Proceedings of the Conference – Lisbon 2014

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Proceedings of the Conference – Lisbon 2014
ESREA Network on Between Global and Local:
Adult Learning and Development
Painting from Ian Martin
ESREA Network on Between Global and Local:
Adult Learning and Development
Local Change, Social Actions and Adult
Challenges and Responses
Edited by
Paula Guimarães
Carmen Cavaco
Laura Marrocos
Catarina Paulos
Ana Bruno
Sandra Rodrigues
Marcelo Marques
Lisbon, 26, 27 and 28 of June 2014
ISBN: 978-989-8753-02-1
Scientific Committee:
António Fragoso (University of Algarve, Portugal)
Carmen Cavaco (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Emilio Lucio-Villegas Ramos (University of Sevilla, Spain)
Ewa Kurantowicz (University os Lower Silesia, Poland)
Paula Guimarães (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Rob Evans (University os Magdeburg, Germany)
Organization Committee:
Ana Bruno (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Catarina Paulos (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Gabriela Lourenço (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Laura Marrocos (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Marcelo Marques (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Maria Fernanda Marinha (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Sandra Rodrigues (University of Lisbon, Portugal)
Note: The papers included in this volume are those whose abstracts has been peer reviewed
by the Conference Scientific Committee. The content and the opinions expressed in the
papers, and/or the writing style, represent the contributing authors.
Keynotes Papers and Abstracts
Adult Education: looking for new ways
Rui Canário
A Self-Directed Learning Economic Literacy (or how I learned Economics thanks to
anecdotes and one riddle)
Alberto Melo
Local Associations for Education and Development: Democratic Governance and the
Managerialist Canon
Licínio C. Lima
Political education in Scotland: problems and possibilities in reconnecting adult
education and community development for democracy
Jim Crowther
Adults Learning Outside Formal Education: new pathways to social change
Jocey Quinn
Conference Papers and Abstracts
ID 2 - Interrogating the Social Purpose of recent RPL Policy in Portugal – challenges
and debates
Rosanna Barros
ID 5 - The Intergenerational Educational Programs: A new Sphere of Lifelong
Susana Villas-Boas, Albertina Oliveira, Natália Ramos
ID 7 - Adult education viewed through their providers: where is the emancipation?
Catarina Paulos
ID 8 - From Adult Education to Emancipation: Adult education and emancipation at
crossroads of tensions and reconfigurations
Catarina Doutor & Emilio Lucio-Villegas
ID 9 - The adjustment to the Recognition, Validation And Certification of Competences
Process for Deaf Adults: a case study
Cecília Roussos, Antónia Barreto & Tânia Santos
ID 10 - Public art galleries and museums as contested yet critical and creative sites of
adult education and social activism
Darlene E. Clover
ID 11 - Beyond the Western Canon: Breaking the Monopoly of Knowledge
Budd L. Hall
ID 14 - Older men learning in urban and rural municipalities in Slovenia
Sabina Jelenc Krašovec, Marko Radovan, Špela Močilnikar & Sabina Šegula
ID 16 - Aging and performing arts: empowerment or citizenship?
Maria Manuela Fernandes Alves
ID 17 - The Adult Educator in The Age Of Lifelong Learning
Emilio Lucio-Villegas & António Fragoso
ID 18 - The University as a local actor for regional adult education? A German
statement based on an empirical research
Maria Kondratjuk
ID 19 - Accountability practices and the educational/political role of international nongovernmental organizations: an analysis of accountability instruments and procedures
Mieke Berghmans
ID 20 - The Bridge and the River. Social and Cultural relationships in the Southwestern
European border
Estrella Gualda, Juan Manuel Gualda, Vânia Martins & Emilio Lucio-Villegas
ID 21 - Thematic Networks in Practices of Adult Education
Joaquim Pina Cavaleiro
ID 22 - Working in the third sector: a case study based on the perceptions of educators
from Southern Portugal
Rute Ricardo & António Fragoso
ID 24 - Bottom-up and top-down decision making processes in the Euroregion Alentejo,
Algarve and Andalucía: local decision concerning adult education and development in
national and global policy orientations
Estrella Gualda & José Manuel Jurado Almonte
ID 29 - Construction of local development through education: Intercultural Missions, a
project on community participation
Tomás Segarra, Eugeni Trilles, María Lozano & Joan Traver
ID 31 - Innovative Forms of Adult Education - Bringing people together for rural
development in East Germany
Mandy Schulze & Judith C. Enders
ID 33 - What (de)motivates continuing education? A study on the transition to higher
education for holders of vocational training in Brazil
Paula Sales & Rosemary Dore
ID 35 - Dialogues on work process and activity: collective construction of knowledge in a
clothing production cooperative
Maria Clara Bueno Fischer & Carla Melissa Barbosa
ID 36 - The training impact in professional and organizational development: A case
Marília Azevedo
ID 38 - Virtual learning environment aimed for social emancipatory processes
Maria Alzira Pimenta, Sônia de Almeida Pimenta, José Furtado & Mabel Petrucci
ID 39 - Convincing resistant and discouraged adults for lifelong learning: the role of
national strategies and local communities
Ana Cláudia Valente, Ana Simões & Filipa Santos
ID 40 - Sustainability of community, health education and adult learning
Hyun Mi Son & Byung Jun Yi
ID 42 - How to survive the lifelong learning as blame policies of the modern world
Ângela Bragança, José Manuel Castro & Joaquim Coimbra
ID 50 - The organization of Federal Education, Science and Technology Institutes in
Mônica Amorim & Rosemary Dore
ID 51 - Changes in association field and educational dynamics: The example of CRACS
(Coletividade Recreativa e de Ação Cultural de Sousela)
Carla Cardoso & Teresa Medina
ID 53 - Students' profiles from Secondary Vocational Education in Brazil and the school
to work transitions: a socioeconomic, educational and occupational approach
Edmilson Leite Paixão, Rosemary Dore, Umberto Margiotta & João Bosco Laudares
ID 62 - Social Actions for Local Changes. The Cabanyal neighborhood case in Valencia
Irene Verde & María Navarro
ID 63 - Integrating Higher Education in Middle Adulthood. Paths to Empowerment:
Struggle and Self-accomplishment
Vera Diogo, Maria José Araújo, Hugo Monteiro & Teresa Martins
ID 64 - Playful in Education of Adults and Young People – can an adult´s teacher do its
job without treating the student as a child?
Maria Vitoria Campos Mamede Maia & Priscilla Frazão
ID 65 - Experience, experientiality and complexity: a pertinent discussion to adult
Ana Luisa de Oliveira Pires
ID 66 - The writing of women who are members of UNIVENS about the associated work
Ana Claudia Godinho & Maria Clara Bueno Fischer
ID 68 - Adult education initiatives in a local social development project: tensions and
challenges in conflicting trends
Liliana Lopes
ID 69 - Adults’ meanings for professional requalification in a post-graduate online
distance education context
Darlinda Moreira & Maria Cecília Fantinato
ID 71 - The Learning Divide in Formal Adult Education: Why do low-qualified adults
participate less?
Sebastiano Cincinnato, Bram De Wever & Martin Valcke
ID 74 - Adults Education “for the workers by the workers”: contradictory experiences
of self education in worker schools of Unique Central of Workers (Central Única dos
Trabalhadores – CUT/Brazil), in the 1990's and 2000's.
Cláudia Affonso
ID 75 - Empowerment as a “potential” emancipatory educational practice: cases from
Nicoletta Tomei
ID 81 - Youth and Adult Education as a Fundamental Human Right and the
Articulation of its Five Forms of Service in São Paulo-Brazil’s Basic Education
Lívia Maria Antongiovanni
ID 83 - MOVA - Movement for Literacy for Youth and Adults - in the City of São Paulo:
What do think educators / instructors MOVA-SP-City of São Paulo - Brazil - about their
actng itself?
Kenya Paula Gonsalves da Silva, Cícera Batista da Silva & Marisa Aparecida Romeiro
ID 84 - Collaborative Process of Teacher Education In a Professional Context
Lucilene Santos Silva Fonseca
ID 85 - School and Local development: Convergences and Divergences
Naira Lisboa Franzoi, Damiana de Matos Costa França & Maria Clarice Rodrigues de
ID 86 - Reading with Art Project: What say the adults in literacy process?
Ana Bruno
ID 87 - Listening to Our Activist Elders: Social Movement Learning, Re-enchantment
and Hope
Shauna Butterwick & Maren Elfert
ID 93 - From vulnerability to resilience. Community learning: the real opportunity for
development or another myth?
Anna Pluskota & Monika Staszewicz
ID 94 - Adult education policy, Recognition of Prior Learning and a local development
association: was social emancipation a concern?
Paula Guimarães & Rob Evans
ID 1 - In search of local change and social action: Learning from within to fight
Sónia Mairos Ferreira
ID 27 - I am 60+ and studying in a university: Learning motivation of older adults in
Li-Kuang Chen
ID 28 - From educational intervention to the development of engineering training
expertise in Burkina Faso: the case of distance Master Degree students at the University
of Rouen
Thierry Ardouin
ID 32 - Education activities towards flexibility of employment. Polish employees
Aleksandra Kulpa-Puczyńska
ID 34 - Adult literacy teacher training policies and provision in Portugal: a theoretical
José Pedro Amorim, David Mallows, José Alberto Correia & Isabel Menezes
ID 41 - Mala fide, bona fide? Social engagement of volunteer language trainers in a topdown, hegemonic system
Chris Parson
ID 55 - Transnational connections and everyday learning practices in diverse urban
Davide Zoletto
ID 57 - Adult Learning and local development in Portugal: routes and perspectives for
the rural areas
Luís Moreno & Isabel Rodrigo
ID 60 - Transformative Pedagogy and Online Adult Education
Glenn Palmer, Lorenzo Bowman & Juanita Johnson-Bailey
ID 67 - Effects of adult education in the development of psychological empowerment 527
Isabel Gomes, Joaquim Coimbra & Isabel Menezes
ID 72 - Unschooled women and handicrafts: Non-formality pedagogies in Brazil and
Aline Cunha
ID 73 - Adult higher education in the context of the social pedagogy: Intergenerational
development potential
Ernesto Martins
ID 77 - Emancipatory Role of Not-Assigned Teachers’ Organization in Turkey
Gökçe Güvercin
ID 78 - Adult education in the promotion of local emancipatory practices and projects:
an approach from the sociocultural community development practitioners’ standpoint
Ana Simões
ID 79 - Tracing Development in Conceptualization of Lifelong Learning in Public Policy
in Turkey: Whose Development Is It?
Onur Seçkin
ID 88 - Adult education practices in Flanders: what, why and how?
Jolijn Dehaene, Luc De Droogh & Griet Verschelden
ID 90 - What we Learn in Social Movements on Degrowth Economy: a Case Study
Flávia Virgílio
ID 95 - Adult Education, Associations and Citizenship
Fernando Ilídio Ferreira
The relationship between adult education and development, with development considered in
its different understandings, has always been central in research and policy debates. In a strict
sense, this relationship has focused on economic growth and the relevance of adult education
for the promotion of human capital; however in a wider sense, this relationship has
emphasized the different features of development, whether social, cultural, political, civic,
ecological, etc., and the enlarged scope of intervention that adult education initiatives and
projects may involve.
Within this relationship, the UNESCO has played a relevant role implementing several kinds
of events, such as the International Conferences of Adult Education, but also the OECD and
the European Union have played an important role, even if the understanding of development
and adult education of these organizations is mainly centred in social and economic
development. Owing to the work achieved by such supra and international organizations,
public policies in adult education in many countries have been influenced by, and have
reflected, such impacts in local projects and initiatives. Within these projects and initiatives,
in some occasions reproduction of main guidelines was at shake in many others it was
reinterpretation of orientations, which were favoured referring to the needs and problems felt
by the citizens.
When approaching the relationships between adult education and development, the role of
local actors (whether individual or institutional actors) and networks may reveal the
possibilities and the problems that local governments and governance may present, especially
when the promotion of participative democracy and emancipation is at stake. Therefore, the
discussion of the social purpose of adult education and of (individual) empowerment within
development projects and initiatives is relevant especially when bottom-up decision-making
processes are concerned. Then, the debate upon how practices and policy orientations
produced locally may influence national and global policies is a concern for those who are
engaged in adult education and development within the larger frame of top-down decisionmaking more common in many countries and regions of the world.
With the aim of approaching such issues, the European Society for Research on the Education
of Adults (ESREA) network Global and Local: Adult Learning and Development Conference
held at the Institute of Education of the University of Lisbon (Portugal) on 26 th, 27th and 28th
June 2014 included the following themes:
i) the meanings of adult education and development – from the economic to a wider
understanding of development: what is the role of adult education in the promotion of local
emancipatory practices and projects?
ii) the role of local networks and actors and the articulation with international and national
settings – are local governments and governance paradoxical contradictory trends forces in
emancipatory and democratic adult education?
iii) participation of adults in local education and development activities and projects: is the
social purpose of adult education limited by a discourse of ‘empowerment’ when
emancipation is most needed?
iv) Bottom-up and top-down decision making processes: how can local decision concerning
adult education and development influence national and global policy orientations?
This publication assembles almost 50 papers presented at Conference. It includes also two
keynote papers and abstracts of presentations given by then. Therefore, this publication might
give a good impression of issues approached during the Conference, namely on the way
authors, many of them from Portugal, but also from Brazil and Spain, did understand the
thematic suggested and the research they were achieving. Due to the diversity of issues
approached, we believe this is an inspiring publication for readers interested in such thematic.
For this reason, we want to say thank you to all contributors.
On behalf of the Scientific Committee
Paula Guimarães
Lisbon, 21st june 2014
Keynotes Papers and Abstracts
Adult Education: looking for new ways
Rui Canário
University of Lisbon, Institute of Education
The twentieth century marked a clear triumph of education and training for children, youth
and adults on a planetary level. Yet, this claim for education, particularly visible from the end
of World War II, is also marked by a paradox at the macro level:
On the one hand, the ability to produce wealth increased exponentially; on the other hand, this
ability, translated into policies of development and economic growth, was accompanied by an
"explosion" of social inequalities (Azoulay, 2002). This is a phenomenon undergoing a
process of naturalization, which in Hobsbawm’s words led us to get “used to the inhuman"
and learn “to tolerate the intolerable" (2008, p.21). According to Hobsbawm, particularly
disturbing is the existence of a remarkable "progress of torture" in the richest countries of the
democratic West. Although historically abolished by the French Revolution, torture was
systematically used during the second half of the twentieth century. This shows how thin the
line is between civilization and barbarism. In the conflict between civilization and barbarism
adult education has an important role to play: contributing to “learning our way out” in the
words of Finger and Asún (2003).
Social change and recomposition of Adult Education
The postwar exponential growth of education and training (known as “education boom” of the
sixties) has been accompanied by a symmetric “boom” in education provisions geared to lowliteracy populations. These provisions are marked by the dominance of Human Capital
Theory, which views education and training as an investment resulting in individual and
collective benefits, as part of a process of economic development and capital accumulation.
The accelerated expansion of adult education in the postwar period represented not only a
linear growth of something already in existence, but the construction of a field of educational
practices, diverse in terms of institutions, actors and purposes.
Adult education can be described as a set of four poles which articulate and interact with each
other: alphabetization (or second chance education), vocational education, local development
and socio-cultural animation.
At stake is a field of practices internationally driven by UNESCO and implemented within
each nation-state according to its historical, social and cultural specificities. At first, the center
of interest of adult education was war-torn Europe, and then it moved to the Third World
countries whose poverty sharply contrasted with the rapid economic growth of industrialized
North. Despite the complexity of its diversity, this field of adult education became
autonomous and gained its own identity in contrast with traditional school practices. A new
comprehensive and integrated approach was built, based on the movement of "éducation
permanente", which was institutionally assumed by UNESCO and embodied in a classic text
published in the early 70s: “Learning to be” (Faure, 1972).
As a result of the confluence of "top down" policies and grassroots policies and practices built
from emerging social initiatives, this field of adult education has historically materialized as a
field that combines three mutually reinforcing dimensions: policy-making, technical
“expertise” and militancy. Through éducation permanente, adult education established itself
as a worldview, aiming to transform the world. The idea of éducation permanente allowed us
to reconcile economic growth of capitalist nature with the defense of cultural democratization
and social promotion in a lifespan approach. At the heart of this educational approach is the
person and the process of "becoming a person", as in the title of a very influential work at the
time - “on becoming a person” -, which fueled the development of so-called non-directive
teaching procedures (Rogers, 2009).
The period of the "Thirty Glorious Years" (1945-1975) corresponds to the affirmation stage of
the field, its golden age. The last quarter of the twentieth century marks an increasing erosion
of the ideals of éducation permanente, on behalf of the concept of Lifelong Learning (LLL),
which emphasizes the instrumental subordination of education to the dominant economic
rationale. Today, in the XXI century, the field of adult education has changed and fragmented,
since its four pillars partially collapsed: the frame of reference of the idea of progress, the
developmentalist ideology, the Nation State as the framework for production and
implementation of education policies, and the myth of a revolution of social time supposed to
herald a society of leisure.
Adult education and “disillusions” of Progress
The idea of progress is central to the construction of modernity, understood as a process of
constant improvement of living conditions through application of technical and scientific
knowledge. This idea was the basis for the belief in a linear relationship between the growth
of educational provision and production of better and fairer forms of life. The movement of
éducation permanente is also linked to the philosophical heritage of the Enlightenment and
the establishment of a direct relationship between education and the triumph of Reason.
The classic work of Raymond Aron (1968) on "Progress and Disillusion" marks the end of a
period of euphoria and announces a process of increasing disappointment leading to realize
that we live in societies which are "sick of progress" (Ferro, 1999). The perception of our
societies as "risk societies" (Beck, 2001) is the emergence of a future marked by uncertainty
and not by a naive confidence in a necessarily better future.
The historical construction of modern industrial societies, i.e. of capitalist societies (both
market capitalism and state capitalism), has as its core the transformation of everything into
commodities (including human labor) with a view to capital accumulation - a process based
on the exploitation of wage labor through the appropriation of surplus value. The triumph of
Reason and Progress, which characterized the Enlightenment, is the main referent of a
developmentalist ideology, founded on a blind belief in the potential of science and
technology, increasing levels of production of goods, and, ideally, a continuous increase of
welfare for the whole of humanity.
Adult Education and Development Crisis
The first oil shock in the early seventies marks the end of a cycle of development, understood
as a process of economic growth based on intensive use of cheap energy. Yet, the end of
cheap energy confronts us with the limits of growth, to the extent that available resources are
finite. The developmentalist ideology not only faces a problem of inputs - finitude of natural
resources -, but also a problem of outputs, translated into devastating environmental
consequences that endanger the existence of natural resources essential to life, as air quality
and water. These negative effects (“counterproductive” effects in Ivan Illich’s words) are
inherent to the economic development model prevailing in industrial societies and affect both
the "Western" world and the so-called "socialist" field.
The coincidence of the first "oil shock” with the crises of productivity and governance of
capitalist societies (at west and east) signals the end of an era based on the "delusion of
progress" and the attempt to create "affluent societies" (Galbraith, 1963), a model supposed to
bridge the gap between "developed" and peripheral "underdeveloped" countries. Euphoria
gradually slid to disappointment and criticism of the economic rationale underlying the
concept of development, denounced as a "myth" by authorized voices like the Brazilian
economist Celso Furtado (1996). However, this "disease of progress", which has waste and
alienation of consumer societies (Baudrillard, 1970) as clear symptoms, has not led to slow
economic growth and development. Greater capacity to produce wealth led to more
unemployment and more glaring inequalities.
Adult Education and erosion of the nation state
The gradual erosion of the sovereignty of the nation-state and the systematic withdrawal from
the "welfare state" are concurrent with a progressive increase in the ability to produce wealth
through increased productivity based on new forms of work organization and incorporation of
scientific and technical knowledge in production processes. The operational capacity of nation
states has been strongly limited and weakened, both due to the emergence of powerful
competitors in the global arena (multinational economic groups) and to the shift of regulatory
functions from national to supranational level. Serious problems emerge in this context in
terms of deficits in legitimacy. On the other hand, reconciling economic prosperity, social
cohesion and political freedom emerges as insoluble problem in the first world (Habermas,
The productivity growth associated with the weakening of social movements and trade unions
resulted in an increase of the exploitation of labor (the most productive workers being
obviously the most exploited) accompanied by a progressive increase in inequality, at all
levels. After the "virtuous" cycle of Fordism, characteristic of the "Thirty Glorious Years", a
new cycle began, in which economic growth is concurrent with structural unemployment and
reversal of labor movements.
Reference to this development ideal model is common to central and peripheral countries
(these latter striving to fight their "delay") and is also common to market capitalism (the
American sphere of influence) and state capitalism (the Russian sphere of influence). In the
postwar period and in an atmosphere of balance of terror, competition among great potencies
moved largely from direct military confrontation to the field of economic competition.
Instead of conflicting systems, the various forms of capitalism converge in essence, economic
competition being resolved by the implosion of State capitalisms for their failure to
modernize technically and make a quantum leap in mass consumption (Bernardo, 1990).
Moreover, both fields share the same ideology dominated by the ideas of "progress",
"development" and "economic growth".
Adult Education and the myth of the "Leisure Society"
The fourth pillar of the emergence of the field of adult education was the announced "leisure
society" where socio-cultural animation would gain strong leadership. The importance of
socio-cultural animation in education policies, both in quantitative and strategic terms, led to
the birth of the expression "Animator State" (Donzelot, 1994) to describe a factual situation
thus put by Gillet (1995, p. 25): "from firms to unionism, from social movements to local
communities and the state, animation worms its way into, slips in, becomes widespread both
in practices and in speeches".
Building up a permanent tension between a pole of social adaptation and a pole of instituting
change, increasing informal education related to the occupation of "free time" is simultaneous
with an observable trend of reduction of working time. Such reduction results from a
combination of reduction of daily and weekly working hours, increased vacation time, and
delayed entry into the labor market as a consequence of longer school careers and earlier
retirement. Dumazedier (1988) notes with enthusiasm what he himself describes as an
authentic "cultural revolution of free time", corresponding to a "historical inversion" of the
relationship between work time and leisure time, according to a well-known expression of
Marcuse. As noted by Dumazedier (1988, pp. 28/29): "The most striking fact is that, for the
first time in the history of technological societies, the average weekly hours of free time
surpassed those of working time for the male and female population over 18 years". This
trend was supposed to establish the "right to be lazy', making irrelevant the issue of the
occupation of "free time", since it would no longer be negatively defined as "no work" time to
become the essential time of individual and collective life. This optimistic perspective did not
come true. What we have seen in the industrialized world since the 70s is a structural growth
of mass unemployment, growing precariousness of labor, and the increase and intensification
of working hours and patterns.
Adult education at the turn of the millennium
At the turn of the millennium, an extremely optimistic view emerges in Western Europe with
regard to investment in education and training, understood as instrumental to objectives of
economic nature translated into the trilogy productivity, competitiveness and employability
(Guimarães, 2011).
Productivity is the result of new forms of work organization and incorporation of technical
innovations in production processes, which has been accompanied by an increase in work
intensity and the consequent phenomena of suffering. Competitiveness implies a decrease in
the cost of labor, at the expense of direct reductions in wages, lengthening the duration of
work time and increasing the number of work days. By linking access to employment to a set
of individual skills and knowledge, employability is a concept that gives the individual worker
the burden of responsibility for access to employment in a context dominated by structural
mass unemployment and the casualization of labor rights and bonds.
The ideological background for this investment in education and training is both the theory of
human capital and a concept of development which is confined to economic growth, thus
making us hostage to a powerful mental structure - the developmentalist ideology.
Licínio Lima and Paula Guimarães (2011.40) developed an analytical reference for the
clarification of public policies for adults, in which they distinguish three models:
• The democratic and emancipatory model;
• The modernization model through state control;
• The model of human resource management.
These three models must be understood as ideal types in the Weberian sense. They are present
in hybrid forms, in different degrees, and articulated in a complex way. The last two models
have a dominant presence in the context of what we might call a "developmentalist ideology".
Forged in the rich zone of the northern hemisphere, this ideology has been exported to the
countries of the Third World which thus glimpse the possibility to shorten the distances that
separate them from "developed" countries. Traces of the emancipatory model appear
associated with self-management processes and self-directed training in a brief and localized
Adult Education: vocational drift
The 80s and 90s witnessed a growing trend towards functionally subordinating adult
education policies and practices to the dominant economic rationale based on the production
and accumulation of wealth. Such functional subordination leads education and training to be
structured and operate according to market principles, though formally in the form of public
services. Adult education is no longer seen as a right. It becomes a duty whereby every
individual is primarily responsible for his/her own insertion in the labor market. This
responsibility of individuals for their own success or failure invites each person to behave as
an "entrepreneur of him/herself". As Claude Dubar critically wrote "Each one should relate to
himself as a businessman with his/her product, try to 'sell him/herself' and negotiate the
'capital' he has become" (2000, 23).
This vocational drift is based on the training ideology embodied in the Memorandum on
Lifelong Learning, published by the European Commission in the mid-90s, which constitutes
a break with the prospect of Éducation Permanente, only understandable in the framework of
a wider set of transformations.
From an economic point of view, the most striking feature of these transformations is the
acceleration of the processes of supranational integration, a process of "globalization" that
integrates the construction of the European Union. Finance-led capital became increasingly
autonomous and infinitely mobile while the center of power shifted to large economic groups
acting on a global scale and to supranational regulatory bodies such as the World Bank, IMF,
OECD and the European Commission. In political terms, national political regimes based on
representative democracy have been hollowed out, which means a setback and devaluation of
political participation with consequences in terms of legitimacy. Moreover, there is a trend
towards the loss of sovereignty of Southern European countries, which is becoming clearer in
the context of the global financial "crisis" affecting the European space.
Changes in the economy also affected the labor world deeply. Transition from full
employment to structural unemployment, accompanied by precarious work and the loss of
rights of the working classes, set up a crisis of work in Europe that is simultaneously a crisis
of society. Employability, productivity and competitiveness emerge as a trilogy of keywords
that summarize the new ideology of vocational training, configuring the transition from the
logic of democratic and emancipatory education to the logic of mere management of wage
labor (human resource management model).
A fundamental shift in vocational education was the transition from a qualification model to a
competency model. According to Carré and Caspar (1999, 7) there was an authentic cultural
change that in less than 30 years has enabled the transition from the "social and humanistic
view of éducation permanente” to the “realistic and economic view of skill development". In
the 60s and 70s the qualification model referred to requirements of social promotion; in the
90s there was a shift to the competency model, which refers to requirements of employability.
The evolution of a qualification model (supported by collective professional identities) to a
competency model (in which the employee becomes a self entrepreneur) tends to increase the
work-related distress, as it is experienced in an alienated way. Simultaneously, vocational
education policies began to consider vocational education as a palliative tool to mitigate the
social effects of a labor market characterized by structural mass unemployment and the
increasing casualization of labor relations. This means that adult education policies have been
limited to a managerial human resources policy, thus becoming inconsistent with purposes of
emancipatory nature, although they remain in terms of rhetoric.
Possible futures
In times of triumphant capitalism on a global and planetary scale, internationally mobile
capital dictates its laws on a workforce that is extremely fragmented and sees regulatory
capacity decreased at the national level through democratic and representative mechanisms.
The hegemony of finance-led capital transferred the regulation mechanisms of the economy to
a transnational level. Changing this reality requires the return of the political dimension,
understood as the right of the working class to self-determination.
The logic of finance-led capitalism has been undergoing a process of naturalization, therefore
being considered today as the only possible. It won everywhere and became "the undisputed
principle of economic organization of societies" (Peyrelevade, 2008). Passive acceptance of
this state of affairs results in conformity with the historical present, in a perspective of "end of
history" that would deprive us of future(s).
It is in contrast with what appears as a kind of historical determinism that makes sense to
speak of "desire for the future," refusing to become hostages of the historical present which
deprives us of the ability to contribute to the production of future. The development of history
is not predetermined, rather corresponds to a plurality of possible futures that result from
individual and collective action. Humans are able to build their own paths from a range of
open opportunities, by building forms of social emancipation of labor capable of developing
the full potential of the human being.
Adult education - understood as a permanent and diffuse process in all social life - has a
central role to play in finding and building collective "ways out" resulting from social
movements based on values other than competition and profit as supporters of our collective
life. At stake is the self-directed construction of new forms of articulation between living,
working and learning.
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A Self-Directed Learning Economic Literacy (or how I learned Economics
thanks to 6 anecdotes and one riddle)
Alberto Melo
University of Algarve
Abstract. The communication intends to reflect an individual learning process regarding some
crucial factors that have moulded today’s economy and society at large – leading to the current
trend of impoverishment for all but a tiny group of profiteers from the present crisis. At given
moments in my life, particularly when involved in the promotion of rural development in the hills
of the Algarve (the southernmost region of Portugal), some “learning situations” arose that
provided me with new insights on economic realities. Here, I have decided to select the following:
the gradual loss of autonomy of people, as they leave independent ways of working and relatively
self-sustained communities in order to settle in urban contexts as wage-earners; the huge price
individuals, groups and societies have to pay when they adopt an economy mainly based on money
(therefore, on competition) and not on cooperation and, as a rule, local exchanges of goods and
services; the vast, often hidden, human, social and environmental costs of adopting a one-way
process of growth entirely based on “more” rather than “better”; the enormous and irretrievable
difference between “use value” and “exchange value”, or between Finance and Real Economy, and
the catastrophic situation that Humankind faces whenever Finance Capital conquers societies and
economies; the impact of the principle “too large to fail” and how risk became disconnected from
profit when financial surpluses are taken by private hands while losses are covered by the
taxpayers as a whole; money as an overpowering tool and, at the same time, a frail and elusive
factor exclusively rooted on trust; the tragic deadlock, and probably extinction, that awaits a
society that aims at nothing else than optimising individual and material gain.
Each of the above propositions is clarified, for learning purposes, by a short story as these
anecdotes were in fact significant in the process of self-learning that I have undertaken in the last
30 years in matters of Political Economy.
Keywords: political economy, money, financial hegemony
Political or a-political economy?
After I reached my seventies it seemed the time had arrived to look back and take stock of a
few segments of my life, namely regarding the evolution of perceptions and lessons within the
areas that have mainly attracted my attention. One of these is, without a doubt, Political
Economy. I suppose I should say “political economy” in a very low voice, because nowadays
this expression is considered rather subversive by the dominant powers. How could one dare
to associate the two concepts when one of the dogmas of the current economic catechism is
precisely the fact that the Economy should be entirely free from Politics, even from any
human control and solely left to the “invisible hand of the market”? Obviously, this “market”
is just one of the numerous euphemisms generated by the dominant ideology. It functions as a
screen that hides the cartels organised by a small group of institutions and individuals that
hold the power of the globalised finance. A question then arises: if the politicians can no
longer decide over economic and financial matters, which are essential dimensions of our
societies – and of the daily life of everybody – should they not become redundant?
Apparently the answer is no, because some government functions remain that are necessary to
guarantee the ideal conditions for the activities of the leading economic and financial powers:
mostly, to ensure social order, by means of police, armed forces, courts, but also to promote
the transfer of income from the vast majority of people to the dominant elite, through the
interplay of public debt, tax iniquity and selective subsidies. Contemporary societies live in a
particularly critical time when the peace among nations, the global well-being or the
protection of the environment are at great risk due to the accelerated process that
impoverishes the many (the 99% mentioned by the Spanish “Indignados” or the American
“Occupy Wall Street”) and concentrates wealth in the hands of the very few.
These are, in short, the conclusions I have reached when trying to understand the “Crisis” we
are now suffering – in Portugal and in most of the world. And I have built up these
convictions through a life experience that combined periods of civic involvement, mostly in
associations and local development projects, with reading newspapers, magazines and books
on political and economic issues. For the purposes of the present communication, I will now
try to concentrate on some short stories that in my eyes enlightened puzzling situations that I
have faced (and in that questioning I was certainly not alone); and, at the end, I will add a
riddle imported from Game Theory.
The erosion of autonomy
At the end of the 19th century, a famous governor of the British Empire, Sir Stamford Raffles,
in his first journey to Singapore, landed in one of the Indonesian islands. Here, the
indigenous people lived in a very autonomous way, thanks to a frugal life and to the
abundance of palm trees that provided all they needed, like food and materials for housing,
clothing or transport. Then, he exclaimed: “These people are un-governable!” In fact, there
was nothing the government could give them that they wanted or required. And the governor
decided to hack down all those “damned palm trees” in order to make the local population
dependent and, therefore, governable.
When, in 1985, I started the activities of local development in the rural villages of inland
Algarve, this was exactly the perception I got with regard to the existing policies and
measures. They had, indeed, deeply damaging effects on family-farming and small-scale
production and acted on those traditionally self-sustained communities in a similar way to the
chopping of the Indonesian palm trees. As a matter of fact, in the last 200 years, industrial
societies have evolved through the destruction of the more autonomous communities and
occupations, such as the peasantry, handicrafts and self-employment as a whole. That
destruction led to the situation we face today where the large majority is entirely submitted to
an employer and to a monthly salary; an increasingly urbanised population, without capital
and lacking the attitude and skills to independently guarantee its own subsistence. A majority
that has become entirely dependent in regards to income and entirely dependent with regard to
The evolution of the current economic regime, totalitarian in its essence, brought about the
loss of that capacity people previously possessed for taking care of themselves and,
concurrently, to ensure that eco-systems would not be exploited beyond their natural limits.
Our present alienation has its origin mainly in the fact that we no longer produce most of what
we consume and also that many of the services that used to be exchanged on a basis of
solidarity have now been transformed into merchandise to be sold and bought.
The hidden costs of money-dependent societies
The owner of a shop selling luxury articles in New York went on a holiday to Central
America, where he visited a remote village up in the mountains. There, a native showed him a
beautiful traditional hat that he bought for 1 dollar. Once back, he displayed the hat in the
shop-window and was immediately flooded by customers who wanted to buy it. He returned to
the same village and ordered 5,000 similar hats. The villagers did not react at first, they
gathered together for several hours and, finally, they informed the “gringo” that, yes, they
could make those 5,000 hats but they would cost him 10 dollars apiece. “What! When I
bought just one, it cost me 1 dollar and now when I make this big order you want to charge
me such an exorbitant amount?”. “That’s right, señor, in order to respond to your big order,
the whole village will have to work full-time on the hats; we will have to abandon our
farming, our animals, our other productions, we will have to find and pay people willing to
look after our children and our older relatives… As a result, our daily living will cost us ten
times more”. And the American trader left the village totally frustrated, as what he saw
confirmed his conviction that the natives of Central America did not understand Economics,
and particularly, economies of scale.
In the training courses catering for self-employment, organised in the Algarvian villages, the
prime objective was to help local women, with no experience of working outside their homes,
to become producers-managers. One of the hardest problems was indeed that of setting prices
for their handmade artefacts. These were rather similar to those traditionally produced at
home, out of their own raw-materials, during the long winter evenings when agricultural work
was interrupted and time was “free”. “How much will we ask for this wool blanket made in
the hand-operated loom?” “Well, it didn’t cost much, the wool came from my sheep, the loom
belonged to my grandmother and we made it when there was nothing else to do…” However,
when the rural economy declines and the artefact is no longer a sub-product of the
multifarious activities of a family-farming unit in order to become the core outcome of a new
enterprise, based on full-time skilled work, then the reality is altogether different. Most of the
raw-materials will have to be acquired (and even those which are produced at home do not
come “free of charge”), time has to be incorporated into the end-product as well as the
depreciation costs for all equipment, current expenses, etc. In the modern economy,
globalised and centred on money, the costs of items once produced within a rural community
will now have to be multiplied by an “n” factor. And the same occurs as a consequence of the
so-called “rural exodus”, when millions leave their villages to settle in urban areas all over the
In these transition processes from societies which are still very close to hand-to-mouth
production and direct barter of goods and services towards a new context where house, food,
clothes, personal services, etc. have to be acquired with money, it is obvious that the number
and volume of deals in currency grow exponentially. And this is exactly what the Gross
Domestic Product means. Noticing that the GDP increases significantly thanks to the
desertification of the countryside, governments – which are keen to attract foreign investors
and to modernise the national economy - do not see any reason to maintain the relatively selfsustained (but scarcely productive) rural economies. “Big is Best!” and, therefore, the smallscale and self-production practices have to disappear altogether as relics of an undesired past.
These political options, however, have high costs (social, environmental and also economic
and political) that are generally overlooked.
There was once a man, of a certain age, who lived under the heavy load of material worries.
He was always short of money for everything he wanted to buy. He didn’t lack the basics, as
what he earned was sufficient to cover his essential needs, but he wanted more, always more,
bigger, glossier. So, one day, he found in a supermarket a unique and strange piece (and that
is already quite exceptional in any supermarket…) It was a wooden statuette (another
miracle, because most of the time only plastic items can be found in supermarkets) and,
although a little expensive, he could not resist and went home with that exotic and mysterious
figure. When he switched off the light to go to sleep, the whole room filled with a blinding
sparkle and the idol seemed radioactive, glowing small rainbows. The man, struck by fear
and reverence, knelt before the figure, which started talking to him: “Once again the
supermarket X does what it announces; your purchases of today had a prize and I am your
genie able and willing to respond to your three wishes”. The good man saw that the time to
fulfil all his longings had arrived, as he was so poor, so poor, because all he dreamed of was
money. So, he immediately asked for one million dollars. Within moments, there was a knock
at the door. The agent of an insurance company came to hand him a million dollar cheque
relating to a life insurance contracted by his son who had migrated to Australia and had just
been killed in a work accident. The pain was then much stronger than the greed and the
second wish was immediately voiced: “I want my son back here right now!” Another knock at
the door and entered the ghost of his son to blame him for his cupidity. Finally, the third and
last wish was to make the ghost go away.
In Portugal, as in many societies, particularly after admission to the European Economic
Community in 1986, numerous wishes of a quick and easy wealth were expressed, wishes for
an unbridled consumption, for the avoidance of heavier or less prestigious occupations. From
a society where frugality and prudence were the rule, where consumption was in tune with
production or at least with the accumulated savings, within one or two generations we
acquired a “culture of indebtedness” (in both private and public sectors). In this new context,
it is possible to immediately purchase anything we want as long as the monthly income covers
all the payments to the lending bank. The problem arises when that regular income is
reduced or interrupted or when the interest rate increases significantly (due to speculation or
usury). The situation overnight becomes unsustainable and pushes all those caught by the
“debt trap” (individuals, businesses, banks, municipalities or governments) into serious
situations of insolvency. These situations are not only due to the incompetence or carelessness
of those who fall into the credit-trap, they are also strongly stimulated by private publicity and
by public measures. Given the decline in the profit rate within the productive economy, huge
transfers of funds were recently made to reinforce the financial economy, the one which
produces money out of money, thus losing any connection to the real economy and to human
Financial Economy versus Real Economy
One day, a businessman, let’s call him “A”, contacted another trader, “B” and proposed to
sell him 1,000 pairs of trousers for 1,000 euros. “OK, I buy them right away” Later, “B” met
“C” and handed him the same set for 2,000 euros. “C” then met D” who purchased the
trousers for 3,000. And so on and so forth, until the whole package was acquired - at 15 euros
each - by someone, possibly trader “R”, who immediately ran back to the last seller and
furiously exclaimed “You are a shameless thief, you sold me 1,000 pairs of trousers for
15,000 euros and they only have one leg!”. Very calmly, the businessman answered: “My
dear fellow, you don’t understand a thing about this trade. These trousers are not for
wearing, they are made to sell and buy, sell and buy…”
This short tale makes crystal-clear the vast difference between, on the one hand, the real
economy, where the “use value” of produced goods and services dominates, aiming at the
fulfilment of human needs (genuine or suggested by publicity) and, on the other, the financial
economy, where only the “exchange value” matters, under the perspective of ceaselessly
multiplying profits and amassing fortunes. At least, until the bubble bursts, a fact that always
brings about disastrous bankruptcies and extreme social upheavals. Not so much for those
who have provoked them but for the people at large, as it is now happening around us on a
worldwide scale.
From the Ponzi Pyramid, during the 1920’s in the United States, to the Portuguese Dona
Branca, in the 1980’s, all financial frauds are based on above-average profits by the first
participants and huge losses by those who enter the scheme much too late. Besides, the
speculative bubbles (like successive transactions of one-legged trousers) are built on
purchases that are only motivated by the perspective of high and fast profits when reselling,
whatever the goods or services being bought and sold (which are becoming increasingly
meaningless and immaterial, like the more recent derivatives which are but bets on future
events with a potential economic impact). While the trend is positive (“bull market”),
everyone wins and no-one questions how is it possible to yield such high amounts. However,
at a given moment, the outputs fall abruptly, because the number of incomers to the scheme
(those who funded the payments to the early participants when buying their entrance to the
pyramid) decrease or because the value of the traded item declined sharply (like housing in
the United States that created the famous “subprime crisis” in 2007).
As happened after 2007 in the United States and later in all other countries where the bank
crisis spread, when the financial institutions at risk are too big they are not allowed to fail.
They are rescued by governments at the expense of all taxpayers, pushing so-called sovereign
debts to excessively high peaks. We have now reached a situation when the risk is no longer
the reason behind profits. Risk has even been deleted from the largest financial operations and
from the running of the dominant corporations. If profits are generated, they will be
privatised; when losses incur, these will become nationalised… This is a sort of private-public
partnership that always brings gains to a few private hands and makes losses for the rest of
This situation bears resemblance to a folk tale regarding a priest and a peasant who went
halves to buy a cow. When the cow was hungry, the priest told the peasant “Come on, feed
the poor animal, it is the front half, your half, which claims for food!” But when the cow
produced manure or was ready to be milked, the priest would gather those products, because
they came out of the rear half, his half.
It seems, in our times, that the older frauds that led to massive bankruptcies, suicides and
imprisonments have now been laundered and can be carried out in the open and in all legality,
by bank establishments, investment funds, notation agencies, pension funds, etc. In order to
multiply money that multiplies profits and makes more money all that is necessary is the
power to increasingly generate money. In the old times making money was a royal privilege
and later a prerogative of a democratic and sovereign State, but nowadays this essential
function for any society and economy is in the hands of private banks and of all institutions
entitled to create debts by lending. In fact, money is generated any time a credit is opened,
thus allowing the individual, the enterprise or the public agency to use that loan in order to
pay for goods and services. There is no doubt that money underwent an extraordinary
evolution in recent decades, since the time when it was a tool that facilitated exchanges until
today when it makes and destroys governments, economies and societies. Why? Because
money was allowed to run free, thanks to limitless deregulations, a practice against which
Adam Smith (so venerated by the champions of neoliberalism who certainly never read him)
had strongly warned us. In fact, he advocated a free hand of the markets for everything but
money, as money, as he put it “once left unbridled will only favour the greedy, the usurers
and the dishonest…”
The elusive nature of money
A young woman arrived at a small town and looked for a hostel. At the counter she informed
the receptionist that she intended to stay in town for some days but, before confirming the
booking, she would try to find a friend who had offered to host her. In order to back a
provisional booking she left a 100 euros note before leaving the hostel. After some time, an
electrician, who had done some work for the hostel owner, came to collect his payment. So,
the receptionist settled the debt, which amounted to 100 euros, with the note the young
woman had left. The man, once back in the street, met the seamstress who had mended his
daughter’s clothes and used the same note as payment. Then, the woman went to the flower
shop and bought a big bouquet for a wedding she had been invited to. Later in the afternoon
the florist entered the hostel and handed the 100 euros note back to the receptionist to pay for
the sojourn of his son who had recently stayed there. An hour later the young woman returned
to the hostel and told the receptionist she had found her friend and would not require the
room after all. The booking was cancelled and the same note was given back to her. All those
present were flabbergasted when she tore the note, saying “you shouldn’t have bothered, this
is a false note anyway”.
This story expresses, at the same time, the importance and the irrelevance of money as we
know it. It is indispensable in daily life: that 100 euros note allowed several transactions to be
definitely settled. But it is also rather trivial because anything can be adopted as a tool to
facilitate exchanges, even a false note. What is essential is the trust felt by those who make
use of it. That is why money has taken the form of shells, salt, beads, metal rings, etc. and
now coins, paper strips or, mostly and increasingly, immaterial electronic entries.
Several countries find themselves today condemned to a “programmed lack of money”, a
situation which generates a decline of all economic activities and, consequently, very high
unemployment. On one side, there are labour force and production equipment that could
provide essential services and goods and, on the other, there are numerous human needs to be
fulfilled. A potential supply waiting to be materialised, a potential demand waiting to be
satisfied. And this happens only because a bridge is missing to link both sides and being that
bridge is the essential function of money. However, once it becomes monopolised by people
and institutions whose sole finality is to multiply profits, and due to the fact that the highest
monetary yields originate in the areas of financial speculation, less and less in the productive
economy, money is increasingly shifted from the real economy to the “casino economy”.
Nonetheless there are numerous instances in human history that show that is possible to make
real economy work and to carry out useful and satisfying deals among people and
organisations while staying away from the globalised and oppressive finance. If money is
needed for my weekly shopping at the local market and that money was taken away in order
to reinforce speculative transactions in, for instance, the Singapore Stock Exchange, then
there is an urgent need to issue local money as a complement to the official, globalised
currency. This is a feasible response to the present financial crisis that will allow, and even
increase, the exchange of goods and services to be locally produced and consumed.
During sudden and acute crises, like in Argentina in 2002 (when 50% of the population fell
below the poverty line) or in Greece today, social creativity tends to generate initiatives where
real economy overtakes finance. Not long ago, Theodoros Mavridis, an unemployed
electrician in the harbour town of Volos, made the news as he had just bought fresh eggs,
local brandy, fruit, olives, olive oil, jam, soap and a few more articles without spending one
euro. How come? He had previously done a few hours’ work in his speciality for some of the
800 members of the local online network for no-money exchanges. As a payment for his
services, Theodoros saw his personal account in that network credited by a certain sum of
“tems” (the denomination given to the counting unit) that he subsequently transferred to the
associates who had given him those products. There are many more networks of a similar
nature not only in Greece but all around the world and about 4,000 examples of local money
have been recently identified. As Maria Choupis (one of the founder-members of the Volos
network) stated “you are not poor for having no money, you are only poor if you have nothing
that other people may need”.
The deadlock of self-interested competition
An economy centred round money and, forcibly, interest-exacting, is necessarily based on
optimising self-interests by means of constant and ruthless competition, a situation that will
lead Mankind to its self-destruction and even puts at risk the survival of the Biosphere as a
whole. The following riddle reveals how inconsequential it is to try incessantly pursuing and
maximising one’s own gains at the expenses of the others.
Game Theory has proven, amongst others, that the search for the individual highest profit
combined with a perfect rationality will not automatically lead to the best solution, sometimes
not even to any kind of solution, in a blatant contradiction to those ideologies advocating that
the pursuance of individual interests by all will tend towards the promotion of the public
interest. Let us analyse the Coalition Game in the following example:
Anthony, Bruce and Charles have received a prize of 1,000 euros that they should divide
amongst themselves. The decision on how the division was done would have to be taken by a
majority vote and alliances were permitted. So, A and B got together in order to decide that C
be expelled from the deal. C anticipated this movement and offered B 60% to convince him to
vote with him and leave A without any money (for C it was better to receive 400 euros than
nothing at all). However, A approached B and proposed to give him 700 euros out of the total
amount if he would join a coalition with him and against C. The latter then promised B 800
euros with the opposite purpose, that of together expelling A. At a given time, both A and C
realised that B was going to receive practically the total sum they were given and,
consequently, decided to join forces and knock B out of the game. But then B reacted and…
An endless and fruitless pursuit of purely selfish interests.
The lesson in this game is that, in several instances, decisions made in accordance with the
maximum personal benefit only lead to disaster or to dead-end situations. In fact, the most
important conflicts that the human species has to face cannot be represented as zero-sum
games as they belong to the category of “dramas”. And, in dramas, there is no rational
argument to be addressed to one or the other actors. In these cases, only one reason addressed
to all players and at the same time (a moral imperative?) can be sufficiently strong to
overcome the conflict. Only a collective rationale, only an underpinning social rule would be
able to stop the trap of successive chicanery and to convince our three players to keep 330
euros each and give the remaining 10 euros to some worthy cause or even to donate the entire
1,000 euros to a project of public interest.
Despite the totalitarian nature that is inherent to the hegemonic economy, other economies
have existed (all along the centuries) and do exist in modern societies, which are perfectly
viable and, undoubtedly, increasingly necessary and desirable. Inspired by a humanistic
philosophy – that maintains that everything related to the social sphere can never be subjected
to immutable and inexorable “laws” (as the champions of economic science claim) – there are
numberless citizens’ organisations and popular movements in search of local and concrete
answers to the daily problems caused or exacerbated by the dominant macroeconomic trends.
And they represent today the New Frontier that adult education shall occupy in order to
become a decisive force in the transformation of Today and in the making of a common and
better Tomorrow.
