The topic and the target group of the project?
The topic is about how to trigger primary motivation for learning in low educated adults using ICT tools. And the target group? Adult educators that may come across the low educated and also functionally illiterate learners. We say “may”… because companies rarely invest money in the education of low educated employees, low educated adults, noramlly a dispersed group, who are rarely attracted to adult education.Namely, for them it equates schooling and mostly bad memories. Nevertheless, when they experience adult education, and get less afraid of change they may be extremely rewarding students.
Characteristics of functional illiterates
Have you ever come across a functionally illiterate person? Most probably you have but did not know what it was all about. Can you imagine a worker who works longer hours because he is not able to say what the time is when consulting his watch? Can you imagine a worker who causes a lot of damage just because he does not know the symbolic meaning of red and green colour? Can you imagine a mother who does not urgently bring her new born baby to the hospital while the baby’s body temperature is over forty? She does not know what the normal body temperature is and how she has to act. Have you ever met an adult who does not understand the instruction that medications have to be taken three times a day, not knowing that it means every eight hours. Have you ever met a desperate person in front of a cash point machine who obviously spoke your language, but could not follow the instructions to withdraw money and seemed grateful when you did it for him. He could read, but he did not understand, his mental structures, his cognitive abilities were below the level of functional literacy. Have you ever met a person whom you can not persuade to give you a smaller portion of food because she could not avoid following her boss’s instruction.
As a principle, functionally illiterate people are unable to take decisions and responsibilities and need to be told what to do in each situation. They are afraid of changes, while learning, on the contrary, is all about changing. It brings a change “in human disposition or capability” Moreover, the change is relatively permanent occurring in a person’s knowledge and behaviour, It is “a process that leads to change, occurring as a result of experience. It increases the potential of improved performance and future learning.”  “It is a persisting change in human performance or performance potential…[which] must come about as a result of the learner’s experience and interaction with the world.” 
Do low educated people enter adult education because they are afraid of loosing their job?
Ana Krajnc (from Slovenian University) one of the rare experts in the field, discussed characteristics of low educated learners, their learning and particularly their needs. Some other participants in the first transnational LernersMot meeting in Žalec, contributed their experiential knowledge of the topic.
Now, do low educated people enter adult education because they are afraid of loosing their job? No, only educated adults react in this way. They know that education means security in the changing world. Low educated people, on the contrary, avoid changing. Being stable secures them, education would mean opening up and changing. Do low educated people like remembering the school days? Mostly not, because they remind them of humiliating experiences of failure, insufficiency, inadequacy, not meeting expectations of the environment. Do the low educated search find solutions for their life in adult education? Only when they feel they cannot help their children due to their own low education. Most of the times they are not aware of their functional illiteracy.
Functional illiterates do not speak about their work, they simply do it
They typically first do the task, then they are able to describe it, but not to draw generalisations, to discover the principles behind each task. They know how, but they do not know why. Therefore, they can barely be thought of as competent. Competent are those who do the tasks and can draw some conclusions about their experience, or have some previous theoretical knowledge about their work. They have skills and knowledge which they validate through real life experience and can apply to new situations. They are not able to establish priorities of tasks, priorities in time and space. They do not know what to bring to educational sessions (paper, pen). They do not have structured mental abilities. They do not have a wider picture of their work. They cannot see the cause-effect relationship. Their level of literacy is under the minimum level.
What can educators do to help them learn
This is going to be the topic of the project. What to do to motivate such adults and how to reach out to them, how to facilitate their learning. There are such requirements like speaking slowly and clearly, looking at each person individually, approaching them individually already before the education starts. A facilitator should not use foreign words, He should use interesting examples, if possible from his students’ life. A facilitator should not say “ I do not know I haven’t touched upon this matter for a long time… what he can do when approaching educated students. On the contrary, he should create a safe environment, should be the reassuring leader, should use guiding over counselling. He should forget about his own educational culture. He should praise his students in an explicit way…. Not only praising their acts but also saying how good they are…sensitive etc. Functional illiterates say that they will “flee away if they had to write” So, no writing. The facilitator should adapt. And after some months his students will spontaneously start writing. With functional illiterates the facilitator is off to a completely but also unusually rewarding learning adventure that will change him, his students and also their children and families..
Partners in the project LearnersMot are: EDENSOL DANMARC SL, Spain, EUROCREA MERCHANT SRL, ITALY, UPI –Ljudska univerza Žalec, Slovenia, Slovenian Third Age University, Slovenia, EUROSUCCESS Consulting, Cyprus. No need to tell that their expertise is compatible. Some are more oriented towards education, other towards the digitalisation, still others towards quality assessment, dissemination and managing projects.
More information about the project will be available soon on www.learnersmot.eu.
Dr. Dušana Findeisen is a teacher of English and French language and literature and andragogue. On her own or jointly with her colleagues she introduced a fair number of innovations in theory and practice in the field of adult education: socio-cultural animation and education for local development, older adult education, Slovenian Third Age University, Summer School for Adult Educators. She contributed to the development of study circles in Slovenia, she co-funded the journal Andragogic Perspectives and is on its editorial board. For five years she was an Age Platform Europe expert in the field of employment and education of older people, and an external expert of the European Commission in this field. So far she has coordinated and delivered about twenty transnational projects. She is currently the Head of the Institute for Research and Development of Education at Slovenian Third Age University. She is vice-president of DANET, Danube Networkers for Europe. She publsihed 5 monographs and several hundred articles.