Non-formal adult learning is built on a belief that participants enter into a learning space with a whole host of existing knowledge, values and experiences. It interprets learner insight as a legitimate form of knowledge that is often under-appreciated in today’s society.
As part of this process, non-formal adult learning adopts principles of democracy, dialogue, participation, and collectivism. An emphasis on social justice and equality is often at its core. Social and economic conditions remain the most likely determining factor in whether a person enters into Higher Education (O’Connell et al, 2006; McCoy et al, 2014). One purpose of non-formal adult learning is to address structural inequalities such as financial injustice, gender inequality, racism and racial discrimination and perceptions of ability/disabilities.
The locus of change therefore is not with the individual but with wider systemic solutions. Non-formal adult learning thus frequently has a political dimension and usually targets specific population groups such as people who have left school before completion, those living in geographical communities that are described in Ireland as ‘disadvantaged’, people who are unemployed, people who are parenting alone, and minority groups such as migrants.
FinALE is grounded in an understanding of adult education as an instrument in social cohesion for a changing world. Those involved in FinALE believe adult educators have agency and that, through research and cooperation, providers can influence change. This includes future decision-making on how adult education is funded. For FinALE, there is urgent need for providers to address these questions:
- Why is investment in adult education necessary?
- How should the financing be measured so that the measurement is comparable across countries?
- Which fields of adult education should be supported?
- How does funding of adult education impact the lifelong learning of individuals?
- What is European best practice for funding adult education?
Six countries participated in this aspect of FinALE research. Countries included in the research included Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Ireland and Portugal.Downloads:FinALE Advocacy ToolkitFinALE research Where to invest