Local Associations for Education and Development: Democratic
Governance and the Managerialist Canon
Licínio C. Lima
University of Minho, Institute of Education
Local associations, non-governmental organisations, popular collectives, private social
welfare institutions and other types of civil society organisations, sometimes included under
the umbrella and ambiguous concept of the “third sector” are much referred as adult
education, learning and qualification institutions, which are crucial in the “learning society”.
They have also been presented as real alternatives to the intervention of the nation-state due to
the capacity of becoming self managed through patterns of democratic governance and active
participation in the decision making processes. Much more than rational-legal instruments or
bureaucratic organisations, local associations may assume an educational character also in
organizational and governance terms. They may provide educational experiences not only
through the achievement of formal goals and the use of pedagogical processes but also
through organisation as a practice of freedom, mobilization, autonomy and participation as
pedagogic processes in search of emancipation and social transformation.
However, according to research data collected in the North of Portugal local associations for
education and development have been under a process of rationalization and of intense
formalization induced by the managerialist canon and by the reform of the state according to
the principles of “New Public Management”.
Once interpreted as “organized anarchies”, “loosely coupled systems”, “political systems” or
“democratic/collegial” organisations in terms of analytical metaphors, local associations may
also be interpreted through “tightly coupled”, formal, rational or bureaucratic images of
organization even when discourses about the entrepreneurial, innovative and flexible
organisation are dominant. This originates a complex process of political, organizational and
educational hybridization which is neither easy to interpret theoretically nor has minor
impacts concerning the democratic and participatory potential of local education actors and
networks for development.
Political education in Scotland: problems and possibilities in reconnecting
adult education and community development for democracy
Jim Crowther
University of Edinburgh
Abstract. In this presentation I want to introduce and discuss two contradictory processes
underway in the UK that have significant implications for adult learning and democratic
change. The first relates to the de-coupling of adult education and community development as
a professional practice with an interest in democracy and social justice. This particular interest
in social change and development has had an interesting history in the UK but since the 1970s
it has been systematically undermined by a number of interrelated developments that probably
have a much broader resonance. So what can be done to counteract this trend? What practical
strategies can professional practitioners with an interest in the politics of their work adopt? On
the other hand, in Scotland in particular there is a growing interest in various forms of
political education in the context of the forthcoming referendum for independence from the
UK. This is an unusual situation because the potential ‘break up’ of the British state has
stimulated a renewed interest in learning politics as well as the politics of learning. But are
adult education and community development practitioners able to respond to this renewed
public interest in education for democracy? What contribution is being made and what are the
problems and possibilities generated? What can be learned from this process?
Adults Learning Outside Formal Education: new pathways to social change
Jocey Quinn
University of Plymouth
In this keynote Jocey Quinn argues that learning outside formal education is the best response
to a postmodern, postcolonial world, offering less linear ways of understanding and
addressing social problems. Rather than depending on formal institutions like universities to
find solutions, new hybrid collaborations across communities, activism and new media
address both local and global issues. They place new forms of learning and knowledge
construction at the heart of their work. The talk will draw on her research across a range of
contexts, to explore how far and in what ways such work promotes social change. It will also
consider whether universities can respond to transform their own practices.
Conference Papers and Abstracts
Interrogating the Social Purpose of recent RPL Policy in Portugal –
challenges and debates
Rosanna Barros
University of Algarve, Portugal ([email protected])
Abstract. With a past traditional role of an inconsistent policy agenda for Adult Education in
Portugal, the recent innovative provision on experiential learning opportunities, in which
recognition of prior learning (RPL) has played a major role, came to scene when the Lisbon
Agenda refreshed the sector and significantly enlarged its public visibility. This paper 1 discusses
some results of an ethnographic research project whose primary aim was to highlight some of the
contradictions in the local achievements attained by these new educational public policies in
Portugal. The three analytical policy models proposed by Lima & Guimarães (2011) were used as
a theoretical framework to discuss the social purpose and aims of sustainability of the RPL
political agenda. With this theoretical base, the study has examined the various educational
rationalities involved – both in what concerns political-administrative orientations and
organizational and administrative dimension – as well as the impact of RPL on the local promotion
of competencies related with emancipatory practices like critical thinking, imagining future
scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.
A qualitative critical paradigm research was chosen as methodological approach to data
discussion. Critical ethnography was the research method selected and applied in two different
field research moments and places. The main reason for adopting this was the depth of
understanding that this method enables us with (Atkinson & Hammersley, 1994) and its value to
allow a deconstruction of “administrative-political trues” (Barros, 2013a; Barros & Choti, 2014).
The main research techniques applied were: open interviews and continuous participant
observation, which was carried out in 2005. In-depth phenomenological interviews were applied
afterwards, in 2011. A documental policy analysis was also carried out using Bacchi (2000)
proposal for critical discourse analyses.
The data sources confirm that participatory teaching and learning methods have succeeded in
empowering adult learners, but are less impressive in stimulating the development of
emancipatory social actions and local change. From the stand point of educational actors in the
field, data discussion has also allowed to find a structural weakness in the new Portuguese public
policies on the agenda of adult’s experiential learning, which has to do with the fragility of the
‘programme logic’ in funding the RPL provision. And in the end, with the fragile role of the public
adult education projects in achieving long term results that are compatible with local interests and
needs. These structural weaknesses have revealed themselves to be particularly significant to the
discussion of the social purpose and sustainable policy development in Adult Education and
Learning, because since 2012 the RPL System set in the New Opportunities Centres has been
dismantled. We conclude the paper with some challenges and debates to these findings and
reference to the possibilities we envision may develop more sustainable provision of learning
opportunities with emancipatory social purpose for all.
Keywords: Adult Education and Learning, Policy Agenda, Social Purpose of RPL.
This research was developed by the Research Group about Policies, Government and Administration belonging
to CIEd, Centro de Investigação em Educação da Universidade do Minho, Portugal (Centre of Research in
Education of the University of Minho, Portugal). The translation of this paper was financed by National Funds of
FCT - Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (Project PEst-OE/CED/UI1661/2014).
In Europe, after the Lisbon Agenda and the adoption of the lifelong learning paradigm
(Holford, 2008; Barros, 2012a), policies and practices for the recognition of prior learning
(RPL) have been developed as predominant in the adult learning and education (ALE) policy
agenda. Recognition of lifelong learning has been known by different names in the various
countries in which it has been adopted, depending on whether it focuses on the principles or
the procedures it includes (Pires, 2005). In Portugal it was systematically introduced as public
provision in 1999 and was called RVCC - recognition, validation and certification of
This paper addresses different ways of seeing the social purpose and aims of sustainability on
the RPL agenda as viewed from the point of view of adult educators and learners involved in
the experiential learning process. With this analytical basis the study examined the politicaladministrative orientations and the organizational and administrative dimension, as well as the
impact of RPL policy on the promotion of competences like critical thinking, imagining
future scenarios and lifestyles, and making decisions in a collaborative way. The general
problem studied is also connected with the need to creatively address the new complexity of
ALE governance today, and the need to critically examine education policy development in
light of recent environmental, economic and social crises. This study documents some
important changes within a specific context that are influenced by the Europeanisation of the
neoliberal principles in ALE. This is relevant to international scholars who may read this
paper. The main contribution derives from a critical discussion of phenomenological
interpretations stemming from the empirical data collected.
We try to identify some hybridisations that emerged from looking at the research results
through the lens of the theoretical models adopted. The relevance of this research lies in the
specific choice of two RPL centres to address the field in two different periods (2005 and
2011) of recent Portuguese history of ALE. Several fundamental questions could then be
raised, such as: Would this six years’ time difference, with changes in national boards for the
sector, make the local RPL practices different as well? Might this mean that these adult
educators would follow distinct rationales in their practices and methodologies for RPL? Do
the adult educators involved in these RPL processes have significantly reinterpreted political
administrative orientations to follow concerns about producing a change of lifestyle in terms
of adult learners’ critical and collective awareness? Have these innovative Portuguese RPL
practices been pursuing the goal of contributing to understand better the problems felt by the
citizens? If these issues arose, how were they managed in light of mainstream politicaladministrative orientations and increasingly insecure educational working contexts for
labour? These are some of the research questions and hypotheses that are addressed in this
The main results suggest there is considerable difficulty in contradicting the neoliberal rules
of the game, and the growth of unsustainable working scenarios, in the hegemonic framework
of the new public policy agenda where the dominant rationale embraces such priorities as the
promotion of employability, competitiveness and economic modernisation. Even so, the
rationales observed in the Portuguese RPL context of policy design and practices’
implementation are diverse, and it is clear from the contradictory local organisational
dimensions that co-exist with different policy administrative guidelines, that they have been
playing a role in the national landscape of ALE and illustrate the contemporary complexity of
the phenomenon of RPL.
This paper comprises four parts. The first describes the methodological approach, which
combines ethnography and phenomenology. The data collection techniques are described. The
second section outlines the conceptual framework used. The three models used to capture
ways of seeing public social policy for ALE proposed by Lima and Guimarães (2011) were
revisited as heuristic devices and compared with the Portuguese local/national context of RPL
practices in two distinct periods. The third section discusses the research findings and the
main outcomes of the Portuguese example of RPL, examined from the insiders’ viewpoints.
Some of the hybridisations in the RPL political-administrative orientations and social
purpose, and their implications for a sustainability agenda, are highlighted. The final section
consists of a critical reflection on the political trajectory of Portuguese ALE and RPL, which
seems to have achieved a critical existence point with the dismantling administrative
operation that occurred in 2012. This paper takes the view that this phenomenon should not
prevent us from preparing new policy directions and making recommendations for the rebirth
of Portuguese RPL, implemented as a more sustainable provision with emancipatory social
This study addresses the fieldwork with a qualitative approach. A critical ethnographic-based
research design was the method chosen (Atkinson & Hammersley, 1994; Marcus, 1994).
Unstructured interviews supplemented by continuous participant observation and field notes
were used in 2005. In-depth phenomenological interviews were applied afterwards, in 2011.
The main reason for adopting this ethno-phenomenological methodology (Van Manen, 1990;
Moustakas, 1994) was the depth of understanding that it provides; it is particularly effective at
bringing out the experiences and perceptions of individuals from their own perspectives and
interpretations (Hycner, 1985), and therefore at challenging structural or normative
assumptions. Documental political analysis was also undertaken.
A New Opportunities Centre of a Non-Governmental Organization in a rural area in southern
Portugal was selected for data collection in 2005. Another New Opportunities Centre of a
secondary school, also in a rural area in southern Portugal, was selected for data collection in
2011. This time-separated fieldwork model was chosen to see how adult educators acted in
the context of changing political-administrative orientations for a ‘new educational order’,
established both nationally (under the Portuguese ALE policies) and supranationally (through
European Union funding programmes for the forms of provision under development). This
study also aimed to pursue the exploitation, deliberate or otherwise, of its own relative sphere
of action in a local context whose potential lies in the possibility of reinterpret orientations,
eventually contradicting today’s mainstream neoliberal policy guidelines (Arnove, Franz, and
Torres, 2013), to promote the idea of sustainability as a core value for the social purpose of
educational action, as recommended by UNESCO.
Critical analysis combining content analysis (Grawitz, 1986; Vala, 1986) with critical
discourse analysis (Olssen, Codds and O’Neill, 2004) was used for interpreting open
interviews, in-depth phenomenological interviews and field notes. The combination of these
different techniques (Bacchi, 2000) involved categorical thematic analysis and the search for
simple frequency that crosscut all the empirically collected data. The structural analysis of
occurrences allowed the identification of associations between specific themes. The content of
written policy texts about RPL was analysed through the use of a semi-inductive procedure
suggested by Maroy (1997), comprising three steps: immersion in data to facilitate its
reduction; codification and systematic comparison in order to organise it; and the
interpretation of data according to a ‘seesaw option’ in interpretation2.
According to Maroy’s reasoning (1997: 136), the work achieved in this first stage was a ‘seesaw’, including
classification, actual manipulation and analytical separation of data in order to interpret and give meaning to the
information collected. The purpose was to have a specific and clear line for discussion. The idea was to build
It is important to emphasise that this research project assumes that the reality is complex and
heterogeneous, so an effort was made to look for commitments as well as discontinuities and
omissions in practitioners’ representations and interpretations.
Theoretical tools used by this research analysis
International literature on the changing nature of policy and the state today was reviewed to
enable a satisfactory interpretation of some dimensions of the phenomenon of RPL policy
from a phenomenological standpoint. After identifying the main theoretical contributions in
the field of educational policy research analysis we selected the three models presented by
Lima and Guimarães (2011) to analyse the social policies of ALE. As RPL Policy has been
key to the contemporary Portuguese agenda of ALE social policies we used these models as
heuristic devices to better understand this political scenario and its implications from a
sustainability social purpose point of view.
The three models were of particular interest to the data discussion. This is mainly a schema
consisting of three characterisations of public policy models for ALE: i) the democraticemancipatory model, in which democratic participation and critical education are very
important to ALE actions, in particular popular and community education; ii) the
modernisation and state control model, based on public provision, the intervention of the
welfare state and generally dominated by educational guidelines; iii) the human resources
management model, in search of economic modernisation and the production of skilled
labour, led by vocationalist guidelines and focusing on the production of human capital. As
the authors put it,
These models are not mutually exclusive; they can coexist. So cross-fertilisation or
hybridisation is possible: rather than presenting rigid artificial possibilities of analysis,
we may expect these models to be regarded as heuristic devices for understanding
public policies of ALE (Lima and Guimarães, 2011: 40).
In this study, and using these models as research devices, a key goal was to search
backgrounds to explore ideal types of designing and implementing Portuguese RPL policy.
This is a major concern for the critical discussion of the meanings of core strains and
contradictions discovered empirically, especially regarding two of the four categories
developed by the authors’ models, namely, the political-administrative orientations and the
organisational and administrative dimensions. This is a substantial contribution that academia
can make to a mis-recognised body of practices involved with connecting socio-educational
work and ALE pedagogies to the social purpose of policy agenda and UNESCO
recommendations on sustainability.
The democratic-emancipatory model
One of the most significant aspects of this model in terms of the political-administrative
orientations is the accent for the decentralised control of education policy and administration.
This allows a high degree of autonomy enjoyed by the organisations that stimulate ALE
categories and develop an analysis structure that could be used afterwards. This work would lead to the
development of a first series of discussion proposals to be validated afterwards.
actions, among which are those linked to civil society. As the authors put it, this model
stresses bottom-up dynamics: activities are conceived locally and are self-managed,
displaying an intervention that grants protagonism to educational associations. This option
permits the adoption of public policies whose object is to integrate basic groups and other
non-state organisations, involving the creation of laws for this purpose and the allocation of
resources and means to government departments or services and a wide range of other bodies.
Regarding the organisational and administrative aspects of this model, attention is drawn to
meet priorities of basic education for democratic citizenship programmes and covers a wide
range of initiatives: some involve claim processes and others are concerned with cultural
projects, local improvement schemes, etc. And there is a local effort at self-organisation in the
large majority of these initiatives, with considerable independence and creativity.
Collaborative efforts are therefore utilised in an attempt to establish a radical or participatory
democracy and foster social transformation (cf. Lima and Guimarães, 2011: 42-48).
In Portugal, just the popular education activities that were developed in the wake of the 1974
revolution (April 25th) can completely elucidated this aspect, in particular the bottom-up
dynamics work done between popular associations and the Ministry of Education through the
General Directorate of Permanent Education. Since then (after PNAEBA, Plano Nacional de
Alfabetização e Educação de Base de Adultos, of 1979) a multi-faceted view of development
(social, economic, cultural and political) and participation (social, political and civic) could be
identified as main orientation again by the time of the political implementation of the new
adult learning and education strategy launched in 1999. This in fact proved to be the most
widespread background, embraced as ideal type in recent policy documents and study reports
supporting the organizational and administrative dimensions of Portuguese RPL innovative
design to be implemented (cf. Melo et al, 1998; 2001). The state appeared as a determining
agent for planning and intervention, although open to challenge with respect to bureaucratic
state control and under pressure to undertake democratic and participatory reinvention,
particularly through social movements.
Concerns with social needs of learning give the social purpose for RPL local devices. The
characteristics of the context are relevant to what should be discussed and what should be
learned, seeking the full development of the abilities of each individual. Characterised by
flexibility in the organisation and administration of spaces, times, content, methods, etc., these
devices aim to create audiences that are participatory, managers of social action, committed
and pledged to social change. One facet of the model has interlinkable purposes and it tries to
motivate adults towards new learning and knowledge and foster new forms of participation
and social and political intervention. There is a concern here to connect the individual facet of
the act of learning to the collective facet of what is learned. This was highlighted in the
guidelines of the central policy document at the time, Programa [email protected]+, where it was stated
that a main public policy guideline should,
Promote participation as a value and implication strategy, for subjects of training as for
the society at a large, aiming to develop commitment in ALE processes, (Melo et al,
2001: 15).
It was interesting to find out that these political administrative orientations embraced in the
political foundation documents were not the dominant way of guiding RPL organisational and
administrative dimensions and have not been the main ingredient in the Portuguese policy
agenda for ALE since then.
The modernisation and state control model
This model is based on political-administrative orientations that have an essential dimension
in the centralised control of policy and the administration of education carried out by the state,
through specific departments. It is a model that tends to underestimate the action of bodies
linked to civil society, promoting ways of increase state control. Here, state intervention
would involve different levels (mostly state ones) of management and administration of
supply, stopping the market from establishing initiatives based on rules of supply and demand
and excluding civil society from inventing alternative ways of educating. As the authors put
it, long term education policies, strategy, planning and financing are ideas which combine in
this model in an effort to coordinate the social, economic and cultural aspects. Education is
seen as an opportunity aimed at the collective, at society, and can restrict individuals from a
more profound intervention.
The promotion of formal education courses for young people and adults, many of whom
dropped out of formal education are sustained by administrative procedures and markedly
bureaucratic management, seeking efficiency and efficacy. Initiatives close to formalisation
and school-type education for adults are preferred. This entails complex issues of failure,
difficulties of coordination with out-of-school education and, especially, with the rationale of
popular education and local associations. This model is based on a centralised paradigm of
political-administrative orientations production.
ALE in this model is largely reduced to the tasks of ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’, to
learning of an academic, educational hegemonic nature and to school-type vocational training.
This amounts to the ‘fragmentation and insularisation’ of adult education, leading to popular
education initiatives (Mayo, 1999) and those prompted by socio-educational associations,
promoted by the third sector (and others), remaining at the margins of public policies for this
sector (cf. Lima and Guimarães, 2011: 48-56).
In our field research we found some traces of organisational and administrative dimensions
understood in terms of the efficacy and efficiency of public and private management,
increasing productivity, internationalisation and competitiveness in the economy by ALE
intervention throw RPL agenda supporting individual acquisition of certified skills. This
reproduction of main guidelines has been developed in a context that values the relation
between ALE and employment policies that have imposed an instrumental conception on
educational actions and administration. These organisational aspects have been influenced by
policies with an active principle of corporate rationalisation and modernisation, demanded by
political and economic decision-takers.
The human resources management model
Public policies influenced by this model embrace some new logics of retreat in what concerns
state usual bureaucratic tasks. For example, now committed to “building bridges” through
partnerships and contracts with civil society are much valued into government action. A
strategic role of managing the autonomy and choice of the various agents and actors involved
in providing education emerge, and the state has become a fundamental agent for monitoring
and controlling the conditions that facilitate the provision of new conditions for accessing
ALE offerings. From this angle some of these aspects are expected to mean the creation of a
more efficient market in learning with respect to providing education. As the authors
underline the withdrawal of the state is usually justified by the internationalisation of the
economy, global competition, growing social state responsibilities and diminishing public
This model values the participation of individuals in ALE, with individuals acquiring new
responsibilities. Among these are “learning to adapt oneself” to the changes being faced, and
“being able to choose and decide” about the best options for the social and economic
transformations taking place. This is where we find a discourse of empowerment to assign
social purpose for RPL policies and practices, in an appeal for greater productivity,
competitiveness and flexibility. Furthermore, specific education policies are privileged and
aimed at certain social groups. As a result programmes have been established to deal with the
various forms of social exclusion (cf. Lima and Guimarães, 2011: 56-64).
In Portugal the new opportunities initiative policy (adopted since 2005 until 2012), can be
related to this model. It tends toward modernisation so as to respond positively to the socalled challenges of European integration, demanding the state and public administration to
make a greater structural effort and devise active policies for convergence. It was asked to
adopt measures that were short term conceived, that chose as a main purpose individual
responsibility over social responsibility and collective destiny. The local organisational and
administrative impacts of these pillars of the proposed policies were visible, particularly in the
local empirical context studied in 2011. We could see a current emphasis on application and
on flexible and practice-based learning programmes. This represented a local attempt to
develop forms of RPL that were more in accordance with the contemporary politicaladministrative orientations and socio-economic demands. The adoption of pragmatic
measures of the RPL processes was then the rule. In the end, the main concern was not to
foster competences like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and lifestyles, or making
decisions in a collaborative way, with others and with nature.
Discussion: examining social purpose in recent Portuguese RPL policy
As we have found out empirically, practitioners appeared to agree with the idea that
knowledge cannot be neutral and educational governance cannot be just technical (reasoning
close to the democratic-emancipatory social policy model), but paradoxically is put in terms
that reinforce the status quo (an educational conceptualisation and rationality closer to the
modernisation and state control social policy model). We also saw a disregard for the idea
(seen as romantic) that education and activism could help to change the growing social
exclusion that is a feature of the late modernity development pattern, prompting suggestions
for ‘reversing policy-making options’ (Livingstone, 2012). This hermeneutic phenomenology
research showed us that a more pragmatic feeling prevailed in adult educators’ daily work;
they mostly showed ethical concerns about working with adults’ biographical materials, but
not political engagement with the radical transformation of today’s social injustices,
unsustainable lifestyles or their own unstable job conditions (Barros, 2011b; 2013b).
And from this angle the very idea of sustainability and social emancipation as a core value at
the heart of the democratic-emancipatory model for social policies of ALE, and the general
mission of these RPL designed devices by ANEFA’s working teams in 1999 (ANEFA,
Agencia Nacional de Educação e Formação de Adultos, 1999-2002), has not been consistently
observed in mainstream policy-making contexts since then3. The data from the two actual
educational contexts studied for this research (in 2005 and 2011) concerning the
The national bodies responsible for ALE since ANEFA (wound up in 2002) were the General Directorate for
Vocational Training (DGFV), (2002-2005) and the National Qualification Agency, ANQ, (2005-2012).
organisational and administrative dimensions of RPL practices showed no significant
differences in terms of rationality. In accordance with some hibridisation between the
modernisation and state control model and the human resources management model, in many
circumstances RPL devices seems mainly to be used to officially recognise that learning
happens outside formal education organisations and to offer individuals flexibility to
accumulate recognised and certified pieces of learning over their lifetime. Therefore, even if
there is a potential for change, the raising of adults’ motivation to join adult education
initiatives, or the redistributive and equal opportunity issues are not serious concerns of
policies that focus on individual choice and individual freedom.
More than create local forums to discuss connexions or synergies between local networks of
different ALE organisations and make decisions in a collaborative way, frequently the
educators saw their role as actors of a competitive network of RPL disconnected local centres
witch are compared in ranking performance logic. This emphasised their perception of
individualised responsibility to contribute with this canonical pattern: modernising their
methodological practices in ALE and adopting efficacy as a major standard. In both studied
organisations involved with RPL process, their administrative dimension encouraged
efficiency of management, increasing administrative productivity and competitiveness to
conform to EU backed projects.
Thus several tensions were identified in the relationship among adult educators, organisation
promoting the mentioned process and the national state-departments orientations in charge of
the adoption of lifelong learning policies. Data collected in 2005 showed that there was a
consensus about the general benefits for adults taking part in the RPL. As mentioned by the
RPL centre director,
“The process has had a positive influence upon people… those that have finished it tend
to come back to take part in other activities. For instance the number of people using the
library has increased” [RO(E)5/2005].
In spite of this perception, the need for outcomes with regards to the number of adults
certified became progressively more important, and was clearly predominant in 2011. This
quantitative concern suggests the implicit acceptation of financial and management
application logics (owing to the control of the responsible state-departments). These were
measurable outcomes. And in this sense, the humanistic ethos that the RPL could have was
replaced by the organisational ability, strategic decision-making and efficient planning in
search of a quick identification of key-competences, following a rationale for competitiveness
against the statistical performance of other RPL centres. As an educator argued,
“It is absolutely necessary to certify so that the RPL centre might be open and we could
keep our jobs…” [RE(C)1/2011].
This made these educators learn how to deal pragmatically with their educational work. The
research showed they understood their job in ALE in ways that should improve the
competences of adults, according to a competition model where pedagogical work is co-opted
in activities that must succeed in identifying the maximum competences in the minimum time.
Thus the RPL balance of competences must be efficient in assessing the ‘useful knowledge’
adults have acquired through life (which have a market utility value). This was almost always
the case, even though, on some occasions during 2005 fieldwork, adult educators made some
critical questioning:
“How to accomplish outcomes and keep the quality of the process? This is the main
question” [RO (D) 6/2005].
“The RPL process is becoming faster… but I do think we are searching for quality of
the product, instead of searching for quality of the process” [RO (S) 12/2005].
“We look at the RPL more and more as a product… few adults got a clearer perception
of their lives, the competences they hold after concluding this process. Why? Because
we adult educators are concerned with outcomes…” [RO (D) 7/2005].
Comments like these support the view that adult educators do not have a pedagogical
justification for the multiple simplifications introduced in the balance of competences (skills
assessment), the methodological process used as a basis for recognising prior learning in
Portugal. The research findings showed that these simplifications were withdrawing this
process from critical education practices.
We also found, in both empirical research contexts (in 2005 and 2011), discussions as to the
benefits of increased self-esteem as a major result of the RPL process in particular, which
suggest that the social purpose of RPL policies has been limited by a well succeeded
internalisation of an empowerment discourse instead of an emancipation one. The data
sources confirm that the participatory teaching and learning methods fallowed in a similar
rationale by these adult educators succeeded in motivating and empowering adults, especially
women, when RPL engaged them in thinking about contexts that are personally relevant to
their social role as mothers (seen as invisible educators). The results allow us to indicate a
major strength of this approach to learning: its potential when it involves creating
opportunities for debriefing and consolidating ideas and skills through feedback, reflection,
and the application of the ideas and skills to new situations. If more time and engagement
were available this could be more closely related to education for sustainable futures, as
UNESCO urges. As different adult educators have said,
“we see that our adults’ self-esteem grows as a result of our work, they become more
confident in themselves...” [RE (C) 6/2005].
“after a candidate’s self-esteem has been increased we can more easily work on
empowering them to adopt more earth friendly daily behaviours…” [E(G6)12/2011].
Between 2005 and 2011 the most important social purpose in the Portuguese political scene
was recognising prior learning for certification of (notably increasing) unemployed adult
populations. This rationale of RPL practice had the primary mission of control, even though it
enabled a reclassification of individuals when they eventually embarked on formal learning or
training courses. As the data show, this has a major political impact on existing power
relations: on the whole, they have been preserved and reproduced. Thus, we can see this as
being more about legitimating an alternative form of exclusion (albeit not consciously in the
educational contexts of practices) than about spreading new opportunities for upward social
mobility through ALE.
Significant traces of the human resources management model could also be recognised in the
contexts studied, for example, when the practitioners prefer to assign goals that are more
modest, and faster to achieve, to RPL practices. They highlight this as a major setback in their
(increasingly insecure) educational working context, where there is no time for pedagogical
activities, since it is mostly spent on planning the necessary steps to assure a quick
identification of key-competences and an appropriate number (to keep the job) of certified
adult learners through RPL practices. In both 2005 and 2011, the need for more time was very
much stressed by adult educators, especially so that prior learning could be validated and
recognised as part of a process that could actually offer ample opportunities for candidates to
extend lifelong qualifications and to develop emancipatory social purposes from inside the
local education activities.
The data show that, in Portugal, anyone who wants to validate their competences, particularly
if they have knowledge that needs to be socially recognised and certified, relies on such
competence validation to become a ‘competent person’ (Andersson and Fejes, 2005).
Competence is seen, by adult educators, as the ability to do something, an ability that is
developed as a result of specific, relevant individual experiences. This means knowledge is
acquired; it is no longer exclusively produced in the formal education system since it can be
learned elsewhere. The assessment of what has been learned shifts to the assessment of the
life trajectory, including what they have learned in the past. So experience counts as
competence and this is a major strength of the RPL noted by both adult learners and
educators, and it can be seen as the hard core of RPL within auto-sustainability,
“one of the most interesting outcomes of this process is that we look at our life
trajectory in a new way... it’s unbelievable how I myself undervalued important things
that I never knew that I knew!” [E(G4)25/2011].
“even though it’s a daily challenge for us educators the truth is it is very rewarding to
work with the life experience of the people coming to us in this Centre ... in fact, I don’t
know how much I've learned with these adults in the process ... therein lies the added
value of RPL, in this mutuality of possible learning…” [E(G2)17/2011].
Even if many policy discourses have suggested that learning has a broad meaning, the fact is
that on the Portuguese agenda of prior learning recognition it was not learning per se that was
the focus, but the macro-statistical results of the process. Owing to this, evaluation and
measurement of competences and qualifications became central in Portuguese ALE policies,
ALE discourses, ALE agendas and ALE practices in the first ten years of the 21 st century
(Barros, 2012b). To ensure these mainstream rationales for the validation/accreditation of
valid (institutional, marketable and socially valuable) knowledge acquired by people during
their lives, particularly outside school, formal rapid assessment processes emerged. This
confined the potential of RPL by creating a short-term programmed public form of ALE
provision; which was tentatively financed by the state. The Promotion of partnerships
between state and other institutional actors emerged as the main characteristic of the recent
Portuguese scenario on ALE, with creation of state management and administration structures
having some independence, though with limited scope for educational intervention
(minimalist structures, for induction, mediation).
Research has shown that, from the point of view of educational actors in the field, there were
two structural weaknesses in Portugal’s new public policies on the adult experiential learning
agenda: i) the fragility of the prevailing ‘programme rationale’ of funding the RPL centres
with, nowadays very visible, implications for the sustainability and continuity of adult
education’s public offer provision; ii) the vulnerable status of professionals working in the
national ALE public system (where ALE constructed scenarios have the importance and
durability of a ‘political campaign rationale’). This has implications for the quality and local
achievements of these educational activities. These structural weaknesses have turned out to
be particularly significant to facilitate the adoption of managerialist procedures for induction
and management of human resources.
Final remarks
This paper has discussed some results of an ethno-phenomenology study. The data allows us
to emphasise that the top-down decisions made on RPL policies have restricted the local
potential of RPL as a transformative practice. We found that RPL is sustainable from the
inside and has genuine potential to foster the critical empowerment of the adults involved,
provide that the educators are granted autonomy and the power to influence the definition of
political priorities to be achieved. If power were exercised from the bottom up, these
practitioners would choose to focus the action on pedagogy and processes, not on outcomes
and, thus, reinterpretation of political-administrative orientations will be more often at shake.
From the point of view of adult learners and educators involved in the experiential processes,
the RPL is sustainable from the inside if the educational policy agenda expands some of the
local achievements, for example, the significant new demand and participation of poorlyeducated adults in ALE activities and the increase in their self-esteem which, in some cases,
enabled them to outline plans to continue their studies.
This analysis was undertaken from within the general framework of a new type of adult
education and training strategy and the ‘new educational order’, originating in Europe in late
modernity. The three analytical policy models proposed by Lima & Guimarães (2011) were
used to examine the political aims and interrogate the social purpose of recent RPL policy,
looking to its achievements of sustainability as viewed from the point of view of adult
learners and adult educators involved in the experiential learning process. Using this
theoretical basis the study discovered the hybridisation between the various educational
rationales involved. The ethno-phenomenological approach meant that the analysis could also
discuss the meanings of central strains and contradictions discovered empirically.
Under Portuguese policies on lifelong learning between 1999 and 2011, recognition of prior
learning (notwithstanding changes in national boards) has been considered a significant
process for extending participation to adult education, while creating a workforce with
formally recognised transferable skills. Even though not enough, it was important in the
delicate Portuguese educational context where qualification and literacy rates of the adult
population still are very weak. However, in many circumstances recognition of prior learning
seems mainly designed to recognise that learning happens outside formal education
organisations and to offer individuals flexibility to accumulate recognised pieces of learning
over their lifetime. With the new opportunities initiative policy (2005-2012) an effort was
made to substantially expand the RPL practices, using European social funds and appealing to
active adults (employed and unemployed) as the target-group most in need of securing selfqualification. In that process a leading role was ascribed to the market, civil society and the
individual (demand-side). This transferred new responsibilities to the individuals involved:
mostly adult learners and adult educators. But this does not mean that responsibility has
shifted towards a broader alliance with powerless groups and their social interests. Therefore,
even if there is a potential for change, neither raising adults’ motivation to join adult
education initiatives, nor the redistributive and equal opportunity issues concerned, are
serious issues for neoliberal policies that focus on individual choice and individual freedom,
as this study shows.
Overall, contemporary Portuguese RPL practices seem to be trapped within policy contexts
characterised by unquestioned modernist theories of knowledge and experience that favour
the existing power relations and increase the dualisation of society. The general appeal to
non-state organisation (third sector and market) involvement on ALE organisational and
administrative dimensions has not transferred power to these non-state actors, which still
could not directly influence political decision. This means that there was not a social purpose
of create substantive autonomy. This partly explains why it has been possible to dismantle
(since 2012) the RPL system established in the New Opportunities Centres without any
prompting serious criticism or public protest. In the context of this research angle the main
question today seems to be: would it matter if Portuguese RPL as a distinctive adult
educational offer disappeared?
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The Intergenerational Educational Programs: A new Sphere of Lifelong
Susana Villas-Boas 1, Albertina Oliveira 2, Natália Ramos 3
PhD student at the University of Coimbra, doctoral scholarship holder of the Science and
Technology Foundation and researcher at the CEMRI, Uab, [email protected]
University of Coimbra and Researcher at the CIES20, University of Coimbra, [email protected]
Open University of Lisbon and researcher at the CEMRI, Uab, [email protected]
Abstract. This work presents lifelong education as a key conceptual framework in adult education
and intergenerational learning as an instrument that can be used to assist lifelong education
reaching its goals. Intergenerational education was recognized as a new approach to lifelong
education programs on International Roundtable "Developing Creative and Inclusive Strategies
and Partnerships for Fostering a Lifelong Learning Culture, held from 27 to 29 November 2000
(UNESCO, 2001). In this roundtable the necessity for fostering intergenerational education was
particularly recognized: "There are different environments where people learn in life. We
generally do not learn from each other in an intergenerational context" (UNESCO, p. 39). This
kind of education is recreated through the intergenerational programs that emphasize the
pedagogical, has as the spinal cord of the teaching-learning process the diversity and
intergenerational differences and is developed in specific contexts such as schools, communities,
workplaces, etc. In this communication we intend to deep these and other questions about the
intergenerational education and to present intergenerational educational programs as a new sphere
of lifelong education.
Keywords: Adult Education, Lifelong Education; intergenerational education; intergenerational
One of the first international attempts to influence educational policies in respects to the
perusal of lifelong education is the Faure Report (UNESCO, 1972). UNESCO proposed the
adoption of lifelong education as the main concept for educational policies in developed and
developing countries. Twenty-four years later, the vision of the Faure report was rearticulated through the Delors Report (UNESCO, 1996). Although the Faure Report adopted
the basic concept of "learning to be”, the Delors Report presented four pillars of learning: to
be, to know, to do, and to live together. Currently, lifelong education is still being questioned
as an educational principle that needs to be contextualised within this era of globalisation, for
the 21st century. Regardless of the complexity of this construct, there is no doubt that lifelong
learning is a key concept within adult education.
Under the European Employment Strategy, the Lisbon European Council of March 2000
defined lifelong learning as all learning activities that establish a goal which, is undertaken on
an ongoing basis, in order to improve knowledge, skills and, competencies. On the one hand,
this vision makes it clear that lifelong learning, aside from being a component of education
and training, should provide opportunities for the participation in continuos learning,
regardless of the context. It is evident that, it should cover all types of teaching and learning:
formal education, non-formal education, and informal education. On the other hand, it
indicates that learning can take place in all dimensions of our lives and at any stage, i.e, the
acquisition of knowledge occurs in school, within the family, during leisure time, in
community life, everyday professional life, and at all ages.
In this paper we present intergenerational education as a new tool that aids lifelong learning
achieve its goals, and as a viable response to two specific objectives presented in the
document of the European Communities Commission’s "Memorandum on lifelong learning"
published in October 2000 (CEC, 2000), which are: to develop effective teaching and learning
methods for the continuation of lifelong and life-wide learning and to provide lifelong
learning opportunities as close to learners in their own communities as possible.
In that same year, intergenerational education was recognised as a new approach to lifelong
education programmes at the International Round Table "Developing Creative and Inclusive
Strategies and Partnerships for Fostering a Lifelong Learning Culture”, held from the 27th to
the 29th of November 2000 (UNESCO, 2001). Explicitly, for the first time, the need to
promote intergenerational education was confirmed: "There are different environments in
which people learn in life. We generally do not learn from each other in an intergenerational
context” (UNESCO, 2001:39). The UNESCO’s Institute for Education created the
programme “Promoting Inter-generational Learning Policies, Action Research and
Networking”, spurring the development of intergenerational education.
This type of education is not new, since older generations have always educated the younger
and/or vice versa. However, due to the social, cultural, economic, historical, and,
technological changes that have been taking place in today’s world, these generations are
becoming increasingly estranged from one other. Thus, missing the learning opportunity that
is fundamental for the development of people and society. In response to this and other
problems, intergenerational education takes on a new roll and is recreated throughout
intergenerational programmes.
Both intergenerational education and intergenerational programme constructs are complex
and there is still no consensus as to their definition, that is, it has not yet been decided what is
the most correct and complete definition for it, and which term is the most appropriate to
objectively adopt. In this paper we have chosen the definition of intergenerational
programmes adopted by the International Consortium for Intergenerational Programmes, at
the First International Conference held between the 2nd of April until the 4th, 2002 in
England: "Intergenerational Programmes form a system, an approach and practice in which all
generations, irrespective of age, race, location and socio-economic status bind themselves
together in the process of generating, promoting and utilising ideas, knowledge, skills,
attitudes, and values in an interactive way for the improvement of self and community”
(Oduaran, quoted by Hattan-Yeo; 2002:19).
We define intergenerational education as “processes and procedures that are supported and
legitimatized emphasizing cooperation and interaction among two or more generations [...]
seeking to share experiences, knowledge, skills, attitudes and, values in pursuit of their selfesteem and personal self-achievement. The goal is to change and be changed while learning
with others" (Sáez, 2002:104).
1. The Relevance and Timeliness of Intergenerational Educational
To understand what intergenerational educational programmes are, we first need to look at
some intergenerational programmes (which we will designate from now on as I.P.). These
programs emerged in the late 1960s in the United States of America, in response to the
geographical separation of young and senior members of families from neighbourhoods at
risk. In the early 1980s they began to be employed to address social problems related to
cultural, social, and economic needs in Canada. From the 1990s up until today, all over the
world and in Europe, these programs were used as tools for community development.
(Newman and Sánchez, 2007)
In educational terms, IPs are situated within the scope of non-formal and informal education.
Philip Coombs and Manzoor Ahmed define non-formal education as “any organized
systematic, educational activity carried out outside the formal system to provide selected
types of learning to particular subgroups in the population, adults as well as children” (1974:
8). The main purpose of IPs is to open pathways to knowledge about the world, revolving
around individuals and their social relationships. In these programmes there is an
intentionality of action, by means of participating, learning, transmitting and exchanging
knowledge, and the time. Dedication to careful planning is a major contributor to the success
of the program.
It is essential for its development to start by understanding what its needs are, what it is in
response to and, the possibilities/opportunities available to provide this answer, creating a
posteriori objective. These may include, for example, care for the elderly and children, the
strengthening of educational systems, the enrichment of retired people, the development of a
sense of belonging, the improvement of relationships between grandparents and
grandchildren, the preservation of cultural traditions, to minimise the isolation of older
people, the promotion of awareness and concerns for the environment or, the improvement of
community support systems.
Thus, IPs are developed according to the needs of specific groups and to meet certain
necessities, such as people's participation being optional and based on their interests and
motivations. The planning of activities should be developed in conjunction with the
participants, taking into account their pathways. Its rules being defined in conjunction with
the group, the great educator is the "other", the one with whom we interact, the role of the
technician being one of guidance, support and monitoring. These interventions take place in
various locations, such as schools, community organisations, hospitals, community services
centres, etc.
These programs allow people to benefit from the opportunity to share and reaffirm their vital
experience and, the meaning of their lives. Thus, they will in turn benefit from relationships
of mutual support that allow them to provide and receive care at different times of their lives.
In these programmes, people exchange information and discuss social and cultural values.
Participants will develop skills that generate changes in themselves, in their organisations and
in the communities in which they live.
Research has shown that Intergenerational Programmes benefit the people and the community
involved. As evidence, we present some of the findings from the study carried out by Judy
MacCallum and her team, who analyzed 120 Australian intergenerational programmes in
2006. The Benefits for the elderly included: opportunities for learning; the minimisation of
isolation; renewed appreciation for personal experiences; reintegration into family and
community life; enhancement of self-esteem and motivation; the sharing of experiences;
recognition for their contribution to the community; learning more about younger people; the
development of skills, including social skills and new technologies; the transmission of
traditions, culture and language; etc.
Benefits for younger people include: the enhancement of their self worth, self-esteem and
self-confidence; the access to adult support during times of difficulty; the refinement of their
sense of social responsibility; a more positive perception of older people; to equip themselves
with practical skills; the improvement of academic results; the improvement of reading skills;
a lowered involvement with violence and drug; learning about history and origins and, about
other people’s stories; support in building their own labour career; alternative leisure activities
to tackle problems, particularly drugs, violence, and antisocial behaviour.
Finally, the benefits for the community include: the reconstruction of social networks; the
development of a sense of community; the building of a more inclusive society; the breaking
down of barriers and stereotypes; the building and strengthening of culture; offering models
for civic behaviour; building, maintaining and revitalising community opportunities and
public infrastructures. Included in this is the production of public art; care for the
environment; volunteers to provide community services and to encourage people to work with
other community groups to name a few.
In literature, it is more common to find studies based on the benefits received by younger
generations than to find studies based on the benefits bestowed upon communities and the
elderly, Due to the fact that the adult generation is the least studied and least implicated in the
IPs. This is easily explained since IPs were initially aimed at generations on both ends of the
vital cycle. The International Consortium for Intergenerational Programs (ICIP), in April
1999, considered involving multiple generations (including at least two non-adjacent
generations without family ties) as a fundamental characteristic for these programs. Similarly,
Hatton-Yeo e Osako (2000) state that these programs can involve multiple generations and
should include a minimum of two non-contiguous generations from different families.
However, more and more authors highlight the importance of the middle generations' role as
enablers and beneficiaries of the intergenerational practice. (Granville and Ellis, 1999,
Newman & Sánchez 2007; Sánchez, et al 2008; Sánchez, Kaplan, Sáez, 2010). On the one
hand , adults are normally the caretakers for the two generations (children and parents), they
need support to perform their functions. On the other hand, adults have increasingly more
periods of inactivity throughout their careers, in which they can benefit from opportunities to
learn, to network with people from other generations and their own, to reintegrate within their
family and community life and to feel needed, active, and participative. Thus, we begin to
understand that using these practices with non-adjacent generations is to underutilise an IPs'
Despite the predominance of the intergenerational programs' positive results in literature,
some negative results also occur. An intergenerational program is more than just placing
members of different generations to participate in the same activity. Although the co-presence
of two different generations in the same space may be crucial for these programs, it is
insufficient. According to Hayes, change, interaction and, behaviour of mutual assistance
among children and the elderly requires time, careful planning and, professional
implementation (2003). Along these same lines, Butts (2007) states that intergenerational
interaction that is not designed or implemented properly can produce a negative appreciation
for the other age group. These programs present risks and possible negative impacts that
should be avoided and taken into account when organising an IP. Reviewing the literature,
several authors (Granville and Ellis, 1999; Hatton-Yeo y Osako, 2000; Kuehne 2003, 2005;
Bressler, Henkin and Adler, 2005; Newman and Sánchez 2007; Sánchez, et al 2008;
Springate, Atkinson and Martin, 2008; Martin, Springate and Atkinson, 2010) assign a series
of factors to an IPs' success that we have grouped and summarised as follows:
On the one hand, the IPs should address the needs of the community and the local
context and, on the other hand, the needs and interests of the participants.
Everyone involved should give, take and benefit from an IP and these should impact
their lives.
In order for this to happen, they should have continuity in time; they should be well
defined, planned and managed and, involve participants in the planning and design of the
They should be financially sustainable and work within a network for the support of
different sectors.
Professionals should have specialised training.
Finally, they should be evaluated during the implementation of the program, from the
beginning until the end, allowing for a constant readjustment of practice in order to be
Thus far, two taxonomic criteria for IPs were identified, service and education, which are both
commonly related to service and education, and are differentiated by their main objectives.
Henceforth, the main objective for the service of an IP is to provide services to the
generations, whereas the intergeneration educational programs’ priority is to promote
intergenerational educational exchange. The latter’s focus on proper educational criteria and
the teaching-learning process is based on diversity and intergenerational differences.
Therefore, intergenerational education allows us to put into practice the four pillars upon
which lifelong education is based on (Delors, 1996):
It teaches how to live together: I.E. it happens by contact with others, in a cooperative
and participative environment among everyone involved, teaching about diversity, preserving
traditions, collective identity, favoring solidarity and, avoiding violence and conflicts.
It teaches how to know: I.E. provides the means by which to acquire knowledge and to
understand the world, to develop professional and communicative skills through discovering
with others. Through this process, information, news and, ideas are spread, feelings and
customs are transmitted.
It teaches how to do: I.E. develops individual skills, through active, collaborative,
experimental learning, team work, voluntary work, confronting and solving conflicts and,
empathic communication. It also inspires individual know-how that will influence the natural
and social environment, hence improving it.
It teaches how to be: I.E. aims for those in contact with others to get to know
themselves better and become accomplished, develop their intelligence, responsibility, critical
and, independent thinking, creativity, art, culture, etc.
The following are a few examples of Intergenerational Educational Programs, conducted in
several countries:
1. The “Elderly people now online program: School in the afternoon project”, developed in
In this program, children teach the elderly (grandparents) how to use Skype, after school.
Children acquire knowledge and computer skills in school, which they then teach to the
elderly. The elderly acquire skills and abilities on how to communicate via Skype, they
build a positive attitude towards new technology and innovations and, continuously build
upon their knowledge and skills. Children practice computer skills, experience teaching
and, develop their communication skills.
2. The“Prejudice Reduction Program/PRP”, United States of America
This program aims at eliminating racial, ethnic and gender prejudice as well as the age
difference in children. The elderly provide services to children in varied and multiple
activities, such as: the preparation for an oral story between the elderly volunteers and
students who address themes like the experience of growing up in the segregated south, the
participation in civil rights movements, surviving the Holocaust, etc.; the creation of
reading workshops, activities which stress prejudice and self-esteem, tell stories, read
poetry out loud and, create puppet shows.
3. The“Generate Cooking Project” program, United States of America
A program in which young people and the elderly develop culinary skills together and
learn how to prepare healthy dishes. In addition to these objectives, it seeks to break down
the barriers between generations, to promote better understanding amongst generations and
encourage older people to transmit their skills and experience to the younger.
4. The “Two Generations” program, United States of America.
This program was developed in response to antisocial behaviour, and involved a group of
young and elderly people who discussed issues related to the town and stereotypes, and
photographed problematic areas. From these meetings, activities to improve the
environment arose, including the mowing of lawns, the cleaning of the river, the planting
of trees and, the placing of tables and benches along the riverbank. At the end of the
program, townsfolk continued to develop these activities on their own.
5. The “United at Work” program, Portugal.
This is an Intergenerational Entrepreneurship program promoted by the Social Innovation
Bank of the Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa. Its main objective is to contribute to the
joint integration of young people and seniors into active lives through entrepreneurship,
using co-creation and interaction amongst the generations.
2. Conclusion
Much about this subject remains to be explained and explored; however, our main goal is to
draw attention to the relevance and timeliness of Intergenerational Educational Programs and
to demonstrate how these programs can be used, and how important they are to the promotion
of lifelong learning and Adult Education.
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Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/education/ uie/pdf/lllrt.pdf
Adult education viewed through their providers: where is the
Catarina Paulos1
University of Lisbon, Institute of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. In this paper, I explore the relationships between adult education and emancipation from
the adult educators’ perspective. I’m focusing on data from a PhD research in education,
specialization in adult education.
Over the last decades there have been changes in the way how adult education has been discussed.
