The 2018 edition of the Lifelong Learning Week (LLW) was a new piece in the mosaic of this festival of education with 23 years of tradition in Slovenia. We are very proud to have one of the longest traditions of continuous and sustainable efforts in promotion of adult education and lifelong learning in the world. As we often mention – also to our numerous foreign visitors – this is in large part due to the support on the national level, as both competent ministries – the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport and the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities – ensure stable financing of activities in their Annual plans. The second reason for the longevity of the LLW is definitely the existence of a central institution for adult education – the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) – who took on the role of a national coordinator of the LLW back in 1996. Furthermore, thanks to the vital support of local and theme-focused coordinators – 43 this year – we are able to inspire hundreds of organisers and provide thousands of events across Slovenia. The indicators for 2018 confirm these facts: more than 1,800 organisers joined their efforts and organised almost 8,000 events between May 11 and June 30. The third factor of the traditional success of the LLW is our constant focus on development, on expanding the limits of the festival and improving the efficiency of our approaches. We want to inspire people to learn, draw them to non-formal and formal learning and help them become the winners of their lives and a shining example to others. In this, the winners of our awards for promotion of adult learning and knowledge are our most valuable allies as they are the most convincing examples of constant self-improvement.
The LLW is thus a joint effort of many people to mobilise individuals and society – throughout the entirety of life and in all domains. In the past few years, we have been implementing this mission through the so-called joint actions that bring structure to the myriad of events. The aim of such joint actions is to draw attention to some walks of our lives that we can strengthen through learning. This year, we organised 8 such actions: Learning is good news (focused on the role of media in promotion of learning); Learning and culture go hand in hand; 16 implementations of the Learning Parade; Let’s go green; Older persons’ day – Hale, healthy, informed and active; Health through learning, International Volunteer Day (22 May); and Hiking as a way of life. Many of the LLW events also honoured the European Year of Cultural Heritage.
On the national level, the SIAE and the excellent hosts of the national LLW 2018 opening (in Slovenian) – the staff of the Šmarje pri Jelšah Library and their partners – successfully opened this year’s learning festival on 11 May. The cherry on top was the fact that local institutions, such as the Šmarje pri Jelšah Library, successfully bring together the local population who comes to such event in large numbers to greet guests from the entire country, including this year’s award winners. However, they work hard all year long in the form of study circles and seek many other opportunities for socialisation and learning.
The second event on the national level was the 22nd Adult Education Colloquium (in Slovenian), the main meeting of professionals during the LLW, which was co-organised by the SIAE and the Jesenice Adult Education Centre. The subject of this year’s Colloquium – Importance of key competences for quality life in old age – brought many local, national and international participants to Jesenice. In addition to expert speakers, we also heard the experiences of older adult learners. It has been agreed that the demographic forecast of a larger percentage of older population should be viewed positively, perceiving the older people as a rich source of wisdom and experience which are improved by constant learning and creativity as well as active intergenerational integration.
This year we have strengthened our position on local implementation of events and allowing the learners to speak for themselves, two characteristics of our LLW the foreigners are eager to learn about. Between 14 and 16 May we have prepared an interesting programme for our guests from the Netherlands, some of whom already joined us for the opening ceremony, who visited us as part of the European Input for Sustainable Education and Learning (EISEL) Project led by the Learn for Life platform. On the first day we organised a seminar on success factors for regional coordination of learning festivals and on the second day we took them to the Employment Service of Slovenia, which has been a LLW theme-focused coordinator for several years. On the last day we took them to three Learning Parade locations which offer a condensed presentation of learning opportunities in the city squares and other public places combined with stage performances and professional events on nearby locations, importantly contributing to the LLW since 2013. The Dutch delegation was joined for the seminar and the Learning Parade visits by guests from Hungary who are part of their National EPALE support service and were hosted by the CMEPIUS. Their aim is to bring back to life the learning festival in Hungary.
Constant and efficient promotion of adult education and lifelong learning has been recognised as important on the political and professional level, and has received moral and financial support. We wish this would become the reality in as many countries as possible, as we place great value on opportunities for exchange of experiences and enrichment of our know-how.
Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, MSc (zvonka.pangerc@SIAE.si), SIAE