Equal Opportunities for all
– a conference with active participants in Riga
A European conference “Equal Opportunities for All – the value of adult education in promoting equality” in Riga December 3-4 was an interactive and well organised event.
EAEA and NVL had designed an interesting and engaging program, which invited to dialogue and interaction. The themes were many: Gender issues, consumer education, access to full citizenship, migration and participation, learning in later life etc.
The conference illustrated what the new secretary general of EAEA, Regina Ebner, announced about inclusion and empowerment in her opening of the conference. Her speech also started the process of the conference participants completing the Final statement agreed upon by the end of the conference.
Education as self fulfilment was stressed by Ambassador Valdis Krastins in his address on behalf of the Council of the Baltic Sea States (CBSS). CBSS has now for the first time put education on to of its list of priorities in its current working period under Latvian presidency.
Latvia’s road to equality and quality in lifelong learning
Widened accessibility to education, more involved students and new and innovative possibilities for new resources to education are key factors for the development of Latvia, said Baiba Rivza, Minister for Education and Science in Latvia in her address to the conference.
A former professor became minister of education
Baiba Rivza was a professor and organised courses in rural development and regional strategies at the Latvian University for Agriculture before entering the government. Her presentation was accompanied by pictures of herself in teaching and instructing situations in entrepreneurial programs for women in rural areas. She showed interesting survey results on the reasons why women chose to take the first steps to entrepreneurship.
24% said that they chose to become entrepreneurs to get a chance to do something that they really enjoyed. 22% saw entrepreneurship as a way to earn more money. 20% wanted to become independent.
Infrastructure for learning
She witnessed how the students were reached to sign up for courses like this through the five new adult education centres in the country and that these centres were supplemented by six resource centres and twenty info points. NGOs operate micro support groups and mentoring for the participants.
Through this infrastructure the government implements their new development plan for education for the period 2007-13 and its quality guidelines. They target a wide range of groups – those with higher education backgrounds as well as marginalised groups. The guidelines have very strong emphasis on the importance of education for the development of the nation. Important pillars are availability, co-ordination and internationalisation.
As 2007 is the European year for Equal Opportunities and 2008 will be the year of Intercultural Dialogue Baiba Rivza saw it as especially significant that EAEA had arranged its conference in Riga.
Learn about the EU Regional Development Fund project FEM at www.feminfo.net.
Regina Ebner, Secretary General of EAEA.
Ambassador Valdis Krastins, Chair of the Committee of Senior Officials.
Professor Baiba Rivza, Minister of Education and Science.