During the 1960s and 1970s, education was viewed as a mean to self-development of individuals,
as a mean for “learning to be” (Faure et al., 1972); however in recent times education has been
conceptualized as “an individual task rather than a collective project” (Biesta, 2006, p. 169). Since
the 1990s lifelong learning became the dominant approach, conceptualizing adult education as a
tool for the competitiveness and the economic growth in European Union. Education has been
reordered around policies and practices that consolidate a liberal-productive model and an
utilitarian-instrumental model of organizing educational relationships, processes and institutions
(Antunes, 2008).
These paper focuses on the way adult educators see adult education and how they see themselves
as adult educators. It was used the qualitative methodology focused on conducting biographical
interviews to thirty-two recognition of prior learning (RPL) professionals. The analysis of the
discourse of adult educators show that they were essentially focused on the development of the
work processes of recognition of prior learning and also making adults more qualified and more
competitive. The emancipatory character of adult education is absent from their discourses.
Keywords: Adult education, adult educators, emancipation
1. Adult Education Political Framework
Over the last decades there have been changes in the way how adult education has been
discussed. During the 1960s, the educational system suffered a strong criticism. In those
times, traditional education was viewed as elitist, theoretical, abstract and far away from
people’s experience. Education was also faced as leading to the perpetuation of social
inequalities, defending that the labor class shouldn´t have the possibility of upward social
mobility. In those times, the social political context was punctuated by social movements with
transformative aims, originating from factories and schools which influenced, from the early
1970s, the practice of education and training. This constituted the genesis of the movement of
lifelong education (éducation permanente) at a institutional level (Canário, 2003).
In 1972, UNESCO published a report about education in which education was seen as a
process of “learning to be” (Faure et al., 1972), which represented a turning point in thoughts
about education. According to Finger (2008), for UNESCO, education should develop
mentalities, culture and arts, like “if we put a certain cultural varnish on the technological and
scientific progress” (p. 18).
Considering this perspective, the educational process should accompany people throughout
their life cycle, in which an individual is the subject of the training (Canário, 2008), therefore
education was viewed as a tool for the integral development of the human being and vital to
the individual and social emancipation. Finger and Asún (2003) stressed the following points
as main philosophical ideas of lifelong education: a) education happens during the life span;
b) education is everywhere; c) life is the main source for learning; d) education is for
everybody; e) lifelong education is a flexible and dynamic approach of education; f) the
learning process is more important than the subjects studied; g) lifelong learning main aim is
to improve the people life quality; and h) lifelong education is a very needed (social)
The lifelong education movement was converging with other critical thought approaches
(Canário, 2008), particularly the Illich view that universal education through schooling is not
feasible and will not be if we try to reach it by the elaborate institutional alternatives on the
model of the current school system bias (Illich, 1985). Also, Freire (1987) criticized the
banking education, opposing it with a liberating education perspective, a boost to help "read"
and interpret the world, arguing that people are educated in communion, mediated by the
However, adult education had evolved with the changes that have occurred in society and also
in the political and economic context (Finger, 2008). Since the 1990s lifelong learning
became the dominant approach, conceptualizing adult education as a tool for the
competitiveness and the economic growth in European Union.
In the last decades, the educational and training policies formulated at a national level are in
line with the priorities and targets set by the European Union. National educational policies
are the result of the articulation between the priorities of EU policies and the creation of
models of interpretation of problems and common action norms, assisting to the
Europeanization and the construction of a European global referential for the national
educational policies (Antunes, 2008).
In the early 1970s the first initiatives in the field of education at a community level were
conceived (Antunes, 2008). In the middle of the 1980s, with the European Single Act, there
was an intensification of this intervention, with the creation of Community Action Programs
(1986-1992). At this time, there were processes of institutionalization and consolidation of
education as an area of cooperation, action and community policy intervention and the
member states built guidelines and common actions standards to their national education
In 1992, the European Union Treaty represented a big step on this path with the inclusion of
the article 126 about the legitimacy of the competence and the action of the European Union
in the field of education. Two White Papers were published in the 1990s, one titled “Growth,
competitiveness, employment. The challenges and ways forward into the 21st century”
(Commission of the European Communities, 1993) and the other “Teaching and learning:
Towards the learning society” (Commission of the European Communities, 1995). Both
documents highlighted the core role of education and training in the context of the priorities
and policies of the European Union concerning the increasing focus on promoting
competitiveness of the European economy. As a matter of fact, the issues concerning human
resources played a central place in the European integration process, given the role assigned
them in the competitiveness of the European Union economy.
Education has been reordered around policies and practices that consolidate a liberalproductive model and an utilitarian-instrumental model of organizing educational
relationships, processes and institutions (Antunes, 2008). Lifelong learning became the basic
principle of the discourse about education and training policies in the European Union. In
October 2000, the European Commission published the Memorandum on Lifelong Learning,
despite that the concept of lifelong learning had already appeared when European Union
declared 1996 the European Year of Lifelong Learning. The lifelong learning concept
introduced some changes in the way of the conceptualization of adult education. One result of
this approach was the acknowledgement of different types of knowledge and several learning
contexts, such as formal, non-formal and informal. Other consequence was the change of the
focus from inputs to outputs, which means from knowledge to competence (Freynet, 2008),
concept that has gained a core importance in the contemporary society.
Accordingly, during the last two decades, learning has become a word very popular in
educational research, policy and practice, witnessing change from adult education to adult
learning in the frame of lifelong learning (Biesta, 2012). The lifelong learning approach
introduced some changes in the way of the conceptualization of adult education, highlighting
the role of the individual in taking advantages of the educational offer and in the building of a
life path that improves the employability.
According to Biesta (2012), education has three domains: qualification, socialization and
subjectification. Through education individuals learn and become able to do activities/tasks,
they get qualified in some area of activity (domain of qualification) and they also get
integrated becoming part of existing social, political and professional settings (domain of
socialization). Also through education, individuals can be independent, subjects of action and
responsibility (domain of subjectification). While qualification and socialization can promote
the empowerment of individuals, subjectification is linked toward emancipation, towards a
critical thinking about ways of doing and being.
The lifelong learning approach highlights the role of the individual in taking advantages of the
educational offer and in the building of a life path that improves the employability. This
approach spills the idea that an individual is the manager of his/her competences and his/her
employment depends on the capacity to adjust those competences to the labour market, which
can be understood as an “instrument of adaptation rather than emancipation” (Biesta, 2012, p.
8). One of the guidelines of the lifelong learning strategy is the recognition and validation of
competences from non formal and informal settings, process that has been implemented in
several European countries, including Portugal.
2. Adult education viewed through their providers
2.1. Methodological path
In a theoretical point of view, this research use elements from several knowledge fields,
mainly adult education and sociology of education. The main goal of this paper is to
understand how adult educators view adult education. This paper aims to answer the
following questions: What do adult educators do in processes of recognition of prior learning?
How do they see themselves as adult educators? What are for them the main aims of adult
From an epistemological point of view, the study is descriptive by undertaking a “narrative or
description of facts, situations, processes or phenomena” (Afonso, 2005, p. 43) reported by
adult educators about their life trajectories in the field of adult education. The research is also
based on a comprehensive perspective, which aims to describe, interpret and analyze critically
(Gonçalves, 2010) the professional activity of adult educators responsible for the recognition,
validation and certification of competences processes. The comprehensive perspective is
useful to explain contexts characterized by deep changes in social practices (Guerra, 2006).
From a methodological point of view, the qualitative approach was used because it is
considered that this is the type of research which provides a “comprehensive understanding of
the question” investigated, which can be obtained “speaking directly to people (...) allowing
them to tell the stories uncontaminated by our expectations or by what we previously read in
literature” (Creswell, 2007, p. 40).
The method used for collecting data was the biographical interview (Pineau & Le Grand,
2002) since this kind of interview allows to understand the relationship that individuals have
with the social and historical world through their biographical activity and studying the
meanings that they give to their experiences (Delory-Momberger, 2012). The empirical data
of this study consist of thirty-two biographical interviews of recognition of prior learning
(RPL) professionals. Audio recordings of the interviews were done with the subjects’ consent.
A thematic content analysis (Bardin, 1995) was the technique used to analysis the information
from the interviews.
2.2. Adult educators views about adult education
The analysis of the discourse of biographical interviews of adult educators involved in
processes of recognition of prior learning reveals that they were essentially focused on the
development of the tasks defined in that process. Following this understanding, an
interviewee said the following:
“...We have the first part of the framework of the process with the adults, explaining the
process of recognition, validation and certification of competences to the adults. Usually
we call these adults in groups for a first explanation, and then starts all the work which
is the recognition of their experiences, in the sense of to the experiences that the adult
had, how he lived all his life, both formal and non-formal competences, analyzing the
personal life path, analyzing the professional career, training and social paths that the
person had throughout his life; take all of this and adjust to the framework we have to
follow, then turn this into credits. That's how the adults are assessed through a reflexive
portfolio of learning.” (RPL professional).
As it was referred by an interviewee, adult educators viewed themselves as responsible for the
process, which means for the competences certification of the adults with low level of
schooling: “in this process he [RPL professional] is the essential person to the adult so that the
candidate gets out of here successfully”. (RPL professional).
When adults didn´t have all the competences needed, they were guided to training programs
aiming to develop the absent competences. Following this understanding, an interviewee
mentioned the following:
“People arrive here, many of them thinking that in two or three months they have the
diploma in their hands, no, they do not, no, it is not that way. It is necessary to provide
some merit, give some rigor, to provide some quality to this kind of work, and also to
manage the expectations of the people and determine how far a person can get, until the
person reaches his potential to go; and those who doesn’t reach it should be referred for
training and acquire the competencies that are missing.” (RPL professional).
In these cases, training has as main goal to provide knowledge about subjects that adults don’t
have, and because of it, they don´t certificate all the competences needed to get a diploma.
Adult educators looked to adult education as a mean to prepare people for the labor market,
making them more competitive, as it was referred by an interviewee:
“At the present time, we are living in a world of certificates and the idea that the more
training we get, the more competitive we are and more tools we have to defend
ourselves; also implied in this thought is the more training, more competence.” (RPL
This view is very common in our society, spread from several actors such as politicians,
employment agents, teachers and trainers. It is also the perspective emanated by the European
Union documents about education in general and particularly in adult education.
3. Final Remarks
Adult education is viewed by their providers as a tool to acquire knowledge and develop
competences that adults don’t have and they need to acquire to improve their employability
skills. Adult educators are concerned that adults can finish their educational processes
successfully and all their tasks are focused on the achievement of this goal.
It can be noted the emphasis on standardized work processes in detriment of ethical and
political dimensions that characterize the critical educational policies (Guimarães, 2010).
Therefore, adult educators looked to adult education as a mean to prepare people for the labor
market, making them more qualified and more competitive. Considering the Biesta’ education
approach (Biesta, 2012), the discourse of adult educators only included the qualification
domain, remaining the two other not visible.
In sum, adult education was seen as a way of developing and promoting skills and
competences, following a human resource management perspective. It is noted the absence of
an adult education vision as a mean to raise autonomy and social consciousness and a tool for
the conscientization (Freire, 1987).
Maybe initial and continuing training of adult educators can contribute to the way how they
look to adult education. It is important to add a transformative dimension of adult education
into the training curricula of adult educators during their qualification processes. Spreading
and divulging a critical perspective of adult education, highlighting its role in fomenting
responsibility and social intervention could be a strategy to enable adult educators to look
adults as promoters of change in society.
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From Adult Education to Emancipation: Adult education and emancipation
at crossroads of tensions and reconfigurations
Catarina Doutor1 & Emilio Lucio-Villegas2
University of Algarve, School of Education and Communication, [email protected]
University of Seville, [email protected]
Abstract. This paper presents the results of a wider research focused on adult literacy practices. In
this paper we will focus the adults that are enrolled in the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL)
processes, promoted by a New Opportunities Centres (NOC), located in a civil society
organisation in the Algarve (Southern Portugal). Our aim was to understand and analyse literacy
practices of these adults. Based on a qualitative research, we interviewed four adults and one
member of the pedagogical team, to understand the role of RPL in different contexts of adult’s
lives. Although the RPL processes have been extinct, we intend to highlight the role of RPL
processes in adult’s lives. Our conclusions will try to give some answers, such as: what was the
role played by RPL processes in adults´ lives? What are the people’s benefits from this
experience? Have RPL processes positive or negative influences in their lives? And, finally, these
processes have ‘really’ contributed to promoting emancipation processes in their personal and
social life? Finally it is important to highlight that our results are consistent with some
investigation in the field of adult education in Portugal.
Keywords: Adult Education; Emancipation; Recognition of Prior Learning.
The present educational, social and economic situation in Portugal calls the need of reflecting
on the role of adult education in society. In fact, the last years, the field of adult education has
gone across periods of transition and contradictions. Sometimes, adult education has been
misunderstood and also marginalized by educational policies focus on lifelong learning as
consider almost a magic concept for resolving the life, the work and, including, the people’s
happiness. In this sense, it is important to reflect about their different meanings and practises.
Since 2001, Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL from now on) processes have been
developed in Portugal. The main goal was to recognize competences acquired by adults, with
low levels of education and qualification throughout their lifespan. It was intended, thus, to
raise the curiosity and pleasure to learn of Portuguese adults. Taking into account the logic of
competences, RPL processes intends that adults reflect about their non-formal and informal
learnings or experiences. However, since 2006, the RPL have a ‘turning point’ only focus on
a major aim: to increase the educational level of the population providing, thus, qualifications
and diplomas. According to Pires (2007), that identification and recognition of competences
refers to awareness of adult about their constructive transformation processes, consequently:
to strengthen autonomy and emancipation in adult learners. In this sense, this idea arise
questions such as: what are the meanings of emancipation? Can adult education be considered
as an instrument promoting emancipation? To answer these questions, we will explore, in our
paper, the meaning of an adult education as a tool to build criticism as defined by Raymond
1. Adult Education: meanings and practices
To define Adult Education (AE from now on) could be a difficult task. Usually, it is
considered a very diffuse concept that holds different meanings and practices: Does adult
education even exist? (McCullough, cited in Jarvis, 1989).
In this wide range of activities and theories we would like to stress some aspects that can
explain what we classify as AE. When we talk about Adult education, we are referring to a
kind of education addressed adult people – in a society that considers them as adults. This
variety of education is linked with Popular Education and could be characterized by: i) rooted
in real interest of people; ii) committed to social change; iii) collective and not individual; iv)
connecting education and social action. In this sense, AE is an education closely related with
daily life. So, life includes:
relatives, partners and friend’s relationships; parents and children; holidays and work;
desires and illusions; happiness and sadness; good decisions or bad decisions; emotions
and feelings; a sunset in Almograve (Portugal) or a dawn in a plane coming back home;
the dirty and delicate work of living. Lifelong Learning’s concepts and practices seem
to have forgotten that the entire life of women and men are the substance of what adult
education is made of (Lucio-Villegas, 2009, p. xiv).
Additionally, we denominate AE an education with a specific methodology that merges
peoples’ real and daily life with curricula. In a freirean way it can be said that AE is related to
the possibility to read and say the world at the same time that people read and say words.
People become more aware about their own situation starting from generative words as a
basis of AE (Freire, 1985). As Hill (2010) stresses when talking about indigenism pedagogy,
we need to ask ourselves the following questions:
Who is learning what? From whom? By what approach? For what purpose? Under what
circumstances? And with what consequences? [...] would further these interrogatives by
additionally asking at whose expense? (Hill, 2010, p. 185).
The responses to these questions help us to set a certain model of AE.
Finally, we name AE a category of education that links popular culture and classic culture in
the sense drawn on by Raymond Williams when he talked about criticism.
Criticism as a definition of conscious response [...] Including, as often necessarily,
positive or negative responses, a definite practice, an active and complex relations with
its whole situation and context (1989, p. 86).
If we look to the history, adult education is characterized for being an attempt to answer the
wishes of people for a better life, a better education and the recognizance of their own culture.
This first idea of an adult education related to the education of common people is basic in our
own idea of it. Adult education arises from both needs and people’s desires. Perhaps the most
representative author in this direction is Paulo Freire. According to Freire (1985) education is
an event where people are creating knowledge. Education cannot be conceived without
dialogue between each individual involved in the process of learning. The freirean approach is
related to participation. Adult education must be a participatory education. This radical
affirmation is also based on the works of psychologists as Vygotski and others. According to
Vygotski (1979) our conceptual skills, our ways to produce diverse thoughts are first social
and then individual. As Luria (1987) demonstrates in his research the edification of our
possibilities to think about our world is related to the context, the circumstances of our life,
Connections between dialogue and personal and collective development are in the notion of
the Zone of Proximal Development. This key concept is originally referred to children. Some
psychologists are using it and research on it paying attention to adults participating in adult
education processes (e.g., Wertsch, 1991). Dialogue can only take place in a collective level
and its major aim is improve the learning of people from their own experience.
Deriving for it, experience is an important issue. As Olesen point out:
On the one hand we wanted to ensure that the courses functioned as a practical
illustration of the fact that it is possible to turn a course into production of experience.
We went to great lengths to include and exploit the experiences of the participants, to
build on this and make them visible (1989, p. 105, italics in the original).
The experience, and the expression of it, is decisive is this case because it is an important
element to define the role of the adult. "What mobilized the desire and the ability to learn was
the simple fact that the teaching was a real part of the reality that is outside of the courses as
such” (Olesen, 1989, p. 115).
Generally speaking, these three key ideas - dialogue, cooperative work, as in the Zone of
Proximal Development, and experience - help us to define our own concept of adult education
beyond the restrictions of lifelong learning’s practices based on qualifications and diplomas.
1.1. RPL processes in Portugal
In 2001 it was created a national system on Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) in Portugal.
The central assumption of the RPL was that adults learn through different non-formal and
informal contexts and experiences. They were, roughly, adults who had left school a long
time ago and never went back, for several reasons: economic reasons; gender inequalities;
traditional gender roles, generally in rural areas; low self-esteem and lastly bad experiences
with the formal educational system. The RPL was planned as a “gateway” to a minority of
adult Portuguese, which owns lower levels of education, but with an authentic self-training in
different quadrants of a diverse and reflective life. In this sense, RPL aimed to arouse the
curiosity and pleasure of learning of adults (Melo, 2011).
Thus, experiential knowledge together with biographical methods was fundamental in RPL
processes. In this context, adults were asked to make a ‘balance’ of their past learning
regarding a set of different contexts where life happened, including professional and social
learning. Therefore, adults build, with the help and feedback from the pedagogical team, a
Reflexive Learning Portfolio (PRA) that is supposed to show the competences, knowledge
and experiences they have. And the RPL processes come to an end in a session where adults
present their work to a jury4 answer questions and doubts, among others. In this sense, this
That includes a Director of centre, professional of RPL, trainers and an external element to the centre.
experiential learning could be certified with a school diploma or a professional qualification
(Guimarães, 2011).
In 2005, it was elected a new government that announces a new programme named “New
Opportunities”. This programme is focused in qualifications of Portuguese population. This
aims was qualify 1 million Portuguese people until 2010 (Nico, 2011). In our opinion, the
RPL processes suffered a change. At the beginning, the central question was to recognise
competences of adults; meanwhile, the system is now massified. Until 2006 there was a
network of around 90 centres that recognized prior learning using adult education philosophy,
principles and methodologies. From 2005 on there was an abrupt increase of RPL centres in
Portugal (Guimarães, 2011). Most of the new centres were opened in regular formal schools.
There was an important policy shift concerning RPL in Portugal. In the past, RPL was seen as
a part of a wider adult education sub-system. Recognition of prior learning was a need, due to
the fact that there existed, in Portugal, a huge number of adults that despite the fact of having
low levels of literacy, performed professional functions of some complexity and
responsibility. In other words, there was a close correspondence between people’s
competences and their educational level.
Since 2006, however, the system of recognition of prior learning becomes explicitly used to
reach one main aim: to increase the educational level of the population and to ‘provide
qualifications’. Thus, according to Amorim and Fragoso (2010), we also believe that RPL
system is a system that produces diplomas. In other words, the RPL is used to qualify adults.
For Fragoso and Guimarães (2010), the “New Opportunities” programme characterizes the
entrance of lifelong learning into the field of adult education in Portugal. So, RPL is no longer
a practice of adult education to be logic of lifelong learning which intends to training adults to
labour market. In fact, the mass of RPL address the issue of human resources qualification
through a political logic. On the one hand, it extends to the entire population, and on the other
hand, an excessive opening may cause disfigurement of the process and put at risk the social
credibility. There have been many changes in RPL, particularly the goals that affected the
stability of teams, the methodological tools of RPL, the quality of portfolios, among others. In
March of 2013, the centres closed definitely and have been replaced by the Centres for
Education and Professional Qualification (CQEP).
2. Research and methodology
In the paper we present a part of a wider research focused on adult literacy practices. Its main
goal was: to understand and analyse literacy practices of adults that are enrolled in the RPL
processes, promoted by a New Opportunities Centres (NOC) located in a civil society
organisation in the Algarve (In Loco). Based on a qualitative research (Bogdan & Biklen,
1994), we used a biographical method. While research methodology, the biographical
approaches consist of an intensive data collection of biographical character about one or more
persons, by conducting several interviews (Nóvoa, 2002). In this sense, we interviewed four
adults and one member of the pedagogical team, to understand the role of RPL in different
contexts of adult’s lives. These four adults have narrated their experiences, allowing us a
better understanding of the role of RPL processes in their lives. And we also interviewed an
adult educator who accompanied these adults during the processes, namely guide some
collective and individual work sessions, help adults to build a portfolio, among others.
Although the RPL processes have been extinct, we intend to highlight the role of RPL
processes in adult’s lives. We also expect to answer, in the paper, questions such as: what was
the role played by RPL processes in adults´ lives? What are the people’s benefits from this
experience? Have RPL processes positive or negative influences in their lives? And, finally,
these processes have ‘really’ contributed to promoting emancipation processes in their
personal and social life?
3. RPL in adults’ lives: findings and discussion
First of all, it is important we provide some very brief biographical information about our
research subjects. John (37 years old) is married, has a 9 th grade and is seller of security
doors; Helena (42 years old) is divorced, has a 10th grade and is receptionist of a car repair
shop; Mario (41 years old), also divorced, completed the 9 th grade and works in airport as
assistant scale; Sophie (29 years old), married, has a 12 th incomplete and is seller of the
clothes store. Finally, Louise (36 years old), married, has a degree 5 in Sociology and is adult
educator/professional of RPL.
3.1. Motivations to enrol in RPL processes
In general, to enrol in RPL processes is an aim which is common to these four adults.
Concerning to motives that lead these adults to make that choice are diverse, such as the
secondary certification, the acquisition of new knowledge, to increase employability and
planning to change their jobs. For the adults, to complete their compulsory education is one of
their dreams. And subsequently expand or enhance their professional life. Study developed by
ESDIME (2007) point out the increase in educational qualifications as one of the main
motivations of adults for entry in RPL.
3.2. Benefits from RPL processes
Concerning to benefits (positives or negatives) from the RPL experience, adults mentioned
several benefits. First, they stressed the school certification (12 th grade), the pleasure of
“listen” and the like to “learn” as positives benefits of RPL. In fact, John highlight the RPL
sessions as moments of learning which people share and explain their points of view about
many issues. The “tips” given by RPL professional during the sessions is another positive
point. For John, these tips were essential to realise the works. He also stresses the “freedom to
seek, to see this and see that”. So, RPL is an educational and training process that will be
important in his life.
Mario believes that RPL “will help the people who had no chance of cultivating some
experiences as school and went to work early, to maintain a home to help their family, among
others.” So, for him the RPL is a dream comes true for the reason that RPL is a valid process
in our society. Louise argues that RPL contributes to self-esteem of adults because they grow,
value themselves and fell very good with their lives. In our opinion the self-confiance and
self-esteem are normal because adults felt aware of their knowledge and competences.
In Portugal, the Basic Law of the Educational System (Law 46/86, October 14) establish the general framework
of the educational system. In this sense, the school education develops on three levels: basic education;
secondary education and higher education. Being universal, compulsory and available free, the basic education
comprises three sequential cycles; in particular the first cycle consists of four years; the second cycle at two
years; and the third cycle of three years. The secondary education consists of a cycle of three academic years,
including the 10th, 11th and 12th grade. This education includes education to further education courses and
working life. Finally, the higher education includes university and polytechnic education. This level of education
confers degrees, master and doctoral as academic grades.
Therefore, these felling influences their relationships with family, friends and colleagues of
work. Adults mentioned the satisfaction in relive past moments and the creation of ties with
colleagues are very important in the process because they share life experiences and some
ideas. According to Helen, the colleagues “help much. Look, I did this, I did that. How did
you this work?” Taking in to account this healthy relationship between adults in RPL, Louise
says that this relationships is very good because there is no competition. In her opinion, RPL
creates connections between adults and this means “team spirit”. In our opinion, this sharing
of experiences contributes clearly to their personal development and active participation in
society. Through RPL, adults complete their educational path and obtained social recognition
of their acquired skills.
Every adult focuses on the construction of their life story (Portfolio) as a positive and
interesting experience. However, this process requires an autobiographical reflection of
adults’ learners, since it is necessary to identify and recognize the competences that were
acquired throughout life and in different contexts. In this line of thinking, Fragoso (2005, p. 4)
mentions that “biographical approaches have enormous power to change on the social actors
themselves (…) evoke the past, repossess it, retrieve it, is like having the power to reconstruct
the memory.” So, adults acquire the ability to recover and rebuild their own history, to know a
new place in the world and to assign value to your life path.
Generally speaking, Louise states that Referential of key-competences was not appropriate in
view of adults’ reality. In her opinion, the document did not include adult literacy in their
daily practices as music, painting and other areas. Another negative aspect of RPL was in her
opinion the goals. She believes that the goals are very high and difficult to achieve. Thus, she
has afraid about the credibility and quality of RPL. This opinion shows coherence with some
investigations in this field (Fragoso, 2007; Carneiro, 2010).
3.3. Role of RPL in adults’ lives
Although adults have not felt the need to increase their education, they mentioned the need to
obtain the secondary certification (12th grade) in order to have more opportunities in labour
market. For Helen, the RPL influenced her manner of being and living:
“It is enriching always learned a lot, is a way to be active. Now, I started to develop
more and think, it is really interesting because the person starts to think about their own
life, there are long time ago that I did not thought about life. This is really cute.”
So, we verified the desire to learn more, ie, the pleasure of learning throughout life. For
example, Mario emphasizes the realization of the dream of acquire more qualifications. For
him, the RPL is a personal development because contributes to lifelong learning.
Another point to highlight is that RPL contributes for personal and professional satisfaction of
adults. For Louise, the RPL have influence in skills of adults, specifically writing skills. In the
case of John and Mario, Louise believes that they developed these skills because is visible a
great development.
3.4. Changes in adults’ lives
Most of adults identify personal changes resulting from the RPL, with the exception of John.
He explains that cannot identify changes at personal level because he stills the same person.
However, Louise highlight that John was more demanding with school life of their children,
especially when reading and writing. The study developed by Salgado et al. (2011) confirms
that the RPL allowed some parents to feel more able to, then, help their children in their
Helen admits to being pleased with itself because she get a goal and acquire more experience,
maturity and enrichment. Mario points the recognition and the sense of pride by his family as
a contribution to the enhancement of self-esteem. The achievement of a secondary
certification is valued by adults. Ávila (2005) highlights the diploma as a very important
aspect in the relationship with family and friends. For Mario, his knowledge acquired through
RPL will help him in give support to school daughter. He also reveals his intention to enter in
higher education, through special programme “More than 23 years”. It means that RPL had
influence in their personal and social fulfilment.
As formative changes, we can observe through adults’ interviewees the enrichment of
knowledge in Information, Technology and Communication (ICT) as well as the deepening of
knowledge as significant learnings from the RPL. Sophie demonstrated awareness to write
without spelling errors, checking a greater autonomy in this area. It is, therefore, evident that
the recognition of learning is a transversal and continuous learning process of adults.
Although these four adults do not indicate significant changes at professional level, they
believe that the diploma of secondary certification may lead to new employment
opportunities. For Ávila (2005), or either occur or do not occur professional significant
changes after completion of RPL, adults regards conditions of employment as positive. So,
adults add that RPL certification will improve their lives.
4. Conclusion
After 2005 with the entrance of the “New Opportunities” programme, the RPL became a
system influenced by lifelong learning. Our question is: did RPL processes change adults’
lives? It was expected that adults after certification would have changes in employability.
However, in our research the professional situation of adults didn’t change immediately. In
our opinion, the RPL change the educational and training paths of adults. And this result is
very important because it can influence positively the future live of adults. It seems, therefore,
through the interviews a high satisfaction and personal fulfilment for completing the process.
It means a greater appreciation and pride of adults due to the enrichment of their knowledge.
Indeed, o RPL had disappeared in 2013 and it is certain that caused some changes in lives of
adults, namely a desire to learn more. Looking to our adults interviewees, we can conclude
that RPL had a positive influence in their educational pathway. They want to improve their
educational level through training courses, reading and writing more, entry to university,
among others. We believe that these results are important because means that RPL makes
people most confident in terms of education and training. This, also, contributes to a change
in their lives through life course. So, the conclusion of RPL can be a motivation to develop
the desire of adults to learn from life and throughout life, in order to guide their personal
training or reorientation of professional project (Narciso, 2010).
Finally, the programme has ‘really’ contributed to promoting emancipation processes in their
personal and social life? We believe that this question needs more research and reflection. So,
we can conclude that secondary certification has not an influence in their professional
situation immediately. However, it is important to highlight that adults are optimist or
confident that RPL can allow them to apply superior or better employments.
Our research followed these four adults from the beginning to the end of the RPL processes.
But if we were talking to them now, we would find out the same results? After a year of our
research, what kind of changes could be identified by adults? These are question for a new
5. Acknowledgements
To all subjects who participate in our research, namely the four adults, the adult educator and
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The adjustment to the Recognition, Validation
And Certification of Competences Process for Deaf Adults: a case study
Roussos C.1, Barreto A.2, Santos T.3
Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Escola Superior de Educação e Ciências Sociais,
[email protected]
Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Escola Superior de Educação e Ciências Sociais, [email protected]
Instituto Politécnico de Leiria, Escola Superior de Educação e Ciências Sociais,
[email protected]
Abstract. In accordance with the characteristics of the Recognition, Validation and Certification
of Competences Process and the guidelines in the Methodological Guide for the Access of People
with Disabilities and Handicaps to the Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences
Process - Elementary Level, both described throughout my research, the aim is to understand how
the technical-pedagogical team at the New Opportunities Centres of the Henrique Sommer
Elementary and Secondary School developed the Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences Process for deaf adults. Based on what has been said, and using a case study, this
research discusses the changes needed to the Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences Process for deaf adults at the New Opportunities Centres of the Henrique Sommer
Elementary and Secondary School. By implementing a qualitative method, this study identifies the
processes and adjustments the technical-pedagogical team made to the Recognition, Validation
and Certification of Competences Process for deaf adults; specifically, the potentials and/or
constraints of the adjustments implemented and to purpose a series of remedies to improve the
Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences Process for deaf adults. The results
show that some procedures are common to both; nevertheless, there is a need to make adjustments
to the mediation activities, at the level of participation by the technical-pedagogical team and
specialised personnel. With this study, we hope to help ensure that future practices by this team
may be reconsidered in view of the results and thus enhance their action within the recognition of
competences for deaf adults.
Keywords: Lifelong Learning, New Opportunities Centre, Adult Education, Recognition,
Validation and Certification of Competences Process, Deafness
In 1997, at the V International Conference on Adult Education of the United Nations
Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Hamburg, the various Member
States are advised to adopt public policies of validation and certification of competences
acquired through different experiences and contexts. In line with these guidelines, the
Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the European Union
(EU) and the various States, by means of legal regulations, have been adopting practices
towards the implementation of these policies (Cavaco, 2009). In the wake of the agreed
measures, there is also an attempt at international and community level to implement policies
which promote the integration of people with disabilities and handicaps, as exemplified by the
National Action Plan for Inclusion (NAPI) 2006-2008. Thus the New Opportunities Centres
(NOC) should integrate people with disabilities and handicaps in activities which are open to
the rest of the population (Order No. 29176/2007).
This study begins with the presentation of the Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences Process (RVCCP), in particular what characterises each of its stages, followed
by the adjustments to be made to the RVCCP according to the Methodological Guide for the
Access of People with Disabilities and Handicaps. Constraints and potentials in the
development of the RVCCP are also identified and finally, we present the results and
conclusions of the research.
1. Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences Process
1.1. The stages of the Recognition, Validation and Certification of Competences Process
Ordinance No. 1082-A/2001 of 5 September created the national network of Recognition,
Validation and Certification of Competences Centres (RVCCC), which were integrated by the
NOC, and promoted the National System of Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences (NSRVCC) conceived and organised by the National Agency for the Education
and Training of Adults (NAETA) (Mendonça e Carneiro, 2009). The preamble of this
ordinance mentions that this system and network of centres are a response to the challenges of
the Memorandum on Lifelong Learning, which resulted from the Lisbon European Council
held in March 2000. The NSRVCC develops through a process that takes place in a NOC,
supported by skilled and properly trained professionals that integrate technical-pedagogical
teams (TPT), which develop their work in the following stages of intervention: reception,
diagnosis, guidance, recognition of competences and validation (Gomes e Simões, 2007).
The TPT uses several methodologies based on a set of methodological assumptions, such as
the Assessment of Competences and the Autobiographical Approach, which show
competences previously acquired by adults throughout life (Gomes e Simões, 2007).
The stage of Recognition begins with the presentation of the RVCCP. Following this
presentation, the decoding of the Reference Framework for Key Competences (RFKC) may
begin. This work is developed by the Recognition and Validation of Competences
Professionals (RVCP) and trainers who organise individual work sessions into small groups
and/or large groups of adults (Gomes e Simões, 2007). Both elements must be able to
interpret and decode the competences of the reference framework so that it can be used by all
team members, including the adults. They should also be able to critically analyse the
reference framework for key competences in order to make it an instrument more adjusted to
the RVCCP (Cavaco, 2007). Then the RVCP begins the competence assessment session with
adults individually or in small groups. The sessions are based on the mobilisation of a set of
instruments, which should be adapted in each case, depending on the significant experiences
and specific interests of each adult. All of the activity developed will lead to the
construction/reconstruction of the Reflective Learning Portfolio (RLP) of the adult, supported
by the technical-pedagogical team to a greater or lesser extent, depending on the autonomy
that each adult reveals. Also in the Recognition stage, whenever gaps related to competences
are detected, in view of the certification level to which adults apply, complementary training
activities will be carried out (a maximum of 50 hours per adult), based on the Areas of Key
Competences of the respective Reference Frameworks (Gomes e Simões, 2007).
The Validation of competences stage focuses on conducting a session in which the adult and
pedagogical team analyse and assess the RLP, compared to the RFKC, identifying the
competences to be validated and demonstrated/developed, by continuing with the RVCCP or
training in a certified training provider.
The Certification stage corresponds to the end of the RVCCP when educational qualification
requirements are met. The certification of competences is performed before a Certification
Jury appointed by the Director of the Centre and formed by the RVCP, trainers and external
assessors/evaluators. The certification of competences consists of the official and formal
confirmation of competences validated through the RVCCP.
Finally, the stage of Monitoring the Personal Development Plan (PDP) consists of a plan
defined for each adult certified by the NOC, aimed at further studies/Lifelong Learning after
the RVCCP, with the identification of opportunities for further learning through selfemployment and/or vocational development/retraining initiatives (Gomes e Simões, 2007).
According to the guiding principles presented in the Quality Charter, the NOC should be
predicated upon openness and flexibility, among others. According to these principles, the
staff and people in charge of each NOC should organise themselves to respond to a
diversified audience (Gomes e Simões, 2007). In modern societies and in view of the
principle of universal educability, there is the challenge of designing systems which allow
every citizen to develop and optimise their potential (Sousa, 2009).
1.2. Adjustments to the dynamics of the Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences Process for the access of people with disabilities and handicaps
This paper studies the adjustments made to the RVCCP for deaf adults, so the concept of
deafness needs to be understood. The medical-therapeutic paradigm assumes that deaf means
someone who is hearing impaired and to whom objectives and strategies for auditory and oral
rehabilitation must be created. Hearing loss was considered a disability that needed to be
repaired from the audio logical point of view, by using hearing aids and from the (re)
educative point of view through procedures focused on oral language acquisition. The
intention was to develop and ensure that the deaf person would become similar to the hearer
as much as possible. Therefore, everything that stood as a “deviation”, such as Sign
Language, which was seen as a minor “language” that did not allow access to symbolic
thinking and to a more elaborate conceptual construction (Rodrigues, 2007). For the WHO,
“the disability represents any temporary or permanent loss or alteration of a structure or
psychological, physiological or anatomical function. Deafness is a disability because it is a
result of a hearing system disease” (Bispo, Couto, Clara e Clara, 2006, p. 275).
Trezek, Wang and Paul (2010) defend that there is not a single definition for deafness but that
it is defined in different ways. The authors consider that deafness is mainly audiometric.
Therefore, hearing loss is a generic term referring to all types, causes and steps of hearing
loss. In table 1, the hearing loss categories and its educative implications are illustrated,
according to these authors.
Table 1 Hearing loss categories and educative implications
Degrees of hearing
loss (decibels)
Up to 26
27 – 40
No need for special classes or treatment.
Usually, there is no need for special classes or treatment.
Lip reading and speech instructions may be needed.
Amplifications and language or reading assistance may be
Special class or school may be needed. Lip reading and
speech instructions are required. Instructions on the use of
hearing aids are required. Special language or reading
assistance is required.
90 or higher
Special class or school may be needed. Lip reading and
speech instructions are required. Instructions on the use of
hearing aids are required. Special language or reading
instructions are required.
Full time special education program with special language
and reading instructions is required. Extended support
services, lip reading and speech training and instructions on
the use of residual hearing are needed.
Full time special education program with special language
and reading instructions is required. Extended support
services, lip reading and speech training and instructions on
the use of residual hearing are needed. Usually, use of sign
language is required.
Under the promotion of opportunities for lifelong education, training and employment, order
29176/2007 of 21 December contains the guiding principles for the access of people with
disabilities or handicaps to the RVCCP that leads to an educational qualification. In 2009, the
Methodological Guide appears as a reference for the technical teams of the NOC, in that it
identifies adjustments to the implementation of the RVCCP for people with disabilities and
handicaps, in accordance with the RFKC-Elementary Level (RFKC-EL). These adjustments
are presented below.
While interacting with people who present problems with their auditory functions, the
presence of a Portuguese Sign Language (PSL) interpreter is essential if the technicalpedagogical team does not master this language.
The duration of the process may be extended if qualified personnel, such as a PSL interpreter,
are hired. The number of hours of complementary training may need to be increased
whenever more time to make the adult understand, decode and integrate information is
required (Sousa, 2009).
During the process, the following guidelines may also be considered: negotiate the duration of
sessions, which could be reduced or interspaced more often; reduce the number of participants
for better monitoring; create a repository with adapted materials; promote the sharing of
experiences between people with disabilities and handicaps who are already certified and
those who are still in the middle of the process to ensure high levels of motivation; connect
with entities specialised in the field of disability and guarantee the flexibility of the RFKCEL, taking into account that the competences may be demonstrated through many different
With regard to the formation of the group, the integration of people in previously trained
groups is recommended. However, in the interest of making an economic use of resources, it
may be better to form homogeneous groups.
The Session of the Certification Jury is a formal moment of certification and therefore, it
always causes a great sense of emotion. The technical-pedagogical team will need to prepare
in advance for this kind of situation (for example, simulate a Jury Session). The profile of the
external assessor must be considered and this person should be flexible and willing to get
involved with disabled and handicapped people.
1.3. Constraints and potentials of the Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competences Process
The practices for the recognition of emerging competences are conflicting and contradictory
and they present constraints and potentials which we will try to enunciate. For Liétard, (1997)
the problem of the recognition and validation is part of a set of influences and power struggles
that do not benefit the individual, as the validation systems give a person a number of
collective responsibilities, such as unemployment and social exclusion. These issues reinforce
the need to realise that recognition and validation are not an immediate response to the
economic and social problems, from which we point out the acquisition of competences in
order to make people skilled enough to deal with technological and organisational changes
and survive in the global market of competitiveness. The same author defends that this system
should not have this immediateness but a lasting educative role in the construction of personal
and social identity (Pires, 2007).
The nature of the RVCCP’s elements, just like the issue of competences, life experience and
assessment, make this a very complex process for the professionals as well as the adults. The
fast growth in the number of these centres has not been matched by the training of
professionals and the teams working in the Centres have played a key role in the management
of the aforementioned complexity. Therefore, these professionals face the difficulty of
understanding and making adults understand the logic of the process, to the extent that adults
do not have references concerning this model, which is different from the school model. The
complexity of these elements has an impact on the functions of the several members of the
team that are conditioned by a conflict between humanistic logic and instrumental assessment.
Humanistic logic focuses on the adult and on self-recognition that allows a formative and
constructive process and promotes the adult’s emancipation. On the other hand, instrument
assessment requires the fulfilment of quantitative goals 6 regarding the number of certified
adults, which perverts the humanistic vision of the process (Cavaco, 2007).
The conception and reformulation of the mediation instruments represent one of the main
difficulties for the team, which means that the construction of problematic situations stands as
a difficulty for trainers. Therefore, it becomes difficult to conceive problematic situations that
can be identified with a wide range of competences and that are appropriate to the specific
course of each adult. The implementation of problematic situations is a difficult task which
trainers may not always guarantee, especially if they are part-time workers at NOC’s, as is the
case in many centres belonging to public schools (Cavaco, 2007). In addition, the instability
of teams is frequent in schools, as they have to cope with new inexperienced and untrained
members at the beginning of each school year.
In complementary training, trainers face the dilemma educate/recognise. Thereby, they choose
to transmit content, by selecting school activities such as assessment worksheets for the adult
to fill gaps in training or they opt for a logical recognition of competences, by creating
problematic situations that lead the adult to the showing of competences. There is a risk of
perverting the logic of the RVCCP when the trainer opts for the “education” process (Cavaco,
The annual results indexed to the number of enrollees in each calendar year and that are taken into account in
the assessment of the centre’s activities, refer to the following goals: guidance, RVCCP development and partial
and full certification. The NOC of the Henrique Sommer Elementary and Secondary School lies at level “A” of
results, in that it works with specific audiences (Technical Guidelines for the Technical-Pedagogical Application
of the New Opportunities Centers - Biennium 2010/2011). This level establishes 250 adults enrolled; 225 adults
with a defined diagnosis and guidance; 101 adults in the RVCC process and 91 certified adults (partial and full
2. The results obtained
Based on the guidelines laid down in the Methodological Guide for the adjustment of the
RVCCP to people with disabilities and handicaps, the objective of this study is the
identification of procedures and adjustments used in the implementation of the RVCCP for
deaf adults at the NOC of the Henrique Sommer Elementary and Secondary School –
This case study is based on information provided by several members of the TPT that
monitored the group of deaf adults throughout the RVCCP. The following data collection
techniques were used: interview, direct observation and documental analysis. The universe of
study was the technical-pedagogical team at the NOC of the Henrique Sommer Elementary
and Secondary School during the academic year of 2011/2012. Therefore, a RVCP and four
trainers, who were allocated the codes (E1 to E5), are the sources of information used in our
case study. The trainers developed the elementary level RVCCP for the group of deaf adults
in several areas of key competences (Mathematics for Life, Citizenship and Employability,
Information and Communication Technologies and Language and Communication).
In the first recognition session, the team and the PSL interpreter (s) were presented, with the
allocation of a sign name to the team’s members by the group of deaf. The work methodology
was also presented, namely co-teaching, which does not apply to groups of hearers. “…in
terms of methodology we had to explain that two teachers had to be in sessions at all times.
We chose co-teaching to monitor in a more efficient way and because we were aware of our
limitations. Co-teaching allowed us to overcome, to some extent, the lack of experience in
some cases…” (E1). This adjustment made by the TPT enabled a better monitoring of the
group, considering that there was a substantial number of adults, and above all, the specificity
of the group.
In this Recognition stage, comes the decoding of the RFKC-EL. Three professionals mention
that they do not decode the reference framework – it usually occurs at the beginning of the
RVCCP but it ends up extending across the entire process. One of the members points out that
they also do not undertake this deconstruction process with the group of hearers. The other
two interviewed members use examples and images to explain the RFKC-EL. Member E5
says that “… orality, words were replaced by images and I tried as far as possible to build
text from image. In particular, I started out using the silent film of Charlie Chaplin,
essentially to lead to decoding …”.
The difficulties with written Portuguese language experienced by the deaf adult do not
necessarily mean a lack of competences in several areas of key competences. As the
construction of their portfolio was not complemented with video recordings in PSL that
would allow them to express themselves in a spontaneous way, other strategies were used.
Consequently, the construction of the portfolio by deaf adults necessarily required an
adjustment of the mediation instruments, both in written Portuguese language and the
formulation of adequate problematic situations for the deaf community’s life experiences. The
material written in Portuguese language was translated and explained by the PSL interpreters.
The sharing of ideas between the TPT and an Alternative Communication expert was very
important for the deconstruction of these activities. The Alternative Communication expert
recommended the use of a simpler, more concrete linguistic structure and images.
The Validation stage confronts the portfolio with the RFKC and the adult may need
Complementary Training if deficiencies are verified in the various areas of key competences
or move on to the certification of competences’ stage. We were particularly interested in
aspects like reflexivity, content and format of the RLP. The various members of the team
agreed on the absence of reflexivity, the simple content, the written Portuguese language and
the need to use visual aids in the construction process of the RLP. Member E5 believes that
“... The complexity is not evident [in the portfolios], all the reflexive complexity of most of the
adults...” (E5).
It is important to remember that the RLP’s structure was delivered to adults, in paper format,
at the beginning of the process, to be built after. The groups of hearers also received the
portfolio’s structure, but in digital format. The portfolio must reflect the author’s singularity
and so it is not recommended to hand a “script” to adults, even though it makes the team’s
task easier. In this regard, the following can be read in the RFKC-Secondary Level: “The
portfolio is an author’s project and should reflect the singularity of this person. Therefore, the
candidate should not receive a predesigned script, commonly called table of contents. The
table of contents should be created by the adult only at the end of the process” (Directorate
General for Vocational Training [DGVT], p. 49).
Similar to what happens in many Certification Jury Sessions of hearing adults, in the
Certification of Competences’ stage this group of deaf adults chose for their presentation the
theme professional career/activity. Usually, the presentation mode varied from PowerPoint to
film, as this mode allows adults to express their competences in their usual contexts and
language. It became apparent from the reports of the various interviewed members that some
of them were highly involved in the preparation of the Certification Jury Session. “There was
a greater involvement, mainly from the ICT teacher…” (E1).The selection of the External
Assessor/Evaluator was taken into account. The invitation extended to the representative of
the Deaf Association of Alta Estremadura DAAE), who attended this Jury Session, also
favoured the RVCCP’s social recognition.
The constraints pointed out by the members of the technical-pedagogical Team relate to three
main points: time, training and portfolio. Amongst the constraints identified by the team, the
one on which there was greater consensus was the insufficient hours of Complementary
Training, considering the gaps that a group with these characteristics presents. Member E5
defends that greater investment in Complementary Training for a group of adults like this is
needed “...More complementary training (…) certainly, but there were no resources… ”.
The team also identified the members’ lack of training in PSL as another constraint. Thus, the
presence of a Portuguese Sign Language interpreter was indispensable – this was achieved
thanks to the partnership between the DAAE and the NOC. Although the services of a PSL
interpreter were made available, some members identify the lack of knowledge in PSL as a
constraint “...Perhaps if we had more knowledge of PSL, so we could also help them during
the sign language process” (E1).
During the several recognition and training sessions, in order to validate competences, the
professionals are supposed to develop mediation instruments with problematic situations. In
the praxis of the NOC, each trainer develops activities according to their area of key
competences. However, the ICT trainer, who developed more transverse activities, considered
that “... Perhaps to better assess and to have a better view of competences, I carried out
activities to recognise ICT competences and didn’t care much for the other trainers’
activities...” (E2). This thought contradicts with some authors, who believe that the same life
situation can lead to the validation of competences, so that there is not a wide range of themes
in the portfolio. “Carrying out activities” is not in line with what is intended - that is,
competences which are properly contextualised in the adult’s life history and not divided in
areas. The conception and reformulation of the mediation instruments are indeed one of the
main difficulties for the team. The construction of problematic situations is a constraint that
Cavaco (2007) identified in the recognition and validation processes for part-time
professionals in educational institutions. Just like Cavaco (2007) has pointed out, Member E2
indicates that there is a lack of properly trained professionals, who come from the traditional
school model and need to acquire competences that shall lead them to understanding and
making adults understand the logic of the RVCCP.
