There are twelve of us. At first, only members of the EAAL project at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) were envisaged to form the visiting team: Darijan, Erika, Mateja, Nevenka, Simona and myself. Due to the fact that some money was saved on the project, and thanks to the flexibility of EACEA which allowed us to use it for the enlargement of our delegation to Ireland, we were able to invite Janja and Zlatko, this year's winners of our awards for the promotion of adult learning, as well as Suzana, a representative of our Learners' Forum. Teja from the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport, the co-financer of our endeavours in the field of awareness raising, joined us to experience our work on site. Neja and Franci are our external collaborators and – like all members of the team – enthusiastic advocates for lifelong learning.
Why Ireland? Because we know that we can share and learn from each other a lot.
We at SIAE in cooperation with a vast network of partners have organized our Lifelong Learning Week since 1996. Our hosting organization – AONTAS has been coordinating the AONTAS Adult Learners' Festival for 11 years. We have been giving away awards for the promotion of learning and knowledge to individuals, groups and institutions. The Irish are celebrating their Star Awards – acknowledgments for innovative adult learning initiatives. On Monday, 6 March, the presentation of Star Awards 2017 will be the launch event of our tour.
AONTAS and SIAE, we also share the experience of being national coordinator of the implementation of the European Agenda for Adult Learning (see e-bulletin of SIAE's activities in 2016 and AONTAS' work in this field). This joint role will also be the reason for exchange of experiences and findings. The Friday policy seminar on the theme The European Union: Solidarity in time of uncertainty will serve this purpose.
The Irish and ourselves, we believe in the power of the voice of learners. We cooperate with our outstanding learners – award winners on many occasions as we strongly believe that they are the best advocates for adult learning.
Last December, at the Adult Skills Conference, in Brussels we witnessed the speeches of Una and Alan, learners from Ireland. They were so convincing and enthusiastic that we are really keen to meet with them this week and get to know their life histories in more detail. We would also like to learn from the Irish how to empower and train the learners for them to become such persuasive speakers.
We are also interested in finding out more about AONTAS’ endeavours in the field of media and visual promotion, publications (such as the recent: I'm an Adult Learner 2016), social media engagement, lobbying at policy level etc. In brief, we are fans of their work and can learn a lot from them but we have many achievements to share as well.
About our daily experiences we will publish blogs in EPALE in Slovenian and English. If you are interested in our impressions, follow us and comment.