The number of people with a difficult social background who don’t have any kind of formation or who hardly find a job in their first profession increases more and more. Adult education shall give a chance to these people to get further training and thus further qualification.
However, the experiences from the partners’ countries show that offers of adult education and life-long learning are predominantly used by adults who already have a certain level of education. Especially socially unprivileged persons have rarely access to these offers and often have difficulties to successfully accomplish it. For this target group, the lack of social and personal competences can be a barrier. Beside technical and methodological skills, social and personal skills are basic key competences of adults and important pre-conditions for the access and the successful accomplishment of any kind of formal and informal education. Furthermore they are essential for the development and consolidation of an own social and cultural identity and they are seen as important protectors against harmful and addictive behaviour.
The first Pro-Skills project
The situation in the partners’ countries shows that these basic skills are rarely part of the curricula of adult education and that there are no offers for adults to train these skills effectively in a protective learning environment. The first Pro-Skills project aimed on filling this gap:
Duration of project: October 2006 – September 2008
Socrates reference number: 230054 – CP -1-2006-1- LU – Grundtvig – G1PP
Important steps of project:
- Elaboration of a training concept that supports social and personal skills in socially unprivileged adults in the sense of empowerment: The participants were enabled to regulate themselves the planning and realization of their individual process of life-long learning. Equal access for socially unprivileged people to offers of formal and informal education was aimed on. The training was realized in active and experience-focused manner. The conception was based on approaches of self-regulated, productive, cooperative and experienced based learning.
- Publication of training concept: The training concept was published by a brochure and in internet in nine languages. The publication includes technical background information, objectives of the training, training modules and teaching lessons (methodology and content), worksheets, a short description of the pilot trainings and the evaluation results.
- Realization of pilot trainings: By the exemplary realization of the training concept by four project partners in different countries, the training concept was checked and optimized.
- European workshop for professionals: In a first step, a European workshop was realized in order to train multipliers and distribute the training concept. National training followed.
- Sensitization of decision makers: Politicians and other responsible persons in adult education were sensitized for the importance of social and personal skills in order to reach long-term effects by the integration of social and personal skills in curricula and educational offers. Therefore a European conference was realized that supported exchange and cooperation of institutions, professionals and decision makers by the direct communication and contacts. The conference resulted in a common declaration on the importance of social and personal skills as basic competences for life-long learning.
Consideration of social and personal skills in curricula and educational offers: So far, the promotion of social and personal skills is rarely presented in curricula of adult education. With reference to the pyramid of human needs from Maslow (1954), we believe that ‘higher’ goals like education, employment and self-actualization can’t be realized if there’s a lack of basic skills and of fulfillment of basic needs. The experience shows that offers of adult education and life-long learning are used by adults who already have a certain level of education. Especially concerning the equal access of socially unprivileged persons to educational offers, social and personal skills have to become part of curricula for basic or preparatory training concepts.
Support of social and personal skills in adults: Approaches and projects exist that focus on the promotion of social and personal skills in children and adolescents. Often they were developed with regard to health promotion or the prevention of violence. But it is rarely considered that adults and especially persons with problematic basic conditions may need support to establish and maintain these skills, too. Especially for socially unprivileged adults, the lack of social and personal skills can be a barrier to access offers to formal and informal education or to pass is successfully. This gap will be closed.
Self-regulated, productive, cooperative and experienced based learning in adult education: The approaches of self-regulated, productive, cooperative and experienced based learning seem to be more effective for the sustainable support of knowledge and skills than traditional teaching methods. Therefore the training concept will include elements and basic principles of these approaches. The learners are rather subjects of the learning process than objects. They train to regulate their learning process by themselves. The practical way of training allows adults to train skills in a safe environment which is rarely available for them in real life. Role plays and the simulation of all-day-life situations ensure that the trained skills will be transferred into all-day-life.
Sensitization focusing on long-term effects: Pro-Skills not only focuses on the realization of a sound training concept and on realizing a project for a period of time. In fact the project also aims on long-term effects by the training of multipliers and especially by the sensitization of responsible persons. Therefore the European conference addressed also politicians and decision makers who are responsible for curricula and the design of trainingd offers in adult education. A declaration was worked out at the European conference which was presented to the press and published in the sensitization brochure for distribution.
If you are interested in the project’s philosophical basis, ethical manifest, values, mission and the methodological approach, you’ll find more details at the Pro-Skills Backround Philosophy.
Centre de Prevention des Toxicomanies, Luxembourg (Luxembourg)
Zentrum für empirische pädagogische Forschung, Landau (Germany)
Azienda Sanitaria Locale di Milano, Milano (Italy)
Hochschule Fulda – University of Applied Sciences, Fulda (Germany)
Irti Huumeista Ry, Vaasa (Finland)
Institute for Research and Development “Utrip”, Grosuplje (Slovenia)
Megyei Egészség Kultúrát Koordináló Alapítvány, Nyiregyháza (Hungary)
Protasi- Movement for another lifestyle, Patras (Greece)
Wilde Bühne, Stuttgart (Germany)
Swiss Federation for Adult Learning, Nyon (Swizzerland)