Taking into account the last point, member E2 mentions that “…maybe the portfolio was not
given but constructed…” (E2). It appears from this testimony that E2 correctly internalised
the principle under which the portfolio is an author’s project and should reflect the singularity
of this person. Therefore, the candidate should not be given a predesigned script, usually
called a table of contents. Member E3 mentions the need to diversify the ways of
demonstrating competences “… we recorded videos (…) like the ones I mentioned a moment
ago (…) those recordings to see the digital portfolio (…) to be seen during the session…”
(E3). Unlike the traditional RLP, this portfolio format would ease the deaf adults’
demonstration of competences. In the traditional RLP, the competence of writing is
indispensable for the formulation of life history. This practice is most of the times deficient in
these adults, so this portfolio format may compromise and limit the demonstration of
The members of the team listed different potentials that group essentially into two key ideas:
the cohesion of the group of trainees and the professionals’ team spirit. Another strong point
was the fact that the team “resisted the temptation” to work excessively on the adults’
portfolio, allowing the final product to demonstrate their competences of writing. In this
respect, E4 points out “And I think the portfolios are (…) although they are probably simpler
(…) simpler in content (...) These portfolios demonstrate more competences than the previous
3. Conclusion
In this case study, it appeared that there are procedures common to deaf and hearing adults. In
turn, there are adjustments, which arise from deafness, that need to be made for this audience.
These adjustments concern the experts’ intervention, dynamics and process execution.
In terms of the experts’ intervention, it was found that the PSL interpreter was present during
the whole process to enable the interaction between the TPT and the deaf adults, as the
various members of the team do not master the PSL. As for the work methodology, the team
chose the co-teaching method, which is not the case with the hearing adults.
With regard to the mediation instruments, it was found that they needed to be rethought in
terms of the written Portuguese language, as well as the formulation of adequate problematic
situations for the deaf adults’ life experiences. It was also verified that the RLP was delivered
to deaf adults, in paper format, at the beginning of the process, to be built after. The group of
hearers also received the portfolio’s structure, but in digital format. In terms of the portfolio, it
is defended that it should reflect the author’s singularity and thus delivering a “script” to the
adults is not recommended, even if it makes the team’s task easier.
Similar to what occurs in many Certification Jury Sessions of hearing adults, in the
Certification of Competences’ stage it was verified that this group chose the theme
“professional career/activity” for their presentation, usually varying their presentation mode
from PowerPoint to film.
In reference to process constraints, the interviewees identified the following main points:
time, training and portfolio. In our opinion, centres should have the possibility of creating
great conditions for people with disabilities/handicaps to access the RVCCP. Therefore, it is
important to think about the RVCCP’s reference durations, in order to individualise and
respect the person’s performance times, allowing the extension of Complementary Training
beyond 50h or short training units’ attendance. Similarly, (in)adequate mediation instruments
may extend process duration. To minimise this obstacle, the team opted for the strategy of
carrying out recognition sessions for training.
Delivering the RLP with a script at the beginning of the RVCCP seems to be a weakness for
us. Although it may guide the adults in the formulation of their autobiographical narrative, it
limits the originality of their portfolio and contributes to an excessively standardised final
Important measures to deal with these constraints should include a greater number of hours
spent on Complementary Training, a greater number of Individual Sessions and in terms of
human resources, it would be beneficial if the TPT received Training in PSL, in order to
favour interaction with deaf adults.
At the end of this paper, we have presented the inherent limitations to the methodology itself,
namely the fact that results cannot be generalised to other contexts. However, we believe that
this paper is a humble contribution to the understanding of competences’ recognition practices
carried out with deaf adults.
4. Acknowledgement
I would like to express my special thanks of gratitude to the people who somehow contributed
to this achievement, in particular, to all my friends, colleagues and family, group of deaf
adults and the Henrique Sommer Group of Schools, represented by the Principal, Professor
Jorge Bajouco, my gratitude for making it possible to carry out this research at the New
Opportunities Centre promoted by that entity.
Cavaco, C. (2007). Reconhecimento, Validação e certificação de Competências:
Complexidade e novas atividades profissionais. Sísifo. Revista de Ciências da
Educação, 2, 21-34.
Cavaco, C. (2009). Adultos Pouco Escolarizados. Políticas e Práticas de Formação. Lisboa:
Comissão Europeia (2000). Memorando sobre a aprendizagem ao longo da vida. Bruxelas.
http://ec.europa.eu/education/lifelong-learningpolicy/doc/policy/memo_pt.pdf acedido em 10/12/2012.
Direção-Geral de Formação Vocacional, Ministério da Educação (2004). Reconhecimento e
Validação de Competências. Instrumentos de Mediação. Lisboa: Ministério da
Gomes, M. & Simões F. (2007). Carta da Qualidade dos Centros Novas Oportunidades.
Lisboa: ANQ
Jokinem, M. (2006). Os utilizadores de Língua Gestual e a Comunidade Surda. In Bispo,
Couto, Clara & Clara (Coord.), O gesto e a palavra I – Antologia de Textos sobre a
surdez (pp.83-108). Lisboa: Projeto AFAS.
Mendonça, M. & Carneiro, A. (2009). Análise da Iniciativa Novas Oportunidades como ação
política pública educativa. Lisboa: ANQ.
OMS (2003). Classificação Internacional de Funcionalidade, Incapacidade e Saúde. Lisboa:
Direção Geral de Saúde.
Pires, A. (2007). Reconhecimento da validação das aprendizagens experienciais. Uma
problemática educativa. Sísifo. Revista de Ciências da Educação, 2, 5-20.
Rodrigues, D. (Org.) (2007). Investigação em Educação Inclusiva. Lisboa: Edições FMH.
Sousa, J. et al (2009). Guia Metodológico para o Acesso das Pessoas com Deficiências e
Incapacidades ao Processo de Reconhecimento, Validação e Certificação de
Competências - Nível Básico. Lisboa: ANQ.
Trezek, B., Wang, Y. & Peter, P. (2010). Reading and deafness -Theory Research and
Practice. New York: Delmar, Cengage Learning.
Portaria n.º 1082 - A/2001 de 8 de setembro.
Despacho 29176/2007 de 21 de dezembro.
This paper arises from research in the context of a Master's Degree in Education Sciences:
Education and Community Development at the Escola Superior de Educação de Leiria
(Instituto Politécnico de Leiria), during the academic years of 2011/2013.
Public art galleries and museums as contested yet critical and creative sites
of adult education and social activism
Darlene E. Clover
University of Victoria, Faculty of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. Although public art galleries and museums have problematic traits and been all but
excluded from adult education, the escalating social, environmental and cultural troubles of this
century have encouraged new forms of adult education, community engagement and social
activism. Refracted through a lens of historical socio-pedagogical debates, this paper provides a
snapshot of a few of these 21st century responses in Canada, Scotland. In particular, I focus on
participation and representation, defiance and concepts of adult education and learning. My aim is
to illustrate these institutions as contested, problematic, and challenging yet progressive,
provocative, critical and creative spaces which against a backdrop of tradition, elitism, and politics
mirror the challenges and potential of adult education as they bring new practices that broaden our
understandings of the wider world of adult and community learning and action for social change.
Keywords: art galleries, museums, adult education, social change
Often dismissed as one-dimensional public art galleries and museums have quite complex and
colourful socio-pedagogical histories making what Phillips (2011) calls black-and-white
practices of analysis and understanding inadequate. They have contributed greatly to the shift
from ‘art’ as a human attribute or skill to ‘art’ as “a special kind of imaginative truth” which
has given it a problematic status above everyday practice (Williams, 1958, p. xv). Art
galleries and museums have maintained prejudice and created social conflict through practices
of exclusion, colonialism, racism, sexism, classism and paternalism (e.g. Hooper-Greenhill,
1999; Nightingale & Sandell, 2012). As bastions of high culture they have hidden behind a
guise of neutrality, “valued their academic freedom and detachment from real world politics”
over all else and failed, despite critique, to be critically self-reflexive (Janes, 2009; Phillips,
2011, p.8).
And yet museums and art galleries are spaces for public involvement and dialogue, and sites
of ‘culture’, something Williams (1958) called a ‘radical response’ to social issues. Silverman
(2010, p. 3) reminds us they have always perceived themselves as essential “institutions of
social service” and were quite responsive to social problems such as poverty, violence,
alcoholism and social unrest brought about by the industrial revolution. Arts and culture
institutions have been active sites of adult education, with UNESCO highlighting in 1997 the
plethora of “informal individual learning as well as structured learning activities for groups of
adult learners” they offer and suggesting adult educators pay them more mind (p. 3). The
escalating social, cultural and environmental problems of this century have increased pressure
on these public spaces to become even more socially responsive and engage in/with more
communities, as complex as that latter word/site of struggle is (Golding & Modest, 2013;
Marstine, 2006). In institutions in Canada, England and Scotland, the focus of this paper,
issues such as diversity, injustice, inequality and human rights have been moved “from the
margins of…thinking and practice to the core” (Nightingale & Sandell, 2012, p. 1) and new,
radical forms of community engagement, activism and practices of teaching and learning
aimed directly at social change have emerged (e.g. Clover & Bell, 2013; Steedman, 2012).
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, depending on how you assess the picture I have just
painted, Mayo (2012) notes that these public institutions continue to be absent from any lists
adult education and Janes (2009) suggests they are still seen by scholars, the public and
governments as socially irrelevant. In this paper, I aim to show that public art galleries and
museums are not and never have been socially or pedagogically irrelevant and that, in
accordance with UNESCO and scholars such as Mayo and Taylor and Parrish (2010) they do
deserve much more attention from adult educators. These public institutions are contested,
problematic, and troubling yet provocative, critical and creative spaces which, against a
backdrop of tradition, elitism, and politics, mirror many of the challenges and potentials of
adult education as they bring new ways to understanding the wider world of adult and
community learning, and social action for change.
1. The Historical Context
Although the following summary is by no means exhaustive or comprehensive, I believe that
in order to understand the present it is important to understand some of key historic sociopedagogical debates, struggles and narratives that have shaped public arts and cultural
Beginning as private collections to enhance the prestige and power of collectors – all men by
the way (Malt, 2006) – the 18th century gave rise to the type and plethora of public art gallery
and museums we are familiar with today. Although arguably created as a playground of the
elite, the more public these institutions became, the less immunity they had “from the broader
social and political contexts and often competing interests of the times” (Barrett, 2012, p. 5).
Indeed, in many cases governments, eager to build a modern nation, did not really see the
value of financially supporting what they deemed as “the frivolous pursuit of art and culture”
(Foss, Whitelaw & Paikowsky, 2010, p.7). There were others, however, who were motivated
by a desire to improve the conditions of their growing industrial societies and had a particular
concern for the working and lower classes. These individuals, working both within and
outside these institutions, argued that public art galleries and museums needed to serve the
social, aesthetic and educational needs and aspirations of everyone; to become places “whose
language [could] be understood by all, an ever open book whose pages appeal not only to the
scholar but even to the man (sic) who [could not] read” (Lucas, 2008, p. 58). This
constellation of elitism, politics and social service have placed these institutions in a near
constant process of defining and re-defining their social and educational missions, services
and practices all of which have been robustly debated.
For some, the mission of public arts and culture institutions was to provide an “elevating
alternative to unsuitable forms of popular culture [which could] lift their sprits and
combat…the strain of everyday life” (Tippet, 1990, p. 53). Critics, however, were quick to
argue that what the ‘poor’ needed was not ‘art’ or ‘enculturation’ but rather employment or a
vocational education. They perceived no link between a trip to the art gallery, for example,
and any concrete transformation in people’s lives. They argued cultural education was little
more than an ill-disguised, patronising move designed to make the working and lower classes
more valuable to the wealthy by ‘civilising’ or modifying their ‘ dubious’ morality (e.g.
Lucas, 2008).
Others positioned arts and culture institutions more tactically. The growing socialist
movements in Europe and North America, for example, suggested they were in fact useful
sites to improve education, elevate status and eventually obtain higher wages for the working
classes and provide sites for leisure (Silverman, 2010; van Gent, 1992). For women a cultural
education was seen as key to their social elevation and aspirations to move beyond the
confines of domesticity (Foss, Whitelaw & Paikowsky, 2010; Panayotidis, 2004; Tippet,
1990). Voaden in his 1927 diaries suggested these institutions were crucial to challenge what
he characterised as the problematic rise of “industrial conservatism” and he situated them as
spaces to save people from what he called “a devotion to something more permanent than
money and materials things” (cited in Tippet, 1990, p.11). Museums and art galleries stood
steadfast against taking a position around issues, choosing instead to present a balanced
perspective that allowed people to think and decide for themselves. The stories they told were
means to encourage critical thinking, strengthen social cohesion, nationalism, and citizenship
and thereby make a major contribution to the development of more democratic society by
giving people a voice, a place to engage, a narrative and a collective vision of who they were.
This lack of bias has given many the status of being fair, rigorous and authoritative (HooperGreenhill, 1992).
While most agreed with the general premise of being a public space to educate, democratise
and strengthen cohesion, concerns were raised around institutional “curriculum and the
unseen and unspoken but powerful underlying assumptions that construct what counts as
knowledge” (Hooper-Greenhill, 1999, p. 3). Under what some saw as merely a guise of
‘neutrality’, public art galleries and museums were in fact playing a role in deciding whose
histories mattered and whose did not, whose knowledge counted and whose did not, whose
artworks were of value and whose were not, and which images of social life should be
projected and which should not (e.g. Borg & Mayo, 2011). Exhibitions are the key
educational devices these institutions use and they are always positions, “suggested way of
seeing and making the world” (Macdonald cited in Oncuil, 2013, p.79). And Malt (2006,
p.124) reminds us that shaping identity and cohesion “is not an easy task especially when
ethnic, political, gender and nationalist issues are involved.” Scholars have evidence of a
glossing over of social and cultural complexities, such as colonialism, by these institutions
and a moulding of the populace towards dominant social and cultural values and
understandings (e.g. Borg & Mayo, 2010; Golding & Modest, 2013; Janes, 2009).
Linked to the above were debates around knowledge. For some, these institutions offered an
important downward spread of knowledge by highly educated curators with degrees in art
history or anthropology. Others countered, however that these white-collar workers were at
best “ignorant of the pressures, anxieties and aspirations of those less fortunate” (Fleming,
2009, p.9) and at worst harboured prejudice, stereotypes and fears about people who seemed
so different. This was manifest in many ways, but particularly in the primary educational
practice Hooper-Greenhill (2007) described as ‘regimented walking’, an orchestrated march
past the collections that limited time with artworks and objects for those “who lacked clean
hands” or spoke a course jargon (Tippet, 1990, p.90). Linked to the above, the practice
worked as a ‘framing’ device, a means to control “the viewing process into a tightly woven
authentic view of history [or art], without conflict or contradiction” (Marstine, 2006, p.5).
However, in the 1930s art galleries and museums “began to be affected by currents of the
progressive movement in adult education. Influenced by writings [such as those] of Eduard C.
Lindeman launched a wave of thinking of adult education…[as] a cooperative venture in nonauthoritarian, informal learning” (Burnham & Kai-Kee, 2011, p.26). This ushered in the
practice of ‘open-interpretation’; adult educators invited visitors to share their feelings and
impressions of artworks or objects in a group process with minimal ‘expert’ intervention.
While some applauded what these more respectful and experiential approaches others
described them as ‘chaotic’ and argued they were nothing less than a ‘dumbing-down’ of
culture. Indeed, questions from the educator were often met with strained silence from those
lacking the skills to interpret an unfamiliar artwork or object, resulting in reinforced feelings
of inadequacy and fuelled anti-intellectualism (Eisenbeis, 1972; Burnham & Kai-Kee, 2011).
In essence, past educational debates within these institutions were centred on education versus
learning, intentionality versus ‘freedom of choice’ learning, and what Freire and Macedo
(1995) called professional authority versus knowledge authority.
2. The Contemporary World
With these debates in mind, I turn to the present. Again, my aim here is to illustrate persistent
vexing attitudes but more importantly new acts of engagement and defiance and visions of
education and learning I feel make these public institutions critical sites of adult education
and social activism. Subsequently, I provide examples from adult educators writing about
museums and art galleries, websites and my own studies of these institutions. I focus on three
specific areas: participation and representation; social activism and defiance; and conceptions
and practices of education and learning.
2.1. Participation and representation
A contemporary and historical preoccupation of public arts and cultural institutions is
inclusion of those who are “socially or educationally disadvantaged… from working class
backgrounds, particular ethnic minority groups, immigrants” (Schuetze & Slowey 2002,
p.312-313). This has challenged many pubic art galleries and museums to try to take a closer
look at the stories they tell and to give “those represented control of their own cultural
heritage” (Marstine, 2006, p.5). In some cases, however, tradition continues to thwart these
best-laid plans.
For example, the aim of the photography project entitled Staying Power: The Story of Black
British Identity 1950-1990s at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London was to raise
awareness of the lives, contributions and challenges of Black British citizens, and to reconsider participation and voice. To these ends, an Advisory Group of curators, educators and
experts from the Black community was struck. Their first action was to create ground rules
for acquisitions based on the project’s remit to acquire “the work of black British
photographers” (Keith, 2012, p. 251). However, with the very first acquisition, the curator
went outside this remit and chose a white American artist who was only able to put forward
his “conception of the black experience” (emphasis Keith’s, p.253). While Keith
acknowledged that simply choosing the work of Black British photographers in itself was not
the solution – in fact it could be seen as culturally essentialising the artist and by extension
her or his work - the perspectives of those the museum was actually trying to highlight and
the stories they would tell of their own community was not in fact as well represented. What
could have been a process to unfix normative ideas of subject identity within this exhibition
was not exercised. Keith suggests one reason was the socially and politically charged nature
of the subject and the exhibition itself. As noted above, museums have a legacy of positioning
themselves as neutral around controversial issues: “We cannot possibly take a stand or
advocate for a particular position, perspective or issue…Taking on an issue is none of our
business – our museum has to be seen to be fair and impartial” (museum executive cited in
Janes, 2009, p. 61). Another reason is that museums, like other intellectual/research
institutions, have established criteria and professional standards for the selection and inclusion
of works, objects and artists. While having standards is not a problem in itself, it is when they
camouflage systemic racism (Lopes & Thomas 2006).
Yet this stands in sharp contrast to other examples. One is a recent exhibition at the Art
Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) in Canada entitled Urban Thunderbirds /Ravens in a
Material World, a First Nations (indigenous peoples in Canada) photography/mixed media
exhibition, “co-curated by gallery educators and curators and two of the featured artists, Coast
Salish lessLIE Sam and Kwakwakwak Rande Cook” (Rogers, 2013, p.n/p). This exhibition
was a complex, visual of the experience of inhabiting a dual cultural existence in the modernday; of trying to navigate both traditional and contemporary responsibilities and needs; of
being moulded by the past yet with agency in the present. The exhibition was a challenge to
colonialism, but also, to tradition, resulting in beautiful, thought provoking, hard-hitting,
touching and often humorous visual display (Rogers, 2013). In the opening address for the
exhibition, there was this acknowledgement by a Songhees Elder of the territory: “the stolen,
renamed, illegally occupied land on which a western culture has sprung” (n/p).
There are a number of things about this activity that are important. Because the gallery is a
‘public space’ this exhibition was able to reach a broad and diverse public. Often, critical
dialogues and debates around indigenous issues in Canada are confined to the media or to
higher education institutions and other such ‘exclusionary’ spaces, although we do need to
recognise that art galleries still do tend to draw the more elite. Saying this begs the question:
Should we not also be sending different messages and stories to those in society who have the
power and agency to make change? Racism around aboriginal peoples in Canada, and other
parts of the world, is real. This activity re-situated the place and role of indigenous art, artists
and communities within the gallery. Although Mayo (2012, p.106) quite rightly points out
that museum displays can continue “to sanitise the history of brutal subjugation and
extermination of natives”, this work was a co-creation, with indigenous artists and used the
gallery’s respected and authoritative public put forward a decolonising ethos that privileged
indigenous voices and told complex and creative stories “against a brutal historical
background of oppression and dispossession which has left pernicious legacies of racism and
stereotypes” (Golding & Modest, 2013, p.17). This activity is also important because while it
was not in anyway ‘neutral’, the artworks and their stories were, as noted above, complicated.
They troubled notions of aboriginal tradition and history as much as modernity and the
present, challenging viewers to move beyond static notions of ancient cultures. In other
words, it was a creative aesthetic/creative response to hooks (1992, p.152) challenge for us to
find ways to address what she calls “dangerous stereotypes that separate.” And stereotypes
work both ways. But fun also plays a role and this is something a growing number of adult
educators (e.g. Roy, 2004) see as valuable to processing difficult political issues. The image
of the traditionally masked man (visit the website listed at the end of this article) standing
cockily in front of the backdrop of a gold-saturated Sistine Chapel in the Vatican – the gold
was after all recklessly pillaged from indigenous lands in Latin America - is extremely
humorous. Hannah Arendt (1970) reminds us “the greatest enemy of authority… is contempt,
and the surest way to undermine it is laughter” (p.40). Many of the artworks are real yet
surreal, a collision of illusion and reality that yet again demonstrate arts’ comfort with
ambiguity, with not knowing in world that is not knowable. There is no ‘truth’, only truths; no
‘story’ only stories.
2.2. Defiance
Despite the respect these institutions have enjoyed from trying to avoid bias, there is evidence
that public art galleries and museums are becoming spaces of defiance and taking a stand on
controversial issues and topics. For example, at the heart of the neoliberal agenda in Canada is
turbo resource exploitation, making environmental destruction something Janes (2009, p. 26)
sees as the primary threat to “the very existence of…planet earth and global civilisation.”
“Thanks but no Tanks” was an activity undertaken at the Haida Gwaii Museum in the autumn
of 2013. The exhibition and educational activities associated with it were a direct and open
challenge to the Tory government’s ambitions to build pipelines to carry the bitumen across
salmon spawning rivers and through indigenous lands to ship to markets in China using
‘super-tanker’ ships. Amongst the educational events, ‘Tanks’ included an art exhibition and a
popular theatre activity that was openly “opposition to the proposed… pipeline and increased
numbers of oil tankers on the Pacific coast of British Columbia” (Leichner, 2013, p. n/p,
emphasis his). This is an example of a humorous, yet forceful and unrepentant stance, an act
of shear defiance and contempt against the relentless propaganda machine of the partnership
between the petrol industry and the government. In other words, with skill and art, it educates
and acts explicitly to further the cause of socio-environmental justice. Martin (2003) argues
we need to promote and cherish acts of dissent, defiance and agency. Indeed, spaces of public
involvement become sites of ‘citizenship participation’ only when they exercise a different
voice and challenge or at least hold normative assumptions to account.
2.3. Conceptions of education and learning
In the 1990s there was a marked shift from a discourse of ‘education’ in favour of ‘learning’
(and often lifelong learning) promoted by governments in adult education (English & Mayo,
2012; Steedman, 2012; Thompson, 2002).
Let me acknowledge there is nothing inherently wrong with the concept of learning, and in
fact in public art galleries and museums it has ushered in greater creativity and
experimentation in some cases (e.g. Burnham & Kai Kee, 2011). Hooper-Greenhill (2007, p.
177) quite rightly reminds of the problematic education work of the past, arguing that “when
information is simply presented as true – [which it was/is] - without any debate and without
alternative perspectives, the motivation to delve deeper and learn is missed.” Burnham and
Kai-Kee (2011, p. 31) add there needs to be a focus on “enjoyment and discovery, rather than
upon specific information to be remember…[and] the skilled museum teacher should strive to
allow the [person] to draw his (sic) own conclusions.”
But museum and gallery education, like adult education, “has difficulties in resisting the
introduction of discourses that, through new and subtle techniques of power, act in favour of
individualized and market-oriented constraints” (Illeris, 2006, p. 16). And there are some
problematic understandings associated with the concept and politics of learning. One example
comes from my own research (e.g. Clover and Bell, 2013, pp. 34-35) where I uncovered some
troubling laissez faire approaches to learning, as illustrated in this conversation with a woman
museum educator in London:
Kayla: Our workshops have no aims, no goals, no purposes. I just like to bring a group
together with no intentions at all and just watch what they do. I asked to have my title
changed from Education and Outreach Coordinator because I don’t ‘educate’ anyone.
So I’m now the Participation Coordinator as I encourage participation, not education.
Darlene: So what does participation look like?
K: Well, people just creating.
D: Just creating. Is that clear?
K: In the first set of workshops, people did ask what we were doing and why - what this
was all about. But I think not just feeding them answers is important and they should
just figure it out. [The government] is so outcomes and purpose-oriented.
D: How well did that work?
K: Well, quite a few did not come back for the second session and finally, there was
only one artist left. So I organised a celebration of the programme and I put up posters
all around the community but no one actually showed up….I guess they just don’t
understand what I am doing.
While the resistance to government mandates of lifelong learning that have been imposed on
these institutions (and adult education) is critical – these mandates focus on measurable
outcomes which force these institutions to constantly account for their education effectiveness
and to steer them in particular directions - we must query the implications of a lack of
educational intentionality, particularly given the results. What is not healthy is any
facilitation/learning without meaning. Any education process that purports to challenge the
tyranny of government outcomes-oriented policy but which is incapable of engaging the
learners in a discussion or understanding of the importance of this action is in danger of
contributing little to political consciousness and rendering the process of art making
Taking this further, Lahav (2003) argues that throwing off “the shackles of elitism associated
with the traditional one line story for new more ‘people-centred’, transparent and pluralistic
understandings” has led to a fragmented learning experience. “Learning in museums has
become like a trip to the supermarket shop – we are invited to choose which story or theme
we fancy” (n/p). All interpretations are valid, even when they maintain and reinforce biases
and stereotypes. Horton and Freire (1990) very articulately argued a case for beginning and
ending with people’s knowledge, but they acknowledged there was a time when that ran out
and new knowledge was required to help see the world differently.
Building on this, studies by adult educators draw attention to the challenges art gallery and
museum adult educators face with operationalising experiential learning mandates. In the
United States Taylor, Neill and Banz (2008, p. 32) found that although intentions to use more
participatory strategies by educators were present, many eventually retreated back to the
transmission of knowledge:
At the beginning of a presentation or tour [the docent] would assess the visitors’
interest for establishing greater relevancy and establishing a rapport, implying a
learner-centred teaching orientation. However, once the initial assessment was
completed, there was a shift back to a more teacher-centred orientation.
Harkening back to the above, and drawing on the work of Hooper-Greenhill, they attribute
this to deeply entrenched modernist notions of enlightenment education, the importance of
laying out and absorbing of knowledge. But a London-based museum educator shared this
with me recently: “Sometimes you just do not know what to do. I try to engage people as
much as I can but one day, I had this angry gentleman say quite loudly, “I came here to find
out what these paintings ‘really’ mean and not to listen to what ‘these people’ think they
mean” (Clover & Bell, 2013, p. 36). Although one should immediately question the notion of
any ‘real’ meaning, the ambiguity and provocativeness art often belies this, nonetheless this
brings us to questions of authority that complicate attempts at learner-centred approaches. In
fact, at a recent popular education gathering after I had presented this work, a participant told
me she concurred as she too went to the gallery to listen to the expert. We should not
therefore, throw out the importance of ‘knowledge authority’ and its value to educators or the
public. However, we should also pay heed to critical and feminist adult education
perspectives of how learners internalise oppression, which can result in a lack of confidence
in themselves and others not deemed to be experts. I believe their understandings are
particularly relevant to museum and gallery educators who are dealing with this complex
circumstance. Yet Barr (2005, p. 98) reminds us they are ‘scantily informed’ by the longstanding debates and knowledge of our field, exemplified in this comment by a feminist
museum educator in the United Kingdom: “I’m also self-educated in education. I’ve never
taken a course, apart from doing a lot of training in popular education within social
movements. I did not even know that radical adult education was a field!” (Steedman, 2012,
p. 101).
Yet there are more powerful understandings and acts, as noted earlier in this paper, of
education ‘intentionality’ towards empowerment and change. Janna says this of her
educational work in a public art gallery in Toronto,
we collectively decided that our focus was not to be on individual success [in the
workshops]. We decoded the fact that capitalism produces the basic idea that you’re
all in competition with each other…Some of the skills we developed together in this
decoding were to do with art, but at least half of what we learned was related to things
like how to…become effective political agents, how to speak and make demands (in
Steedman 2012, p. 97).
St Mungo Museum of Religious Life in Scotland takes on the complex issue of faith and
religion in society today. Its exhibitions present the destructive histories of religions alongside
their positive contributions, aims to promote mutual understanding and respect amongst
people of all faiths and initiates debates around issues at “the core of the meaning of life in a
pluralist society” (Reeve, 2012, p. 128). Through workshops Protestants and Catholics, as
well as Hindus with Muslims are brought together. Facilitating these sessions with people
who hold deeply ingrained biases, fears and timeless animosities takes commitment,
ingenuity, skill and I dare say not a little bit of courage to do what Lopes and Thomas (2006)
articulate as ‘dancing on live embers’ and the adult educators I interviewed did in fact call
“sitting in the fire”.
Adult educators at Tate Modern in London took advantage of a visiting Paul Gauguin
exhibition to explore essentialised images of life – and mostly women –with over 150 people.
It illustrated how we create ‘the other’ and perpetuate stereotypes. It also initiated reflections
on religion, since Gauguin had fled the stranglehold of morality enforced by the Catholic
Church of the time. There are also examples of training activities by adult educators to use
critical approaches. Returning to Tate Modern, workshops are organised to train art gallery
educators in a critical language of ‘power’, including how to engage in conversations around
the power relations between men and women, between the art world and the economic world,
and/or between institutions and community by again, using artworks in the collection and also
collective dialogue. Bringing something illusive and its subscribed order into visibility, into
question, as Freire discovered is often best done through art. The principle here is that
aesthetic learning can deepen critical awareness of socio-cultural constructs, a requirement for
meaningful personal and social transformation (Burnham & Kai-Kee, 2011; Thompson,
2002). Part of art’s power is how it encourages the imagination to aid social analysis. And it is
the imagination’s process of invention and projection that transforms the lived experience and
authoritative information into viable possibilities for meaning making and action (e.g. LipsonLawrence, 2005).
3. Conclusions
Fleming (2012, p.72) reminds us that re-creating arts and cultural organizations that avoid the
sins of the past is a “major task, one that can take years to complete. There are many pitfalls
and a host of pressures that mitigate against achieving this.” Public arts and cultural
institutions do continue to perpetuate the very problems in society they were often created to
address. They also exhibit, as does the field of adult education in general (e.g. English &
Mayo, 2012), confusion around education and learning. Many continue to try to hide behind
‘neutrality’, and confuse professional authority with the authority of knowledge. They need
the field of adult education and yet they are some distance from it.
Martin (2003) calls for more critical and progressive forms of adult education and argues that
we need to cherish acts of dissention. Borg and Mayo (2010, p.37) call for a return to
education, to a critical pedagogical approach that offers opportunities for ideology critique,
and critical confrontation. This paper illustrates that in fact, some public arts galleries and
museums in Canada, Scotland and England offer us both. Indeed, I characterise many of the
current ‘pedagogical activities’, for all exhibitions have an educational role and purpose, as
courageous. What they are displaying is a sense of agency to teach, to render visible, and to
take on the ‘difficult’ issues often unflinchingly. The new narratives arts and cultural
institutions are working to construct, the defiant standpoints they are adopting and their
critical and creative teaching and learning practices will have positive social effects and
While we should never simply throw art at a social problem, arts-based adult educators argue
for more disruptive aesthetic practices that shake complacency, encourage co-problemitising
relationships, and provide “ meaningful resistance to a now unfettered neo-liberal imperative”
that has created such injustice and inequity (Steedman, 2012, p. 16). Through the magical mix
of art and story – “the rational and the non-rational” – educational activities in arts and
cultural institutions are creative means to teach, defy; a public space to present and engage
with and of the world differently (Newman, 2006, p. 3).
Let us put them on our lists of adult education sites and see what we can both learn, and do to
help and together.
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Beyond the Western Canon: Breaking the Monopoly of Knowledge7
Budd L. Hall
Co-Holder, UNESCO Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher
Education, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria
Abstract. This paper is a theoretical contribution to the research programme of the UNESCO
Chair in Community-Based Research and Social Responsibility. It builds on ideas of knowledge
democracy that Drs. Tandon and Hall have been involved with for 30 years. These ideas presented
here draw from a combination of literature reviews and case study research carried out over the
past two years in the context of the ‘Mainstreaming Community Based Research’ project
supported by the International Development Research Centre in Canada. The implications for
adult education are that in addition to being concerned with the democratic use of knowledge for
social change, that we must also be concerned about ‘whose knowledge counts’ and widening the
base of knowledge that we draw upon moving beyond what is often referred to as the Western
As I begin I first acknowledge the Coast and Straits Salish First Nations on whose traditional
territory I am pleased to be able to live and work. I want to share with you today my story so
that you will know that my acknowledgement of those who have been on this land for
thousands of years is more than a case of respectful behavior. I am standing here today as a
Professor at the University of Victoria as a direct result of my great grandparents obtaining
200 acres of Halalt First Nations traditional territory through illegal or immoral means in the
last quarter of the 19th Century. Prior to the acquisition of this rich and productive land, my
settler ancestors were landless and poor having travelled from England to Australia and then
to Eastern Canada finally to Vancouver Island in search of a way to support themselves and
their children. Those 200 acres of Halalt Traditional territory transformed my family into the
middle class and all of my great grandparents children on down to myself have had the
opportunity to study and achieve positions of importance in their lives.
The geographer David Harvey has elaborated the concept accumulation through
dispossession to explain how capital, the basis of our dominant economic system, began to be
accumulated. He draws attention to the activities in 14 th-17th Century England, which
removed people from the land through a process of enclosure. He tells us of wealthy
landowners who turned the traditional open fields and communal pastures into private
property for their own use through the creation of what became known as enclosures. The
clans of Scotland were similarly affected by a similar process which was so widespread that
their dispossession were known as the clearances. Each of these acts of dispossession left the
majority of people without access to land and allowed for wealth to accumulate to those who
were now known as private landowners.
Two months ago, I had the opportunity to spend a few days in one of the Oxford Colleges, a
college that was created at the same time as the enclosures. I entered the college through a
low doorway only accessible to students and fellows and their guests. The college was walled
An earlier version presented at the Annual General Meeting of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, June
6th, 2014, Victoria, British Columbia
in and only accessible through one or two guarded entryways. While staying in the college,
the linkage between the enclosing of previously common land for private purposes and the
creation of walled places for learning became disturbingly apparent. The act of creating
Oxford and the other medieval universities was an act of enclosing knowledge, limiting
access to knowledge, exerting a form of control over knowledge and providing a means for a
small elite to acquire this knowledge for purposes of leadership of a spiritual nature, of a
governance nature or a cultural nature. Those within the walls became knowers; those outside
the wall became non- knowers. Knowledge was removed from the land and from the
relationships of those sharing the land. The enclosing of the academy dispossessed the vast
majority of knowledge keepers, forever relegating their knowledge to witchcraft, tradition,
superstition, folkways, or at best some form of common sense.
These new academies came into being as well at the time of the rise of European science and
through improvements in navigational aids and the wealth generated by the enclosures and the
exploitation of silver and gold from Latin America, the hegemony of mostly white eurocentric knowledge spread around the world. Just as colonial political practices carved up the
globe in the 18th and 19th centuries, knowledge, the intellectual energy by which humans
operate became colonized as well. The process of dispossession of other knowledge is a
process that Boaventura de Sosa Santos, a Portuguese sociologist, has called epistemicide, or
the killing of knowledge systems.
I want to continue my remarks with some stories about knowledge. I will then move into a
fuller exploration of the concept of knowledge democracy.
In the late 1970s a young Indian academician by the name of Rajesh Tandon, educated in the
elite universities of India and the USA found himself deep in rural Rajasthan working as a
researcher with Tribal farmers on rural development issues. He found on every issue of rural
development that he encountered, that the unschooled women and men in rural Rajasthan
were more knowledgeable than he, not marginally, but deeply so. A few years later when he
had the opportunity, he created the non-governmental research organization that today is
known as PRIA, the Society for Participatory Research in Asia, with the aim of supporting the
development of grass roots knowledge with the urban and rural poor for social change.
Honey Bee Network
In the late 1980s in the state of Gujarat in India, a knowledge network was created dedicated
to countering what they noted as a pernicious culture of knowledge asymmetry. Knowledge
asymmetry occurs when the people who provide knowledge do not benefit from the gathering
and organizing of that knowledge.
“Knowledge”, they said, “has been extracted, documented without any acknowledgement to
the source. The documented knowledge has not been communicated to the knowledge holder
for feedback. These practices have not only impoverished the knowledge holders by pushing
them further down in the oblivion, but also have hampered the growth of an informal
knowledge system, that is robust in nurturing creativity”.
They called their project the Honey Bee knowledge network, based on the in the metaphor of
the honey bee which does two things that scholars, often don’t do. It collects pollen from the
flowers without exploiting or hearing a complaint and it connects flower to flower through
pollination so that in the end life itself continues.
Mpambo Afrikan Multiversity
In the late 1990s, a Ugandan intellectual and civil society activist, Paulo Wangoola returned
home to his Kingdom of Busoga after 25 years of work in various parts of Africa and abroad
to report on the state of the world as he had experienced it. His message to his Elders was this.
“You sent me out, one of the lesser young people of my generation, to gain Western
knowledge and to work in the structures and organisations of the Western world, to learn what
I could from these experiences. I have been to their universities, have worked with their
governments, have created Western style organisations here in Africa and now I have come
home to share what I have learned. I come to tell you that we, the children of Busoga
Kingdom, the children of Afrika will never realize our full potential as people in our
communities and as contributors to the global treasury of knowledge if we continue to
depend wholly on the content and ways of knowledge of the European peoples. Our way
forward must be linked to the recovery, replenishment and revitalization of our thousands of
years old Indigenous knowledge.”
With those words came a decision by Wangoola to withdraw from the western world
economic structures, to return to a subsistence life style and to dedicate himself to the creation
of a village-based institution of higher education and research that is today known as the
Mpambo, Afrikan Multiversity, a place for the support of mother-tongue scholars of Afrikan
Indigenous knowledge.
Mpumalanga Traditional Knowledge Commons
Early in the 21st century, eighty traditional healers living in Mpumalanga province in South
Africa, women and men whose health and medical knowledge has been learned through
traditional apprenticeships created a biocultural knowledge commons for the systematic
sharing of their knowledge amongst each other for purposes of better serving the health needs
of the people living in their province. In doing so they described knowledge as, “An outcome
of virtuous relationships with the land, the plants and the animals. It is not property to be
bought and sold. It is simultaneously cultural and spiritual and its movement and application
promotes a kind of virtuous cohesiveness" (Abrell, …)
University of Abahlalhi baseMjondolo
In 2005 in Durban South Africa some of the inhabitants of the tin-roofed shacks of the city
created a blockade on Kennedy Road to protest the sale of land originally promised to the
poor for house building, to an industrialist for commercial purposes. This movement of those
living in these shacks has grown into, Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shackdwellers movement.
But what is unique to this social movement is that they have created their own University of
Abahlali baseMjondolo, a space for the creation of knowledge about survival, hope and
transformation where the shack dwellers themselves are the scholars, the Professors and the
teachers. They create and share knowledge through song, ‘live action debates’ and discussions
and document the knowledge in a web based archive.
The Slow Food Movement
In the late 1960s is the town of Bra in southwestern Italy, university activists and community
leaders found themselves coming together creating new communal spaces for democratic
discussions, community-building and enjoyment. Communist party members, more
conservative folks with church backgrounds found themselves coming together around the
tables where local artisanal food was being shared. As they spoke of many things, they also
spoke about the disappearance of the knowledge of making traditional foods of the region.
They thought about a new way to change the world…through the kitchen. A few years later
when a MacDonald’s restaurant was proposed to be located at the Spanish steps in Rome,
these food and politics activists brought their ideas of recovering and promoting knowledge of
traditional foods into a new movement that they called the Slow Food Movement. Today
there are chapters of this movement in 150 countries.
Languages of the land
My final story begins with a young Indigenous woman from the Lil’wat First Nation in
British Columbia. In the 1960s she was chosen by her community to work as a research guide
for a non-Indigenous linguist who had expressed an interest in working on the development of
an alphabet for the St’át’imcets language. She was successful in this challenge and her people
have made use of this alphabet since that time.
In 2014 this woman is a leading authority on Indigenous Languages in Canada, previous
holder of the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Knowledge and Learning at the
University of Victoria and Chair of the First People’s Cultural Council. But the fate of the
language of her community and the fate of most of the Indigenous languages of Canada has
not fared well. The impact of colonial domination of western language traditions has resulted
in linguicide, the death or near-death of these carriers of our global cultural heritage.
Knowledge democracy
In each of the stories that I have just shared with you knowledge is central. Knowledge is the
star of each drama. Knowledge is dynamic, active, engaged and linked to social, political,
cultural or sustainable changes. PRIA’s co-constructed knowledge is linked to a variety of
social movements in India. Mpambo’s mother tongue scholars are stimulating an
unprecedented reawakening of Afrikan spiritual knowledge and sharing in Uganda. The
shackdwellers of Durban and beyond have boldly taken the word university as their own and
turned the knowledge hierarchies upside down in the service of justice for the poor. The
Indigenous language champions working with the First People’s Cultural Council have staked
a claim to epistemological privilege over the western trained non-Indigenous linguists. The
healers from South Africa have staked their claims to knowledge superiority not to settle any
epistemological scores with western science, but in their commitment to better serve the
health needs of their people. Slow Food is now the largest gastronomic social movement in
the world linking local food producers, artisanal food producers and all of us who enjoy
eating in a pleasurable and political act of sustainability.
These knowledge innovators have all facilitated various means of creating, sharing and
accessing knowledge that is not part of what is often called the western canon. For a variety of
justice, cultural, spiritual, environmental, health reasons, the application of knowledge from
the western canon in each one of these stories was seen as insufficient. The contexts,
conditions, values, uses, politics of knowledge in each of these stories called for an opening
outwards of our comfortable assumptions about whose knowledge counts and what the
relationship between knowledge and life might be.
The development of the discourse of knowledge democracy has been emerging in recent years
to help us to understand the relationship of knowledge to a more equitable world for at least
two reasons. First we have found the use of the concepts of the knowledge economy and
knowledge society to be wanting from the perspective of justice. Second we have seen a more
general loss of confidence in the capacity of western white male euro-centric science to
respond to the profound challenges of our times. As Tony Judt writes in the first sentence of
his book, Ill Fares the Land, “Something is profoundly wrong with the way we live
Knowledge democracy refers to an interrelationship of phenomena. First, it acknowledges the
importance of the existence of multiple epistemologies or ways of knowing such as organic,
spiritual and land-based systems, frameworks arising from our social movements, and the
knowledge of the marginalized or excluded everywhere, or what is sometimes referred to as
subaltern knowledge. Secondly it affirms that knowledge is both created and represented in
multiple forms including text, image, numbers, story, music, drama, poetry, ceremony,
meditation and more. Third, and fundamental to our thinking about knowledge democracy is
understanding that knowledge is a powerful tool for taking action to deepen democracy and to
struggle for a fairer and healthier world. Knowledge democracy is about intentionally linking
values of democracy and action to the process of using knowledge.
Ecologies of knowledge and cognitive justice
Boaventura de Sousa Santos’, a Portuguese sociologist and legal scholar, has a narrative that
begins with his observation that in the realm of knowledge we have created an intellectual
abyss, which hinders human progress. Abyssal thinking, he notes,
"Consists in granting to modern science the monopoly of the universal distinction
between true and false to the detriment of…alternative bodies of knowledge” (2007:47).
The global dividing line that he is referring to is the one that separates the visible constituents
of knowledge and power from those who are invisible. Popular, lay, plebeian, peasant,
indigenous, the knowledge of the disabled themselves and more cannot be fitted in any of the
ways of knowing on 'this side of the line'. They exist on the other side of the 'abyss', the other
side of the line. And because of this invisibility they are beyond truth or falsehood. The 'other
side of the line' is the realm of beliefs, opinions, intuitive or subjective understandings, which
at best may become, "objects or raw material for scientific inquiry" (52). De Sousa Santos
makes the link between values and aspiration tightly in saying, "Global social injustice is
therefore intimately linked to global cognitive injustice. The struggle for global social justice
will, therefore, be a struggle for cognitive justice as well."
Shiv Visvanathan, contributes to this discourse expanding the concept of “cognitive justice”.
He notes that,
The idea of cognitive justice sensitizes us not only to forms of knowledge but to the diverse
communities of problem solving. What one offers then is a democratic imagination with a
non-market, non-competitive view of the world, where conversation, reciprocity, translation
create knowledge not as an expert, almost zero-sum view of the world but as a collaboration
of memories, legacies, heritages, a manifold heuristics of problem solving, where a citizen
takes both power and knowledge into his or her own hands.
These forms of knowledge, especially the ideas of complexity, represent new forms of power
sharing and problem-solving that go beyond the limits of voice and resistance. They are
empowering because they transcend the standard cartographies of power and innovation,
which are hegemonic. By incorporating the dynamics of knowledge into democracy, we
reframe the axiomatics of knowledge based on hospitality, community, non-violence,
humility and a multiple idea of time, where the citizen as trustee and inventor visualizes and
creates a new self reflexive idea of democracy around actual communities of practice.
(Visvanathan, 2009)
The problem that arises from the domination of the Western knowledge system is not only
that the ways of knowing, the cultures and the stories of the majority of people of the world
are excluded, but that given the Western knowledge narrative that links some forms of
knowledge with progress, science and the future, it looks as though colonialism has disabled
the global North from learning in non-colonial terms. Is the global North stuck in a rut in
histories’ path that do not allow for the existence of histories other than the universal history
of the West?
By way of conclusion, I have some questions that I ask of myself, maybe they are ones you
have wondered about.
Some questions
1. How do I ‘decolonize’, ‘deracialise,’ demasculanise and degender my inherited ‘intellectual
2. How do I support the opening up of spaces for the flowering of epistemologies, ontologies,
theories, methodologies, objects and questions other than those that have long been
hegemonic, and that have exercised dominance over (perhaps have even suffocated)
intellectual and scholarly thought and writing?
3. How do I contribute to the building of new academic cultures and, more widely, new
inclusive institutional cultures that genuinely respect and appreciate difference and diversity –
whether class, gender, national, linguistic, religious, sexual orientation, epistemological or
methodological in nature?
4. How do I become a part of creating the new architecture of knowledge that allows coconstruction of knowledge between intellectuals in academia and intellectuals located in
community settings?
Boyer, E.L. (2006). The Scholarship of Engagement. Journal of Public Service and Outreach,
vol 1, 11-20.
de Sousa Santos, B. (2007). Beyond Abyssal Thinking: From Global Lines to Ecologies of
Knowledge. Eurozine, 33, 45–89.
Hess, Charlotte and Elinor Ostrom (2007), eds. Understanding knowledge as a commons:
From theory to practice. MIT Press, Cambridge MA
Joranson, Kate (2008) "Indigenous Knowledge and the Knowledge Commons" in The
International Information and Library Review vol 40 no 1 March 2008 pp 64-72
Judt, Tony (2010) Ill Fares the Land London: Penguin 237 pp
Visvanathan, S (2009) The Search for Cognitive Justice retrieved from http://bit.ly/3ZwMD2
on September 8, 2012
Wangoola, P. (2002). Mpambo, the African multiversity: A philosophy trekindle the African
spirit. In Dei, G, Hall B and D Goldin-Rosenberg (Eds.) Indigenous knowledges in the
global contexts: multiple readings of the world (pp)Toronto: University of Toronto
Waters, Donald (2007) "Preserving the Knowledge Commons" in Hess and Osrom (eds)
Understanding Knowledge as a Commons: From Theory to Practice. MIT Press,
Cambridge MA
Williams, L & Tanaka, M. (2009). Schalay'nung Sxwy'ga: Emerging
Older men learning in urban and rural municipalities in Slovenia
Jelenc Krašovec, S.1, Radovan, M.2, Močilnikar, Š.3, Šegula, S. 4
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, [email protected]
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, [email protected]
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts (student), [email protected]
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts (student), [email protected]
Abstract. Previous research in Slovenia show that older adults who participate in educational
institutions have higher level of education, are wealthier, and are most probably women; there are
noticeable differences between rural and urban areas. Research in Australia and some European
countries show that older men are often excluded from the educational activities . Our objective
was to research the role of voluntary associations (VAs) in social gathering and learning of older
men in Slovenia. We used quantitative and qualitative approach to research informal learning of
older men in voluntary associations (VAs) in urban and two rural municipalities; quantitative
survey of the state of art of VAs in selected municipalities in Slovenia was followed by semistructured interviews and a focus group in selected case studies of VAs in which the majority of
members are older men. Results show that there are only a selected number of VAs with older
men representing the majority of the membership. Informal and incidental learning occurred in all
of Vas, but educational activities were organized only in some. For older men, membership in VAs
is an opportunity to stay connected with their peers, to meet other generations and members of the
local community, but also to stay active and feel useful and respected. Membership in VAs
strengthens social networks of older men and influences their well-being. Implications and value:
except B. Golding research, older men have tended to be a forgotten minority in older adult
learning; further academic and field research and discussions should be strengthen.
