Executive Summary of Final Report

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1 Information Day Adult Education: Widening access to Education and training opportunities Basic Skills of Adults Ministry of Education and Culture (Organized in the framework of the implementation of the Cyprus Action Plan on the implementation of the renewed European Agenda for Adult Learning ) Executive Summary of Final Report Friday, 26 th June 2015 Sun Hall Hotel, Larnaca 1

2 The Information Day Adult Education: Widening access to Education and Training opportunities Basic Skills of Adults took place in the Sun Hall Hotel, Larnaca, on the 26 th June The Conference was organized by the Ministry of Education and Culture and was implemented within the Cyprus Action Plan for the promotion of European Agenda for Adult Learning , which is co-funded by the European Commission and the Republic of Cyprus. Representatives from various governmental and non-governmental organizations and institutions activated in the field of Adult Education, local authorities, academics and trainers were present. In his opening speech, the Minister of Education and Culture, Costas Kadis underlined the contribution of adult and continuing education in the development of citizens who possess the necessary skills to be actively involved in social and economic life. Mr. Kadis acknowledged the constant efforts made by the Ministry of Education and Culture in order to ensure the accessibility of all adults in education and training through various programmes that are monitored or financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture. He also noted that Adult Education is even more crucial when we are referring to disadvantaged social groups, such as early school leavers, people with low basic skills in reading, writing, mathematics and ICT, elderly, disabled, or people at risk of social exclusion. The major of Larnaca, Mr. Louroutziatis, highlighted the importance of Lifelong Learning for adults and he acknowledged that the Open School of Larnaca, an institution co-funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture and the Municipality of Larnaca, enhances the participation of adults in the public affairs of the local community, improves their quality of life and offers an 2

3 alternative and qualitatively educational opportunity to the participants, based on their personal needs and interests. During the Conference, the key note speaker Professor George Demosthenous, former Minister of Education and Culture and Dean at the University of Frederick, highlighted the benefits of Adult Education, as today around 70 million adults have low levels of basic skills and face the risk of social exclusion. He stressed the importance of identifying the reasons for the above reality and he focused on the obstacles that adults face during their participation in education and training, which are both external (e.g. time of course provision, financial constrains) and internal (e.g. fear of failure, low self-esteem). At the same time, as he noted, the various roles and responsibilities that adult learners have may also prevent full participation in education and training. Professor Demosthenous stressed that adult education should address the aforementioned obstacles and ensure equal participation of adults in education and training. Such a system will reduce the inequalities and marginalization of adults and enable them to acquire the various skills that will enhance their personal as well as their professional development. The second key note speaker, Mr Zoltán Várkonyi, member of the Executive Committee of the European Basic Skills Network, highlighted the issue of basic skills provision from a European perspective. As he mentioned in abstract of his presentation with title 'Basic skills for all - facing a common challenge' in the global arena of economic competition basic skills are the foundation of highly adaptive workforce as well as active participation of the individuals in the community and social life. Ensuring basic skills for all is a 3

4 major common European challenge, and it is on the top of the European policy agenda. So far European countries found very different approaches and pathways to address the challenge, and they are at very different levels in ensuring sufficient and quality provisions. In the Hungarian case of building a national network of open adult learning centres it has been shown how an economical model can be created successfully raising the level of participation especially in regions with low level of adult learning infrastructure. For the development of the model as well as the creation of a national knowledge centre on basic skills learning supporting the implementation of the programme, experiences and know how has been utilised from several European countries with advance practice of basic skills provision and teacher training facilities by using the resources and expertise available in the European Basic Skills Network. It is the mission of the network to promote sharing knowledge and experiences as well as to develop policy recommendations and effective tools of knowledge creation and dissemination like the EBSN Academy and EPALE Thematic Site on Life Skills. The Conference also addressed its major issues with a focus on PIAAC results for Cyprus. In addition, the conference stressed out the benefits of adult involvement in education and training and the contribution of the European Agenda for Adult Learning as well as the electronic platform EPALE in promoting the field of Adult Education. Finally, a roundtable discussion took place in which the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education and Culture, the Director of Labour Department of 4

