(2015) Professional development of adult educators in the Eastern Partnership region

Who is an adult educator? Which competences does an adult educator need? In which spheres and institutions does an adult educator work? Which differences and common points of adult education programs exist between the countries of the Eastern Partnership region, European Union and Central Asia.

These questions laid the foundation of the Regional Summer Academy 2015, that was organized by the representative office of DVV International in Ukraine and took place from June 3rd to June 8th 2015 in the resort “Bukhta Vikingiv” in Western Ukrainian Lviv region.

According to Larissa Jõgi, professor at the institute of pedagogical sciences and head of the department of adult education at Tallin University, who was invited as an expert to the Summer Academy, adult education is a scientific field that covers socialization and re-socialization, adaptation, emotional, cognitive, social and professional processes, formation of identity and positioning as an individual. Research actions in these fields are integrated into the curriculum of Bachelor and Master programmes in “Adult Education” at institutions of higher education in Estonia. The occupation of “adult educator” or “andragogue”, as the profession is called, is integrated into the Estonian system of professional qualifications. The elaboration of a system of professional standards for adult educators has started at the beginning of the 2000s, first certificates for trained adult educators were issued by the Estonian Association of Adult Educators “Andras” (“AEAE Andras”). “Andras” is headed by a professional committee that assembles leading experts in the field of adult education.

The historical development of the professionalization of adult education constitutes an import factor in the understanding of the development of adult education. The presentation of the German expert Dr. Tetyana Kloubert, researcher at the department of pedagogical sciences at the University of Augsburg and specialized on adult education and lifelong learning, was focused on this topic. In her dissertation “Understanding the past as a dimension of adult education”, Dr. Tetyana Kloubert traces back the general directions of professionalization of the role of adult educators, their self-concept and perception in society, requirements for professionalization made on adult educators, introducing such definitions as mandates and accreditation of adult educators. The term “mandate” is understood in this context as the requests that society addresses to adult education, implicitly and explicitly , or as tohse tasks that society confided to adult educators in the historical perspective as well as the tasks that adult educators have committed themselves to in terms of their professional activities that arise from the analysis and understanding of the social context. Accreditation means professionalization and academization as well as socio-political regulation of the profession “adult educator”. One of the conclusions that can be drawn is that adult educators at all times strived to react to current social problems and challenges and to offer possibilities of self-development through education. Thus, adult education is a “search movement”: finding ways to bridge the gap between the (new) requirements of society and individual interests, between the losses and the possible benefits and between the uniquely disrupted and new meanings.

The German Institute for Adult Education (DIE) has been doing research in this field of adult education already since 1957 and was represented at the Academy by Susanne Lattke, research associate at the institute and one of the experts of the Summer Academy. The institute connects the theoretic, research-oriented and practical approaches of adult education and elaborates innovative concepts of adult education. The study program Curriculum GlobALE is one of the institute’s projects. Curriculum GlobALE constitutes an international framework for the training of educators and specialists of adult education and training and was elaborated in collaboration with DVV International. Participants of the Summer Academy reviewed and analyzed the different modules of the Curriculum GlobALE and evaluated the possibilities to launch the programme in their home countries.

Within 6 days, the 32 participants and 6 experts, who represented all together 10 countries (Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Georgia, Germany, Belgium, Estonia and Latvia), exchanged practical experience in working with an adult auditory, elaboration of study programmes for adults and projects in the field of adult education in their home coutries. Among the key problems with which teachers of institutions of higher education as well as trainers of the non-governmental sector are confronted are the lack of research-oriented and methodical materials, professional trainers in adult education, processes of certification of providers of services in the non-formal sector of education, ways of informing the target groups and attraction of participants as well as a lack of orientation towards the needs of the labor market, a low level of cooperation between educational institutions, the labor market, job centers and other stakeholders.

During the Regional Summer Academy the country teams elaborated new ideas and approaches to implement adult education programmes and strengthen the further development of trainers in the field of adult education in their countries. The country groups used a variety of creative approaches and methods of work with adults, prepared and systematized training programs for adults and coaches in the individual national contexts. The programme and training materials of the Regional Summer Academy can be downloaded below.

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