Keywords: older men, voluntary associations, community, learning and socializing
With its population of 2.05 million, Slovenia has one of the most pronounced ageing rates of
its population in Europe due to a low birth rate and increasing life expectancy. According to
Eurostat’s EUROPOP2010 (Eurostat, 2011) population projections, in the next 50 years, the
age structure of the population in Slovenia will change significantly. In 2010, older adults
(65+) represented 16.5% of the population; by 2060, almost every third person in Slovenia
will belong to this age group. Ageing of the population opens many questions, also those
regarding the possibilities to retain older people as active parts of society. Being active can be
understood differently from political, social, or personal points of view (Walker, 2009), but
education and learning can have an important role in this process for older people themselves
as well as for the community and society as a whole. The feminisation of education of older
adults, as noted in other countries (Formosa, 2012; etc.), is present also in Slovenia, therefore
some groups of older adults, among them men, are marginalised. It is necessary to develop
other educational opportunities for older adults that have root in an experiential basis,
problem sets, and practical and informal learning in the community.
The main thesis in our research was that voluntary associations (VAs) in the community play
an important role in the social gathering and learning of older men. We supposed that older
men value learning highly, but that they have different learning needs than women and more
often exercise learning activities in less formalized and structured settings (like in VAs). We
also presumed that there are some differences between rural and urban communities in
Slovenia regarding the availability of learning and socialising possibilities for older men.
1. Informal learning of older adults in rural and urban municipalities in
Research in different countries (McGivney, 2001; Sargant, 2000; Withnall, 2006; etc.) has
shown that the share of older people who participate in organised education is rather limited.
The willingness of older people to take part in organised education is mostly connected with
their level of education, previous occupation, gender, and wellbeing (regardless of where they
live). The higher the educational level, the more likely a person will be actively involved in
organised educational activities. Data from Slovenia (Šantej, 2009, p. 26-29) confirmed that
in 2009, most participants of the University of the Third Age (UTA) (59.4%) were older
adults with a university degree or more, and only 1.4% of participants of UTA had primary
education or less. Interestingly, 90.6% of UTA participants were women. Most of the
participants of UTA enrolled in humanistic, social and art studies (56.4%), or language
courses (35.3%); only 1.1% of all courses were natural science courses. Slovenian UTA
students reported that they enrolled in education because of the wish to gain knowledge (and
not for the sake of social or free time motives). Other research findings (Formosa, 2012;
McGivney, 1999) have shown that many older adults do not see themselves as participants of
the UTA or other organised forms of education, but they are involved in other noneducational organisations in the community (for example, voluntary associations (VAs)),
where quite a lot of incidental and informal learning takes place (McGivney, 1999). Those
older people are often regarded as non-participants of education and are excluded from most
of the mainstream research in the area of adult education.
Limited data regarding the education and learning of older men in the community exists , but
existent research data show that men, especially those who are less educated and socially
deprived, are often excluded from educational activities in educational institutions. At the
same time, they might be rather active in community associations. Research in Australia
(Golding, 2011; Golding, Foley, & Brown, 2007; Golding et al., 2008, etc.) and some
European countries (Withnall, 2010; McGivney, 2004) has shown that older men often need
and want different options for active social inclusion in their communities. Golding (2011, p.
113) found that education within a community has a significant influence on the wellbeing of
men in Australia, but such positive influence is brought about by their participation in
community organisations, which, according to respondents, provide more diverse and
abundant learning opportunities than adult education institutions (Golding, 2011, p. 114). As a
result of in-depth research in a sample of men’s sheds in Australia, Golding et al. asserted that
despite their diverse origins, locations, configurations and purposes, men’s sheds in Australia
are all committed “to older men’s friendship, health and wellbeing in conjunction with regular
and supervised hands-on activity in group settings in a shed-type space for both individual
and community benefit” (2007, p. 7). Men who gather in these sheds are mostly retired,
unemployed, or isolated older men with different interests. Men over the age of 65 years were
significantly more likely than younger men go to the shed for social reasons, since the most
important reason to participate seems to be a need for the friendship of other men in a place
that affirms positive aspects about being male. Men in sheds assert that they benefit from the
lack of compulsion, enjoy the opportunity to “get out of the house” and to be a mentor, and
experience a strong sense of belonging and improvements in their health and wellbeing.
Learning in VAs in the community is often occasional, incidental, and informal; that kind of
learning is defined by theories of situated everyday practice (Lave, 2009, p. 201), where the
learning process is conducted as the everyday activity, reflection, communication, and
negotiation among included members and demands the full responsibility of the individual for
gained knowledge and skills. This type of learning happens when people confront issues on a
day-by-day basis, motivated by the desire to understand the processes surrounding them. It
takes place in non-formal and informal contexts; learning is therefore personal, conducted by
observation and imitation, resulting in tradition, perseverance, and continuity (Lave, 2009).
This process is undoubtedly connected with voluntarism and non-structured activities in VAs
and certainly also with the influence of members of associations (learners) on the content of
activities. We proposed that learning in community organisations has multi-layered
components and influences cognitive (acquiring skills and knowledge), emotional
(transmission of emotions and values between members), and social (interactions between
individuals and their environment) factors, which are closely interconnected (Illeris, 2004, p.
19). As a part of community networks, VAs can have a very important influence on the
involvement of older people by offering opportunities for re-establishing personal ties,
creating and maintaining social cohesion in the community, and influencing the perceived
wellbeing based on co-operation, collaboration, and trust (MacKean & Abbott-Chapman,
In Slovenia, educational opportunities for older people are different in urban and rural areas
(Kump & Jelenc Krašovec, 2013); urban areas are well-equipped with different services, have
a lot of different formal and non-formal educational possibilities for older people, and offer
good information accessibility. According to the OECD definition (2006) 8, Slovenia does not
have predominantly urban regions (SURS 2013) 9; on the other side, regarding Eurostat's
definition (degree of urbanization), 54 Slovene municipalities fall under the category of
intermediate rural areas, 137 Slovene municipalities belong to the category of a thinly
populated (or rural) areas and only the municipalities of Ljubljana and Maribor are declared
as densely populated areas (urban) (SURS, 2005). Some research demonstrates that rural
deprivation is more complex and present than urban deprivation (Giarchi, 2006) and social
exclusion is generally more difficult to identify. Despite the fact that deprivation is found in
both urban and rural areas (Scott et al. 2007), statistical data shows that in Europe older
people who live in rural and remote regions face higher levels of social and economic
challenges, lack of social and health care services and infrastructure (Inder et al., 2012) and
more often face social isolation, loneliness, and reduced mobility.
The purpose of our study was to examine the activities offered by VAs in two selected town
quarters (Polje and Bežigrad) in the urban community of Ljubljana, the capital city of
For this process, three criteria are used - namely, population density (the percentage of regional population
living in rural or urban communities where ‘community’ corresponds to Local Administrative Units - the area is
defined as rural when if its population density is below 150 inhabitants per square kilometer), percentage of
population living in rural communities (Region is predominantly rural if more than 50% of its population lives in
rural communities, predominantly urban if less than 15% of the population lives in rural communities, and
intermediate if the share of population living in rural communities is between 15% and 50%), and the size of the
nearest urban centres (European Commission, 2009).
Among all 12 Slovenian regions, eight can be defined as predominantly rural (PR) and the other four regions
are considered intermediately rural (IR).
Slovenia, and in two selected rural municipalities (Gorišnica and Vitomarci) in the northeast
of Slovenia. We mapped the possibilities for learning in VAs and performed an in-depth
analysis of the opinions of older men about learning and socialising in voluntary associations.
2. Methodology
The methodology of our research was based on a successive use of quantitative and
qualitative methods (Holland & Campbell, 2005; Creswell & Plano Clark, 2011). First we
conducted a state-of-the-art quantitative survey of VAs in selected quarters and municipalities
and then semi-structured interviews and a focus group were used in each of the selected town
quarter and rural municipality in VAs with older men as the majority of members. The case
studies were ethnographical in character, since they provided a written description of a
particular culture based on information collected through fieldwork (Genzuk, 2003, p.1), in
our case, namely producing a description of a culture of older men participating and learning
in VAs in their local communities.
2.1. Sample
For the purpose of this study, we have chosen four different communities – two urban and
two rural. Urban communities Bežigrad and Polje are two different town quarters of the
municipality of Ljubljana. Ljubljana is, according to Eurostat’s definition, a densely
populated urban area. Bežigrad is located very near the city centre, and can be described as a
typically urban community. Polje is located on the outskirts of the city of Ljubljana, and can
be described as an intermediate rural region, with combination of densely populated areas and
sparsely populated rural areas with lots of green space. The municipalities of Gorišnica and
Vitomarci are located in the north-eastern part of Slovenia, which is, according to OECD's
definition, a predominantly rural region and, according to Eurostat's definition, a thinly
populated area. The municipality of Gorišnica is a rural area near a large major transportation
route, and the Vitomarci municipality can be classified as a rural area in the inner periphery
with the lowest potential for development.
Table 1 shows the demographic data of the town quarters Bežigrad and Polje and of the rural
municipalities of Gorišnica and Vitomarci where our research was conducted. For
comparison, the demographic data of Slovenia and the town municipality of Ljubljana are
also included.
Table 1: Demographic Data for Slovenia, Ljubljana, and Selected Town Quarters
Total (N)
Male (%)
Female (%)
65+ y (%)
Density (/km²)
Surface (km²)
Sources: The Urban Audit Project (2004); SURS (2011a; 2011b).
2.2. Data Collection
The survey was conducted from December 2012 to March 2013. The questionnaire (17 survey
questions) was sent to all active VAs in selected communities that had their addresses
published in a business directory (together 567 VAs).
Table 2: Survey Response
Ljubljana – Bežigrad
Ljubljana – Polje
We received 58 responses from VAs in Bežigrad, 56 responses from Polje, 25 responses from
VAs in Gorišnica and nine responses from VAs in Vitomarci. All incomplete questionnaires
were discarded from the analysis.
The qualitative research was conducted in five VAs (two in Polje, one in Bežigrad, one in
Gorišnica, and one in Vitomarci) were older men comprised the majority of the membership.
In Bežigrad, we selected the “Veterans,” a group of men mostly older than 60 (nine men aged
47-72) who practised gymnastics in the Sport Association Sokol Bežigrad, in Polje the
Bowling Club and the Firefighting Brigade, in Gorišnica the Chess Club and in Vitomarci the
Vine and Fruit Growers’ Association. An interview (with the president) and a focus group
with members were carried out in Bežigrad, five interviews (with two presidents and three
members of selected VAs) were conducted in Polje, and two interviews (with the president
and one member of the selected VA) were conducted in Gorišnica and in Vitomarci.
Interviews were conducted individually, each lasted 30 to 100 minutes; the focus group took
90 minutes. We ensured the participants’ anonymity in order to obtain a certain trust, which
was essential to ensuring the quality and veracity of the data. With the participants’
permission, we used a sound-recording device to record our interviews and the content of our
focus groups.
2.3. Method of Analysis: Data Processing and Analysis of Material
On the basis of the quantitative data analysis, we constructed frequency tables and cross
tables to display results with respect to our research questions, calculating the absolute and
relative frequency distributions. The field data obtained and the records of the interviews and
the focus group have been transcribed and edited for further processing. The analysis of the
content was inductive; it included open coding and creating categories and abstraction. Using
the generated categories, we formulated a general description of older men learning in VAs.
3. Results
3.1. Characteristics of Voluntary Associations in Selected Local Communities
Approximately one fifth of the VAs that answered the questionnaire had a majority (more
than 50%) of older adults among their members. The dominant interests of VAs were
followed in decreasing order by educational activities, environmental protection and animal
care, and cultural and artistic activities. Out of the 53 VAs in which the members were mostly
older adults, nine responded that their main activity was the development of local
communities and housing, nine indicated their emphasis on educational and research
activities, eight responded that their main activity was the organisation of recreational and
sporting events, seven mentioned environmental protection or animal care, and six brought up
cultural or artistic activities. Approximately one quarter of VAs reported that the amount of
men in their association is higher than 50%; among those with a male majority were sports
clubs (30), education (9), health (5), culture (4), social care (4), environmental protection,
animal care (4), and other.
Finally, we analysed spheres of content in VAs dominated by older men. Older men were
predominant members in 20 VAs (15 VAs in Bežigrad, four VAs in Polje, one VA in
Gorišnica, none in Vitomarci). Again, most VAs with membership dominated by a majority
of older men were associated with sporting or leisure activities (12) and educational activities
(9), while a smaller proportion of VAs were involved with intercultural activities (4),
environmental protection or animal care (4), and the development of local communities and
housing (3).
Most VAs organised activities only for their own members, such as leisure time activities,
competitions, field trips, and meetings. A significant proportion of VAs organised non-formal
education and learning activities for their members and offered a place for informal
socialising and a means of meeting other members. In all selected communities, there were
only a few activities that were intended predominantly for older men, including sports and/or
recreational activities (competitions, exercises, bowling, cycling, shooting, and marches). In
addition, some VAs organised discussion evenings, round tables, computer courses,
excursions, outings, meetings, fundraisers, parties, chess, cards, and board games mainly for
older men.
3.2. Learning Activities in Voluntary Associations
From the data on reported learning activities, organised by VAs in all selected communities
(Table 3), we can conclude that only a few VAs did not organise any learning activities. The
data in the table are difficult to compare, since this was a multiple response question and VAs
from different quarters and municipalities gave a different number of responses. However, in
the Bežigrad quarter (an urban community), there were more VAs that organised different
learning activities than in the Polje quarter (a mixed urban/rural community). In the rural
municipality of Gorišnica (close to the city and transport route), there were more VAs that
organised different learning activities than in Vitomarci (at the periphery, with less potential
for development).
Table 3: Learning Activities in VAs by Town Quarters and Municipalities
Lectures, conversations, and discussions
Meetings and discussions with experts
Visiting organisations, associations, firms
Attending performances, exhibitions,
museum outings, etc.
Workshops, courses, clubs, tutorials,
Organisation of educational trips,
Study meetings
Cooperation with local community
Research activity
Working with printed materials, learning
with computers
We do not organise any educational
Learning activities offered by VAs with a majority of older men among their members are
presented in Table 4. In rural municipalities, there were not important differences in the offer
of learning activities. The data in Table 4 show that the offer of learning activities declines
with the degree of urbanity.
Table 4: Learning Activities in Selected Communities (VAs with >50% of Older Men)
Gorišnica and
Lectures, conversations, and discussions
Meetings and discussions with experts
Visiting organisations, associations, firms
Attending performances, exhibitions, museums,
Workshops, courses, clubs, tutorials, training
Organisation of educational trips, excursions
Study meetings
Cooperation with the local community
Research activity
Working with printed materials, learning with
We do not organise any educational activities
3.3. Opinions of Members of Selected VAs in Urban and Rural Municipalities
3.3.1. Learning and Education
We used the interviews with members of selected VAs to research the opinions of members
and presidents about learning and education in their VA. According to the interviewees, the
Fire Brigade Association (urban quarter Polje) had a lot of organised education and
intentional learning on the subject of firefighting and first aid; they had lectures, courses,
practical exercises, and a mentoring program. In the Bowling Club (urban quarter Polje) they
reported no organised educational activities; but when the question was posed differently, and
we asked if they learned anything while participating in the VAs’ activities, the interviewees
answered positively. Older members of the Fire Brigade Association learned by talking with
each other about the use of the equipment, through mistakes when they exercised for the
“Yes, you learn a lot of useful things, the majority of things through conversation,
reasoning and afterwards practically. Some things come occasionally, we help each
(5th interviewee, 74 years)
Older men in the Bowling Club learned through competition and by talking about bowling,
about the game and kept their brains busy:
(4th interviewee, 47 years – president)
Older members in the Gorišnica Chess Club learned through playing chess with each other,
playing chess on the internet and through analysing games of chess. One of the members
“We teach the young and we also learn from each other.”
(10th interviewee, 71 years)
In the vine and Fruit Growers’ Association in Vitomarci, older members learn through talking
with each other about work in the vineyard and orchard, and they exchange information about
aerial spraying, cutting vines, and fruit trees. They have also organised different workshops,
lectures and meeting with experts every year. Their president states:
„We have at least six educational programmes… I think, they do learn: through
exchange of information, experience…”
(7th interviewee, 41 years - president)
3.3.2. Older Men’s Motives for Enrolment in a Voluntary Association
When asked about their motives for enrolment, the male members of VAs in Polje mostly
quoted their own interest in the activities and also the opportunity to socialise, have fun,
develop a sense of belonging, to follow tradition, and to spend their time actively. The
proximity of the VA was stressed as important.
“That's been handed down from generation to generation ....already because of the joy,
so that the man is not rejected. You're in a club where something is happening ...”
(5th interviewee, 74 years)
Also the interviewed presidents of both selected VAs in Polje stated that people enrol for the
VAs’ activities, the good climate, and to have a sense of usefulness:
“The main reason is definitely socialising. They have their colleagues with whom they
spend their time…and helping people: to do something useful with their work.”
(2nd interviewee, 31 years – president)
“…when people talk amongst themselves, see that here is a healthy middle ground, and
they like to come…because of good company ”.
(4th interviewee, 47 years – president)
The members of “Veterans” and the president of the SA Sokol Bežigrad asserted that the
reasons older men participated in the group were very diverse; each member had his own
viewpoint. They said:
"…we certainly feel better. It’s a more healthy way of life ... [...], also socialising ... but
what some do, to go after every session in the buffet, we don’t do this often..."
(member of the focus group, “Veterans”)
“...it gives them satisfaction...they wanted a better figure, but also the company...and it
is certainly stimulating that here and there we have a gymnastic show ...”
(6th interviewee, 65 years – president)
As for the main reasons for being members of the Vine and Fruit Growers’ Association in
Vitomarci, their president states:
“I think the most important thing is socializing. And also following tradition.”
(7th interviewee, 41 years - president)
3.3.3. Gendered Activities in the VAs
The older men we interviewed from the VAs in Polje thought it was important for men to
have segregated activities and to have their own place to gather and learn. This separation
provides them with the possibility to socialise and to be active, to discuss and share their
opinions and experiences, and to experience better connections and to better their chances of
“They [men] deal with the arduous work ... so they are able to speak with those people
(1st interviewee, 83 years)
The presidents of the selected VAs in urban communities had a similar opinion about the
importance of segregated activities for older men. They stressed the possibility of sharing
their opinions, of leaving the house, of relaxing and being at ease, and of having have some
‘male’ privacy.
“…that is important. So they have some kind of joy, to have the possibility to share
their opinions, to talk to each other, to teach something to the youth. I think it is very
important to have a space to socialise…In fact, they come to breathe in another
(2nd interviewee, 31 years – president)
Members of VAs in both rural municipalities have similar opinion about the traditional roles
of men and women. They think that VAs are intended for men, but that women are interested
in different things.
“Wine is more the domain of men.”
(9th interviewee, 76 years)
“Women, women, have family stuff.”
(10th interviewee, 71 years)
3.3.4. Quality of Life and Well-Being of Members and the Local Community as a Whole
All interviewees experienced a positive sense of inclusion in VAs; they can stay connected
with the VA’s activities and with the people from their local community and neighbouring
communities. Membership gives them the opportunity to stay active, to socialise, to make
plans, and to influence the local community as a whole. They say that they take better care of
their health, because membership in a VA not only give them joy and the possibility to
experience success, but also allows them to pass on their knowledge and build connections
with other generations. In their opinion, VAs organise events in the local community and give
the people of the community the opportunity to meet and stay connected through social
events, which VAs organise on annually.
When asked how they felt about their inclusion in the VAs and the VAs’ contribution to the
local community, they responded as follows:
“I am very happy. They take me into account, and I am very popular when I come to the
fire brigade among members of all generations. They visit me; we have field trips and
social events where a lot of people come together. The locals are very connected…it
[the VA] cooperates with the neighbouring association as well….”
(1st interviewee, 83 years)
“…at this age I am still active, bound to my profession and that is what helps me to train
my brain… though it is sometimes unpleasant or I am lazy [...] it is necessary to look
after your health.”
(9th interviewee, 76 years)
The interviewed presidents of the selected VAs all saw the positive psychosocial effects of
membership for older adults and their quality of life:
“I think a sort of confidence that they help the local community… In fact a memory of
their youth, and so they can feel useful, they can come and talk, and that we listen to
them. This is informal gathering where they find out what is going on in the local
(2nd interviewee, 31 years – president)
“Our local community finally noticed us. We had performances and caught their
(6th interviewee, 65 years – president)
When asked what kind of social and learning activities VAs provided for older men, members
quoted different activities that also had an educational character:
"On Fridays, for example, we have cultural-social evenings here in the club. Once a
year, we have a very good training program for our guides, for several hours, various
lectures. Such a thing is valuable..."
(Focus group, “Veterans”)
“For older men ... the competitions, there is a discipline for senior firefighters...on
Thursdays, we carry out various activities and exercises …One thing that especially the
senior members are working on is also the old-timer vehicle and the elderly take care of
(2nd interviewee, 31 years – president)
The president of Sokol Bežigrad still believes that they should do more in the area of learning,
culture and education, despite the fact that they are a sports club.
“…in addition to regular exercises, we are trying to introduce culture. It seems to be
missing. In the past, in the old Yugoslavia, an educational worker was employed in the
club. I miss that, because if one is leading everything from behind, then the sports
guides also feel different; they know that there is a certain wisdom guiding everything,
more or less correctly…”
(6th interviewee, 65 years – president)
4. Conclusions
Voluntary associations (VAs) are important anchors in the community and in the
neighbourhood, since they provide mechanisms for self-help and for a better quality of living
of their members; they connect people with similar interests and often provide possibilities for
collective action (MacKean & Abbott-Chapman, 2012). Our research findings show that there
are only a few VAs in selected communities with a dominant share of older adults, and among
these, even fewer VAs can claim older men as representing the majority of their membership.
Most of the VAs organise activities only for their own members, so being a member of an
association in a community might be an important factor for being active, socialising, and
learning. Although some VAs organise educational or learning activities and others do not,
informal and unintentional learning occurred in all VAs through activities, gatherings,
socialising, and conversations among their members. Older men in selected VAs more often
had social than cognitive motives; they appreciate being a part of the community, which is an
important mission of most VAs. Older men appreciated activities with an emphasis on sports
and free time. There were also some differences in motives of older men for participation in
VAs. While men in rural communities – apart from their own interests – highlighted tradition
as one of the important motives for participating in VAs, men in urban communities stressed
the importance of having the opportunity to perform. Tradition is obviously more valued in
rural areas.
Our findings demonstrate some differences in the provision of learning activities in different
communities, as did previous research in different neighbourhoods in Slovenia (Jelenc
Krašovec & Kump 2009). The number of VAs in a community correlates with the degree of
urbanity, but, more importantly, the number of learning activities varies according to the
degree of urbanity, i.e., there are fewer learning activities available in rural areas. However,
previous studies in Slovenia have shown that older people can be excluded from social
activities both in rural and urban environments if services and activities are not close enough
and do not respond to the needs of learners (Kump & Jelenc Krašovec, 2014). McGivney also
drew attention to the impact of learning locations (1999). Her research (1999, p. 25) showed
that community education was especially successful in the following situations: when the
education is performed in informal spaces of the community, if it is free of charge or very
inexpensive, when it is a response to the needs of learners, and when it is accompanied by
supporting activities (counselling, financial aid, transportation provision, etc.) to diminish as
many obstacles for learners as possible. Our interviewees all emphasized the importance of
socialising among members, which is easier if members have a space for informal gatherings
where they can socialise, talk, exchange opinions, and engage in other leisure time activities,
which is close to where they live.
Our research stressed the positive influence of membership and informal learning in VAs,
which resulted in a better quality of life and improved well-being of members and the local
community as a whole. Membership in a VA not only provided the older men the opportunity
to stay connected with their peers, to meet other generations and to come into contact with
other members of the local community, but also the chance to stay active, to enjoy life and
feel satisfaction, and to feel useful and respected. In the men’s opinion, all of these factors
contributed to their quality of life, well-being, and longevity. We confirmed that membership
and informal learning in VAs plays an important role in strengthening the social networks of
older people by offering different kinds of social support and by diminishing the exclusion of
older people (see also Jelenc Krašovec & Kump, 2009; Uhlenberg & de Jong Gierveld, 2004),
as well as by strengthening the community and influencing its well-being (Field, 2009;
Golding, 2011). According to Kilgore, the individualistic components (identity, the feeling of
being a part of something, consciousness) and the collective development components
(collective identity, collective consciousness, solidarity, and organisation) have to be seen as a
dialectic entity (1999, p. 192).
Finally, some limitations of our study should be addressed. Quantitative and especially
qualitative data presented in this article were very limited, so generalizations about other VAs
were not possible. In addition, this research provided only a general insight into the main
problems; further in-depth research focused on the needs and possibilities of older men’s
learning in community organisations in different municipalities is still needed.
5. Acknowledgement
The presented study was a part of the research in the Grundtvig Learning Partnership project
(the European Lifelong Learning Programme) on older men as learners in the community
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Aging and performing arts: empowerment or citizenship?
Maria Manuela Fernandes Alves
University of Lisbon, Institute of Education, [email protected]; [email protected]
Abstract. Nowadays one is verified aging of the population, express for the increase of the aging
indices and of longevity, and for the reduced tax of infantile mortality and low the tax of fertility.
In these way, becomes necessary to know the old people not only for the characterization of the
aging, but, also, for the coexistence, active listening and the speech in the first person.
Accordingly, we presents an exploratory study, with a qualitative-interpretative nature, entitled
“Aging and Performing Arts - conceptions, live deeply and experiences -”, where the main
objective is to understand As it is that people with more than 60 years, and that participate in a
project of performing arts, they conceive, they live deeply and they experience the aging,
resorting, for such, to individuals semi-structured interviews, that had an average duration of 90
Thus, the aging is seen like a process inevitable and continuous, lived in a different way by each
individual, in which the participation in a project of performing arts promotes benefits, difficulties
and generational interactions.
Participation in the project of performing arts promotes reflection and awareness about aging,
which are important for the participation of the individual in society, the environment, local and/or
global community.
For such, is necessary to involve all the people, institutions and communities, a perspective of
comprehensive education and co-subsidiary, based on the exploitation of artistic expression, to
walk towards full citizenship, as humans can, and should, use education and art as means to
support their integral formation.
Keywords: Education; Aging; Citizenship; Participation.
Nowadays is appealed increasingly to the individuals their participation and civic
accountability, where concepts as “empowerment” and “flexibility” are considered essential
for the development and human success (e.g. social, cultural, educational and professional).
Nowadays one is verified aging of the population, express for the increase of the aging indices
(average of 12810) and of longevity (about 4811), and for the reduced tax of infantile mortality
and low the tax of fertility.
Nowadays, besides this characterization of demographic aging, that is universal and
homogeneous/uniform, it exists, simultaneously, an aging characterization that the perspective
as particular, heterogeneous, individual, whereas «is a process that each person develops
throughout its life» (Tomás, 2011, p.5), equipping the knapsack of experiences, life lessons
and knowledge that only earn sense when shared with others.
Nowadays the fact of being woman or man (gender of belongs); of being or not widow/er;
divorced/separate; the academic degree; or the geographic context influences the aging is
Or 128 individuals over 65 years for every 100 aged 0-14 years. This information was obtained through the
document entitled "“Destaque - informação à comunicação social - Censos 2011: Momento Censitário – 21
de março 2011” from November 20, 2012, taken from the INE website June 19, 2013.
This ratio/indicator relates the people over 75 years with the total population of persons aged 65 years or over,
information obtained from the INE website on June 19, 2013.
experienced (in terms of emotional, sociocultural interaction/coexistence, quality of life and
well-being), insofar as aging “is not experienced, in the same way, everywhere and for all the
individuals» (Simões, 2006, p. 20).
Nowadays, working the thematic one of the aging, becomes necessary, before more, to know
«the elderly […], because it is insurance that we don't know them» (Simões, 2006, p. 24).
This knowledge passes for the characterization of the aging, but, also, for the coexistence,
active listening and the speech in the first person.
1. Aging, art and creativity…
The aging can be characterized as a painful, slow and degraded process, where the decline of
physical, cognitive and social capacities is evidenced; or as a continuous process where
limitations emerge that can be contoured through the active participation, healthy and
productive of the individual.
In this way, the art, as mean of expression, interpretation, reproduction and reflection on the
world, is not just a source to knowledge but a bridge between the individual representations
and the collective ones, in this case on the aging topic. Thus, the performing art promotes
freedom «of the dominant ways of expression […] and of the limitations imposed by the
system […] as provocative form to react to the changes» (Goldberg, 2012, p. 10).
Allied to the art we find the creativity seen as the capacity of (re)creating new things fomenting the responsibility, the assertiveness, the success and the practical innovation - to
solve problems or to get well-being, quality of life and happiness of the human being.
In this context the entitled work appears “Aging and Performing Arts - conceptions, live
deeply and experiences -”, with intention to understand As it is that people with more than 60
years, and that participate in a project of performing arts, they conceive, they live deeply and
they experience the aging.
For such, seven people were heard (four of feminine sex and three of the masculine sex), to
identify its conceptions of aging and to know valued aspects of its participation in a project of
performing arts, resorting to individuals semi-structured interviews, that had an average
duration of 90 minutes, having as support field notes (e.g. interviews, a visit to a public
presentation of the project of performing arts, descriptive presentation of the facebook page of
the project where the interviewed ones are involved).
The analysis of the interviews allowed to identify three categories: 1) conceptions of aging; 2)
benefits and difficulties of the participation in the project of performing arts; 3)
diversity/mulinterculturality expressed in the generational interactions/intergenerationality.
1.1. Conceptions of aging
Taking into account the conceptions of aging, it was verified that the interviewed face the
aging as an act12 of its life, where the sensation persists “to continue integrated in the society”
(i.e. of not social exclusion).
Table 1 - Definition of aging according to respondents
Referring to the part or teatral text.
“an inevitability”
«To age it is an inevitability. It is a ticket of the time, if it is that the
time exists» (E.7. - L.204)
«We start to age when we are born, every day we have one more day,
“a continuous process” one hour, one more minute» (E.5. - L.128)
lived in different way
a process that is not
synonym of social
«Those who do not pass for it [aging] or lives it with unpleasantness
loses an extraordinary and valuable experience» (E.1. - L.167)
«I don’t feel that age has banished me from society» (E.5. - L.122)
«I went to the Faculty of Arts when he was 55 years old and my
colleagues had 18/19 in the first year, and was very well received by
all. I became friends with some even today»(E.5. - L.122)
This way of facing and living deeply the aging (i.e. as a “continuous process”, lived in
different way and without being synonym of exclusion) illustrates the idea of that the change
and the transformation follow throughout all a life (Monteiro, 2008; Simões, 2006) adjusting
the «performance of papers that derive from the assumption of diverse tasks - familiar, social,
politics - some of which complex and deficiently structuralized, with strong
bonds/attachments with the development of the SELF and cognitive dimension of the
citizens» (Marchand, 2001, p.20).
This “development of self” and this “cognitive dimension” constructs in the confrontation
between the collective conscience and the individual conscience 13, or either, between the way
of thinking, of acting and feeling of a society and/or community (that are being transmitted,
recognized and adopted throughout the generations) and the particular forms, and specific, to
see the world, in a dynamic of adaptation and internal balance of the self (that it is shaped by
attributed experiences and meanings) what the collective conscience instill.
Table 2 - Aging faced as a process characterized by misfit views
«We started looking at the mirror and see, but sometimes the mirror doesn’t give us such an accurate
picture, because we don’t see ourselves from outside» (E.3. - L.831)
«It afflicts me that people start to became peculiar, have some caricature in the old man that
suddenly, I don’t know, drops something and it is there I do not know how much time trying to catch
it and never more obtains it to catch and that becomes bizarre and I find that this is horrible, it’s
horrible part of the aging» (E.2. - L.134)
Émile Durkheim developed the idea of these concepts when defining human action stating that society is built
of human beings who own characteristics but, in a sense, are coerced to act, to think and feel through the
collective consciousness intends.
We consider pertinent to relate that the sensation of integration and the misalignment of
visions have implicit questions related with the image in grand age14, or either, with the
identity in the aging process (Gáspari and Schwatz, 2005; Simões, 2006).
Susana Viegas and Catherine Gomes (2007) perspectives «the concept of identity in the
oldness according to [… of] the idea of a world consisting of intersubjective relations, and of
the identity formed throughout mirrored communication between beings linked
intersubjectively» (sic) (p.14), defending the need of opting “for the conceptualization of the
social identity from a concept of person as active agent, irreducible to the individual in its
isolation. The active agent is a being-in-the-world, conscientious and dependent of others to
make sense of itself» (sic) (p.16).
The expression “active agent” it can be prospected in two ways: for one, it appeals to the
awareness and individual participation of each one in the society, on a mutual (re)construction
between society and individual; on the other hand, it invokes the individual responsibility on
the construction of the life on a personal and community/society level.
This awareness, and simultaneous individual accountability, allows the perception that the
world and humans beings are in a constantly and rapidly mutation, in a continuous
incompleteness, legitimizing the need to search for information, knowledge, betterment,
freedom, decision, option, and thus encourages the notion that the human being is not in the
world in a neutral and impartial manner, and that its presence acts, implicitly or explicitly, in
the reality around him. Thus, one flees from the «closing from the world and others [that]
becomes transgression to the natural impulse of incompleteness» (Freire, 2009, p.136).
Meanwhile, we question if this individual accountability, that has underlying questions of the
individual empowerment, does not influence the questions of the identity of each individual,
namely the grand age, since this is a height of the life that carries whit it individual,
professional and consequently social transformations.
1.2. Difficulties and benefits of participation in a perforrming arts project
The participants had also pointed out salutary aspects of the participation in a project of
performing arts (e.g. formation, necessity to learn and to know, confrontation with themselves
and with the others, personal accomplishment, overcoming of obstacles, conscience of limits,
memory training), and difficulties (e.g. physicals and of adaptation to the requested).
Table 3 - Benefits and difficulties of participation in the project of performing arts
«However, in fact, in these last three years, it is
practically completing three years that the “one”
invitation for first workshop was made, it was
proportionate means that are not within reach of most of
the professionals who performed in Portugal, as, for
We opt to expression grand age due to certainty that, during all the life, we can reflect and analyze the past
with the lenses of the present perpetuating the future. That is, «only men and women, as “opened” beings, are
capable to carry through the complex operation of, simultaneously, transforming the world through its action, to
catch the reality and to express it by means of its creative language. Is while they are capable of such operation,
that it implies in “taking distance” of the world, objectifying it, that men and women if make beings with the
world. Without this objectification, by means of which equally they are objectified, they would be reduced to a
pure one to be in the world, without knowledge of themselves or the world» (Freire, 1976, p. 65).
example, in the domain of the corporal expression and
the body, of use of the body in scene» (E.6. - L.273)
«One of the good things that ii has provided us is
education» (E.7. - L.105)
«They have made formation whit us to suppress lacks
that, of course, we have” (E.7. - L.105)
«I always was interested for diverse subjects and
attended several workshops» (E.1. - L.45)
stimulates a
«Still we know very little of us and the others because
constant necessity we are continuously growing» (E.1. - L.307)
to learn and to
«While we assimilate everything what this arrives to us,
it enrich us and are able to transform into interior
wealth and teaching» (E.3. - L.41)
«Suddenly I slip on people of my age and many others
much more old, I have 67 years, and I think: “it is not
this that I like, I not like any of this, the dialogues are a
nuisance, they do not know nothing of what I know, I
name a music group and nobody knows of what I am to
speak about!»(E.2. - L.35)
«All this people speak to about is the past, I hate to
provides the
confrontation with speak about the past, “in my time”, I when I hear “in
oneself and with my time”: “look, it is all deceased! ”» (E.2. - L.58)
«They made me see my end nearest that I wanted to see,
I thought: “not, I am not like thus!”» (E.2. - L.100)
«I always had the impulse to move myself, running,
walking, I appreciate very much sports, and I dance,
and therefore, this still distances me more from then
because they were all, normally, very much seated»
(E.2. - L.105)
«This is really what I wanted to do, because to be
always without doing nothing it’s very frustrating,
although I have always things to do» (E.3. - L.50)
«The most important was the possibility to continue in a
professional level» (E.4. - L.168)
promotes the
«It brought me work and the capacity to work in a cast,
which was a thing that hardly would I have» (E.5. L.171)
«I give [much importance] because the main thing was,
the fact, to be able to redo a thing that, that for me,
always was my great passion of life. To be able, at this
moment, to make theater is extremely important for me»
(E.6. - L.204)
«This experience […] is widely positive for me. I think
that it is for all people because it keeps us busy« (E.7. L.222)
«My difficulties had been essentially physical, because I
already was operated to the column» (E.5. - L.164)
«I have some […] in a physical point of view»
(E.7. - L.135)
«When we all had perceived it, I still was trying to know
what she wanted me to do. I take weeks to adapt me it
the language of it» (E.5. - L.42)
adapting to the
« It was one of the difficulties that I felt! Because I was
requested by the
accustomed “you go to the right, you go to the left, you
stage directors
cry, you laugh, you declare love, anger, jealousy”,
anything attached with the emotions, but not with the
movement» (E.5. - L.65)
Such as if can evidence through table 3, the formation and the necessity to learn, to know, to
do and to share, enhances the relevancy of thematic of the education/formation throughout the
life, since, being these so important for the individual and the society, expecting that they
foment an civic integral participation, not only on the politics issue/question (to exert the vote
right and/or to be part of a political party), but in cooperating actively in the organization and
maintenance of the community/society where they are inserted and in which if it identifies.
Thus, education/formation should foment each other «idea of transformation in context of coauthorship and co-participation, in result of which if it assumes a transforming educative
praxeology (en) formed ideological and theoretically» (Cortesão et al, 2001, p.23).
They had been, still, mentioned as benefits of the participation in the project of performing
arts the “conscience of the limitations and the will of surpassing them”, the stimulus to the
movement and the trainings of the memory, demonstrating that the physical activity provides
physicals, psychological and cognitive reimbursements(e.g. stimulus of the cardiac
performance and reduction of the arterial pressure; improvement of the muscular force and
maintenance of the balance and the motor coordination; improvement of the quality of sleep
and, consequently, stimulation of the intellectual performance and the capacity of
memorization) of the individuals.
Generational interactions/generational meeting
In what it says respect to the interactions between different generations, the interviewed ones
refer that the intergenerational meeting verifies through the “age differences”, of aspects of
social and professional order, and of existing conviviality.
“age differences”
«In our group there are great age
differences, having the most aged 86 years»
(E.1. - L.264)
«It finishes for existing, because it has great
differences. The I.S. it is the new of all 52
years, I judge, later I have 59 years, but I
go to make 60 in October now. We have the
K.,that she was dancer and that has 60 years
and, at the same time, has people with 70
and 80 years and up to 90 or 92! It has
people that they could be children of others»
(E.3. - L.224)
«Has 92 years old and a interesting life
history, that she talk about many times. She
lived the war and was inside bunkers, had to
aspects of
run away and to hide» (E.3. - L.230)
«It always has a difference, because we are
sociocultural and
professional order coming of different sociocultural and
professional, we have distinct ways to see the
life, but all the human beings have. There
are many diferences» (E.5. - L.242)
« It Happens some time . In the work that we
had with the M.C., their equips was
reasonable young. The M. has 46 years old,
or next to this, but the people who came with
her, the R. and to the A., they were younger»
(E.6. - L.413)
between stage
«Until it was, initially, a certain attitude of
directors, their teams unpleasantness from some of my colleagues,
and the cast of the who said, “now come these small girls, and
they think that they will teach us something”.
However, the relation it establishes soon
very flowed with them, at least from my part.
[…] I had a nice relation, we were well with
them and we play» (E.6. - L.415)
«A great part of the public is much younger.
I remember that, when it was the
presentation in the CCB, a group of children
between 12 and 14 years old. Come from
Braga, because the work that they were to
feedbacks relative to prepare was about the active aging and
the shows and the
included a visit the Lisbon to attend the
diversity of the public spectacle» (E.1. - L.264)
«In one another city of the country the young
greaters of 12 years old had come with a
group of teachers and in the end they had
congregated with to ask details to them of
the representation and the subject» (E.1. L.327)
2. Aging and performing arts: empowerment or citizenship?
Second what was presented above, having in account the voices of the participants in the
exploratory study, we got feedbacks on the way as it conceives, lives deeply and experience
the aging, by seven people who participate in a project of performing arts, and that, in a subtle
way, in they had been demonstrating them how is that participation of the adults in the
education and the development it surpasses the seat, and the walls, of the schools, and the
centers of formation (formal education).
The interviewees related that the participation in a project of performing arts promotes the
reflection about one phenomenon, and, simultaneously, a concept, that needs to be rethought.
«If we analyze what it happens nowadays, we see people to live more time and in better
conditions of health, reduction of the births and consequent increase of the aged
population, we must recognize that one another attitude becomes urgent face to the call
“age of gold”» (E.1. - L.274)
«The word has to deconstruct itself, or at least emptying a bit what has of negative, but
it is only emptied of very spoken, because the words are like that, after very spoken they
leave to have, maybe the importance that they had, or go to different fields» (E.2. L.424)
«Nowadays my cause, that is better delimited, better defined, is accurately this: it is to
explain to the people that if we look at the oldest people, and the aging of these people,
in another way and if we give their weapons that finish almost for being as, as it is that
I will say, are utensils, that they are giving to me» (E.2. - L.389)
«I have the absolute certainty that we help the people to deconstruct all these things
[reconstruction or deconstruction of (pre)concepts on the aging] because they have said
to them» (E.2. - L.464)
«To don’t creating a stereotype of those that always make the same type of things, for
example: “that group of old people that is there to make that”, was necessary, as for
me, to diversify and to give to bases and structure» (E.5. - L.271)
So, the participation in a project of performing arts, that counts with a cast of people older
than 60 years, uses to advantage of knowing of these same individuals working the thematic
of the aging through the creation of performances and the stories transmitted through the
movement of the word, valuing, thus, the person and their knowledge.
«Everything what we are, can help to construct a personage. We use our body such as it
is , instead we make of this a problem» (E.3. - L.312)
«Adjusted to the people, making plays, writing texts, carrying through spectacles. Can
be used the experiences of the people, the body, the voice, until the age can be used»
(E.5. - L.74)
“The last stages that we made, […], were playing that privileged the physical movement
»(E.7. - L.145)
In this way, we risk to say that, through the formal education (e.g. workshops, where the cast
participates, that they precede the assays and the public presentations of the spectacles),
informal education (e.g. presentation of the spectacles) and non-formal (e.g. acquaintanceship
between pairs - cast -; between the stage directors and the public), this type of initiatives and
local projects tend to happen on the idea, as Rui Canário defends (2007), that the individuals
learn having in account its conceptions, lives deeply and experiences, since, for the concretion
of new (re) learnings it is essential to have in account the “experiencial patrimony” of each
human being.
Being about a project that gave origin to a professional artistic company, the interviewed ones
had related that this initiative promotes the valuation of the person and its to know; it foments
the non exclusion of people with 60 years, through the return to the professional activity,
evidencing the relevancy of the socioprofissional inclusion of these individuals; it
demonstrates to the importance of the co-participation and co-responsibility of all the people
in the society; it exactly stirs up the reflection on itself and the others, the world that encircle
it and its action.
«They take it serious and follow me» (E.4. - L.117)
«They [them sons/daughters, daughter-in-law and grandsons/granddaughters] also are
intent what I say, or to that of that I like, and it is that I call the rear» (E.4. - L.280)
«I do not feel that the age has banished me of the society» (E.5. - L.122)
«Therefore, at this moment, I am not there for occupying the free times, I am there for
working, because it is what I like to make» (E.5. - L.94)
«I came back to be integrated and to be looked at as somebody that is colleague of
other people, being that it has people for who I have a great one I appraise
professional» (E.6. - L.627)
«I remember that, in Portimão, where we were to present the first spectacle, in the end,
between the people who had come to speak to us, a young of its 18 or 20 years old said
to us enthusiastic: “I am so contented! It was so good. I had a terrible fear to age, I felt
that I will lose faculties, but all of you are an example of that reality, there are so much
thing to wait with the age. Thanks a lot, thanks a lot» (E.1. - L.141).
Envisage the human being in a holistic way, where the development of all the capabilities,
skills, knowledge, encompasses the promotion of awareness, but also the development of the
SELF through expressive activities (physical, visual, musical, dramatic), defend the idea that
education isn’t just, simply, our journey through school, or other educational institutions
(formal education), but it is also made through the contact with other realities and the sharing
of ideas and opinions through various forms of communication (education informal or nonformal).
Example of that is the resource to the performing arts, in intention to provide reflection on the
aging, and its process, since each time more is recognized “utilities of the Theater [… being
used] as instrument of socialization, education, formation of public, education, therapy,
animation, intervention, propaganda politics or advertising, leisure or occupation… by
updating - in the perplexed how much to the directions of the Theater as art and as
profession” (Pacheco, 2007, p.13).
The reflection and awareness are important for the participation of the individual in society,
the environment, local and/or global community, defending the idea that is not just the
individual accountable for your life path and fulfillment, or not, of their rights and duties of
citizenship (spreading a discourse of individual empowerment). It is, equally, important to
involve all the people, institutions and communities, in a perspective of comprehensive
education and co-subsidiary, based on the exploitation of artistic expression, to walk towards
full citizenship, as humans can, and should, use education and art as means to support their
integral formation becoming increasingly “more informed, safer, more effective socially, but
it should [ ... ] also enable yourself [ ... ] to develop your individual self, updates[ing ...] their
particular talents and[ ... ] live[ing ... ] an authentic and creative way” ( Moustakas cit in
Alencar et al , 2003, p. 95).
3. Acknowledgments
It’s pertinent to mention that the present work, being based on the thesis for the attainment of
the master’s degree in Educational Sciences - Intercultural Education - guided by the PhD
Helena Marchand, used fragments (suitable, or not) of the same thesis.
It’s, also, relevant to be thankful to the interviewed that made themselves available to yield
some of its time to speak on its experience concerning the aging process, having in account its
participation in a project of performing arts.
A grand and profound thank you to Institute of Education - University of Lisbon, to all
professors, to my family and friends.
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The Adult Educator in The Age Of Lifelong Learning
Lucio-Villegas, E.1, Fragoso, A.2
University of Seville, [email protected]
University of Algarve. Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics, [email protected]
Abstract. The main aim of this paper is to reflect upon today’s role of the adult educator within
processes of local development. The important of this reflection comes mainly from the difficult
conditions and contexts where the educator has to work. In fact, the mainstream notions of lifelong
learning today stress the connection of adult education to work and, even more, the connections
with the labour market. The reaming dimensions of adult education in which educators used to act
seem relegated to a secondary role. We argue that it is necessary to recover, both from theory and
practice, the central characteristics that made the educator an important figure to walk with people
along emancipatory liberating processes. The foundations of this type of action can be found
defining an ethics for teaching and social practices, which reflectively thinks in the educators’
position within power structures; and the value of Freirian dialogue within processes of
participatory research.
Keywords: adult educator; ethics; dialogue; participatory research
This paper is an attempt to keep reflecting on the role of the adult educator in processes of
Local development in the context of Lifelong Learning. This provokes a lot of contradictions
regarding the role of the adult educator in processes where the economic issues are not the
focus of learning activities. As the practices of Lifelong Learning have lost its working
foundations in communities, the challenge for adult educators is how to recover these
foundations and doing an educational work in a liberating way. We try to develop several
issues in this direction.
The Lifelong Learning
The introduction of the concept of learning at the centre of educational processes seemed to
be a very positive issue (Faure, 1986; Guimarães, 2011). But the first thing that Lifelong
Learning (LLL from now on) policies and practices did was to transfer the responsibility of
learning to individuals: “who, in the last instance, are responsible for pursuing their own
learning” (CEC, 2000, p. 5). In a certain way this means that a right is considered a
commodity and, as Gomes & Lucio-Villegas point out, “promoted the expansion of education
and training opportunities [...] has not yet guaranteed equal access for all” (2009, p. 75).
In the last ten years, one of the most interesting and surprising achievements in education and
learning has been the diverse attempts for a gradual unification of educational policies in the
European Union. As Lima and Guimarães (2011) state, this is an important process that has
moderated national sovereignty. ‘A Memorandum on Lifelong Learning’ could be considered
the foundational document of the so-called Lisbon Strategy, primarily aiming to promote a
“comprehensive strategy on lifelong learning” (CEC. 2000, p. 6). The ‘Council Resolution of
27 June of 2002 on Lifelong Learning’ stresses that the main goal of this policy convergence
is “to achieve a comprehensive and coherent strategy for education and training” (OJEC,
2002, p. 2), making Lifelong Learning in Europe a reality. It is defined as follows:
[A]ll learning activity undertaken throughout life, with the aim of improving
knowledge, skills and competences within a personal, civic, social and/or employmentrelated perspective (CEC, 2001, p. 9).
