Learning Circles

Regarding policies – at various (national, regional, European, local) levels:

  • Existing policies, strategies and programmes should put more emphasis on adult people’s educational needs (with regard to various groups of residents, including the underprivileged ones), involve more stakeholders representing various sectors and levels, including institutions of formal and non-formal education, businesses, NGOs, etc.
  • The above mentioned policies strategies and programmes should ensure  financial instruments that would tackle the identified challenges (such as lack of relevant infrastructure, lack of skills, inadequately skilled educators, etc.);
  • Included in the national programmes and strategic documents should be incentives for various stakeholders to engage into adult education (for example, private companies that will provide a high quality educational content in cooperation with institutions and organisations operating in area of education);
  • More coordination of various initiatives is needed to avoid duplication and enable more efficient efforts (for example coordination between the activities of institutions of formal and non-formal education);
  • The role of public libraries and other institutions and organisations that do not belong to formal system of education, but – in fact – conduct educational activities, should be recognised by national, regional and local policies, which – consequently – should be reflected in relevant legal acts (for example regarding copyright);
  • More efforts are needed in the system of formal education in order to prepare residents to become lifelong learners (which implies ‘learning how to learn’ competences included in national curricula, teachers and educators of various levels prepared to teach necessary skills, etc.);
  • Continuous investment in technology (digital infrastructure, infrastructure of local institutions) and skills (digital literacy, media literacy) is needed.

Regarding advocacy and promotion:

  • Decision makers (both at the national and local levels) should be aware of deficiencies caused by the low participation of the adults in educational offer;
  • Local authorities should be aware of the role of public libraries as institutions of non-formal education (providing educational offer to all residents, help adults to develop their skills, address the underprivileged groups, etc.);
  • Adult residents should be more aware of benefits of adult education (including online education), not only in work-related area, but also as a means to overall personal development (which will improve the quality of their lives);
  • E-learning should be ‘tamed’ and its advantages underlined in promotional activities (such as flexibility, availability free-of-charge or lat ow cost cost, no pressure, conveniences for people with disabilities, support and instant feedback from a tutor, certificates to be issued, the community of learners – a chance to socialise etc.).

Regarding learning content and organisation:

  • More attention should be paid to the quality of educational offer addressed to adults: practical knowledge, tailored to the adults’ needs, convenient organisation, easy procedures and interfaces, flexibility, good design, clear navigation that allows a user to quickly answer ‘What’s in this for me?’ question);
  • A centre, a platform, or a database is needed that integrates a larger educational offer (for example a number of good quality courses, verified with regard to their quality, available free of charge or at low cost);
  • Well designed and accessible language courses available online might be an incentive for more adults to engage in adult online education;
  • Online courses should include tasks that allow learners develop specific skills relevant to their needs, but also offer possibilities of socialisation (for example by working in small groups).

Regarding the educators:

  • The educators should be more supported by formal educational system (via courses, studies, manuals, educational materials, tips and guidance), but also through networks or peer-to-peer communities (with specific tools that support that networks and communities) – this way they could share knowledge, experiences and support each other;
  • Experts (leaders, ‘super trainers’) should been selected, trained and provided with continuous support;
  • An attention should be paid not only to digital skills and media literacy, but also on ‘soft skills’, such as pedagogical competences, communication skills, multicultural skills, knowledge on how to work with adults, seniors, disabled people, migrants, etc.

Main findings and recommendations – Romania

1. Main findings

  • Romania has one of the lowest rate of adult participation in online learning from the EU as well as one of the lowest percentage in IT literacy.
  • There is no national framework for stimulating or recognizing officially the acquiring of skills via non-formal online education.
  • The few online platforms for courses developed through EU funding are poorly designed, outdated and lack sustainability once the EU funding has ceased.
  • The only options for Romanian adults to register into online education are universities, private companies or the privately run platform Moodle – these courses are paid.
  • There is not emphasis in the Romanian school system on further learning and lifelong learning, thus, combined with the lack of IT skills, the online education is not a popular option for the adults.
  • Romanian adults who use online education are doing it for the purposes of re-skilling or up-skilling and they are already well educated persons.
  • People from the rural areas and women are the most unlikely participants in online education.
  • The reasons for which Romanian adults choose online education are similar with those of participants from other EU countries, perhaps with a higher emphasis on the fact that the employers are insisting on transferring the face to face trainings into online ones, due to lower costs.
  • These findings are consistent with the findings of the PISA tests from across OECD countries, where Romanian students rank last in the EU on math, reading and science[1]

2. Recommendations

  • Due to the large number of teenage school drop-outs, online education could prove a beneficial tool for remedial education and increasing the skills of people who want to enter the labour market.
  • Romania needs to produce a distinct chapter in the Digital Agenda on stimulating the use on online education, with concrete measures and budget investments.
  • Romania needs to increase the general digital skills of its adult population, via public libraries or with the support of NGOs.
  • Romania needs to increase the emphasis on lifelong learning and active aging starting from the elementary school until university.

References:

Romania Insider. 2015. Romanian students do a little better in PISA testing but their results are still way below average, available at: https://www.romania-insider.com/romanian-students-pisa-testing-results-still-way-average, viewed on October 10th, 2019.


[1] https://www.romania-insider.com/romanian-students-pisa-testing-results-still-way-average

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