The below blog is by Deárbhail Lawless and Ben Hendriksen from AONTAS (the Irish National Adult Learning Organisation).
Earlier this month AONTAS EU Projects Officer Deárbhail Lawless and Advocacy Lead Ben Hendriksen travelled to Bratislava, Slovakia to participate in the kickoff meeting of a new European project that AONTAS is supporting as a project partner. The project, titled BLUESS (Blueprint for Basic Skills Development in Slovakia), supports basic skills policy development in Slovakia and our participation at this event allowed us to meet project colleagues and present at a conference on the topic of basic skills provision in Ireland.
The BLUESS Project is part of the EU Programme for Employment and Social Innovation (EaSI), managed directly by the European Commission. A proposal was submitted by the National Coordinator of the European Agenda for Adult Learning (EAAL) in Slovakia, the State Vocational Education Institute in mid-2018. With our strong understanding of the Irish policy frameworks and connection to adult learning providers across Ireland, AONTAS was asked to participate in this project as a member of the working group.
Dearbháil and Ben were delighted to be invited to Bratislava to take part in the project’s inaugural meeting to share perspectives on basic skills policy and practice in Ireland and to join in the discussion on how best to develop basic skills provision in Slovakia and across Europe.
AONTAS’ presentation focused on the implementation of the Upskilling Pathways Recommendation to boost access to – and take-up of – quality learning opportunities for adults who may not have completed an upper secondary level educational qualification. We also outlined the practical implementation of basic skills development through adult learning in Ireland. We highlighted learning models including community education programmes, Further Education and Training (FET) colleges, the Vocational Training Opportunities Scheme (VTOS) and the Back to Education Initiative (BTEI). All of these programmes offer skills development to a wide variety of learners in Ireland and have support services in place to make courses more accessible for hard-to-reach groups.
During the conference delegates also had the chance to hear presentations from several other participants and project partners including:
- Dana-Carmen Bachmann, Head of Unit for Vocational Education and Training, Apprenticeships and Adult learning, with the European Commission
- Monika Korkosova, Ministry of Education, Science, Research and Sport of the Slovakian Republic
- Lubicia Gallova, State Vocational Education Institute
- Juraj Vantuch, State Institute of Vocational Education
- Stefan Grajcar, Association for Career Guidance and Career Development in Slovakia
- Klaudius Silihar, Association of Adult Learning Institutions in Slovakia
- Gina Ebner, European Association for Education of Adult (EAEA)
- Lars Olesen, European Basic Skills Network
With the BLUESS project officially underway and running until the end of 2020, we look forward to sharing updates with our members and other stakeholders in Ireland about this important work in Slovakia. We hope that AONTAS’ input from Ireland, which originates from our grassroots membership, can help to create an open, progressive, and welcoming basic skills policy and programme structure in another part of Europe.
For more information on the BLUESS Project, and other European projects that AONTAS is involved in, please contact Dearbháil Lawless, EU Projects Officer.