The ‘Memorandum’, then, differentiates three types of learning: formal learning, non-formal
learning and informal learning (CEC, 2000, p.8). The Memorandum also states the main aims
for this common policy on LLL through six key messages, all of which stress on the
importance of LLL (CEC, 2000, pp 10-20). These messages are meant to edify a “knowledgebased economy and society” (CEC, 2000, p.3) that will transform Europe into “the most
competitive and dynamic knowledge-based society in the world by 2010” (CEC 2007, p. 2).
The six key messages are: i) new basic skills for all; ii) more investment in human resources;
iii) innovation in teaching and learning; iv) valuing learning; v) rethinking guidance and
counselling; vi) bringing learning close to home.
Lifelong Learning seems to have only linked with the labour market. In fact, the notion of
LLL commonly used in our context derives from the European Employment Strategies: “it
was agreed not only that education and training throughout life helps to maintain economic
competitiveness and employability” (CEC, 2000, p. 6). Lifelong Learning, as defined by the
EU documents, tries to achieve two main goals: “promoting active citizenship and promoting
employability” (CEC, 2000, p. 5). But, the second seems the most important goal, giving the
first the impression of being vaguely related with the maintenance of social cohesion.
The goals that the European Union is trying to achieve with these policies are: i) to reduce
labour shortage by raising skill levels in the workforce; ii) to address the problem of high
number of school leavers by offering a second chance to receive a qualification; iii) to reduce
the problem of poverty and social exclusion; iv) “to increase the integration of migrants in
society and labour market” (CEC, 2007, p. 3); v) to increase participation in the process of
Lifelong Learning. The most important issue seems to be now to accumulate, in a personal
way, skills that allow people – in theory - to access to the labour market. Perhaps this could be
a reason for the low levels of participation in LLL processes (Lucio-Villegas, 2012).
On the other hand, regarding the new skills for all, it is important to stress that in practice they
are addressed to a type of knowledge society which had been only focusing on Informational
and Communicational Technologies. The idea of bringing learning close to home means to
potentiate informal learning, but the danger is that this new value of informal learning can
conflict with the school learning system. Finally, concerning guidance and counselling, the
Memorandum states:
The future role of guidance and counselling professionals could be described as
‘brokerage’. With the client’s interests in the forefront, the ‘guidance broker’ is able to
call on and tailor a wide range of information in order to help decide on the best course
of action for the future (CEC, 2000, p.16).
Perhaps, it could be interesting to reflect from a Foucault point of view connecting guidance,
counselling and power (cf. Nicoll & Fejes, 2008; Edwards, 2008). Guidance and counselling
become very important in this time of discontinuous lives (Guimarães, 2011), where people
feel insecurity, individuals have increasing difficulties to find a job, to adapt to it and to keep
it. Guidance and counselling seem to be more related to promote narratives of adaptation, to
create narratives on ‘never for a long time’ (Sennett, 2000).
The fight for autonomy. Lawrence Stenhouse: The teacher as a researcher
We have to claim for autonomy in this age of standardization. The role of adult educators
cannot be limited for regulations that avoid their own autonomy. In this sense, it is important
to stress the importance to adequate the working process to the surrounding environment.
Lifelong Learning practices seem to be based on the standardization of educational processes.
On the contrary, we think that the educator must set their own seal in their activities and
work. This would mean that the adult educator would be constantly trying to improve his/her
own practices, adapting the action both to the people and the context. Ideas on the teacher as a
researcher drawn by Stenhouse could be useful here. The first element that characterises it
refers to the ethics of the teacher-researcher tasks, which
lies in the educational activity itself which, as all human practical activity, differently
from the technical-instrumental activity, finds its value in its sense and not as a mere
instrument or means to reach extrinsic objectives (Pérez Gómez, 1990, p.10/11, italics
in the original).
This teacher as a researcher of his/her own practice is something that Gramsci had already had
a glimpse on in 1927.
One of the more important activities which, in my opinion, teachers have to develop is
to register, develop and coordinate those experiences, pedagogical and didactic
observations; only from this continuous work can born the type of school and the type
of professor that the environment asks for. What a wonderful and useful book one could
make on these experiences! (in Manacorda, 1977, p. 61).
Stenhouse believed that the educational activity was an artistic activity; hence this wonderful
comparison between a teacher-artist and
a thoughtful gardener, whose work is not determined by economic interests, but rather
by his devotion. He wants his plants to grow and knows how to treat them one by one.
He may no doubt have a hundred different plants and yet he knows how to accord a
differentiated treatment to each of them, pruning his rose bushes, but not his Tonka
bean tree (1987, p. 53).
Stenhouse’s contributions therefore bring us two important elements. Firstly, a reflexive
teacher needs to constantly consider his/her own work. Secondly, it is a professional that is
able to consider that each participant in education is different and it is necessary to
individualise the educational action built with each one of them. This position, which is
anchored in the perception of the teacher as an artist, is fundamental in a moment when the
uniformity in education (and plus in all dimensions of social life) begins to be more than a
shadow. So Stenhouse ideas depict the teacher as a more widely complete professional,
mostly characterised by the commitment of “questioning teaching as a base of development;
the commitment and the skills to study his teaching method; the interest to question and
demonstrate theory in practice through the use of those abilities” (1984, p. 197).
From this perspective, the teacher’s development implicates to define him/herself as a
professional, conveying personal assessment of situations and how can these be
improved. Consequently [the teacher] does not face problems to generalise beyond his
experience. In this context, theory is simply a systematic structuring of the
understanding of his work (Stenhouse, 1984, p. 211).
The ethics of teaching
In the age of Lifelong Learning tasks, competences, aims, etc. seem to be the constitutive
element of learning processes. In a sense, in this paradigm tasks are more important than
people whilst we think that people are more important than tasks. Against this hegemonic
though, we consider that people is the essence of educational processes. So firstly we have to
understand how to deal with people in a liberating and participative way.
In 1969 it was published ‘The Practical: a language for curriculum’. Schwab claimed that
research in practice departs from identifiable faults and supposes the direct, empirical study
on the classroom actions. The method in this research in practice is deliberative. “Deliberation
is complex and hard… and to choose not the right alternative, because such thing does not
exist, but the better” (1985, p. 208).
Deliberation comes from Aristotle’s thought who, in his ‘Moral to Nicomaco’ distinguished
between theoretical, productive and practical subjects. Theoretical subjects had as a finality to
seek the truth through contemplation, while productive sciences refers to master a labour
(tejné) and having a disposition to act reflexively according to the rules of that labour. That
would allow to guide the act of production following a model of the product’s utility.
Practical subjects would be those that deal with the ethical and political life having as an aim
the wisdom and prudence in the act of doing something. Its form of reasoning would be
praxis: an informed action, a reflection on the course of action that would allow to change the
knowledge basis that supports that same action.
Contrarily to the image of the tejné as a guide, praxis would be the action being created and
constantly submitted to review. Praxis is guided by phrónesis: a moral disposition related to
doing correctly and with a justification.
Elliott has developed the concept of Aristotle’s deliberation to make explicit the relationships
between theory and practice in the context of a research process which is guided by ethical
principles, more than technical. The object of deliberation is to reflect on the means, more
than on the aims. The central features of deliberation include (Elliott, 1986, pp. 243-246):
a) Its result is a decision or choice about the best means to achieve a certain aim within a
concrete situation. The researchers, in a process that seeks self-reflection towards
improvement, try to find the best means to transform certain aspects and elements of the
b) The object of deliberation is explicit human action in which people have the necessary
freedom. This voluntary human action supposes the existence of a conscientization process
that leads to reflected decisions.
c) Deliberation turns into an appropriate research means when human action cannot be
governed by precise technical rules – something that is common in human events.
d) Deliberation is guided by ethical notions. This implicates that the researchers follow a set
of ethical principles that steer the whole process and lie above knowledge – present or future
knowledge – that serves ethical decisions.
e) Deliberation is closely connected with the reflection on the means and the aims. Within
processes of research in practice, debates go beyond methodological issues, considering the
existent alternatives within a set of choices related to the defined aims.
f) Deliberation is based on the tacit knowledge of tradition, the everyday knowledge coming
from past experiences that occurred in similar situations and the consequent processes of selfreflection emerging from those situations.
The outmost important element within a process of deliberation is the search for the means to
reach an aim; but these means should be coherent and ethically reflected. Schawb’s proposal
presents us therefore that the methods should be coherent with the aims. And this is especially
useful when we refer to the development of participatory research processes.
Power, authority and Dialogue
Our last reflection is concerning power. In a short piece, Friedrich Engels (1975)
differentiates between power and authority. Power is coming from outside and means a
structure characterized by a strict situation in a hierarchical structure. Authority becomes from
people as a quality that the educator reaches thanks to their work. It can be related to Freire
thoughts on dialogue as a way to organize and develop the process of learning that is one of
the focal points of Freire’s concepts.
Dialogue means multiple voices and multiple directions. In this multiple dialogue, knowledge
is edified at the same time that dialogue takes place. It is not possible to discuss the
transference of knowledge when using dialogue; on the contrary, we can only talk about its
construction in the process of dialogue. As Park (2001) states,
Dialogue, in particular, looms large as an important methodological link among the
activities pursued because of its existential significance for human life. More than a
technical means to an end, it is an expression of the human condition that impels people
to come together (p. 81).
Dialogue cannot be understood as a simple methodology. Dialogue is the core of both Freire’s
philosophy and methodology. Dialogue guarantees communication and establishes education
as a cooperative process characterised by social interactions between people in which new
knowledge is created by joining and sharing the knowledge that people have. Dialogue, as an
educational journey, considers people as social human beings and not as recipients. Dialogue
is, in this sense, the starting point to edify a liberating education.
According to Freire (1970), teaching and learning are the two steps in the process of creating
knowledge: the teacher is a learner and the learner becomes teacher. Freire stresses that doing
a collaborative work means to include community members to ground the work in people’s
daily lives. This is represented in Freire’s terms by the generative themes that emerge in the
process of codification / decoding. Dialogue from generative themes lead people to reflect and
transform their reality - their community, their village - in the process called concientization.
The process by which people are stimulated and encouraged to explore their reality and
their awareness of it, so that their understanding of both reality and their own
consciousness is deepened, and they begin to engage in praxis (Kirkwood & Kirkwood,
2011, p. 172, italics in the original).
This process of dialogue that becomes conscientização is made through the double process of
codification and decoding. When codification and decoding, people undertake a collective
work based on both cooperation and experience. In this process people’s knowledge emerges,
creating a new one based on the surrounding reality.
Dialogue starts from people´s experience, but in the process of co-creating knowledge
individuals not only use experience as a tool. Dialogue also encourages people to create new
experiences. In this process to create and re-create the shared experience, new knowledge is
produced (Olesen, 1989).
Mediation and Participatory research
After these reflections, we try to present some tools that can be used for an adult educator
running far away from the restrictions of Lifelong Learning practices. We will focus on two
of these tools: Mediation as a tool to resolve conflicts and promote social change in
communities; and Participatory Research to build collectively knowledge about the
community and about people.
Mediation can be defined as the ability to find a central point between two extremes, provided
that interaction are seen within a holistic perspective and taking into account that the forms of
mediation do cause changes in the mediated factors (Williams, 1989). In order to have fruitful
mediation processes the educator should embrace a wide notion of dialogue which, by its turn,
has connection to participatory research as defined by Park (2001):
Dialogue occupies a central position as inquiry in pursuing the three objectives of
participatory research, and the knowledge associated with them, by making it possible
for participants to create a social space in which they can share experiences and
information, create common meanings and forge concerted actions together (p. 81).
Two aspects of Participatory Research should be stressed. The first is the ‘participatory
ethos’. “The choice of the term ‘participatory research’ was simply made as a descriptive term
for a collection of varied approaches that shared a participatory ethos” (Hall, 2001, p. 173).
Thus, the differences between Participatory Research and other methodologies are based on
the fundamental role that participation plays. Participation and respect seem to be strategic
elements that could aid in avoiding some of the historical links between academic knowledge
and power.
These various approaches emerged in the reconnaissance of the vivencia developing “an
empathetic attitude towards Others” (Fals, 2001, p. 31).
The second aspect to be underlined is related to the construction of knowledge. Orefice
(1987) has participated in an experience in southern Italy, near Napoli, where people were
researching their environment. The process involved individuals from social movements in
the district and scholars from the University in a continuous process of dialogue and
knowledge exchange. It is crucial that two different kinds of knowledge - popular knowledge
based on the daily experience and academic knowledge - can reach a mutual understanding
that prevents knowledge from colonizing the other in the process of co-creation.
Conclusions. Sharing thoughts, sharing practices
Finally, thinking in terms of the educators’ professional development, we suggest the
reflection and reconstructions of practices as a way to register and share educational practices
with other people in different contexts and situations. Smyth’s (1991) proposals can help to
build a singular, collective self-reflection, by analysing our practice as teachers, seeking
answers for the following questions:
a) Description: What is that I do? Using field notes or a diary we can register experiences or
critical incidents that can be analysed and shared.
b) Inspiration: What is the meaning of teaching? To answer this question we can describe
those activities which, in the process of construction, can help to formulate local theories that
give explanations on the nature of our work’s context.
c) Confrontation: How did I became to be the way I am? Reflection and theorisation have an
important element of transformation. Confrontation means, therefore, to try to place our work
into a cultural, social, political and labour context; and to assume the reflection on the
method’s and practice’s basis that we use daily. Very often these problems can be related with
being tired, or the lack of time to develop a reflection on our own practices.
d) Rebuilding: How could I do things differently? Considering that teaching is more than a
plain technical procedure we can, reflecting over our tasks, to imagine how we could act
With this diffuse, collective researcher (not clearly defined according to the academia
standards) is the external researcher / educator. Our own experience (Lucio-Villegas, 1993)
tells us that the functions of the external researcher are made concrete through, at least, four
issues: Firstly, the researcher is a trainer along the whole research processes: advising and
helping the group to choose which techniques can be adequately used in the ongoing research.
Thirdly, the external research can help to systematise both the processes emerging from the
investigation and the results that result from the gathering information phase. There is a fourth
issue, which he have named passing from the public to the private sphere, when the external
researcher turns into a member of the group, because it is assumed as such by the group. By
no means would this ever mean that the external researcher is a native – following an
anthropological term. It means that the external research begins to establish a different
relationship with the group, in which personal affection have a place and a meaning. In that
moment and according to our experience, there is an important qualitative leap that as a
number of consequences.
Definitely, Sol Tax’s words summarise beautifully what can mean to an engaged researcher a
programme on participatory research:
The action-anthropology is an activity in which the anthropologist had two aims that are
closely coordinated […] the anthropologist wants to help a group of persons to find a
solution to a problem and, further, wants to learn something in the process (1951, p. 29).
This paper was partially possible by the support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science and
Technology (FCT).
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The University as a local actor for regional adult education?
A German statement based on an empirical research
Kondratjuk, M.1,
University of Potsdam, Adult Education/Continuing Education and Media Pedagogy,
[email protected]
Abstract. Besides the realization of the high-quality first degree and the main tasks – research and
teaching – universities have to focus on continuing education programs (adult education) to make
the grade with the high requirements of the structural change of work and the reorganization of the
universities. To put these challenges in execution the actors in Continuing Higher Education
(CHE) have to be pointed out. The paper presents a qualitative research project in the field of CHE
in Germany. The study focusses the actors/professionals in the CHE system. Issue of the research
is the identification of the (professional) self-conception of the actors in this field within their
operational procedures, structures and general conditions at the universities. Methodologically the
study is based on an analysis and description of organizational structures of CHE and on a
qualitative research scheme – supported by the Grounded Theory – with problem-based interviews
and external interviews of experts outside and inside the universities. Some results show that some
types of universities are very good in holding regional cooperation for example with institutions of
adult education like the German ‘VHS’. The paper wants to discuss the question, if universities are
a local actor especially in regional adult education.
Keywords: Continuing Higher Education, Actors, Universities, Grounded Theory, Higher
Education Research
In the modern society, along with its principal function of providing high-quality education,
carrying research and granting degrees, German universities are confronted with the necessity
of a structural change with a focus on continuing education in order to be able to meet the
rapidly changing societal demands and the requirements of the labor market.
Universities as providers of adult education are holding a decisive role in the society. They
have the function to establish ties between the specialized, scientific knowledge and the
individual, social living environment (Faulstich, 2005) – bridges between research and
practice in lifelong learning. Thereby they foster the ‘scientific-practice-transfer’ and the
interdisciplinary collaboration oriented on societal problems (Ludwig, 2010).
Some reasons include the demographical change (universities have to be open for nontraditional students), the almost ongoing BOLOGNA-Process, the academization15 of the
working world, the dealing with the increasing individualised educational careers, the
handling with the limited financial resources from the local governments and the
recommendations of the science council. CHE was declared as a core activity for the German
universities since 1998 (Framework law on universities and colleges, in force since 1976).
In fact, the organization and implementation of the CHE in Germany is very heterogeneous.
So we find centralized or decentralized institutions, associations or other business concepts.
Professional CHE is not only characterized by formal criteria like duration, form (extra15
The establishment of new study-programs and the lifting of vocational education and training at academic
occupational, research studies, doctoral studies, certificate-programs, block seminars etc.),
degrees, costs and so on, but also by professional regrounded learning opportunities for
special target groups. These offers have to be flexible, tailored, work-related, project-oriented
and open designed – they have specific parameters and must take into account the special
types of learners and working careers. Educational needs assessments are necessary. All these
duties and responsibilities are not possible without the actors in this field.
The professionals of the CHE are playing a decisive role in this context because professional
CHE is only realizable by professional staff working there. Interesting is that these persons
apparently belong to a new occupational group and could be identified as ‘third space
professionals’ (Whitchurch, 2008; 2010). Often people working in such institutions/centers
are no typical adult educators or trainers and they have to deal with manifold tasks in many
different work domains with different basic conditions. They operate in their given structures.
At the moment the CHE is situated in re-organization (Dollhausen & Ludwig & Wolter,
For regional structures of adult education universities are able to be an important player – as a
local actor with manifold ways of cooperation and adequate programs – the university as a
place for learning. But universities have to hold national and international cooperation too.
Not only to acquire students but also to be competitive (‘to get into the act’) and to foster the
profile of the university – as a global player.
The paper is embedded in a research project with the working title: Continuing Higher
Education (CHE) – Profiles, Potentials, Professionalism: Actors of Continuing Higher
Education and their professional self-conception. Some results show that some types of
universities are very good in holding regional cooperation for example with institutions of
adult education. Sometimes the topics/themes of the programs are the copulative element. In
most cases the specific regional circumstances are very important for the institutions of CHE
at the Universities. Cooperation and networks outside the Universities are necessary and
essential. But is that enough to be an adequate place for adult education?
1. Research
The research is embedded in a PhD-research project. In the following the state of research, the
research interest and the research design will be presented.
1.1. State of Research
To demonstrate the academic void three disciplines were elaborated: a) research of CHE, b)
research on (the professionalism of) actors of continuing education/adult education and c)
higher education research with perspective on actors in universities.
a) Research of CHE
Over the past years several studies with focus on the organization of the CHE were done.
Four of them have a bigger relevance for the described object of research. I. The international
comparative study of organization and structure of the CHE in selected countries (Hanft &
Knust, 2007); II. the survey of the quality management of CHE in Germany (Bade-Becker,
2005); III.a the international comparative study oriented on the participation in CHE
(Schaeper et al, 2006) and III.b a research which was also dedicated to the participation in
CHE but with focus on decision processes of the participants and the image of the universities
(Wolf, 2011).
In this field of research there is a stable data base to picture the structures and conditions of
CHE. But in all studies there is a missing in the orientation of the actors in this field –
although they are essential for the organization and realization of CHE and with it for quality
and success.
b) Research on (the professionalism of) actors of continuing education/adult education
In the field of adult education/continuing education we find a lot of research focusing the
actors working there, for example on types, profiles, standards, networks, competencies and
professionalization. Important for the described research project are I. the study which deals
with program planning (Gieseke, 2000; 2003 and Gieseke & Opelt, 2003) and II. the research
work which focusses the professionalism and acting professionally in adult education (Peters
These researches are very extensive and enriching for the research project because the
development in adult education and the consequences for the working field seem to be very
similar to the conditions in CHE.
c) Higher education research
Object of higher education research is the university as an organization. This field of research
has established in the last decades but now it is more prevailing. Interesting for the research
project are studies focusing staff working at universities like I. the project which examines the
role of the new professions at universities for the recreation of teaching and study (Kehm &
Schneijderberg & Merkator, 2010; Schneijderberg & Merkator, 2011; 2012) and II. the
studies about the ‚third space professionals‘ (Whitchurch, 2006; 2008; 2010) and their
changing identities.
These studies provide a lot of links overlooking changing profiles and working at ‘interfaces’
in universities and the involved effects of these developments in higher education like the
identities of the persons (important for the self-conception).
Taking up the results of the researches on organizational structures of the CHE in Germany,
the researches on actors of adult education/continuing education outside the universities as
well as results from the higher education research with perspective on staff – the object of this
research are the actors of CHE: it is a desideratum.
1.2. Research Interest
The identification of the (professional) self-conception16 of the actors in CHE within their
operational procedures, structures and general conditions at the universities is the aim of this
research project. In 2004 yet Jütte et al highlighted needs in research of CHE. Thesis seven is
oriented in the staff and their professionalism. Which criteria, standards and values are
relevant for the performance and the strategies of the actors and how can the professionalism
be secured (Jütte et al, 2004)?
Two levels of research findings are intended: a) the perspective of the actors in their structures
and b) the consideration of the university as organization with its dynamics. The conjunction
of these both levels enables a positioning in the described academic void.
It does not raise the claim to reconstruct the personality in a psychological way as well as to make biography
research. Rather it wants to understand the described working performance.
Due to this analysis the prospects and the constraints can be pointed out. It is possible to show
variances and opportunities of molding the structures. Roles and subjective factors can be
pictured and a typology of actors in CHE can be developed. A theoretical construct of the
(professional) self-conception of the actors in CHE is the achieved result. This could be a
contribution for a better understanding in the discourse of CHE. In this way it is intended to
define potentials as well as make recommendations.
1.3. Research Design
Methodologically the study is based on:
1) an analysis and description of organizational structures of CHE and on
2) a qualitative research with problem-centred interviews (Witzel, 1985; Witzel & Reiter,
2012) with the actors of CHE in several types of universities and framed external interviews
with experts (Meuser & Nagel 2005) outside and inside the universities with special expertise
in the field of CHE, such as the German Rector´s Conference, Higher Education Research,
local networks and local politicians.
The research scheme is oriented on the Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; 1998;
Strauss & Corbin, 1990; 1996) as the methodological framework. The Grounded Theory (GT)
is not a method or set of methods, it is a methodology of research, a style of research to think
about social problems analytically and has its origin in the Symbolic Interactionism 17. Main
approach is to discover theory from data in social research. During the whole research process
there is a dialogue between theory and empiricism – data collection and data analysis are
running parallel. This is a specific strategy for handling data in research providing modes of
conceptualization for describing and explaining. The basic principles of the GT are a) the
covered abductive procedure with sensitizing concepts (no verification of hypotheses like in
deduction and no totally openness like in induction); b) the method of comparative analysis;
c) the flexible use of data.
The problem-centred interviews are the crux of the research and necessary for describing the
perspective of the actors in CHE (drawing the subjective sense). The analysis of the structures
in CHE serves as information of context (conditions at the universities) and for focusing the
different standards of institutionalization in this field. Furthermore it is the base for the
sampling of the interview partners. The interviews with the experts are also remarkable for
the context and the describing of the structure. Furthermore, the comparison of the sense of
self of the CHE and the awareness of others by the experts are interesting.
2. First Findings
Fact is that the significance of the CHE is a highly discussed theme. In politics, in practice
and in the scientific community.
“Symbolic Interactionism is grounded on a number of basic ideas, or ‘root images,’ … [which] refer to and
depict the nature of the following matters: human groups or societies, social interaction, objects, the human
being as an actor, human action, and the interconnectedness of lines of action. Taken together, these root images
represent the way in which symbolic interactionism views human society and conduct. They constitute the
framework of study and analysis” (Blumer, 1969; p. 6).
The field of actors in CHE is in a situation of change; the generation from the study reform
will be added, completed and replaced by new structures of educational management and new
governance models of higher education.
2.1. Standards of Institutionalization
We find heterogeneous structures on CHE, which can be described as ‘chaos of structures’ –
affected by dynamism. There are manifold organizational forms with different standards of
institutionalization. So we find central support models, education business models,
decentralized support models or diversification/ holding models like institutes affiliated to the
university. It always depends on different parameters as resources, reputation, networks, size
of the institution, tradition, potentials of regulation, financial situation and profit making etc.
Figure 1 Standards of Institutionalization of CHE
2.2. Heterogeneous actors
Most of the professionals are no ‘classical’ adult educators. Means, they have no
pedagogically background or experiences in continuing/adult education. The actors have
different working careers and within occupational socialization like their reference science,
ethics, customers and clients, sphere of activity, knowledge, profession, standards, values etc..
They have diverse beliefs of continuing education – which is very important for their
professional self-conception. There are different types of actors, for example: the scientific,
the educator, the manager, the pragmatic, and some more, but also combination of types.
Especially the stress conditions between the types of one person are interesting, like being
educator vs. have to be administrator or the other way round. Vitally important seems to be
the phenomenon ‘scientificalness’: the discrepancy and confrontation with order of science
and practicability in practice combined with own experiences often drives to conflicts.
A new working field is developing, which can be created, which opens scopes of action or
which limits the constitution – positions on the edge are emerging. New working profiles with
new duties, responsibilities and interdependencies are shaping. These profiles require new and
other qualifications and competencies. Working on interfaces is growing; with it the feeling
and problem to ‘being in-between’. The professionals are not only working in the sphere of
academia or/and in administration but also in a ‘third space’ (cf. Whitchurch, 2008). The
boundaries of the fields of activity become blurred. People working there have to handle with
boundaries and involved borderlessness (Whitchurch, 2010). Whitchurch identified four types
of professionals: the bounded, unbounded, cross-boundary and blended professionals. The
running research becomes apparent analogies.
Another very important result is the different handling with structures in organizations: some
are addicted from structures, some design their structures and some show interdependency.
Between the actors and the organization permanent negotiation processes take place. This can
be interpreted by theoretical approaches from the sociology like the concept of social worlds
(Strauss, 1993) or the action theory of actors (Giddens, 1988; Schimank, 2007; Meier 2011).
Interesting is the way of possibilities, the logic and the different constellations of action; not
to forget that they have to deal with the handling with political settlements like the program
“Open Universities”.
2.3. Regional cooperation and networks
Of big importance seems to be the networks and cooperation of the actors. Cooperation and
networks outside the universities are very necessary and essential. The results show that most
types of universities are very good in holding regional cooperation for example with
institutions of adult education or local businesses – small, medium-sized and also big ones.
“The university has also or anyway cooperation with regional businesses, of course” (Int_2:
Sometimes the topics/themes of the programs are the copulative element and in most cases the
specific regional circumstances are very important for the institutions of CHE at the
universities. Significant is the fact that all forms of cooperation nearly invariable based upon
personal and individual contacts. „(…) their business ist the technology of railroad and they
come back to profit from the experiences of mechanical engineering and electronics at this
university. But solely because the manager studied here, yes, he remebered (…)“ (Int_6: 168171).
Universities are playing an important role by boosting the regional economic and educational
development. A successful example is the cooperation with the regional Chamber of Industry
and Commerce (German: IHK) and in this way the connection to the vocational education and
training system. Another example is the cooperation with regional schools. By focusing the
didactics they developed a model of teacher training. Also interesting is cooperation with a
regional office of the German Medical Association (German: Ärztekammer).
Sometimes the situation and the general conditions to create cooperation are not the best and
pose a lot of challenges. “(…) that is a long-term process which is every time a challenge
because of the kind of cooperation, it is again and again another” (Int_2: 134-136). But also
from the perspective of the regional economy there are a lot of factors which the universities
have to handle with. First, the small- and medium sized businesses often have strong limited
resources especially time and money. And second “(…) because the economy here in this
region considers critically the continuing education at the university” (Int_5: 346-347).
Implications to improve the situation most of the actors gave comprehensible
recommendations. „Thus, we have built up now some good business contacts. If we want to
intensify that then you need additionally a cross-sectional task, the distribution” (Int_9: 512513). “We have our direct business contacts, but it has established a new area, customer
relationship management (Int_12: 487).
The universities have to go new ways to hold their position as local actor for regional adult
education. “An Example is the cooperation with the ‘daily evening paper’, which is the
biggest newspaper in this region. We have a common series of offers ‘continuing education’.
We did the concept and they communicate it into the region” (Int_10: 367-400).
3. Outlook
Fact is that Universities can exhibit manifold potentials to offer CHE programs. They are able
to promote the achievement of high qualification requirements and professional regrounded
learning opportunities supported through scientific approaches and inspire by the use of new
methods. With holding regional cooperation the universities are local actors for regional adult
and continuing education.
Nevertheless, we have to state that CHE in Germany is situated in discrepancy between the
financial pressure to earn money with the offers and the educational mandate of the society –
and this conducts stress conditions but also challenges. The Continuing Higher Education is
today located:
„(…) in stress conditions between the act upon the maxim of scientific adult education
which has to comply with the societal mandate of education on the one hand and from
the economic point of view the possibility of an additional source of income on the
other hand“ (Ludwig, 2010, p. 39).
The actors in the field of CHE are very important. But what implies the fact that they are so
heterogeneous? It seems to be that continuing education at universities is arranged by
professionals not working pedagogically. Of high importance is the appreciation (of
education) actors have – this is one part of the professional self-conception and has to be
Furthermore we always have to open the way of consideration, means that the structures and
conditions in which the actors of CHE are located must not overlook. The circumstances of
the all-day work in universities are of high importance. Significant are the cooperation and
networks actors of CHE are holding; as regional as well as global anchorage.
“We are networked with the city, very good networked. The university and the city have
a very active partnership which both really live out. There is a big project ‘Local
Learning’, resident at the city and we are super involved” (Int_12: 488-492).
These and more facts and questions have to be illuminated. At the end this can be a way to
foster the theorization and within the profiling of the field; help to understand the logic of the
all-day working life of actors in CHE as well as to support the practice with models of
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Accountability practices and the educational/political role of international
non-governmental organizations: an analysis of accountability instruments
and procedures
Mieke Berghmans
Catholic University of Leuven, Laboratory for Education and Society,
[email protected]
Abstract. Since the 80s NGOs have become increasingly important players in the
international development sector. At the same time they are put under increasing
scrutiny by a variety of accountability instruments and procedures. In this presentation,
which is the result of a first exploratory research phase in my PhD project, I contribute to
a further understanding of these accountability instruments and procedures. After a brief
introduction to the fuzzy concept of accountability, I firstly sketch out the bigger picture
of the issue of accountability within contemporary NGOs. I explain that the NGOs’
increasing international success and importance has, next to other factors, led to an
aggravation of the accountability burden on NGOs. Secondly, I describe and analyze a
selection of accountability instruments and procedures that were developed in response to
this burden? By responding to the following questions ‘Who initiated this instrument?’,
‘What does this instrument establish?’ ‘Between whom and about what?’, ‘ How is
compliance assured? ‘ I identify the different logics at play in NGO accountability.
Keywords: accountability, NGOs, accountability instruments and procedures
1. Introduction: the fuzzy concept of accountability
Since the 80s, in Western society a culture of institutional trust has been replaced by a culture
of accountability and auditing (Power, 1997). This culture has spread over to other nonWestern societies and to different sectors in society. Also in the development sector
accountability has become a new buzzword. The term is used in various ways and comes in
different types. There is soft or hard accountability (Fox, 2007), formal or informal
accountability (Edwards & Hulme, 1996a), functional or strategic accountability (Avina,
1993 in Edwards & Hulme, 1996a; Najam, 1996 in Ebrahim, 2003a), internal or external
accountability (Ebrahim, 2003a) and upward and downward accountability (Ebrahim, 2003a).
Despite these diverse yet straightforward typologies, little agreement seems to prevail over
the precise contours of the concept itself. Though there seems to exist a focus on a principal
–agent perspective on NGO accountability, focusing on accountability as “mechanisms
through which people entrusted with power are kept under check to make sure that they do
not abuse it, and that they carry out their duties effectively” (De Renzio 2006 in Eyben, 2008),
other authors argue that this interpretation is too limited (Eyben, 2008) and that the concept
requires further unpacking (Anheier & Hawkes, 2008). By analyzing the logics at play in
actual accountability instruments, I wish contribute to this unpacking.
But before describing and analyzing these instruments I will first sketch the background of the
issue of accountability in NGOs.
2. NGOS: important players at the international level faced with a heavy
accountability burden
During the last three decades NGOs have become increasingly important players in the
international development sector. In the fields of relief and welfare, local self-reliance as well
as advocacy and policy influencing (Atack, 1999), NGOs can no longer be overlooked. This
is the consequence of two historical evolutions. Firstly, due to the explosion of governmental
funding in the post-Cold War period, NGOs have known a significant growth in scale and
scope (Mawdsley, Townsend & Porter, 2005; Edwards & Hulme, 1996a). Secondly, the
legitimacy crisis at the international governance level has led to a more prominent role of
NGOs at the international policy level (Jordan & Van Tuijl, 2006). The incapacity of
traditional accountability mechanisms, which are usually founded in and on an effective
nation-state, to demand accountability from international actors such as pension funds, banks,
mining companies, states and civil society organizations (Collingwood, 2006; Anheier &
Hawkes, 2008), has allowed NGOs to develop and strengthen their niche position in the
international field of advocacy and policy influencing. It is now often NGOs that demand
accountability from international companies, international governance institutes, states and
the like (Collingwood, 2006).
Simultaneously with this increased importance and power, NGOS have become subject to
increased scrutiny (Charnovitz, 2006; Lewis, 2010; Collingwood, 2006; Jordan & Van Tuijl,
2006; Ebrahim, 2003b). This is not only a consequence of the more influential position NGOs
have obtained at the international level. Various other factors have been at work as well.
There is for example the increasing realization that NGOs are unable to meet up to the high
expectations raised towards them (Edwards & Hulme, 1996a; Biggs & Neame, 1996; Lewis,
2010). Another factor is the criticism of some governments, like Russia or Zimbabwe, who
see NGOs as potential vehicles for political interference in internal affairs. Next to that there
are the historical events, like 9/11 and the subsequent war, as well as scandals, like the Brent
Spar case or the questioning of the use of funds after the 2004 Tsunami or the Hawaii
Earthquake in 2010 (Anheier & Hawkes, 2008; Edwards, 2004).
The above mentioned evolutions have contributed to an increased questioning of NGO’s
accountability and the development of specific instruments and procedures.
3. Accountability instruments and procedures
Underneath I will analyze these instruments and mechanisms developed by governments,
other civil society actors, groups of NGOs, donors, individual NGOs. More specifically I will
discuss 1. governmental laws and regulations, 2. watchdogs and rating agencies, 3. collective
self-regulation mechanisms like public web based reporting systems, codes of conduct and
certification schemes, 3. Contract based accountability mechanisms, 4. complaint and
response instruments, and 5. Participation mechanisms.
I do not have the ambition to give an encompassing overview of all accountability
insturments. Therefore I will not delve into the more complex accountability arrangements,
informal relations of accountability or the accountability mechanisms that already exist within
a democratic political system. I will only focus on the individual instruments that have
intentionally been developed to demand and promote accountability of NGOs.
I will analyze and compare these instruments by responding to the following questions:
1. Who initiated this instrument?
2. What does this instrument establish? Between whom and about what?
3. How is compliance assured?
This analysis will allow us to identify the different logics of accountability at play in NGOs.
An overview of these instruments will given in the figure underneath.
4. Description and analysis of accountability instruments and procedures
4.1. Governmental accountability laws and regulations
Over the last decade national governments have increasingly taken measures to demand more
accountability and transparency of NGOs that operate in their country (Anheier & Hawkes,
2008). The USA Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, but also Zimbabwe’s INGO Act, and Russia’s
internationally highly contested NGO ’Foreign Agents’ Law in 2012 illustrate this evolution.
These laws and regulations have, quite obviously, been initiated by governmental
authorities. Depending on the exact content of the laws, they establish relationships of
enforced transparency or evaluation between NGOs and governments. What the NGOs are
required to be transparent about or to be evaluated on, is defined in the respective laws. A
quick look at some of these laws and regulations, seems to suggest that transparency and
evaluation is mostly wanted about financial short term results. NGOs are asked to publicly
disclose financial data and to be audited. Some more demanding laws, like the Zimbabwean
NGO Act, (ICNL, undated) however also request annual narrative reports and demand the
NGOs to respect values described in a national Code of Conduct.
Compliance is assured by the law, the authority of the government. If NGO’s do not comply
with the regulations and laws, the government can use its’ authority to sanction the NGO.
These sanctions can be an immediate threat to the existence of the NGO. Governments can
for example sanction by not registering the organization or by removing its tax exemption
status. Compliance is in principle not negotiable. Generally speaking, accountability is
embedded in a governmental authority logic.
This type of legislation, in which accountability becomes a means for governmental control,
is often contested both by practitioners (e.g. Civicus, 2013) and scholars (Charnovitz, 2006,
Edwards, 2004). They claim that these laws potentially threaten the NGO’s autonomy, the
human right to free association, and subsequently the existence of a thriving pluralist civil
society which, is, since de Tocqueville, perceived as a necessary condition for a functioning
democratic state (Charnovitz, 2006; Edwards, 2004).
Consequences are
drawn because of
Governmental authority
Accountability logic
founded on
Governmental authority
Governmental laws and
Strong focus on financial
Watchdogs and rating
Non – NGO civil society
Public web based
reporting systems
Collectivity of NGOs
private donorswatchdogs and rating
NGO-wider public,
predominantly private
Quality standards
Potential exit of private
Market authority
General information
about different aspects
of NGO
Public authority
Codes of conduct and
certification mechanism
Collectivity of NGOs
Group of NGOs
Process aspects of INGO
Professional authority
Donor NGO
Short term results
Obligation to comply
with standards one has
committed to
Membership to
professional peers
Potential loss of (future)
Contract based
mechanisms: reports
and evaluations
Complaints and
response mechanism
Contract donor- NGO
Individual NGO
Unidirectional Feedback
Beneficiaries - NGOs
Diverse aspects of NGO
At the discretion of
Procedural authority
Beneficiaries - NGO
Diverse aspects of NGO
program and
Contractual authority
Two directional
Individual NGO
Commitment of NGO
and beneficiaries to
effectively facilitate
in decision making.
Democratic authority
4.2. Watchdogs and rating agencies
During the last decade civil society actors have initiated watchdogs and rating agencies.
Watchdog organizations, like NGO Watch (2014) or NGO Monitor (2014), are agencies that
keep an eye on the work of NGOs and communicate their findings with the wider public.
Rating agencies, like Charity Navigator (2014) and Give Well (2014), rate, as a service to
private funders , NGOs against quality and performance standards.
These organizations establish a relationship of accountability in two steps. A first step is
evaluation. Rating agencies and watchdogs appreciate or evaluate NGO’s according to
(explicit or implicit) standards of quality that have been developed by the rating agencies or
watchdogs. These standards of quality can concern political positions of NGOs (e.g. NGO
Monitor is critical of NGOs that are ‘not neutral’ towards Israel), the way in which the
organization conducts its’ programs (e.g. Give Well verifies if the projects NGOs implement
are evidence-based, scalable and cost-effective), or organizational characteristics of an NGO
(e.g. Charity Navigator evaluates an organizations’ financial health, transparency and
accountability). Often the evaluated NGO is not involved in this evaluation process.
In a second step this evaluation is made available on the internet. The evaluations or ratings
are shared on a public website to allow potential (private) donors to decide to (not) financially
support the rated NGOs. The evaluation is initiated by rating agencies, but whether an NGO
feels the consequences of these bad ratings does thus not depend upon the rating agency.
Compliance rather depends upon the potential exit of private donors.
These accountability mechanisms are founded on a market based logic. They are based on the
belief that a market competition exists or can be created between NGOs. In this market,
private donors are consumers of NGOs whom are assumed – and this assumption might be
incorrect according to empirical research (Szper & Prakash ; 2011)- to reward NGOs with
good ratings by financing them and to sanction NGOs with negative ratings by stopping their
financial support to the NGO. Accountability in these instruments is understood as a
relationship of evaluation, mediated by the evaluations of rating agencies and watchdogs who
evaluate the NGO against their own quality standards, and indirectly enforced by the potential
exit of potential donors who are consumers.
4.3. Collective self-regulation mechanisms
Collective self-regulation mechanisms are “efforts by NGO or nonprofit networks to develop
standards or codes of behavior and performance” (Ebrahim, 2003a, 819). A grand number
and diversity of self-regulation initiatives has been developed at the network, national and
international level (Obrecht, Hammer & Laybourn, 2012; Civicus, 2014). In this grand
diversity, a distinction can be made between public reports provided by information agencies,
codes of conduct and certification schemes (Civicus, 2014).
4.3.1. Collective public web based reports
Public web based reports group information on nonprofit organizations, mostly at the country
level. Ngo-openboek, is a Belgian example of this type of web based reporting system (NGOopenboek, 2014). The information that is shared on theses public websites can concern
different aspects of NGO. It can concern financial data but also information on the
organizational structure, contact details, areas of operation,…). The information is mostly
fairly general and is voluntarily shared by the NGOs. Unlike watchdogs or rating agencies,
these websites do not interpret nor evaluate the NGO’s work. They merely create a
relationship of transparency, which is, even though these websites are public and accessible to
all, predominantly established between NGOs and donors (Vimuktanon, 1997; Ngoopenboek, 2014). Apart from these collective reports, NGOs often also have their own reports
in which they create transparency with private donors (Ebrahim, 2003a).
Because of its growing popularity, I will also shortly touch on the International Aid
Transparency Initiative (IATI, 2014), which goes a step further than the previous web based
reporting systems.
IATI is the result of the Accra High Level Forum of 2008 where government, bilateral,
multilateral organizations and CSOs agreed to “publicly disclose regular, detailed and timely
information on volume, allocation and, when available, results of development expenditure to
enable more accurate budget, accounting and audit by developing countries”, (3rd High Level
Forum on Aid Effectiveness, 2008, 6). This later led to the IATI standard which consists of
an organizational standard, “designed for reporting the total future budgets of organizations
and forward planning budget data for recipient institutions and countries” and an activities
standard “designed for reporting the details of individual aid activities”. In both standards
there is a strong focus on making visible the budget stream in the aid chain, from donor to
beneficiary and from funding to result. In the IATI registry these data can be publicly
consulted (IATI, 2014). It could be argued that IATI is at once a public web based reporting
system and a code of conduct on transparency, since the reporting is the result of a
commitment to a standard of openness and transparency.
IATI differs from the previously mentioned reporting systems in at least three ways. First
IATI explicitly aims to include both the post –factum financial and narrative reporting as
well as the ante-factum planning of budgets and activities. Second, IATI explicitly targets
the cross national level. It aims to be an instrument in which donor and recipient countries as
well as civil society organizations at both ends of the aid chain are brought together to publish
data on their previous and future budgets and programs. Third IATI is the result of a
cooperation between NGOs and official development actors. Strictly speaking it is thus not a
self-regulation mechanism.
Whereas most other instruments include an aspect of being confronted with an aspect of
external scrutiny that might result in the NGO being forced to feel or draw consequences , this
aspect is not very present in public web based reporting systems. In these web based reports,
only transparency is created. NGOs take the initiative to voluntarily share information about
their work. Of course, consequences might be felt when private donors or other stakeholders
consult the website and use the available information to hold the organization liable (by for
example writing a letter to the organization or by exiting). But the aspect of being verified
and being held liable by an external party is not inherent to the public web based reports. In
these instruments accountability is more conceived as transparency to the public.
4.3.2. Codes of conduct and certification mechanisms
A code of conduct is a set of standards or principles concerning NGO operations agreed upon
by a set of NGOs. Sometimes, for example in the case of the Humanitarian Accountability
Partnership (HAP) (HAP, 2014), these codes of conduct evolve towards more strict and
bureaucratic certification procedures. These certification procedures ‘evaluate an
organization’s governance, programs, practices against a set of standards and norms defined
and established by a group of organizations. After proving adherence to these standards the
organization receives a seal of certification or accreditation’(Civicus, 2014, p. 42).
Generally speaking, in these codes of conduct or certification mechanisms, NGOs voluntarily
commit to these standards, principles or norms (Civicus, 2014). These standards and norms
seem to mostly concern process issues, describing how the NGO should be organized and
should operate. Some, if not most codes and certification mechanisms entail an evaluation
mechanism which verifies if the organization sufficiently realizes the standards it commits
itself to. This evaluation is done through either self-assessment, peer assessment, third party
assessment or complaints mechanisms. ( Obrecht, Hammer & Laybourn, 2012; Civicus,
2014; Anheier & Hawkes, 2008). Next to these assessments and complaints mechanisms,
many certification or codes of conduct also have sanctioning mechanisms to assure
compliance with the codes and standards. The ultimate sanction, inherent to the process of
certification but also existing in many codes of conducts (Obrecht, 2012), is the loss of
membership to the code or certification in cases of non-adherence.
We suspect that in these self-regulation mechanisms compliance is assured by at least two
combined factors: 1. the obligation to comply with standards to which one has committed
voluntarily, 2. and the potential loss of membership to a group of professional peers .
In these self-regulation methods there is “a deference to expertise”. There is a strong
reliance “on the technical knowledge of experts” to whom authority is granted (Romzeck &
Dubnick, 1987 in Mulgan, 2000, 558-559). In codes or certification mechanisms that rely on
peer or third party assessment, accountability is predominantly understood as a self-directed
obligation and peer pressure based enforcement relationship between NGOs. This relationship
is informed by the findings of other professional who verify if the NGO meets the standards
it has committed to. In codes where the NGO assesses its own performance vis-à-vis the
standards and is not externally enforced to draw consequences, accountability is rather
conceived as professional responsibility.
4.4. Contract based accountability mechanisms
In the contractual relationship between donors and NGOs, evaluations and reports are
frequently used tools to verify if the contract has been executed correctly.
These evaluations traditionally focus on the attainment of,NGO operations and single loop
learning (Ebrahim, 2003) . However there seems to be a growing focus on long term results,
like impact, as well as on certain process characteristics, like effectiveness, efficiency,
relevance, sustainability, of development interventions.
The reports, that are mostly linked to planning documents in which budgets and planned
projects or programs are described, predominantly focus on the reporting of short term
financial and operational results (Ebrahim, 2003). However there seems to be a growing
stress on process aspects of development interventions.
In these cases, accountability is the establishment of a relationship of transparency and
evaluation, between a donor, who verifies if the NGO, to whom he has delegated authority
and responsibilities, has executed the contract correctly. Compliance is assured by the
possibility of taking away (future) funding .
It is important to clearly distinguish these reports and evaluations from the reports that are
demanded by governmental laws and regulations. Even though in both relationships, similar
accountability instruments are being used (e.g. annual financial and operational reports are
being demanded in Zim INGO Act, ); there is a radical difference. Within a funding
relationship, an NGO is being delegated funds and responsibilities. The NGO will execute a
program on behalf of the state with means of the state. In such cases accountability demands
from the state are more easily perceived as legitimate since states and NGOs are in principalagent relationship and the government needs to also demonstrate accountability for tax money
to its taxpayers. However when NGOs are not in a funding relationship with the state, there is
no clear-cut principal agent relationship. If in these cases governments ask detailed reports
from NGOs, this is often perceived as a threat to freedom of association (Charnovitz, 2006 ).
4.5. Complaints and response instruments
Complaints and response mechanisms are part of a certification or code of conduct, but can
also be initiated by individual NGOs. These mechanisms, which exist in a grand variety
(Wood, 2011), allow stakeholders to file complaints and to seek and receive response for
grievances and alleged harm (Brown, 2008 ;One World Trust, 2010). A formal relationship of
feedback is established between mostly beneficiaries, but possibly also other stakeholders
(staff, volunteers, partners,…) and the NGO. This feedback can concern different grievances
about very diverse aspects of NGO operations and decisions. (Wood, 2011)
Compliance is either left to the responsibility of the NGO or procedurally assured. In some
complaints mechanisms, accountability is reduced to a unidirectional relationship of
feedback. Whether the NGO draws conclusions from this feedback is then left to the
discretion of the NGO. This type of complaints without response mechanisms, might rather,
be called a responsiveness mechanism (Mulgan, 2000). The focus is in these cases on being
responsive to the needs of the beneficiary and so becoming a better service provider.
