EPALE Partner Search is an inspired method of finding partners or interesting Erasmus+ projects. One partner search request reaches the adult education sector from universities to non-governmental organisations.
A couple of years ago, the liberal adult education institution Citizen's Forum started to develop an idea about an international project intended to promote multicultural learning. The idea gained momentum in the autumn of 2015 when Education Coordinator Pekka Kinnunen took part in Erasmus+ promotional event organised by CIMO – the Finnish Erasmus+ National Agency. He heard of the Partner Search of the EPALE website for the first time and immediately signed up and published a request for partners in the service.
In one month, Kinnunen received more than 30 responses. Most of them came from the Mediterranean and Eastern European countries: Spain, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. Generally speaking, the quality of the responses was good, although varying. Some responses were very carefully made and some were lacking in terms of information. Kinnunen ended up removing his request so that going through the applications would not get too overwhelming.
According to Kinnunen, searching for partners through EPALE was surprisingly easy.
– Simply select a suitable category and type a short description of your idea. In addition to finding partners, I would also recommend the EPALE search to organizations looking for interesting projects in which to partake.
Partner found in Torino
The primary objective of the Spaces for Intercultural Learning project is to create physical and mental spaces for learning multicultural skills with the help of arts-based and functional methods. In the context of the project, multiculturalism is not exclusively defined by ethnicity, but multiculturalism is impacted more widely by religions, socio-economic backgrounds, generations, genders and subcultures.
– In our selection, we primarily emphasised a similar foundation of values. The values should indicate authentic interest in promoting our cause. The wide selection of organisations enabled us to select a partner that would be the most suitable addition to our group.
On the basis of the EPALE Partner Search results, the Istituto dei Sordi di Torino, a school for the deaf in Torino, was selected as a partner for the project. The school had experience in producing an e-book for teaching sign language and now the Italians are in charge of producing the technical platform for the project.
In addition to EPALE Partner Search, Kinnunen was funded by CIMO to take part in a Contact Seminar in the Netherlands in October 2015. In the seminar, Kinnunen presented his project idea and was able to convince the Northern Irish Training Women Network, promoter of gender equality; the Department of Social Sciences in the Stichting Hogeschool Rotterdam, and the Romanian voluntary organisation Orizont Cultural T to join the project. A previous partner of the Citizen's Forum, the Polish Dom Kultury Kadr, a cultural organisation known for its theatre work with prisoners, was also selected as a project partner.
Encounters online and in workshops
Once the group had been assembled, it began brainstorming the content of the project in online meetings and writing the Erasmus+ Strategic Partnership application. In Finland, a total of 15 corresponding applications were submitted, and among those, the Citizen's Forum was one of the four organizations that received funding.
– Each organization in our group has its own, clear area of responsibility and competence. Our methods are first tested in the pilot groups of our respective countries until they are presented and assessed in a workshop to be held in the spring of 2017 in Belfast. After this, the best practices are to be documented and distributed. Our goal is to bring interactive content online to learn and teach multicultural skills.
According to Kinnunen, the co-operation has had a great start, even though the creation of shared practices has been a project of its own.
– It has been a joy to realise that our group has many different competences that enrich our community, Kinnunen sums up.
Get to know EPALE Partner Search.
Text: Anna Väre