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Provision of basic skills for adults – Strategies that work

6 July 2015

Policy coherence in adult basic skills can only be achieved if policy makers look beyond their own policy sphere to seek cross-organisational coordination at the different levels of government while favouring integrated approaches.

Different experiences, mainly from the Netherlands, but also from Spain, Switzerland and the UK, were analysed with regard to their policy coherence at the 2015 Annual Collaborative Workshop of the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN). The collaborative workshop, entitled “Strategies that work: governance, financing and implementation in the provision of basic skills for adults”, was organised in cooperation with the Dutch Ministry of Education in The Hague, The Netherlands, from 3 to 5 June 2015. The 78 participants included representatives from 19 European countries, as well as delegates from the European Commission and UIL, which has been a member of the EBSN since its foundation in 2010.

There are currently interesting developments in the field of adult literacy in the Netherlands, including a new legal framework. In addition, the British National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) shared a policy success story from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where in recent years 5.7 million adult learners were reached by Basic Skills Agency programmes. On the basis of lessons learnt and challenges identified, participants formulated a set of recommendations which will be summarised into a Conference Declaration soon. Among these recommendations are ideas for developing sustainable literacy learning systems with a long-term perspective, for increasing the focus on people and networks, and for bringing policy-makers to learning centres to listen to literacy learners’ views. UIL presented the recently launched guidebook Action research to improve youth and adult literacy, which was selected by the participants as one of the three most inspiring experiences they had listened to during two sessions of poster presentations which were part of the workshop.