In cases where complaints mechanisms include a response from the NGO to the beneficiary,
the feedback relationship is two directional. Compliance is in this case not up to the discretion
of the NGO, but contained in procedures that the beneficiary can use to demand a response or
to appeal. Unlike in participation mechanisms, (cf. underneath), it is unlikely that this
mechanism will result in a dialogue allowing the beneficiary to voice his complaint. Rather is
this accountability mechanism a procedural mechanism.
4.6. Participation mechanisms
In scholarly literature on participation and accountability the stress is put on participation
from beneficiaries (which can be end-beneficiaries, southern partner organizations, or local
communities) which we will focus on underneath.
Participation of beneficiaries is often reduced to informing or involving local communities
in activities. But recently there seems to be a tendency, at least in some NGOs, to stimulate
participation in decision making, thus giving a voice to the communities that benefit from the
NGOs interventions (Ebrahim, 2003; ACFID, 2009; Ebrahim 2005). This participation in
decision making can take place at two levels: the program level and the governance level.
Beneficiary participation in decision making on programs and projects that concern them, is
stimulated through feedback mechanisms, participatory evaluations, stakeholder dialogues
and alike. In these participation mechanisms, beneficiaries, or other stakeholders, share their
views on specific program aspects of the NGO with the NGO. Subsequently consequences
can be drawn from this information. Even though this participation mechanism creates a
‘window of opportunity’ for accountability to beneficiaries, beneficiaries have generally
speaking little leverage to assure compliance with their views. Because money is involved
and because for years they have not been involved in decision making, communities might
not always be likely or able to enforce compliance with their views ( ACFID, 2009). It is
probably safe to say that in those cases NGOs try to be responsive to the needs of the
But possibly the participation mechanism could also be a “ key mechanism that can serve
to increase the[ir] leverage” of beneficiaries (Ebrahim, 2003, 819). It can stimulate
beneficiaries to be actively involved in the NGO ‘s decision making and actively participate
in decision making. This is more likely in organizations that also stress participatory or
collaborative governance (Burgis & Zadek, 2006; Litovsky & Mac Gillivray, 2007).
Some authors who start from a fairly strict interpretation of accountability (Mulgan, 2000),
would argue that this process of dialogue has little to do with accountability. However, taking
into account the specificity of NGOs who are founded on values like solidarity and
voluntarism (Atack, 1999), it might be more appropriate to argue that this dialogue leads to
accountability, in which accountability has dimensions of mutual responsibility (Eyben,
5. Conclusion
The complexity of the concept of accountability in NGOs is the result of the complexity of the
aid chain. NGOs are confronted with multiple stakeholders ( governments donors, both
governmental and private, other NGOs, other civil society initiatives, and beneficiaries) with
whom they have different relationships(e.g. legislation and regulation, funding, competition,
collaboration, partnership,…) within which accountability demands arise. Depending on the
type of relationship between the stakeholder and the NGO an accountability mechanism
establishes a different relationship (transparency, evaluation, feedback, participation), about
different aspects of the NGO’s operations (results, financial or operations, processes), with
different compliance mechanisms (laws, potential exit, contract, democratic dialogue,…).
Depending on the relationship within which the demand for accountability is formulate, d
different dimensions of accountability which are founded in different logics (based on
governmental authority, market authority, professional authority,…), are being stressed.
The complexity of accountability in NGOs often results in confusion, not only conceptually
but also in daily NGO practices in which they try to meet the diverse accountability demands
of different constituents. It is not always clear to whom NGOs ought to be accountable
(Kilby, 2006) or whose accountability demands are primordial (Anheier & Hawkes, 2007).
When NGOs do not consciously deal with the different voices and demands of the different
constituents, accountability is often reduced- despite a strong rhetoric for holistic
accountability- to a dominant focus on being accountable to the dominant voices, being the
donors and governments (Brown, 2008; Ebrahim, 2005) This entails a risk of usurpation
with NGOs running the risk of forsaking to their essential rights, like freedom of association
and autonomy, (Anheier & Hawkes, 2008, 134) and becoming a provider of services for a
donor or government. Ultimately this can threaten the very essence of an NGO.
The focus on accountability to the dominant voices, which is enforced by the strong stress an
accountability from a principal-agent perspective, puts other logics of accountability into the
shade. With this presentation I hope to have revealed the diverse logics differnt accountability
instruments are founded on. I hope to have contributed to the unpacking of the concept of
accountability and a more nuanced perspective on accountability.
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The Bridge and the River. Social and Cultural relationships in the
Southwestern European border
Gualda E.1, Gualda J.M.2, Martins V.3 and Lucio-Villegas E.4
University of Huelva, Social Studies and Social Intervention Research Centre (ESEIS,
www.eseis.es); and CIEO (www.cieo.pt), [email protected]
University of Huelva, ESEIS Research Centre, [email protected]
University of the Algarve, [email protected]
University Sevilla, ESEIS, [email protected]
A border is a river between a country and the distance
(Manuel Alegre, Paris não rima com meu país)
... I feel a sense of belonging to the Guadiana, in the sense of affection,
admiration, respect,... towards this region, including there the Guadiana
River, Ayamonte, Punta del Moral, where I lived 18 years,
the Andévalo, the interior of the Algarve...
(Men, Ayamonte, focus group of experts, 2009).
Abstract: This paper describes and makes a reflection on the contradictory relationships among
modernization, identity and development in border territories. To do this we focus on social
reality, identities and collective imaginaries built across the Spanish-Portuguese Southwestern
border, with special attention to that border area comprised by the Ayamonte (Spain) and Vila
Real de Santo António (Portugal) municipalities. Communications between both territories used to
take place crossing the Guadiana River or the International Bridge above the same. Borders are not
only physical, but also symbolic ones, showing that social, cultural, historic, symbolic and identity
networks are found in the local spaces and are more significant when people think in the places
where they live and work. The discussion will be focus around two issues addressed in our
qualitative fieldwork based on focus groups carried out in the two countries: 1) the Guadiana River
as physical barrier that join people and creates a collective identity sometimes denied in processes
of modernization; 2) the International Bridge as an essential element for the modernization and
development in this area, that instead of become an element that maintain the cross-border links,
turns into an infrastructure than put distance between these two municipalities in the Southwestern
border of Europe. This happens as the Bridge propels an identity building process that surpass the
strict border area, as it allows that as Portuguese as Spanish inhabitants develop interchanges in a
broader area. Then, if the building of the International Bridge maybe have connected people living
in Vila Real do Santo António and Ayamonte with the rest of the world, at the same time it
provoked some distancing between these populations, as some discourses show. For this reason, to
join people again, and build the border as a place to share differences, could be one of the
challenges for the future.
Keywords: Modernization. Identity. Development. Cross-border cooperation.
This paper describes and makes a reflection on the contradictory relationships among
modernization, identity and development in border territories. To do this we focus on social
realities, identities and collective imaginaries built across the Spanish-Portuguese
Southwestern border (Baixo Alentejo, Algarve and Andalucía), with special attention to that
border area comprised by the Ayamonte (Spain) and Vila Real de Santo António (Portugal)
Communications between both territories used to take place crossing the Guadiana River or
the International Bridge above the same. In this work we present some theoretical notions
regarding to development, participation, identity and change. In that framework it is also
addressed that territories are not only physical ones, but also symbolic, showing that social,
cultural, historic, and identity networks are found in the local spaces and are more significant
when people think in the places where they live and work.
The discussion will be focused around two issues addressed in our qualitative fieldwork: 1)
the Guadiana River as a physical barrier that joins people and creates a collective identity
sometimes denied in processes of modernization; 2) the International Bridge as an essential
element for the modernization and development in this area, that instead of becoming an
element that maintain the cross-border links, turn into an infrastructure than put distance
between these two municipalities in the Southwestern border of Europe.
This happens as the Bridge propels an identity building process that surpass the strict border
area, as it allows that as well Portuguese as Spanish inhabitants develop interchanges in a
broader area. Then, if the building of the International Bridge maybe have connected people
living in Vila Real do Santo António and Ayamonte with the rest of the world, at the same
time it provoked some distancing between these populations, as some discourses show. For
this reason, to join people again, and build the border as a place to share differences could be
one of the challenges for the future.
Development and Participation. Identities and change
The concept of development has been used to refer to different cultural and historical
situations. Ander-Egg (1986) links the term with a new colonialism. Youngman (2000),
starting from Adult education policies, differentiates among four different theories:
Modernization, Dependence, Neoliberalism and Populist theories. The First and the second
are very useful thinking in our research area characterised as a semi peripheral one (Santos,
2001; Wallerstein, 1984).
In this sense it can be considered that Youngman theories and the four models of participation
defined by Gaventa (2006) enable us to draw how the processes of modernization and
development were running after the building of the International Bridge over the Guadiana
A second theoretical issue is related to the concept of community. Community is a very vague
term that holds inside an important ideological component. According to some authors (e.g.
London Edinburgh Weekend Return Group, 1980) communities are, in some ways, created by
the state in an attempt to produce a feeling of decentralization, but also trying to avoid the
assumption of state’s responsibilities with its citizens. However, community is something
related to some realities that people live and feel, is a concept used to edify a perspective that
considers the territory as the central place where their activity take place. Community is also
considered as the core of the processes of development.
Since community is not only a physical element, it is plenty of symbolic elements, where
individuals obtain, develop and can built explanations on their own reality. Symbolic
networks related to relationships, social life, history and identity seem to be in the heart of the
local and the local is a central concept when people talk and think in their places of life and
work. In this direction, it can be affirmed that the processes of development should be
considered as spaces of participation and communication.
Another element that we have to regard as together with the models of development and
participation is the way in which processes of development can be built. According to In Loco
(2011, pp. 41-42) it can be considered that a project of development is a collective venture
that units diverse people, associations and technicians. Following the model proposed by In
Loco and thinking in the International Bridge over the Guadiana River we can ask ourselves
if: a) neighbours were heard; b) the individual expression was promoted; c) the negotiation of
the conflict was favoured. If the answer to these questions is not, then it can be considered the
existence of a process of modernization which expected that the process of building a bridge –
by itself – can create a more dynamic, egalitarian and with high levels of development
territory/ society. On the contrary, it seems that these transitions between the old and the new
have broken the economy, culture, historic and social roots based on the traditional ways of
life of people living in a certain territory where individuals are constantly sewing their
networks of relationships.
Finally, we want to reflect on culture and, overall, on the concept of border. Talking on
cultural borders, Sousa Ribeiro (2001:467) states that “the idea of border as a space of
communication and interaction will set a liberating and critical value… on the contrary, to
conceive the border as a space of division is a conservative and negative signal”. Therefore,
the border, as a symbolic space, enables communication and people’s relationships at the
same time that produce differences. The border is a space of relationships and for that it joins/
divides and this contradiction between joining and dividing organises the identity of people
living in it. It can be suggested that the border enables people to fight against globalization.
The border becomes an element of cultural identity. In one way it divides people from both
countries but, at the same time, it is the cement joining people living in the two shores of the
River. If the border help to build identity, the essential problem comes when the border is
broken, because this break up removes some elements that are essential to conform the
cultural identity based on the differentiation. In our case the border is clearly delimited by the
Guadiana River, but now with the building of the International Bridge of the Guadiana limits
are more blurry.
Through this paper we want to know what kind of discourses have citizens of the AAA region
about the Guadiana River and the International Bridge that cross it. We are also interested in
knowing what the parameters that help local citizens to build identities are. Our interest is
approaching to this issue in a socio-historic perspective, considering the discourses of young,
adult and old people living in the area. To contrast in the discourses the elements that people
see as a benefit or a loss of the modernization in the area is also an interest in this paper, in
order to arrive to proposals of intervention of useful for this region.
This work is based on the analysis of qualitative, semi-structured interviews and focus groups.
We interviewed many people and experts. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a
set of significant social actors: presidents of the local power structures and experts or civil
society organizations of different types (NGOs, corporations and trade unions).
The focus groups were designed with the idea that the group dynamics represent more for
research than individual contributions and can be designed with different levels of structure
(Morgan, 2001). We ran four focus groups in VRSA and four focus groups in Ayamonte. The
groups were composed of young adults from 13 to 24 years old, adults from 25 to 64 years
old, and elderly inhabitants aged 65 years and older, as well as one group composed of
experts in cross-border cooperation. These experts had accurate knowledge of, and
experiences in, cross-border cooperation issues from personal or professional experiences
such as belonging to non-governmental organisations that conduct cross-border projects,
formal and informal cooperation with these organizations, or personal experiences in both
areas. In these groups, the purpose was to elicit direct and spontaneous discourse about the
border area, the biography of each participant, and border relations and identity. All the
participants were residents of the municipality being studied.
The selection processes for all participants were the snowball technique and direct contact
with different institutions (e.g., local governments, associations). The “experts” focus group
was the last selected. To recruit experts, we utilised our knowledge of cross-border projects in
the area and secondary sources, as well as other local information. Additionally, in every
focus group, each participant was asked to fill in a small, semi-structured questionnaire asking
if he or she knew somebody who could fulfil the criteria of the “experts” group. This
questionnaire facilitated the later recruitment of some participants for the “experts” focus
groups on each side of the border and the recruitment for participants to contribute life stories
in the second phase of the project. In this questionnaire, they also provided personal
information about their socio-demographic profile and other issues such as education and
work to complement what was reported in the group discussion. For the supervision of each
group, the research members collected the contact data of each participant, and once the date
and place was fixed, the participants were assembled for the meeting. Each group comprised
between 5 and 10 participants for each municipality.
For the handling of the groups, an open outline was used in both countries that included
questions regarding the initial presentation of each participant, his or her biography and
experiences with the other country, and so forth. The discussion began with the question: ‘If
you had to introduce Ayamonte/VRSA to a person who comes from outside and has no
information about this place, what would you say?’ Next, while showing a satellite map of the
area, the same question was posed but concerning the cross-border area: ‘If you had to
introduce this area to a person who is neither Spanish nor Portuguese, and who has no
information about this place, what you would say?’
To conclude the session, we explicitly asked every participant, even if the topic was
previously discussed in the session: ‘To conclude, what you identify with? What is your
identity? To where do you feel you belong?’
Finally, all the groups were conducted from May to October 2009, and their sessions were
recorded and transcribed to facilitate the content analysis carried out with the help of
scientific qualitative software, specifically Atlas.ti.
3.1. Other techniques
Along with the previous interviews and focus groups, we also benefited from several guided
and non-guided visits to both municipalities that followed the pattern of a participatory
observation. The authors of this article have known these municipalities for several years and
maintain continuous contact with the local citizens. We also used secondary statistical data
and took advantage of a previous investigation carried out in 2007-2008 (Gualda et al, 2008),
taken here as secondary source, wherein we studied social development in 18 administrative
areas of the southern cross-border zone between Portugal and Spain.
Elsewhere, we have argued that the area which forms the border between Portugal and Spain
- at least from Mértola to the mouth of the Guadiana River - is an artificial agglomerated
where cities, towns, villages and communities belong -in general- to other territories and
identity spaces beyond the border zone (Gualda et al, 2008; Gualda, Fragoso and LucioVillegas, 2013). In fact a multitude of information and data collected in previous
investigations, including the absence of social networks that cross the border, seem to support
this hypothesis (Gualda et al, 2008). Moreover, one of the great purposes of certain crossborder initiatives is to create a culture of cooperation, a border identity that facilitates
cooperation. The question is -in our opinion- that these efforts were made ignoring the
identifying symbols that already has the area and trying to replace each other. There are, we
believe, in all the efforts a kind of application of the Modernization Theory, where life
spaces of people and their potential for building identities, social and cooperation networks
are not very well considered.
We find that there is -and this is most pronounced from Alcoutim/Sanlúcar de Guadiana to
the Atlantic Ocean- a symbolic and physical element that gives identity to the area: the
Guadiana River. So important seems to be that sense of identity that one participant in an
expert focus groups declared -see the second literal transcription at the beginning of this
paper- that part of his multiple identity is also formed by the Guadiana River. Thus, the river
seems to be a border element in the sense that Sousa Ribeiro (2001) explains: it gives identity
and unity, but also it separates and marks the boundaries from which to resist the onslaught of
globalization. In contrast, we believe that from certain perspectives, the River is presented as
a space of disagreement to be overcome. In fact, from this perspective the new bridge
between El Granado and Pomarão has been presented as an important element of
development and modernization that could improve those absences caused by the river. That
new bridge could save 180 kilometers joining these municipalities and allowing and
developing exchanges between two impoverished peripheries: the Andévalo, in the province
of Huelva and the Baixo Alentejo, in Portugal.
The border areas are historically and traditionally trade zones. Indeed, Ayamonte and Vila
Real do Santo António have an identity linked to trade and the border trade which necessarily
had to cross through the two locations navigating the river. The Guadiana River was the
umbilical cord linking these localities to others as The São Domingo Mine.
to that date, until the early sixties, mineral cargo ships rose the river and went to the
Puerto de Alajar and slightly up or down in search of mineral in São Domingo, isn’t it?
And it was an attraction to walk by the dock (Man, Ayamonte, Experts Focus Group,
This was the recognized legal trade that carried goods from one place to another and used the
river as a transport space. But there was another trade and other traffic and other goods that
also used the river for circulating. A part of the business identity linked to the River -which
seems inseparable from the history and identity of the River-, is rooted in the existence of
illegal activities what occurs in almost all the border areas as something inherent to the
existence of them.
The distinctive feature here is a River that helps to build identities by the mysteries behind it.
By their presence in the collective imaginary: smugglers, police, boyfriends and girlfriends,
boats on the day or at night:
The Guadiana River has many secrets, many hidden things are there, but not physical,
but things that have happened between the two borders, right?... From smuggling, to the
marriage between Portuguese and Spanish,... Then there have been many things... This
river... especially smuggling not only in Ayamonte but... seafood smuggling, when it
could not be exported seafood (Man, Ayamonte, Focus Group, 2009).
Some of these secrets were found in the boat that joined -and continues joining- Ayamonte
and Vila Real de Santo António and possibly there are still found in the bags and secrets that
Apalpadeiras allowed to carry in the boat on a return trip. These women were responsible of
revising people coming from Andalusia by boat to prevent smuggling and sometimes use to
carry the goods of people:
The Apalpadeiras [ ... ] the apalpadeiras. It was then, when there in the Praça Marques
de Pombal [Vila Real do Santo António] were filled sacks, they were filled sacks of
everything, they carried out everything (Man, Vila Real de Santo António, Focus Group
of old people, 2009).
Hard times of trade not subject to pay taxes ended -at least as perhaps more romantic
times- and also ended up part of the legends of boats and people at night playing cat and
mouse, though perhaps without knowing who was cat and who was mouse.
At that time there was the smuggling, that time after the Civil War in Spain everybody
was smuggler (Man, Vila Real de Santo António, Focus Group of old people, 2009).
Evidently there was other kind of trade that used to pay taxes and circulated by the Guadiana
We have a tuna fish fleet that nobody had… Lot of ships that were travelling to the
São Domingo Mine came and docked there [at the Guadiana River] to follow towards
the cork, because we have the main country with cork, carob, and all those things (Men,
Vila Real do Santo António, Focus Group of adults, 2009).
In a context that considers the river as a space where people, goods and legends are found, the
International Bridge on the Guadiana River began to be built. This bridge was supposedly
designed to eliminate the border and to make easier the communications between Spain and
Portugal in a context of an unstoppable process of modernization.
The bridge was also supposed to solve the problems of communications between countries,
the overcrowded ships to go across the other side of the river, and to bring closer Vila Real do
Santo António and Ayamonte, and their neighbours:
… In these new generations, the relation between Spain and Portugal is much more… I
remember that when they began to build the bridge, Ayamonte was trembling, trade was
trembling, everybody were trembling, and they did not want the bridge… (Man,
Ayamonte, focus group of older people, 2009).
In fact, I was working in the radio, Antena 3, and I remember that they asked the
people, nobody wanted the bridge, in fact, the river was a mean for a living, some
people lived on the ship…, and then the relation now is good, I can see that afterwards
the bridge brought closer the people… (Woman, Ayamonte, focus group of experts on
CBC, 2009).
The bridge supposed a change in the mean of transportation to go to the other side. The train
never existed though in both borders there was an arrival of trains to the border, but without
crossing it.
The bridge is OK if you travel by car, said one of the young people that participated in
the focus groups. In fact, the only direct mean of transportation between Ayamonte and
Vila Real do Santo António is again the ship. Other young people said that the ship
“allows seeing the things better [he referred to touristic activities]”, and even other said:
“Price is not comparable with petrol, and this compensate for it” (Man, Vila Real do
Santo António, focus group of young people, 2009).
With the bridge that make easier not only communications between Ayamonte and VRSA,
but also with the rest of the Portugal and Spain those close neighborhood relations somehow
seem to have been lost. These close relations are linked to a border concept where the River at
the same time join and divide.
A river that join and divide
The villages Ayamonte and Vila Real do Santo António used to live much joined in
terms of trade, that is, the big relation between them was noticed. Today, I think, it
won’t be so relevant (Man, Vila Real do Santo António, focus group of experts, 2009).
Finally, it seems that the bridge, joined to the other elements, seem to have provoked an
important change in the trade in Ayamonte (not in Vila Real do Santo António), which is
collectively imagined as a place for shopping.
With the bridge there were two crucial events regarding trade that were the change of
the value of the Spanish peseta and the escudo. Because before the bridge the escudo
was stronger than the peseta, but after the bridge a Portuguese crisis came, currency
value changed and all of this influenced a lot… (Men, Ayamonte, focus groups of
experts, 2009).
On the other side though diverse voices address the idea that the bridge is an infrastructure
that had some negative effects in trade, other people remarked the important value of the
bridge at regional level. As it was described by a neighbour of Ayamonte:
But Ayamonte, as you know, is a very old village, they are even now discovering
archaeological rests that nobody knew, and today the village has changed a lot. When
they built the bridge we thought that trade was going to sink, it was going to disappear.
And it was all the contrary because a lot of… have come. This is overall a village
specialized on trade, and also in the beaches, isn’t it? And more and more people come
every day so it has been demonstrated that the bridge has been interesting (Men,
Ayamonte, interview, President of an ONG, 2009).
In fact, the personal experience of an adult education teacher was that some of his students
“have been by their first time in a foreign country when they were to Vila Real do Santo
António to buy their trousseau (‘ajuar’)”. Nevertheless, this is not a generalized sentiment.
Also, something was lost.
The bridge had a good part, to make the communications easier for those people coming
to Vila Real. But Vila Real also lost because some persons no more go to there
(Woman, Vila Real de Santo António, focus group of older people, 2009).
Theories of Modernization suppose that the economic investment in some directions must
allow and encourage – almost automatically, magically – the development of territories and
communities. That seems to be the model followed with the building of the International
Bridge over The Guadiana River. The culmination of this modernization process would be the
enlargement of the A-49 highway that allows connecting the bridge with a full network of
highways in Europe. It seems that this modernization process brought negative consequences
– and positive as well, of course – in the traditional trade in Ayamonte and Vila Real do Santo
Our interpretation of the collected testimonies in the two researches mentioned before, is that
the bridge: a) has broken a part – is yet to determine how much of importance it is –of the
territorial identity based on the river; b) has split apart the two communities of Vila Real and
Ayamonte creating, furthermore, a very important unbalance with other communities of the
region- not only cross-border, but also in the regions where this two communities belong, in
both Spain and Portugal.
a) Although it is not the only cause, it looks clear that the bridge facilitated the exchanges of
persons and goods between distant areas, but not between areas close to the river. Moreover,
the breaking of boat communications – never possible by train – and at being presented as the
main communication via, has replaced the river as the historical way of communication- from
the Phoenicians at least. Today it is only possible to communicate by road, which explains the
urgency – in this model of development – of building the bridge between Sanlúcar of
Guadiana and Alcoutim, or the presentation of the bridge between Pomarão and El Granado
as an inexhaustible source of development and richness that will allow interchanges. The
construction of this bridge between two peripheral and marginal territories seems – in a new
axiom of the Theory of Modernization – to enhance the development of interchanges and the
creation of richness.
b) The feeling that neighbours seem to express – especially in Ayamonte – is that the bridge
was bad for the trading and communications between Ayamonte and Vila Real. The bridge
divided these two populations, it has not joined them.
From a micro-level approach– at least from Mértola to the river mouth-, and before it is
possible to rate the impact of the new bridge between El Granado and Pomarão – we can
affirm that the International Bridge over Guadiana – in combination to other factors – created
new centres in periphery (Gualda et al., 2008) that supposed an even bigger increase of the
unbalances inside territories between the interior and the coast side. This unbalance already
existed historically, but it increases by concentrating for seventeen years and with the bonus
that involved the opening of the A-49 highway as the only practicable infrastructure in 100
kilometers of border. This is clearly visible in all the occidental coast line of Huelva where a
concentration of big richness provided by intensive agriculture and tourism (Lucio-Villegas
and Fragoso, 2005; 2008) producing unbalanced inner territories – the Andévalo preferably –
that can’t maintain the population levels they had before.
In some way, this has broken the distribution of local products. In other words, both the
bridge doesn’t potentiate the development of local products, as it seems that by disrupting
natural communication between territories and cities, it has built a concentration – always
around E-5 that make difficult the construction of local markets, over all inner local markets.
Obviously the bridge opened an area to the trading and to the distribution of mass-produced
goods that – at the same time – has broken the local trading by building networks of global
distribution that flood local markets with manufactured products.
That it is even more worrying as it looks that the development model that was carried out is a
model that has forgotten the traditional ways of productive economy and didn’t transform it to
be adapted to new social and cultural realities. The abandonment and substitution of a
productive and traditional economy – basically by tourism as a panacea for all ills – lead to
the loss of fishing activities – and the identity attached to it – or agricultural production, now
mainly focused in products exportation. The loss of mining activity in the inner areas is other
handicap to break the model of endogenous development and to create imbalances between
coast line and the interior, as we have been exposing.
But, what seems impressing is that this imbalance – evident in the level of concentration of
services, economic activities focused on tourism, etc. – doesn’t look to have benefited
traditional activities –as trading or fishing– that used to characterize the border relationship
between Ayamonte and Vila Real de Santo António. What is more surprising is that
neighbours from both cities consider that the bridge have been harmful to the interchanges
and relationships between both cities. The bridge doesn’t bring them closer.
Maybe the bridge connected inhabitants from Vila Real and Ayamonte with the rest of the
world, but it distanced one each other, or at least it looks so.
Because I personally have a grandfather that used to negotiate with shellfish and had a
strong relationship with Spain, in other words, he used to live great part of the time in
Spain. Between the way of Spain, Vila Real, Portugal, Spain, he used to travel around a
big part of Andalusia and Portugal due to the business and he had very good friends in
Spain. This means that, at the same time he had an identity of both countries, in other
words, some things that he told there, were lived here. And that was very funny! With
the opening of the bridge, with the building of the bridge and the opening of local
trading, that lead to finish with this kind of relationships (Men, Vila Real de Santo
António, CBC Experts focus group, 2009).
Re-joining in terms of border -and therefore of difference that join, distance, identify and
distinguish - is perhaps the challenge for future interventions.
Data used in this paper are part of the research projects supported by Junta de Andalusia
(Expte. SEGAEX/SRICI/ CR 08.44103.82A.015). We also benefited of the support of the
project “Territorial Analysis and Cross-border Cooperation of Euroregion Alentejo–Algarve–
Andalusia: Historical balance and potentialities for the new European period/frame 2014–
2020” (Excellence Projects, Call 2011).
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Thematic Networks in Practices of Adult Education
Joaquim Pina Cavaleiro
University of Lisbon, Institute of Education, [email protected]
Abstract: This paper to be presented in the scope of the Seminar ESREA “Local change, Social
Actions and Adult Learning” aims to provide a global overview of the development of
technologies in the online era framed in the informal or non formal education. We begin defining
what we mean by adult education and what local empowerment can do for them in the information
and documentary scope, whether by offering them all the resources they need. Teaching and
learning at distance at the global environment is being increased by the public and social politics
relating to the adults training. The political discourse in replacing the concept of adult education
by training and learning in the lifelong education places another sphere of government
programming toward partnerships. The government delegates to the municipalities and
associations of social security the guidance of social, cultural and recreational promotion of non
school adult education. Non formal education has, this way, the opportunity to be developed in the
market of learning under the European Community Funding for its lifelong professional education.
On the track of the technological development in the online era we intend to give an overview of
what the scope of documentary information has actually been. Let’s expose what it has been in the
present. We can consider three moments in the development of the knowledge information supply:
the elementary stage, the stage of semantic description and the stage of thematic description that
corresponds to the three models of processing information. Over the last many years, technologies
have developed a lot concerning not all the number of libraries around the world, but also the
quality of their contents because of the researches. Since the indexing process, new tools of
information had forced the change of configuration of the input and output processes to the new
ways of programming. This way, we consider the models according to which such techniques were
implemented as having each of them their own documentary processing. Thematic networks that
result from the collaboration among documentary centers or centers of educational resources at
schools can play an important role in national and overseas institutions sharing the needed
information. Having into account that governments of the south countries are changing to
democracy, our project in this scope of cyberdocumentation will held conferences and non-formal
or informal education in local governments of those countries.
Keywords: Descriptors:
Local change,
Social actions,
The development of technologies since the use of the software to the use of Internet brought a
new drive to the scientific research and, consequently, to the ways of teaching and learning at
distance in the global environment, mainly with adults, most of them, ageing people, in an
innovation approach as practices of non formal education.
First of all, this paper aims to give an overview of what the information supply is since the so
called explosion of information in the beginning of the twentieth century and secondly to
expose what is being in the present to, finally, risk what it will be in the future. We can even
consider three moments in the development of the supply of information: the elementary
stage, the stage of semantic description and the stage of thematic description that correspond
to the three models of processing information. For many years technologies had developed so
much not only regarding to libraries all over the world but also to the quality of contents, due
to researches. We begin doing a brief summary of the traditional process of indexing since its
beginning in the last century. Since then, new tools of information have increasing the
configuration of the processes involved in the access to information.
So, we consider the models according to which these techniques were implemented, having
each of them their way of the proper processing, transmission and communication. The new
technological tools are adapting themselves to the new telematic and electronic environments
in the context of globalization that allows the transmission and access of data at distance.
Several countries of the periphery of the south don’t have conditions to get this kind of
information due to the weak and deficient supply of electricity and the phone or cable lines.
We can then, talk about libraries of the future, spaces, professionals of information,
documentation and communication, and the contents that interact themselves with real
descriptors on the environment of cyberdocumentation. Documentation on cyberspace is
accessed through tutorials of information that are vehicles of communication duly organized.
This way, we talk about explosion of data in the Internet due to the impossibility to store them
in little datacenters, data that are designed around the infinite that interact themselves among
storing public and private locals. Secondly, in the three last decades, the public politics of
adult education and training in Portugal haven’t paid attention to the reinforcing in the
dynamics of non formal education.
1. The retreat of Public Politics for Adult Education and Training.
In the last years, more precisely from the eighties, due to the governmental deficits, we assist
to a huge absence or retreat in the public and social politics, observing meaningful constraints
relating to adult education and training have revealing a progressive erosion of the social
state, a weak investment on that sector with exception of the official and recurring teaching in
adult and professional training. With the change in the political discourse in replacing the
concept of adult education by the training one and lifelong learning, it delegates itself to the
municipalities, the IPSS and associations of cultural, recreational and social guidance of the
civil society, the promotion of non-school adult education, becoming unfeasible
alphabetization, popular education and adult education as non-school education among others.
As an alternative, and facing this bewilderment of the social state, the emergence of a societyprovidence values itself based in social and informal solidarities. Those come, however,
affected in their civic and cultural dimension, overevaluating the recreational and sport
The associations are feeling a strong boundary of its autonomy in the resources and processes
of action, being in considerable dependency and political coercion with the applications to the
official programs, for the engagement with the state concerning the funding and partnerships
that try to survive at any rate. They face great constraints due to the visible intentionalities of
actions to which they are subordinated and try to adapt themselves in volunteering basis and
militancy the professionalized learderships based in technical and specialized officers.
This way, the opportunity of market of learning comes in a race to the applications and
capturing of european fundings for the continuing and professional training. In a climate of
crisis, they try to survive it feeding the entrepreneurial business that rounds to the trainers
rewarded and the consumer customers eager of professional acquisition and competences.
Going from the beginnings backwards of the eighties, the associations of popular education as
a consequence of the revolutionary impulse, of the volunteered and changed spirit that oppose
itself to capitalist State that had evaluated the associative movements in the civil society.
They affirmed themselves as autonomous sphere of action of the citizens, as synonymous of
the community expressing their horizontal and political obligation trough the citizens. They
promoted common interests in profit of the solidarity, in a simultaneous and interactive
mobilization with collective actors, some of them even protagonists, in processes of
articulation with the State.
The civil society arrives then to materialize itself in a hybrid texture with the toning of
boundaries between the public and private sectors, updating themselves as a volunteered
sector in a social economy, in non-governmental organizations. As social organizations that
aren’t of the state nor trading, because of its private character that doesn’t has any benefits
and in a social entrepreneurship that identifies itself as a third sector that, no being an
autonomous process sets itself in the valuation of the associative autonomy look at their
action to weaken tensions derived from political conflicts, as a consequence of the onsets to
the social conquers and policies before realized.
2. The Practices for the Adults in an approach of Non Formal Education.
The practices of non formal education are very diversified and marked by tensions and
In the last decades, “Non-Formal Education" became a summary notion for what was
designated in the past for "education out of the school" or extra-curricular education. In fact,
we assume today that non-formal education distinguishes itself from the formal education (or
traditional teaching) in terms of structure, the way as it is organized as the king of
acknowledgement and qualifications that this kind of learning confers. Nevertheless, nonformal education is seen as complementary and not contradictory or alternative to the system
of formal education and has to be developed in permanent articulation either as the formal
education or the informal education.
As the formal education is in the schools, colleges and institutions of higher education it has
curriculums and rules of certification clearly defined, non-formal education is, above all, a
learning social process, centered in the trainee/student through activities that takes place out
of the system of formal teaching and being complementary to this one.
Beforehand we can follow this approach, saying that non-formal education bases itself in the
intrinsic motivation of the trainee and it is volunteer and non-hierarchical by nature. As a
learning system it comes to be a common practice common mainly in the scope of
communitarian, social or juvenile work, a volunteer service, activity of non-government
organizations at the local, national and international level, comprising a large variety of
spaces of learning of associations to the enterprises and the public institutions in the juvenile
sector to the professional way, and so, to the volunteered to the recreational activities.
So, non-formal education has highly differentiated frames un terms of time and localization,
number and type of participants (trainees), teams of training, dimensions of learning and
application of the results. Nevertheless, because it hasn’t a unique curriculum, it doesn’t mean
that is not a process of structured learning, based in the identification of educational
objectives with frames of effective evaluations and activities prepared and implemented by
highly qualified educators.
In non-formal education, the results of the individual learning are not judged. That doesn’t
mean nevertheless, that there hasn’t any evaluation. It is normally inherent to the own process
of development and it is integrated in the program of activities. It assumes several frames and
it is shared by everybody: trainers and trainees so that it can gauge progress or to recognize
supplementary needs. From the external viewpoint to the true pedagogical process properly
speaking the efficacy of the mechanisms of learning in non-formal education can be
appreciated and evaluated by the social research and education with the same degree of
credibility as the formal education. The concept of non-formal education involves, as an
integrated part in the development of knowledge and competences, a vast set of social and
ethical values such as the human rights, tolerance, the promotion of peace, solidarity and
social justice, the intergenerational dialogue, equality of opportunities, democratic citizenship
and intercultural learning, among others. Besides that, non-formal education places the tonic
in the development of shared learning, based in the experience, in the autonomy and in the
responsibility of each frame.
The objectives and own methodologies of the educational practices in the context of nonformal education have highly into account the development and personal experience of the
trainee in its whole. So, non-formal education searches to propitiate the proper framing to
respond to the aspirations and specific needs of the trainee/student as well to develop their
own personal competences raising their creativity to power.
In developing this restriction of potentialities, competences and experience individually,
learning through non-formal education goes also to the encounter to those that are nowadays
the specific needs, the exigencies and the expectations of the labor market and in particular of
the employees.
In fact, having into account the recent developments in the labor market in the globalization,
the employees search more and more workers who have participated in extracurricular
activities, who have travelled around the countries and who have lived abroad, who can speak
several languages and those who are able working in more and more multicultural contexts,
those who are able critically hearing and interpreting, couching and coordinating in highly
indices of mobility and adaptability.
3. Processual Change
Our field of action as a social organization toward adult training aims to non-formal education
in the scope of libraries and documentation centers. To increase lecture, to afford a way of
learning of the document processing and to teach how to use tools through which people can
access information can be very daring. But before the technological jump of a software aimed
to the indexing process of what we call cloud computing places us compromising challenges.
The innovation in this field places us in a new reality. What means then cloud computing?
What is to compute in the cloud? What do we mean by clouds? We generally hear about
clouds, clouds of dust, clouds of sand, clouds of locusts, clouds of soot, etc. These kinds of
clouds can be for benefitting, for example, the locusts that are beneficial or a plague for
agriculture. Locusts, sand, dust or soot have their own functions in deserts or in the
destruction of a factory. They can put together or to disperse practices. Clouds can be darker
or less dark, according to the atmospheric tension, the wind or the distance they are from the
earth. The term comes from the latin nubine that means joined pieces of drops of water in the
liquid or solid conditions or both, fluctuating in the atmosphere, whose color is generally
white, grey or black, and whose shape is indefinite and variable.
What about clouds in the scope of informatics? Perhaps, we mean by some device or tool that
put together methodologies, themes, things as in a pool, whose purpose is to standardize or
normalize processes. We can question if it is only to harmonize or simply to monopolize
Since the beginning of the indexing process the information science has developed very much
concerning its treatment, its scope and aims, tools or devices supporting documentation and
ways of transmitting and communicating it. From the printing information to the current
environment the way to support information has changed a lot. We can even talk about the out
of date of the indexing process as somewhat that has changed. As a traditional process that
was supplanted by the new ones, such as the “open” and the “cognitive” one.
Encompassing these processes in the scope of libraries even if we think that it’s the same
process, one states that it really changed on the way we access information. Can we
understand the process as “clouds of information”? Information that can be accessed as
virtual, half virtual or real things compared to dark, grey or white clouds. If so, we consider
three different models resulted from the way librarians treat and users access to information
that can be defined as indexing process, the cognitive/metacognitive process and
communication process through descriptors.
3.1. The indexing process
This is the first stage in the evolution of librarian processes. Let’s remember how were the
indexing and abstracting techniques as a way to consolidate the information of a document by
analyzing the text, collecting the concepts for storing and retrieving the information contained
in a textual document. The terms used as descriptors were organized under heading lists that
constituted files from where we could search by the author, title, subject or other points of
description. The software constructed for putting and out-putting information were made in a
due structure, for example, the surface structure for analyzing the sentences of the text in its
syntactic or semantic aspects considering the macrostructure and microstructure. This is the
stage of the document description done on the general analysis in the linguistic scope. The
text was analyzed having into account its structural cohesion and coherence and whose lecture
evaluated the understanding of the syntactic, semantic or lexical structures, what is done
under their own grammar rules that are independent from one another. The librarian picked up
the concepts influenced by his knowledge, personality, and culture, by his subjectivity. The
documentary text was explored and descriptors identified by a textual management program
that defined the elements of the document, inferring the relevant concepts. Descriptors as
terminological unities were chosen to represent the content after establishing their
correspondence to a classification system and organizing them in indexing lists for retrieval.
Computer programs could to retrieve information by descriptors or by the system of
classification, just putting markers in the fields of the description. Let’s remember the
markers in UNIMARC.
3.2. The need for normalization
As the selection of the descriptors was dependent on the librarian’s subjectivity, it happened
to find different descriptors representing the same content that could differ from a library to
another. The concepts collected didn’t follow a scientific method so they reflected the
experience or personal knowledge. Besides that, the concepts were taken by relevance, that
means what was relevant to a librarian couldn’t be relevant to another one. There could be a
chaos, if the descriptors hadn’t to be normalized to make the differences easier of personal
3.3. The cognitive/metacognitive process of indexing
Having into account that there is a difference between the cognitive process uniquely
determined by mind and metacognitive process where attention, reflection, imagination and
intellectual operations give their contribution, both to techniques for analyzing cognitively
and metacognitively documents are also distinct.
Cognitive revolution (Thomas S. Kuhn, 1970) gave a very important contribution to the way
as texts were analyzed. More than taking the idea from the structuralism, cognitive techniques
support the way to read a text considering structures, such as the macro and the microstructure involving mental activities in the document exploration. Macro-structure embodied
the text in the main domain while micro-structure described it in detail. It constituted a
typology where the general descriptor represented the main domain, hierarchically. At the
same time these mental processes simulated the human’s mind in computational programs
that helped in the exploration of the contents by conceptual and semantic contexts,
hierarchical descriptors organized as metalanguages, doing artificial intelligence the most
advanced process ever held in the history of information processing. The models resulting
from the semantic sets and subsets are categorized in clusters.
Clusters constituted sets of descriptors organized hierarchically under the main domain,
whose structure is represented by the general descriptor followed by subsets of specific
descriptors. From this regular typology the librarian elaborates a list of descriptors that is used
for the indexing and retrieval processes. This kind of retrieval information establishes
semantic relationships by inclusion, exclusion or alternative ways, whose techniques
included, excluded or chose descriptors in the search operation.
3.4. The modularity of computer programs
There was a time that information processing for libraries was set according to the human
processing of mind. The content of the documents were registered in several modules. It was
very difficult to get all the information gathered and the specialists had to open and close
windows to register some elements and, at the same time, to access to the others. There was a
module to fill in the authors and other headings of authority, another module for the titles, and
again another one for the subjects inferred from the textual structure. People lost time opening
and closing windows, besides the time they spend to choose the wanted descriptors that were
not visible.
3.5. Typologies in the process of input and output
Computer programs became more and more complicated. The idea to open libraries to the
users seamed to facilitate the free access of information. This way, the users went directly to
the shelves and searched what they wanted. It was complicated because the documents in the
shelves were organized under the classification system and the notations of classification gave
implicit information that couldn’t be accurate. The users consulted freely the books just
browsing the pages by their paratexts or by reading in a glimpse the whole book. They
indentified the contents according to the general classification notations that corresponded to
the macrostructure. Dealing both with interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary subjects and
specific themes, the user’s mind could face some difficulties to find information, because the
user had to establish the relationships between the main subject and the associated ones. It
was a mental process by the way he read the key-words in the paratext and the perception he
had of the content of the book and the shelves. It looked like as if the librarian’s mind were
organized as the library. According to the Theory of Mental Spaces (Fauconnier/Turner,
1995) as “the many-space model” the user picked up relevant words, what it means that the
user’s mind established by himself the hierarchical relationships in the space of the
conceptual domain, whose elements shaped basic metaphorical relationships at a general and
specific levels. In assuming that meaning is in the intersection of the user’s experience,
reflection and communication, in a free space, one deduces that meaning is set in three
dimensions as Brandt (1995) states – the dimension of perception of the key-words read by
the user, the dimension of reflection by the way the user associated the key-words in his mind,
and the dimension of communication, established between the user’s mind and the shelf. As a
dynamical process the local metacommunication joined together the user, the book content
and the space of the shelf. But meaning in this process was not so important because the
librarian had no need to define the descriptors.
3.6. Topical description
This way of describing document contents gave more attention to the perspectives and
contexts of the domains sought by the users, although the collected elements had the same
functions as in the cluster model, under hierarchical structures. Both the computer engineers
and librarians didn’t know that it was enough to change the presentation of descriptors in
printed indexing lists to a free environment as is the Internet. It was not enough to facilitate
the hierarchical access of descriptors. In the practice, those structures seamed not to work in
the open environment. Internet as a cyberspace requires another type of design information as
if it had elements in the infinite space. The topic is designed accompanying its development
of the theme in a due domain.
4. The new era of information
The processing of documentary information under the indexing and abstracting processes and
in modules made difficult all the tasks of librarians and users. Going in and out of the
windows, searching implicit information in indexing lists took too time for the users who
were always in a rush. The content of the documents needed another way to analyze and
gather the useful elements with precision and accuracy. Classification systems didn’t respond
to the demands of interdisciplinary users anymore. There was a lack of data that were very
important to the users and, at the same time, librarians needed to filter information delimiting
what is useful information or not, so this become to be structured and organized as regular
typologies, whose retrieval system seemed the same as in the cluster system. It resulted in a
lack of data that are very important to the users. Nowadays, everybody wants to have
everything as soon as possible. So, where is the so called “cliché” “just clicking” to have
information at one fingertips? The content of documents needs another way to analyze and
gather the useful elements with precision and accuracy. Librarians need to organize properly
information. This information needs to go to the encounter of the users encompassing it under
the perspectives of irregular typologies, spread all over the theme.
4.1. Technological revolution
Technological revolution has brought many benefits to libraries and facilitated librarian’s
tasks mainly in the organization of descriptors to be available by any kind of users. Set data in
the Internet requires different design than to process information in computers. Computers
engineers don’t need to codify information in syntactical or semantic codes anymore. Internet
constitutes an infinite space where information can be designed in a virtual way. But virtual
descriptors are not so flexible and easy to access as people could expect. Included, there are
plenty of cognitive processes, mental representations, and behavioral attitudes that integrate
the process of treatment of the document and the access to information.
The access to information has to go beyond all the constraints that become difficult to
establish the relationships between users and descriptors by uniquely a click. Librarians have
to select the descriptors in a way that not also represent the content of a document in a whole,
but also time to organize them at the same so that they must be rightly accessed. In just a
5. The contribution of the Java Language
Along the evolution of programming languages several types of software and computer
solutions were developed in more or less sophisticated techniques and became more and more
complicated. There was plenty of information to codify and the programs became hard. The
Java Language (2000)18 seamed to respond to the cyberspace design. Cyberspace is a “place”
where information is set without having into account the syntactic or semantic rule, that’s to
describe texts in predicative way. It just needed to delimit document contents into the due
perspectives and the right contexts. Users can access to cyberdocumentation so quickly in a
click and at any place. Libraries can also be personalized so that books can be delivered to the
libraries pairs with the same thematic documents.
5.1. The interpretation of documents
Once I read that changes in our lives follow changes in the processes with which we deal in
our daily life. Technological changes pushed the adaptation to new procedures and ways to
get information. First of all we have to consider a document not as a literary text. The way a
writer develop an idea for registering it as a tale, a political description for example is not the
same way as a researcher or inventor registers an exposition of his invent and the
methodology of his study to present it in a congress or other type of researcher encounters.
The articles communicated in these encounters are done by several types of scholars, such as
engineers, architects and other occupational people. They just want to transmit scientific facts
without having into account linguistic rules for expositing the ideas just clearly explaining
techniques or methods. They don’t care how their exposition will be decoded so that their
message can be understand. And librarians have to catch the ideas translated as descriptors
that represent properly the document content. In the past, it was enough to do abstracts and
synopses to communicate informally the scholars, students and researchers.
Description of documents had also several steps since the text description as a discourse, a
content of a text or a statistical analysis. In every ways, language played its role and what is
more important is the way a document as an informal communication has to be interpreted
both by the librarian and the users. Interpretation can be done semantically or by the themes
of scientific domains. In our last work (2013)19 we proposed the development of D. Hirsch
perspective about the validation of the interpretation of what one understands from the
document. This hermeneutic preferred to talk about evaluation than interpretation as other
hermeneutics such as Schleiermacher argued in the scope of phenomenology. Our proposal
highlighted the role of the notion in the document as a no literary text having into account a
ECKEL, Bruce – Thinking in Java, 2nd ed. Upper Sadle River, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
SATAR, E. A. – Los aprendizajes no formales en Internet: Las bibliotecas universitarias y cdi’s. Tesis
doctoral. Universidad de Extremadura: Facultad de Documentación e Información/Departamento de Información
y Comunicación.
holophrase and not the role of the concept and the terms. Themes are the most important
approaches represented by descriptors that can be accessed as irregular typologies on
cyberspace, just in keeping the aim and finality of the document treatment as interpretation
and documentary translation.
5.2. Documentary translation
But, what does it mean to translate into documentary language? It’s a way to translate
documents from a language to another? The users had to read infinite pages from the
digitalized texts facing the semantic and syntactic structures? They could be lost in the
extension of pages of information. Semantic description was also another question, because it
highlighted the meaning of the terms that didn’t fill in the needs of librarians and users.
Something called my attention in an afternoon when a thesaurus was been launched, a tool
that had just been published. My wish was to read it on the contrary side, from below to up
and not from the top to the below side. An idea came to my mind. There was something
wrong in the way how the thesaurus was structured. It was as if we had read it wrongly. Next
day, I made my mind to review some readings from the best specialists in terminology when I
did my master degree some years ago and I arrived to a singular conclusion. Really, that
thesaurus was structured as if it was a dictionary whose entries were alphabetically ordered
and the terms defined in the function of the concepts related to them. From down to up side.
