European countries. The focus is on European exchanges devoted to specific themes and on the active participation of the adult learners themselves in the projects.
Simplified application, administration and selection procedures help to facilitate access.
• Grundtvig 3
Mobility grants for further training
Grants are available to allow teaching and other staff in the adult education sector to attend training courses lasting up to four weeks in another participating European country. Periods of work experience or work shadowing and attendance at professional conferences and seminars in other European countries are also eligible for support.
• Grundtvig 4
Networks and thematic seminars
Each thematic network comprises partners from at least 10 countries and should be extended to include further countries during the funding period.
A Grundtvig network is expected to produce a detailed analysis of the situation at European level and to contribute to research and dissemination of new findings or good practice and to further training of staff in the relevant sector of adult education. Grundtvig projects should find here a ‘first-stop shop’ for obtaining expert support and exchanging ideas.
Funding is also available for arranging European thematic seminars and conferences with a view to setting up new networks.
• Accompanying measures: conferences, seminars and other initiatives
Applications under ‘accompanying measures’ can be considered for any projects that do not fall under the other four areas of activity. These include conferences with a significant European component and events or other activities intended to disseminate innovation in adult education.
What themes can be addressed under Grundtvig?
Apart from vocational training, no areas of formal, nonformal or informal ‘lifewide’ adult learning are excluded.
In principle, all themes and aspects of adult education may be the subject of Grundtvig projects and partnerships.
Typical themes include:
• fostering of active participation in politics and society, in particular by enhancing the knowledge and capabilities of citizens who have so far had little access to political processes or whose interests are not well represented;
• transnational understanding; global and intercultural dialogue; the fight against racism; European integration, history and society;
• catch-up modules in key competencies and (secondary) school-leaving or preparatory courses for university studies for adults;
• ‘new basic skills’ (in particular, learning techniques, linguistic and communication competences, modern languages, computer and media skills);
• new flexible forms for organising learning, taking into account restrictions in mobility and time;
• incentive schemes for those sections of the population who have hitherto been excluded or hard to reach;
• cultural adult education, development of the learning dimension of cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, libraries, etc.;
• preparation for the changing demands facing families, for parents, children and grandparents;
• environmental issues and present-day basic knowledge and skills in the applied sciences and technology, e.g. transport, energy, home and garden;
• training of adult educators and administrative staff;
• establishment of local and regional educational counselling and information systems and the development of learning regions;
• improved provision of learning opportunities for senior citizens;
• promotion of equal opportunities for men and women;
• integration of people with disabilities;
• adult education weeks, adult literacy weeks and publicity campaigns for lifelong learning for all adults;
• media skills, insights into the structure and working of the media, use of regional radio and TV broadcasts and of private citizens’ channels;
• universities and lifelong learning;
• quality management, statistics, development of new indicators.
Which learners are eligible?
Grundtvig addresses all adult learners (including young people from around the age of 16 who have left school without formal qualifications). The learning needs of citizens beyond working age are also catered for.
The ‘European social model’ calls for an active policy to ensure equal opportunities, anti-discrimination and social cohesion. In Grundtvig, as well, priority is given to projects that actively address the learning needs of marginalised and disadvantaged population groups or aim to develop an understanding and active support for them among broader sections of the population.
What organisations can participate in Grundtvig?
Grundtvig is in principle open to all kinds of institutions and organisations working in formal or non-formal adult education, in particular:
• organisations that have their main professional focus on adult education, such as evening class providers, residential adult education colleges, family education centres or professionally managed educational establishments run by municipal or other public authorities, foundations, welfare associations, churches or social partners (employer and trade union organisations);
• regional, national and European associations and organisations of such adult education providers;
• institutions in the formal education system, e.g. universities providing learning opportunities for adults or conducting research projects on adult learning;
• educational administrations at all levels;
• hospitals, old people’s homes, psychiatric institutions, prisons, women’s shelters and comparable institutions that consider adult education to be part of their remit;
• organisations that promote peer-group or inter-generational learning in the local community;
• charitable and self-help organisations that defend the right of all adults to education;
• cultural institutions such as libraries, museums, galleries or municipal cinemas that provide education and culture programmes for broader sections of the population;
• private educational establishments on the European ‘education market’ providing also general adult education and learning opportunities for active social and democratic
• open, flexible organisations for ‘informal’ learning, such as distance learning providers or providers of courses in the mass media with elements of self-directed learning;
• counselling and certification services that wish to improve their adult education service.