Our first day in Slovenia saw us welcomed at the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) by our amazing host Darijan Novak who made us all feel welcomed.
Darijan explained the role of the SIAE and it was clear to see the parallels with our own Learning and Work Institute. The SIAE is an umbrella organisation representing 40 centres across Slovenia. Their role includes research, strategies, planning and implementation and the monitoring of Adult Education across Slovenia.
The SIAE is funded by Government (63%) ESF (27%) and other (10%). It was interesting to learn that Slovenia has a Lifelong Learning Strategy that ensures the right to lifelong learning throughout all stages of a citizens life and this responsibility is distributed across the governments ministries.
My personal favourites from day 1:
One of the projects that really inspired me from our visit to the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education was the concept of ‘Study Circles’ which have been running in Slovenia since 1993.
The idea is that a group of people meet together and learn a new skill in an enjoyable, informal way. There is no ‘teacher’ as such but is organized and delivered by a trained mentor. The idea is that a new topic will be discussed or skills practiced each time the group meet. The main aim of these groups was to engage some of the least active members of society and to engage some of the more disconnected people groups. In Wales, my training company, 4:28 Training, delivers a project called Sit and Stew and we have started to embed a Study Circles type of learning through this community café which naturally provides the perfect opportunity to do so.
“Distribution of responsibilities for life-long learning at the central government level, main responsibilities related to lifelong learning policies and programmes rest with the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities.”
Other ideas to take home from Day 1:
• ALWAYS invite politicians to events!
• Develop a network of paid coordinators in the run up to Adult Learners Week.
• Use the National Anthem at events.
“Role Models Attract” multi media campaign.
Our host Darijan was, justifiably very proud to tell us about his media campaign “Role Models Attract” a multimedia portal that encourages Adult Education Providers to create their own video portraits using successful people and groups to target similar people and groups who may be facing similar barriers to learning.
Day 2 of our visit saw us head off to the wonderful picturesque town of Kranj where we were met by our host for the day. A short stroll through the town square led us to a castle where the opening ceremony would take place.
The ceremony marks the start of Lifelong Learning Week – Slovenian style – which will see learning parades taking place across Slovenia with 1,800 event organisers and more than 7,000 events taking place!
The opening ceremony was unbelievable! It was amazing how the whole event was a celebration of Adult Learning but also interwoven with the history and culture of Slovenia. There was displays of swordsmanship, local food, drama on stage, workshops, there was even a Slovenian Comedian who I was assured was very good!
The opening was definitely a celebration event, it was a real party atmosphere coordinated and participated in by learners. During the more formal opening of the ceremony on stage government ministers and official took part in the award ceremonies to celebrate the achievements of lifelong learners.
Ideas to bring home:
• An official launch celebration! Maybe one in the North and one in the South?
• More use of Welsh Heritage and Culture
“Old Guys Say Yes To Community” Conference on Older Men in Adult Education Saturday 11th May 2019
“Old Guys Say Yes to Community” is an Erasmus+ project with the goal to foster inclusion of older man aged 60 years or more (especially with low education) in learning and education activities to positively affect their well-being, health, social life and to contribute to their re/up-skilling.”
Our last day of this wonderful trip was to visit the “Old Guys Say Yes to Community” conference at the Old Power Station in the City of Ljubljana.
The conference was made up of four presentations sharing the findings of research carried out in Estonia, Portugal and Poland:
1) Bottom-up Strategies for Community Engagement and Informal Learning – Targeting men of 60 year’s or older.
2) Social isolation of older men and ways of overcoming it by involvement in
3) What do old guys say to community? Some ideas from polish perspective
4) Cumulative advantages and disadvantages of Portuguese older men
Another excellent day – the presentations certainly gave me plenty to think about on my way home. For one, they reinforced my thoughts on the necessity of engaging men in community which is extremely important for health and wellbeing.
The day also made me go away considering – “Are we doing enough to engage the ‘older men’ of our community?”
Ideas from Recommendations:
• Map the older men: how many live alone, what are their skills and interests.
• Determine the channels of communication suitable for the target group Recruit more active older men to invite their passive friends to attend activities Review transport issues.
• Find opportunities for older men for using their skills. Organise events for meeting other (unfamiliar) men.
• Recognise older men for their life’s work, e.g. display memorial plates on buildings or localities where people have built or achieved something.
As part of the visit our hosts had organised a trip to the old air raid tunnels under Old Town of Kranj. It was great to hear and learn about the history of the tunnels and actually experience what it must have been live there during a bombing raid. The tunnels use sirens and motion simulation to recreate an actual bombing raid.
In summary – another fantastic learning trip! New friends were made, new culture experienced. I came home with a better understanding of how our friends in Slovenia deliver and celebrate adult learning. I also came home with some new ideas to implement, Study Circles and ways to engage older men being the top two themes for me.
This case study has been written by: Scott Jenkinson, founder of 4:28 Training and former Inspire! Tutor Award winner