Discussing adult education and health at EAEA Annual Conference 2015


100 participants from all over Europe and beyond met on 22 June in Porto, Portugal, at the Annual Conference of EAEA. This year, the conference focused on “Adult Education and Health”, the annual theme of EAEA in 2015.

Julie Ward, Member of the European Parliament, launched the conference, referring to her own experience as an adult learner: “Adult education is about people’s personal transformation.” She explained her role at the European Parliament to the participants: “Whenever I look at legislation, I think whether lifelong learning can be put in. I’m very willing to champion the sector that helped me grow and to represent you in the European Parliament.”

Putting health into perspective

Gina Ebner, EAEA Secretary General, underlined that health deals with a wide range of topics: it is an individual, but also societal responsibility; it has to do with gender, with social justice and poverty, with environment, working and living conditions, commercial interests, active citizenship, and many other issues. “Health is a key topic in our society, which is why we chose it as our annual topic for 2015. This year, we’re looking into adult education initiatives that promote health and health literacy to develop our policy work in this field.”

Professor Jyri Manninen from the University of Eastern Finland gave a comprehensive presentation on the correlations between health and adult education. “Participation in adult education generates many direct health benefits. In particular, the impact on mental wellbeing is clear,” he explained. He continued his presentation underlining the benefits of adult education for health with results based on the BeLL Study (Benefits of Lifelong Learning).

Presenting three approaches to “adult education and health”

Under the topic “adult education and health”, EAEA has identified three approaches: health literacy, health and well-being and health in adult education. These laid the basis for three afternoon workshops at the conference.

The topic of “health literacy” was introduced by Jaap Koot from the University Medical Center Groningen (The Netherlands) with the IROHLA project. The project “Community Learning Mental Health Pilot” by Catina Barrett from NIACE (UK) gave deeper insight into the topic of “health and well-being as benefits of adult learning”. Sandra Ameyaw Amankwaa from HFFG (Ghana) presented the project “Comprehensive Abortion Care (CAC)” which won the EAEA Grundtvig Award in the category “International projects”. In her workshop, she discussed the important role of adult education to inform young woman in Ghana about abortion and their reproductive health.

A panel session with the workshop rapporteurs, Katarina Popovic, ICAE’s Secretary General and a Member of the Portuguese Parliament, Nuno Reis, concluded the conference.

After the conference, the participants gathered again in a more festive atmosphere for the EAEA Grundtvig Award ceremony. The event took place in Casa de Musica with the presence of MEP Nuno Melo and Julia Fernandes, responsible for education and social affairs in the municipality of Vila Verde, Portugal.