5 the Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Security, the Deputy Director of Research and Planning of Human Resource Development Authority and the Head of Centre for Educational Research and Evaluation of the Ministry of Education and Culture, took part. All experts participating in the round table discussion underlined the need for synergies and systemic efforts by all stakeholders in order to strengthen policies on adult basic skills provision in Cyprus. The round table discussion, as well as the other presentations, ended with a list of recommendations to be taken into account in order to enhance access to education and training opportunities and promote basic skills provision of adults. Some of the recommendations are presented below: Identify adults who are at-risk of social exclusion. Those adults who left school early can be identified with the support of the Ministry of Education, whereas the unemployed adults who lack basic skills can be identified with the support of the businesses sector, the trade unions and the local authorities. Provide individual support for each adult in order to identify his/her needs, the needs of the labour market and appropriate guidance regarding the available programmes and other existing opportunities. Provide motives to adults with low basic skills so as to return to education. Provide childcare services for adults who wish to attend second chance 5

6 schools. Establish stronger links between education and training with the labour market needs. Provide accurate and constant information on the existing education and training opportunities through campaigns and other measures. Strengthen learning in the workplace and increase the flexibility of the existing programmes. Enhance cooperation with other institutions to provide psychosocial support to those adults belonging to vulnerable groups. Increase job marketplaces. Focus on validation of all types of learning (including non-formal and informal learning). Empower adult educators, through training or other means, in order to ensure quality in the learning outcomes and empower the students to continue their education. Adopt quality procedures in the recruitment and the assessment process of the adult educators. Proceed with an in depth mapping of existing lifelong learning opportunities, offered both by governmental and non-governmental organizations. 6

7 Establish an ad hoc committee which will deal with issues related to the effective operation of second chance schools. Conduct a comprehensive analysis of PIAAC results in order to conceptualize the issues that are relevant to basic skills provision. Define basic skills and the levels of skills proficiency in the Cyprus context Use best practises from other European countries. Adopt measures which will be in line with the National Strategy for Lifelong Learning and the National Strategy for Digital Jobs. Create relevant policies that promote the participation of vulnerable adults in education. Develop policies that target adults with low basic skills, unemployed, elderly people, immigrants, employed adults with low basic skills and early school leavers. Prepare an Action Plan based on the Lifelong Learning Strategy The action plan should include concrete actions, specific timeframe, indicators for success, responsibilities of the bodies involved and evaluation and monitoring procedures. Use existing or currently developed mechanisms, including the National Qualifications Framework or the Mechanism for the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal Learning, which are in development, to enable people to continue their educational paths. 7

8 Plan and implement programmes relevant to the needs of specific target groups. Develop further actions and improve existing programmes. Focus on the acquisition of professional skills (apart from basic skills) in order to facilitate the employability of people with low basic skills. Incorporate evaluation processes. Establish a mechanism for the continuous monitoring of those graduating second chance schools and provide further support in order for them to enter the labour market. Join efforts and establish stronger synergies among all stakeholders involved in the sector to achieve the legitimate results. Ensure that individuals who participate in these programmes acquire an adequate level of basic skills. Establish quality assurance systems, including continuous monitoring and evaluation of the provided programmes. Improve the quality and the content of education provision at all levels. More information on the Action Plan, the Conference and the presentations given by experts during the conference can be found on the website: 8

9 Afternoon Event Information Fair In the afternoon of the same day, the public had the opportunity to be informed about education and training programmes currently offered to adults in Cyprus by the Ministry of Education and Culture (Second Chance Schools, EPAPLE etc), the Human Resource Development Authority, the Foundation for the Management of Lifelong Learning Programmes, the Youth Board of Cyprus, the Cyprus Sports Organisation and the Open School of the Municipality of Larnaca. During the event, a cultural programme presented the work of Adult Education Centres of Larnaca, the Open School of the Municipality of Larnaca and the programme 'Sports for All'. For the Ministry of Education and Culture July 2015, Cyprus Rapporteur: Eleni Michail "This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein." 9

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