5.3. The way to communicate through descriptors
For political and economic reasons of our present society tackled by the diversity of people
who speak different languages, the need for translating the most of documents is the cause of
the development of a new and same time old profession: translators. Documents began to be
translated in many languages in spite of the English language seem to be universal. Influenced
by this situation, documents began also to be organized as specialized terminologies of each
language. People spent time reading the hypertexts translated into many languages and that
was not a solution. Cyberdocumentation can be accessed through the organization of tutorials
of information resulted from irregular typologies.
6. Conclusion
As we have exposed in this article, adult education is exploring new ways of spreading itself
to new fields in new ages. As non formal education the field of libraries brings us surprising
interests from those who had no time to learn about library processes at time of formal
education. As students they hadn’t no time to know the differences that the indexing and
abstracting processes left behind the print way of treating and retrieving documents. They
didn’t knew that as a science it was developed from analysis of textual discourse to the
interpretation of informal communications in irregular typologies, clusters have no reason to
follow such a closed way because of the development of technologies. Then, built as a human
process of thinking, the treatment of information had to be symbolically codified to process
information elaborating lists of descriptors, storing information in data bases for transferring
information in a difficult way of communication. Content representation required attention to
control, regulate and modulate information in psychological activities, where individual
differences influenced the librarian’s personality and culture. It was very easy to categorize
information and do the due correspondence to the classification systems even if the most of
times descriptors didn’t represent the real content of the document. The appearance of Internet
changed the way how documents are now interpreted and descriptors are made available to
the users in the cyberspace. Tutorials of information got from the due perspectives and
contexts of documents make it easier. Personalized libraries can share information to one
another and throw information to the same people interested in the same information data.
Adults can give a useful contribution to libraries and document centers in helpful centers of
civil societies as social activities.
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Working in the third sector: a case study based on the perceptions of
educators from Southern Portugal
Rute Ricardo1 and António Fragoso2
University of Évora, School of Social Sciences, [email protected]
University of the Algarve, Research Centre for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics,
[email protected]
Abstract. The main aim of this research is to understand the situation of social educators working
in third sector organisations in southern Portugal (Algarve), taking into account the perceptions of
these professionals. We built a survey including that covered a wide range of issues related to their
profession. After the analysis of their answers was finished and to get a deeper understanding on
the educators perceptions, we conducted twenty one interviews to educators working in diverse
contexts and trying to respect the main characteristics of the original sample (according to age,
gender, professional situation, type of institution, etc.). Our results show that these educators have
a clear notion that they should be working with the people beyond simple assistance or short-time
problem-solving. Despite a great variety of working environments, there is a significant number of
educators who point characteristics of their institutions as obstacles to their central mission. The
meso level seems to influence deeply to way these professionals behave daily. Also it was
questioned the relationship of the third sector organisations with the state. This study points to
political implications: the particular measures that mediate this relationship seems to affect the
actions of the social educators with the people. To manage third sector organisations today means
to be in a constant tension: between the need to survive in a climate of reducing state providing;
and the needs of an adult population that would benefit most from creative and innovative
approaches, which seem to loose space in present conditions.
Keywords: third sector organisations; social educators; state; market
Social educators in the University of the Algarve are trained to perform social work following
models of practices deeply inspired by adult education principles. Adult education appears as
a significant content in the curricular structure of this degree (Social Education); and critical
educators, such as Paulo Freire (1987, 1997), represent transversal references and an
inspiration to the social educators’ training. By taking critical education or humanism as
foundational paradigms of this programme, our intentions are that professionals go beyond
old paradigms of social work, based in the simple assistance to people or short-term problem
solving that will leave structural causes of problems untouched. Social educators work in a
wide range of institutions, from entities belonging to the state social security apparatus,
departments of educational action of local administration, to civil society organisation or
NGOs. Third sector organisations, in this context, constitute a very important professional
context, especially because they seem to be an alternative regarding the state and the market
(Guimarães, 2013). Over the years, however, our experience of informal contacts with our
former students gives us ambiguous notions on the outcomes of their practices. Being aware
that the action of professionals in their working contexts is determined by a wider set of
variables, we realised it was important to understand better their own working reality. Our
research, therefore, intends to provide some insights about the potentialities and constraints
that social educators have within their working environments; and these can, by its turn, lead
to some reflections concerning the practices these educators are capable to perform.
1. Third sector organisations: an alternative to the state and market?
The history of the relationships between state and civil society is maybe one of the more
complex within social sciences. State and civil society used to be seen in the modern
occidental world as presenting a dual character (Gamble, 1982): opposed to the artificial
construction of the nation-state and its main symbols (Giddens, 1992), there was the private,
spontaneous, typical relationships of civil society. So the concept of civil society rests in the
assumption that there is a third sphere in society, beyond the state and the market. One could
argue that the history of the evolution of the Providing-State is the sign of the displacement,
to the state, of the main groups of civil society, representing the public roles of protection and
social action (Monteiro, 2004). But the expansion of neoliberalism brought new changes to
these complex relations:
Boaventura de Sousa Santos considered that neoliberalism was capable of building a huge
consensus that would include the “weak state consensus” (1998). In it, the strength of the state
becomes the cause of the weakness and disorientation of civil society, in such a way that
weakening the state would be a precondition to the strengthening of civil society. By
discharging services and responsibilities and promoting the privatisation of life (not only
economic life), one could argue that the state is giving room away to the emergence of civil
society organisations. In other words, neoliberalism success implicates necessarily the civil
society participation, at every level. Those services that in the context of the Welfare-State
were of state’s responsibility are then transferred to a third sector – a growing partner of the
State and a precondition of its existence in present models. So, in a sense, it is natural that
private associations grow and that social participation mobilise both individuals and
organisations, that really build a third sector (Plant, 2010). This sector includes a complex and
dynamic set of non-governmental institutions that tend to be non-violent, self-organised and
self-reflective (Keane, 1998). This is not a unified set of organisations; quite the contrary,
they have aims of various natures. Regardless, they can represent “spaces of self-governing,
in the context of constraining state powers or making concrete opposition strategies towards
the state” (Guimarães, 2013, p. 37).
If there is no doubt that the third sector organisations can have a tremendous importance as an
alternative to the state and market, one have to consider that in some conditions this might be
deceptive. In fact, social services and responsibilities do not appear as empty spaces to be
filled by the fragmented, private interests of civil society organisations. The neoliberal state
did not abandoned regulation or control. At the same time that traditional forms of control
may be vanishing, participative methodologies and community action open a new space in
which civil society organisations are seen as a fraction of the state (Santos, 1990). This
emerging partnership, however, is mostly based in the contracting of the third sector
organisations that start to act in the name of the state (making each time more difficult to
distinguish state and civil society). Contracting does question the basic principles of freedom
or autonomy. The margins of independence of civil society organisations are defined, in each
case or sector, by the particular rules posed by the law and the technical instruments that
control the conditions in which funding is given. Either way, there seems to be a permanent
tension between civil society and the state agencies that frame it, constraint it, or facilitate its
activities (Keane, 1998).
To understand the complex situation of third sector organisations it is also important to stress
that neoliberalism made the “free market” a central entity. No element was so powerful to the
expansion of neoliberalism as the dramatic changes in the market conceptions. Some decades
ago a mere technical instrument regulated by social forces, it transformed into the
fundamental principle that guides individual and collective action (Berthoud, 1999), making
public interests hostages of private or corporative interests. The logic of the market tends to
be a threat to the intermediate forms of social organisation, namely the professional
organisations in which the state had an important role during the time of its construction. In
this sense those institutions are growingly vulnerable, as they are weakened, from the one
hand, by the vanishing policies of state social intervention (Andrade & Franco, 1997) and,
from the other hand, by the mechanisms of individualisation of the working institutions
themselves (Autès, 2003). These two processes acting together had been responsible to the
evolution of professions leading to the logic of services (in most cases, contracted services)
and to the fragmentation of social professions.
The workers of third sector organisations can therefore be caught in the middle of a complex
setting, sometimes marked by contradiction or by opposite trends. The fragility of their
working spaces, determined by external forces that only partially depend on the meso level, is
but one of the elements that depict their role. In Portugal, the workers of third sector
institutions commonly have smaller salaries when compared to those of the two remaining
sectors. Taking into account the lack of support to third sector institutions and these low
salaries, most workers either lack alternative jobs or feel highly motivated (Andrade &
Franco, 2007), possibly fighting for a cause, or assuming the causes of the organisations
where they work in. Yet we expect these workers to perform a deeply difficult job: going
beyond short-term solutions, going beyond simple assistance to deprived populations,
promoting participation, autonomy and responsibility. Social educators are supposed to
accompany people in their participatory processes, as privileged strategies to print new
dynamics to educational community projects (Sáez & Molina, 2006).
2. Research Methodology
As we mentioned before, the main aim of our research was to identify the perceptions of
social educators working in third sector organisations. Specifically, our first objective was to
have a general idea on the typical profile of these educators. Secondly, we wanted to
understand what their visions were on the ideal role and functions of a social educator.
Thirdly, we wanted to know more about their working environment and their perceptions
towards the organisations where they work, to understand if that meso level had any influence
on the social educators’ activity.
Our first task concerning methods was to obtain a data base on the educators working in the
region of Algarve, within the general field of social work. The initial contacts with educators
were done through email and social networks. We sent 400 requests of cooperation with our
research and during a period of two months it was possible to obtain a data base with 143
educators. Then an online survey (Ghiglione and Matalon, 1997) was elaborated and sent.
This questionnaire included personal data (age, gender, year in which they graduated); data
related to their job (salary, type of contract, working conditions and functions they do within
their professional contexts; potentialities and constraints, etc.); and opinions related to the
profession (the ideal profile of the social educator; the relevance of the social educator within
their context, etc.). We obtained 93 answers but only 70 were considered valid to our research
(namely because some of these educators were working in very different areas, not considered
in the field).
After the analysis of the survey results was concluded, two different interviews scripts were
built: one to the ones who were working; another one to interview those who were
unemployed. We conducted 21 semi structured interviews (Bogdan & Biklen, 1994) using
some criteria to choose our respondents: the date in which they graduated; age; gender; and
nature of the institutions they worked in.
After the content analysis was concluded and data coming from different sources interpreted,
a focus-group discussion (Morgan, 1996) was organised to give back the results to social
educators and to evaluate to which extent they legitimised our interpretations or suggest
additional reflections. This session had the participation of 8 educators.
3. Findings
Both our survey and the interviews we have conducted gives us elements on central categories
of our theme: on the type and nature of the institutions where the educators work; on the
importance of these institutions within the Portuguese scenario; on the type of work educators
perform; and, mostly, on the tensions between what they think it should be done and what the
institutions allow them to do.
3.1. Social educators: a brief description of our research participants
It is important to begin with a brief characterisation of our research subjects. A big majority
of our educators are female (91%) and young. We had no answers from people older than 45
years old and the majority have between 25-30 years old (56%). A significant number of these
educators has never changed jobs (47%); 17% have changed once, and 20% have changed
two or three times since they are graduates. These educators have low salaries (empty pockets,
hearts full): we have no record of anyone earning more than 1.500€/month; 44% earn
between 1.000 and 1.500 €, whilst 45% earn between 500 and 1.000€; and there is 11% who
earn less than 500€ a month. Globally they claim to be satisfied with their profession (even
recognising that low salaries are an everyday problem).
3.2. Educators in third sector institutions
Our social educators work in private institutions (42%), public (36%) and also in publicprivate institutions (22%). Among the diversity of the institutions where these educators work
in the region of the Algarve, the most important ones are schools (33%), private institutions of
social solidarity (IPSS, 31%) and municipalities (18%). Apart from these, there are also
significant numbers of educators working in local development associations, private
foundations of different natures, NGO and local/ regional associations of various kind. The
high percentage of educators working in formal schools reflect the fact that until recently,
secondary schools in Portugal promoted centres for Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL),
where adult educators find an important space for action. Concerning IPSS, these are private
institutions that coming from civil society, provide social services that the State is no longer
able to provide to citizens. The state has regulated the conditions and terms of its action, and
funds IPSS for the services they provide in various dimensions (kindergartens, social care for
older citizens, care to people with disabilities, etc.). Since this type of institution was created,
the number of IPSS has been constantly growing. In the middle 90s there existed around
2.500 IPSS in Portugal that employed 35.000 people, representing almost 90% of the
Portuguese social services (Rodrigues, 1996). In 2005 the number of IPSS was already of
5.000 (Quintão, 2011) – the number has doubled in ten years.
In our survey we have asked educators in which type of institution they would like to work, if
they could choose freely. Not surprisingly their first choice was precisely the IPSS (30%),
followed by RPL centres (21%) and, in third place, local/ regional associations (19%).
Qualitative results show that educators have a highly positive perception regarding this type
on institution. They claim IPSS have the ability to provide answers to important social
problems, both to individuals and community and emphasize those in risk of exclusion. In
short, IPSS represent an important phenomenon in terms of social work and adult education
employment in Portugal and in the Algarve, with a political and social significance which, in
a sense, transcends the horizons of this paper.
3.3. The role and functions of educators within third sector institutions
We tried to understand to what extent social educators are important in the context of third
sector institutions. Taking into consideration that we could not recollect employer’s
perspectives (hence the value of these results are limited), these educators seem valuable to
their institutions because of some characteristics of their global professional profile. Namely:
to be able to work in multi-disciplinary teams; to act as mediators and contribute to solving
conflicts; to have a horizontal relationship with people (both individuals and communities),
thus facilitating processes that aim empowering.
It is very important to have a clear notion of the role and specific functions these professionals
perform in third sector institutions (IPSS, local or regional associations, NGO, foundations,
etc.). According to the educators, the main activities they perform in their various institutions
are the following:
To make social diagnosis
• To design and implement processes that allow people to have better conditions to
participate and aim at the improvement of life quality
To develop and guide activities specifically designed to vulnerable groups in society
Psycho-social counselling and guidance
To make concrete activities that aim at social integration and citizenship.
To promote processes of community education and local development
To promote non-formal educational processes
To work within and promote partnerships with other institutions.
Of outmost importance is to stress that educators seem to try to work beyond simple
assistance. Generally speaking they think it is their professional duty to promote community
participation through education and training. In this sense, educators think they should help
people to recognise their importance and abilities. The social intervention work should aim to
capacitate people to become co-responsible in the solutions for their problems, and to become
active social actors. Finally, educators’ stress it is their mission to work towards social
3.4. Educators’ perceptions on their institutions
We wanted to understand what these educators think about the institutions where they work
in. Surprisingly or not, it was not possibly to find consensual answers, although we were able
to identify tendencies. To some educators, the organisation where they work are opened and
flexible; available to dialogue and innovation. In these, there is a united spirit around the
mission of organisations. Yet some educators claim they lack freedom in their activities.
According to them, in their organisations the priorities go to administrative work and there is
not a real concern with people and the social reality in which they are immersed. They
consider that routines and bureaucracy seem to be priorities that impedes them to do the real
face-to-face work with adults, representing obstacles to the good work of professionals which,
in the long run, are problematic to the institutions themselves. Another set of educators do
somehow agree with the latter group: the organisations they work in forget their main goals,
their primary mission, their engagement and their responsibility towards the people. These
claim that institutions are mainly concern with the public image of the institution but fail to
understand that this image is, also, determined on how educators are capable of dealing with
people’s problems.
Educators identify other types of problems in their sites of work. Firstly, a significant number
of workers consider that institutions direct their attention to solving existent problems, but
they forget to do work towards the prevention of such problems; or to act on the social origin
of problems. Secondly, although they think that creativity and innovation are central features
of these professions, it is very hard to work in this direction. Even if there is the necessary
flexible character from the direction of their institutions, there is an overload of work so that
workers focuses on the urgent tasks that seem to occupy all their time. Thus there is no time
nor space for trying new approaches that could make the difference for people. Thirdly, there
is a significant group of educators who describe their institution as “closed”, “retrograde” and
“controller”; these claim there are problems in the communication between technical teams
and the rest of the staff; and even that organisations are “disconnected from reality” and
disconnected from the context. The following quote could be illustrative:
I love my profession and what I do, and yet I work in a too much closed institution, in
which there is no openness to innovation, to the real problems of people, the institutions
closes within itself… the working environment is awful and it almost looks like we are
controlled by the PIDE 20 (E20).
A significant number of our interviewees state very clearly that a significant number of
institutions in this sector follow an occupational / simple assistance policy for people. General
resources or the professional’s potentialities are wasted. Partially this could be attributed to an
old tradition of following older paradigms of intervention with adults – the one that was born
firstly in social work professions. Educators claim there is a resistance towards change and
some teams are just getting old – a rejuvenation, based in younger united teams was
3.5. The relationships between third sector institutions and the state
The state seems to be unanimously blamed for a structural situation of funding decrease in the
sector and this might constitute a tension (more than a contradiction) in the educators’
discourses. On the one hand there are numerous references to the obstacles they identify
within their own working context; as if the policy and direction of the third sector
organisations is to blame for the constraints educators feel in their everyday activity. But on
the other hand, they claim that the origin of the situation is the progressive decrease in state
support to these organisations. The lack of funding, in the educators opinion, leads to cuts in
human resources, and consequently to the increase of the daily work-load and general poorest
PIDE – International Police for the State Defense: a secret police corps that used to exist in Portugal during the
dictatorship regime
working conditions. Educators are therefore forced to do a number of tasks which they were
not originally hired to perform and the field work with adults is then relegated to a secondary
role. These opinions are clearly originated from a vanishing notion of a providing state. At the
same time, this demonstrates both the importance of the relationships between the state and
civil society, and how constraining can be the consequences of the existing relationships.
4. Conclusion
The first issue we want to stress in this conclusion is that our results should be looked with
precaution. In fact, we have only listened to social educators’ views and not those of the
institutions. We had not the chance to triangulate the results and this could print a bias to our
conclusions. For instance, our educators seem to be stating that is not their responsibility (or
guilty) if their work is not as profitable as it might be. Identifying serious obstacles to their
performance, saying that their working environment or the institutional policy is to blame for
their daily professional constraints… can mean to deviate responsibility to and implicitly to
state “it is not my fault”.
It seems however safe to underline that social educators have a clear view on the ideal central
features of their profession. They want to build, together with adults or young adults,
solutions to their problems that are based in important characteristics: to promote people’s
responsibility and autonomy; to work with them in educational and participatory processes
that aim to change something in the community. These and other similar characteristics are
included in an ideal competences profile of social educators, as defined by Ortega (2003).
This professional awareness is really important and a good basis to the following reflections.
The barriers that seem to stand between the educators’ willingness to do a good job and the
act itself are various. In a first level, we have several constraints that come from the changing
role of the state regarding social policies. The increasing cuts in direct funding lead third
sector organisations to adapt to new conditions, including cutting in recruitment, re-balancing
teams size and, naturally, there is a certain overload of work that has to be assured by the ones
working. The policy of contacting civil society organisations can also be accountable to some
of the ongoing changes, namely the definition of priorities: administrative work and an excess
of bureaucracy are typical of institutions that have constantly to give accounts to their
stakeholders – in most cases, a state that growingly demands efficiency and efficacy to those
institutions acting in the state’s name. Once organisations are caught in this culture of contract
(Field, 2006) they agree, even if implicitly, to be subjected to state regulation and control. The
specific demands of the state can vary, not only according to the state models prevailing in
each country, but also according to specific sectors within national borders. Indeed, this seems
a very unequal partnership: whilst the state keeps its power anchored in the law, third sector
organisations fight for their survival. In the words of Guimarães (2013),
… recently, the third sector seems to have counteracted the motives that brought to its
emergence still in the XIX century. It emerged as a partner in the implementation of
social policies, as a ‘public services extension’, guided by principles of efficacy and
efficiency, but rarely assuming its role as co-producer of policies or action programmes
of self-management and social participation (p. 55)21.
This seems, in a one hand, the bill organisations have to pay in the context of the neoliberal
partnership with the state; but in the other hand, this cannot be used as an excuse for not
having a balanced institutional policy that would defend the primary interests of people – and
Our own translation
the interests of educators. Although, as we said before, our results should be viewed with
precaution, it seems that organisations are accountable for a number of problems that directly
affect the professional role and attitudes of social educators – thus affecting, also, the people.
Our final reflection goes back to the central ideas present during the emergence of third sector
organisations, theoretical an alternative to the state and the market. Without questioning that
this is the crucial importance of the third sector – to resist and to keep alternatives opened –
our results depict a scenario of increasing interpenetration between the market, state and third
sector organisations. Sometimes, the alternative is deceptive.
This paper was partially possible due to the support of the Portuguese Foundation for Science
and Technology (FCT)
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Bottom-up and top-down decision making processes in the Euroregion
Alentejo, Algarve and Andalucía: local decision concerning adult education
and development in national and global policy orientations
Gualda E.22, Jurado Almonte J.M.2
University of Huelva, Social Studies and Social Intervention Research Centre (www.eseis.es); Centre
for Spatial and Organizational Dynamics (www.cieo.pt), [email protected]
University of Huelva, Institute for Local Development (www.uhu.es/idl/), [email protected]
Abstract. Cross-border cooperation is seen as a way of political participation which could be
theoretically conceived as an intermediate position between bottom-up and top-down decision
making processes. It supposes the more or less institutionalized collaboration between subnational
bodies across the border. This work is focused on the cross-border cooperation that occur in the
South border of Portugal-Spain. The objectives of this paper are to describe and to analyze the
socio historic process of cross border cooperation in this newly constituted Euroregion, including
the formation of networks and territorial structures, and looking for some of the potentials of this
Euroregion in the European framework. A critical is posed on the role of social participation on
the building of the region, and the mechanism to promote it formally propelled by the public
bodies. The work is based on an interdisciplinary work where a multi-method approach is applied.
The paper is mainly based on the application of three types of techniques: Secondary sources and
statistics, personal interviews to experts and focus groups. Results show an important
inconsistency between policies and people (experts) orientations. Top-down actions are criticized,
and also difficulties for building a Euroregion without counting with the citizens and local
organizations. A route of sustainability for future and emancipation strongly recommend as a
challenge the involvement of citizens and organizations and institutions at a meso-level in the
design, following-up and assessment of such crossborder policies and programs. Data used in this
paper are part of the research projects supported by Junta de Andalusia (Expte. SEGAEX/SRICI/
CR 08.44103.82A.015) and “Territorial Analysis and Cross-border Cooperation of Euroregion
Alentejo–Algarve–Andalusia: Historical balance and potentialities for the new European
period/frame 2014–2020” (Excellence Projects, Call 2011).
Keywords: Crossborder Cooperation. Civic participation. Euroregion. Spain. Portugal
Cross-border cooperation is seen as a way of political participation which could be
theoretically conceived as an intermediate position between bottom-up and top-down decision
making processes. It supposes the more or less institutionalized collaboration between
subnational bodies across the border. This work is focused on the cross-border cooperation
that works in the South border of Portugal-Spain, along the regions of Andalusia, Algarve and
Alentejo (AAA), as one of the borderlands included in the Spanish-Portuguese border (see
Figure 1).The objectives of this paper are to describe and to analyze the socio historic process
of cross border cooperation in this newly constituted Euroregion, including the formation of
networks and territorial structures, and the role of social participation on the building of the
Institute for Local Development (www.uhu.es/idl/).
Figure 1 Spanish-Portuguese Border
Source: Authors based on http://www.poctep.eu/.
Theoretical Framework.
Crossborder Cooperation
As we referred in the introduction, cross-border cooperation is seen as a way of political
participation which could be theoretically conceived as an intermediate position between
bottom-up and top-down decision making processes. It supposes the more or less
institutionalized collaboration between subnational bodies across the border. The way
crossborder regions are managed has caused interest in the international bibliography (Del
Bianco, 2009; Blatter, 2004). This interest is somehow connected to the dichotomy of ‘space
of places’ vs ‘space of flows’ conceptualized by Castells (2000).
Modern society incorporating telecommunications, technological infrastructure of information
systems, electronic circuits and fast transportation corridors, etc, allows the emergence of this
distinction. ‘Space of flows’ is understood as the material organization of time-sharing social
practices that work through flows, human action and interaction occurring at a distance
(Castells, 2000), meanwhile the ‘space of places’ suppose that material or physical support
where social practices have place time-space coordinates. Some approaches suggest that
governance in our societies is becoming deterritorialized. But on the other hand ‘borderlands’
are considered ‘new spaces of the EU governance’ (Rumford, 2007). Nevertheless, though
‘space of flows’ have increased in network society, cross-border regional governance in
Europe is still following the logic of ‘spaces of place’ (Blatter, 2004; Gualda, Fragoso and
Lucio, 2011), as they build communities and institutions including a wide array of actors and
interactions. In Europe, cross-border cooperation is being introduced step by step by a new
way of governance with the support of formal organizations at regional and local level
contributing to the development of an European ‘multi-level-system’ or multi-level
governance with repercussions on social integration, cultural, economic and institutional level
(Del Bianco, 2009; Theobald, 2011).
By this reason, as Rumford (2007) explain ‘in contemporary Europe bordering is no longer
the preserve of nation-states: societies, citizens, advocacy groups, and supra-national
institutions are also implicated in processes of bordering and rebordering’. In this article we
approach to the building of the cross-border Euroregion Alentejo, Algarve and Andalusia
observing the institutional steps that were given in the area, but also discussing about the
reception of that crossborder cooperation in the population. We also wonder by the
connections between formal and informal links and actions, on CBC and other issues.
Contextual Framework
1. Dynamics in the Spanish-Portuguese Border in the frame of the public
impulse of the European Union: From the ‘Raya’ to the AAA Euroregion
History of the very old Portuguese Hispanic Border of 1,234 kilometers has influenced to the
current situation as one of the less dense and populated territories in the Iberian Peninsula,
confronting other handicaps for the future as for instance the weak social economic dynamism
and aging. Nevertheless these territorial realities could have been even more problematic
without the intervention of public programs that have stopped some of the more serious
socioeconomic trends. Last European policies help to produce changes in the border territory
giving some voice to city councils, and regional structures for the local development around
local and rural programs for the development born since the eighties.
After several decades of developing such policies, hardly in 30 years’ time, significant
changes are observed as, for instance, the intensification of relationships, as a consequence of
customs suppression, unification of currency, the development of cross border infrastructures,
and the impulse of cross border programs and plans. This has supposed a big difference for
territories that were separated during centuries for the border (popularly called ‘La Raya’).
The new frame for crossborder cooperation is characterized by the important role of the EU,
but also de Autonomous Communities in Spain, and the action of City Councils and
municipalities. The co-funding of rural development programs (LEADER), community
initiatives (INTERREG and others) have been an important incentive for the socioeconomic
sector, and for the infrastructures, equipment and public services.
Policies of crossborder cooperation were historically reinforced after the entry of both
countries into the European Union in 1986, and also with the support of different cohesion
and structural funds framed in the European regional policy that supposed an important set of
actions in the AAA territory, all of this after the signature of the Single European Act in 1987.
As the result of this new dynamics Working Communities were constituted all across the
Spanish-Portuguese border. Regarding that the Alentejo-Algarve-Andalucía Working
Community transformed itself into a new European Euroregion in 2010.
Nevertheless, we are at the beginning of the improvement of the internal cohesion and
development of the border territories. Some doubts also appear regarding the implemented
projects: Which of them are really crossborder ones, and which of them are mainly locally
oriented but supported by other neighbor partners in order to achieve European funds? Other
critical aspects have to be with the degree of participation of NGOs and companies in these
crossborder financed projects.
Crossborder cooperation institutionally advanced with the initiative of INTERREG especially
from 1990. From there new practices of collaboration in structures and associations along the
border took place. Local institutions, business organizations, politicians and local
development technicians began to know each other, and began to create projects and actions
on crossborder cooperation. The way just began to be paved. New advances and
improvements are to arrive in the border.
2. Institutional Frame for Crossborder cooperation in the Iberian Border
During the last decades different policies, measures and instruments destined to cooperation
and European territorial cohesion and with an important support of European funds (synthesis
in Chart 1) were disposed. The aim was to reduce the differences on levels of development
among European regions and to recover less developed regions. These policies and funds
were destined to delete borders in Europe, promoting the cooperation through actions for
reducing the socioeconomic penalties that border territories suffers. In the normative level
these years were also created different regulations that frame Portuguese-Spanish cooperation
Chart 2 Community Initiatives, normative framework and territorial cohesion
Interreg Community
Key dates in Cooperation
Funds for Territorial Cohesion
Initiative and
Alentejo, Algarve and
1986. Adhesion of Spain and
Portugal to the EU.
1987. Single European Act.
INTERREG I (1990-1993)
INTERREG II (1994-1999)
INTERREG III (2000-2006)
Interreg IIIA (€ 366
Operational Program for
Territorial Cooperation
Spain-Portugal, POCTEP
(2007-2013). European
funding: € 354 millions
New POCTEP (2014-2020)
July, 1995. Andalucía-Algarve
Protocol for Cooperation
2001. Andalucía-Alentejo Protocol.
Creation of the Office of Crossborder
Initiatives (AAA GIT)
2004. Entry into force. Treaty
between Portugal and Spain on
Crossborder Cooperation among
territorial entities (signed in Valencia,
3 October 2002). Treaty of Valencia
46,2 millions of € (13% of POCTEP)
to the Alentejo, Algarve and
Andalusia Subprogram.
9 July 2010.
Crossborder Cooperation Agreement
for the constitution of the Euroregion
Alentejo-Algarve-Andalucía Working
2013. Approval of the Program of
Action for Crossborder Cooperation
(PACT-3A) (Andalusian Regional
URBAN I (1994-1999)
FEDER. European Regional
Development Fund (2000-2006)
FEDER (2007-2013)
Objective of European Territorial
(€7.500 millions)
Operational Programs
(crossborder, transnational and
2013. Approval of the new norms for
Funding and
FEDER Objectives (2014-2020)
Crossborder Territorial Cooperation
in Europe (11.700 millions €, 3.48%
of Cohesion Policy). Operational
Programs (crossborder -73.24%-,
transnational -20.78%- interregional 5.98%-).
Source: Authors (2014), based on Secretaría del POPTEC (2012); Consejería de Economía y Hacienda, Junta de
Andalucía (2008); Jurado (2013); Márquez (2012); Herrero (2012); Gualda and Gómez (2014).
Since 2007 funding is embodied in a number of Operational Programs depending on the type
of cooperation (cross-border, transnational and interregional), coming to occupy crossborder
cooperation 75% of the objectives for territorial cohesion. These programs are trying to
“strengthen economic relations and cooperation networks, such as Working Communities, the
office for crossborder initiatives and cooperation structures at local level (municipalities
associations, local action groups, etc), resulting in a considerable deepening of cooperation
objectives and joint management of infrastructure, equipment and services” (Consejería de
Economía y Hacienda, Junta de Andalucía, 2008: 9). The priorities of these programs,
generically, are: promoting competitiveness and employment promotion, prevention of
natural risks, environmental protection and cultural heritage preservation, accessibility and
spatial planning and socio-economic and institutional integration.
Objectives and Methods
1. Objectives
The objectives of this paper are to describe and to analyze the socio historic process of cross
border cooperation in this newly constituted Euroregion, including the formation of networks
and territorial structures, and looking for some of the potentials of this Euroregion in the
European framework. A critical view will be posed on the role of social participation on the
building of the region, and the mechanisms to promote it formally propelled by the public
2. Methods
This work is based on the interdisciplinary work of two research centres at the University of
Huelva (Social Studies and Social Intervention Research Centre and Institute for Local
Develpment) especialised on Sociology and Geography. A multi-method approach (Brewer y
Hunter, 1989) was applied to the empirical work made in the AAA border in order to
accomplish the objectives of the previous section. A Multi-method, and the combination of a
quantitative and qualitative, and a strategy of triangulation (Pourtois and Desmet, 1992) were
useful to contrast different types of information that emerged. Micro-macro dimensions
around crossborder issues were also considered (Gualda, Fragoso y Lucio-Villegas, 2011).
The paper is mainly based on the application of three types of techniques: Secondary sources
and statistics, personal interviews to experts and focus groups. In the first case, statistical data
(social, economic, geographic, cartographic, etc.), and bibliography specialised on
crossborder issues was used (originated in public and private European, Portuguese and
Spanish institutions or organizations).
Qualitative Interviews to “experts on crossborder cooperation” (CBC experts) were also an
important source of information. Experts were defined as professionals from different Spanish
or Portuguese institutions who have or have had professional experience in cross-border
projects of INTERREG A and in cross-border cooperation in general. Most of these experts
worked in public institutions which are members or beneficiaries of cross-border projects. A
few of them were not directly involved with INTERREG projects, though their work was
based on the cooperation with the neighbouring country. For the fieldwork we get of different
kinds of informants, using the snowball technique. As there are not registers or directories of
experts working in CBC it was not possible to do a random sample, so a theoretical sample
was applied, never looking for inferential data.
We also ran four focus groups in two border municipalities (four in Vila Real de Santo
António and four in Ayamonte). The groups were composed of young adults from 13 to 24
years old, adults from 25 to 64 years old, and elderly inhabitants aged 65 years or older, as
well as one group composed of experts in cross-border cooperation. The selection processes
for all participants were the snowball technique and direct contact with different institutions
(e.g., local governments, associations). Each group comprised between 5 and 10 participants
for each municipality. Qualitative data were processed and analysed with the help of Atlas.ti
for content analysis.
1. The socio historic process of cross border cooperation in the Alentejo,
Algarve and Andalusia new Euroregion
In recent years we found a significant deployment of measures to strengthen the Cooperation
and Territorial Cohesion in the area of Alentejo, Algarve and Andalusia (Charts 1 and
2).These actions are linked to the birth and consolidation of instruments such as a Program
and an Operational Subprogram, a Working Community that eventually resulted into a
Euroregion and the start of negotiations and discussions for the creation of a European
Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC) able to manage FEDER Funds. In this context
the development of important co-financed community projects occurs in four axes:
1) Promoting competitiveness and employment promotion
2) Environment, heritage and natural environment
3) Accessibility and spatial planning
4) Promoting cooperation and economic and social integration
Chart 2. Instruments for the cooperation and the territorial cohesion
Operational Program for Territorial Cooperation Spain-Portugal, POCTEP (2007-2013)
Subprogram: Alentejo-Algarve-Andalucía
Working Community Alentejo (Baixo) – Algarve – Andalucía
Huelva, and adjacents NUTs Sevilla, Cádiz and Córdoba. Baixo Alentejo (district of
Beja). Algarve (district of Faro).
Crossborder Cooperation Agreement for the constitution of the Euroregion AlentejoAlgarve-Andalucía (BOE de 9 de julio de 2010)
European Grouping of Territorial Cooperation (EGTC). EU Regulation 1082/2006. European
Parliament and Council, 5 July 2006.
Source: Authors, 2014.
The constitution of the newer tools (Chart 2) is rooted in previous experiences (especially
INTERREG) in regions of AAA, which over time have allowed the formation of formal and
informal networks and territorial structures.
2. The role of social participation on the building of the region
Although several cross-border cooperation structures have been developed in recent years and
a formal interest in the development of participation is found, in what follows, based on our
qualitative work, we offer experts perspective on cross-border cooperation for the purposes of
assess what kind of participation is observed in the area and its role in the development of the
2.1. The importance of personal relationships and continuity of relationships for a smooth
cross-border cooperation
The discourse of experts on both sides of the border highlights the importance of not only
establish formal ties but also informal ties and personal relationships with people from the
neighboring country, underlining their facilitator role in crossborder cooperation. The
importance of personal relationships for labor development fits very well in mentalities and
working cultures of this area of the West of Europe.
Well... we already have a relationship of great friendship, much affection and many
years with the Portuguese people (Female, Sevilla/ Spain, CBC Regional Expert, 2011).
… Small infrastructures physically permeate the border... facilitate the passage of
people, and at the end it is the people who make cooperation (Male, Huelva/ Spain,
CBC Local Expert, 2011).
A key that explains the smooth cooperation is to strengthen personal relationships for which
has been essential the experience of previous joint work and continuity of relationships,
allowing to know experts of another country. This previous experience made it easier to build
trust relationships between technicians of different institutions. Moreover, with the passage of
time the assessment made of the cooperation, while it is critical with aspects that do not work
perfectly, it assesses the advances made so far perceiving as something feasible for a future
the connection of areas during a long time broken up.
…There has always been a link... there is also a good contact between the different
municipalities of the two sides. I believe that today there is indeed a great relationship
between the two border towns, and regarding European projects, many of which have
been in common… gradually and today, yes, relations are improving, much more than
before (Men, Tharsis/ Spain, CBC Local Expert, 2010).
Yes, the relationships are strong,... an Spanish technician phoned me, because he knew
me... saying that a city council had an idea and wanted to move forward with the
municipalities in Spain... and that it needed support to reach the Portuguese
municipalities that have mines and if somehow the ADPM could do a little work to talk
to the President of the Portuguese councils... (Man, Mértola/ Portugal, CBC Local
Expert, 2011).
… Andalusian relationships are not the same to Alentejo and Algarve, they are
preferentially to the Algarve for reasons that are explained and that are changing a little
but not enough for the Alentejo... but it is improving a little but not with the intensity
that we want. This is a situation that I also think that it is to increase a little bit more... I
think the opening of the bridges, that will be sustainably secured... slowly over time, but
always stronger... Now with the bridges will be easier. People will know each other
better (Man, Mértola/Portugal, CBC Local Expert, 2011).
The importance that experts on cross-border cooperation attribute to the fact of establishing
personal relationships in the development of cooperation is configured as a social capital of
interest that can be mobilized from to form joint projects or actions to be able to have an
intermediary power among local / regional actors.
2.2. The role of social participation in the construction of the Euroregion and territorial
Another important aspect that changes, meanwhile relationships between people and
organizations of both countries consolidate, are the dynamics of collaboration and
participation along the border. Nevertheless in initial stages (INTERREG time) this dynamic
was rated sometimes as poor, with the damage that it would have led to cooperation.
However, despite this critical evaluation of earlier times, there are clear indications that the
working style is gradually becoming more cooperative in those so called “second generation”
… The truth is that we,... everything that we have raised, we have proposed programs,
hey look today for you, tomorrow for me, now I'm interested in your participation in my
project, now ... they have asked us sometimes collaboration for... no problem, in that
sense, yes. What happens at the end is that we also have been looking for some
particular interests, at the end that it does not serve for cross-border cooperation in itself
but to raise funds that we can finally do things in our territory (Man, El Granado/ Spain,
CBC Local Expert, 2011).
With the bridges... it will be easier. People will know each other better, and there's
another thing that I find important that I was forgetting. Ah! The reason that was on the
basis of cooperation, it was a matter of money, for INTERREGs, subsidies and all that
(Man, CBC Community Expert, 2011).
Moreover, the role of participation and cooperation between neighboring areas is also
conditioned by the role played by institutions as a catalyst of it. Specifically in the Euroregion
we are addressing the marginal, peripheral area of Alentejo, attributed by some local
technicians to a kind of historical institutional backwardness, to a lack of interest that was part
of the institutions. The improvement in this area becomes a potential for the future.
This is particularly a poor area, undeveloped. We are in the south of the south... we
are... it's the little periphery that is the Alentejo. And that mark, mark a character,
because in a way is a marginal area. Marginal in the sense you are the periphery of the
periphery of the periphery... Here there is a border that has had an institutional
backwardness and still... the looks of other administrations have never been put here
and in any case when they were it has been a little further to the south, in the most
dynamic area that is for example the area of Ayamonte, VRSA... but never in the part...
a few years ago there was not even a bridge (Man, El Granado/ Spain, CBC Local
Expert, 2011).
Moreover, contrasted to the criticism of being “on the periphery of the periphery” and have
not received due attention historically, we find the rejection that sometimes is shown to the
support of European funds to “adjacent areas” that are not specifically located at the border.
Nevertheless the support of the European Union to adjacent areas also found supporters in the
field of regional management:
The fact that Andalusia appears, it is clear that Huelva is the more crossborder region,
however... there is a target region in the cross-border cooperation in our case Huelva
but then there are also adjacent regions, Sevilla, Cádiz... because what is clear is that for
example the Andalusian Government... we are in Sevilla and encourage this
cooperation, which also cannot simply limit the cooperation to the target territory…
(Female, Sevilla/ Spain, CBC Regional Expert, 2011).
In reality, it is really truly complex to maintain a balance between supporting an entire region,
and strengthening the attention to peripheral areas in order to achieve a greater territorial
cohesion and a more equitable distribution of resources, policies that some experts see as a
great need for the region. Achieving an articulation is another challenge for the future:
... we must encourage all these initiatives of Euroregions... because basically what is
beating there is cohesion. Note that the main problem for the EU is cohesion. Cohesion
does not mean uniformity... Cohesion means other things. It is one of the big problems.
Cohesion and no very disadvantaged territories alongside other very rich, because it
threatens the unity, eh? Because you can one day revealing and separating from me.
And then that goes against the institutions of the Union (Men, Huelva, CBC Local
Expert, 2011).
2.3. Evaluation of the participation and collaboration
Participation and collaboration in organizations whose work straddles along the border is seen
as an opportunity, and there are several positive experiences from which several learnings can
be extracted for future. In some cases this collaboration and contact unfolds according to
circumstances that make it necessary:
...we have raised programs, "hey look today for you, tomorrow for me, now I'm
interested in you... (Man, El Granado/ Spain, CBC Local Expert, 2011).
Through the GIT when a topic appear, an activity requiring the knowledge and the
views of other entities of the territory, we have contacted them... In the Euroregion as I
understand that this collaboration will be exactly the same, when needs appear (Female,
Sevilla/ Spain, CBC Regional Expert, 2011).
Even within the same country some experts give importance to the possibility of establishing
partnerships beyond the barriers of belonging to different political parties, such as Odiana
experience in Portugal, consisting of three municipalities:
And the fact of Odiana itself... I see develop a cooperation regardless of political trend.
And that's a first step. After accessing to the Spanish partners and build relationships
through Odiana it was much easier because it joint us a neutral position… (Men, Castro
Marim/ Portugal, CBC Local Expert, 2011).
Although there are these specific positive experiences of overcoming political obstacles, this
is usually a barrier perceived by most experienced CBC experts in the area being in their
speeches with some frequency the idea that the future of the region can be mortgaged or
subject to political problems. However, on some of the latest tools, EGTCs, note that arouse
positive expectations. These speeches were on the one hand where the potential of the area is
seen (and its development is expected), but at the same time some suspicions of political or
institutional consequences appear.
I obviously see the EGTC as an important factor always with the commitment of
municipalities... Cortegana eg. also cannot enter due to political problems (Man,
Tharsis/ Spain, CBC Local Expert, 2010).
One of the aspects that make the cooperation difficult and the type of participation in the area
has to do precisely with the institutional asymmetry and the difficulties of dialogue and
decision-making at both sides.
yeah, yeah so if... therefore the CCDR are entities that depend on the State and have no
autonomy... and there also have difficulty in order to develop any initiative, any...
because they are dependent on the decisions of Lisbon (Men, Castro Marim/ Portugal,
CBC Local Expert, 2011).
Discussion and Results
As advance, as different investigations in the area have recently showed we found an
important inconsistency between policies and people, that have been addressing the
preponderance of top-down actions. A route of sustainability for future and emancipation
strongly recommend as a challenge the involvement of citizens in the design, following-up
and assessment of such crossborder policies and programs, maybe with an increasing support
of on-line technologies promoting participation (González and Gualda, 2014).
As suggested by our fieldwork, multi-level governance approaches in this crossborder area
suggest some improvements as, for instance:
Improving the role of GITs, giving them more importance and making equivalent the
possibilities of action for GITs in the two countries.
Solving problems for coordination at the two side of the border, and institutional
Promoting mechanisms for involving citizens to the processes of decision, what means
not only reinforcing the meso-level instruments (Euroregion, GIT, AECT, NGOs
participation), but also reaching the micro-level (promoting that individual citizens
can participate and collaborate in the decision-making process reinforcing their
connections to meso-level and macro-level institutions and organizations).
A better knowledge of institutions and formalities around the two countries in the
border, in order to dissolve barriers for working and making business in other country.
On the other hand, there is some fear regarding the future, due to the economic crisis.
Crossborder cooperation in this area was born thanks to the European funding that promoted
several important actions and the creation of institutional networks, with an accent in state
and regional governments. Municipal institutions, business organizations and NGOs are
participating at a second level, and the participation of individual citizens in the process of
development of the region can be considered as a challenge.
or we will be money and institutions will be able to work because it sustains a lot of
people on both sides of the border or there won’t be money, and we will return 20 or 30
years (Men, Faro/ Portugal, CBC Local Expert, 2011).
Some other handicaps for the future are connected to historical delays at the AAA border,
translated into weak and not very dynamic infrastructures and not very modern economic
activities. The recent creation of formal instruments for improving the collaborative actions
along the border could be a new frame for developing second generation projects for the
region. But the economic problems at regional and local level could be a weakness to go on
with the previous steps.
On the other hand, though the building of some important infrastructures supposed a clear
advance for the communications inside border region and the promotion of social and
economic relationships (Guadiana International Bridge, 1991; Pomarão Bridge, February
2009; Paymogo Bridge, April 2012), the recent installation of a toll in the Portuguese Infante
do Sagres highway (December 2011) has provoked a decreased of flows (more than 50%
less), specially touristic ones from Spain to Portugal, and can be understood as a big
contradiction in the try of creating a Euroregion (González and Gualda, 2014). The actual
impact that local bridges (Paymogo, Pomarão) has had on flows and exchanges of this part of
the border is still to be assessed. Both connect two unpopulated spaces (Baixo Alentejo and
Andévalo) with little economic activity outside the local scale, and less opportunities in
reaching those large European projects.
If the EU go on betting on crossborder cooperation (Objectives for 2014-2020), but this is not
accompanied by local, regional and national administrations, and also by individual
citizenships, it supposes a clear contradiction that will have effects on the area.
Data used in this paper are part of the research projects supported by Junta de Andalusia
(Expte. SEGAEX/SRICI/ CR 08.44103.82A.015) and “Territorial Analysis and Cross-border
Cooperation of Euroregion Alentejo–Algarve–Andalusia: Historical balance and potentialities
for the new European period/frame 2014–2020” (Excellence Projects, Call 2011). We thank
Francisco J. Pazos García (University of Huelva), for his carefully reading and suggestions to
a first draft of this text.
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Construction of local development through education: Intercultural
Missions, a project on community participation23
Segarra Arnau, T.1, Trilles Fabregat, E.2, Lozano Estivalis, M.3, Traver Martí, J. A.4
Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Department of Education, [email protected]
Ajuntament de Vilanova d’Alcolea, [email protected]
Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Department of Education, [email protected]
Universitat Jaume I de Castelló, Department of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. Intercultural Missions is a project on community participation in education, culture and
local development that aims to contribute to the achievement of an inclusive society. With the
present paper we want to communicate the most relevant aspects of the processes followed
throughout the project. We explain the theoretical basis that has been taken into account when
designing the project: inclusive education, radical democracy, cooperative learning, complex
thought, socio-community approach, interculturality, and cultural nomadism. We also describe the
territorial context where the project has been carried out, the desired objectives, and the different
phases experienced during its course. The project has been analyzed as a single case study using
qualitative research tools: participant observation, discussion groups, diaries and audiovisual
recordings. Regarding the results, we highlight that the participatory process has been based on the
creation of egalitarian social interaction contexts, which has encouraged citizen participation, and
there have been changes in participants’ perception on issues related to local development. We
consider that a project of this nature helps to increase the university’s social responsibility towards
its context. Regarding the most important contributions, we highlight the concept of cultural
nomadism as a tool for transformation and local development from cultural diversity and
Keywords: community participation, local development, non-formal education, interculturalism,
cultural nomadism.
Intercultural Missions is the name of a project on community participation in education,
culture and local development. The main objective of the project is to contribute to the
consecution of an inclusive society, conductive to full economic, social, cultural and political
participation of all persons on equal terms of treatment and opportunities.
The project takes place in the local dimension, seen as that general area in which most of the
needs of citizenry are manifested, despite the current processes of globalization. In this space,
the project has focused in the problematization of daily life, through a shared dialogue
between local communities and external agents and, later, finding solutions together. On the
basis of Intercultural Missions there is a desire to share perspectives on the local reality
among those who live daily in this context, and those who travel through. These last, like
nomads, provide the life lessons and experiences and, therefore, a dynamic component that
contributes to cultural diversity.
Intercultural Missions are based in complex thinking, diversity of perspectives, and local
knowledge as theoretical frameworks. It uses working methods belonging to cooperative
This work is part of a research Project OPI – UJI “Migració i Interculturalitat”, granted by the Development
Cooperation and Solidarity Office (OCDS) of the University Jaume I, call 2012/13.
learning, and it has several historical and geographical references: Misiones Pedagógicas,
during the Second Spanish Republic, the Cuban Brigadas Serranas, and the Mexican
Misiones Culturales, although it refuses the ethnocentric approach of those experiences.
The first edition of this project took place in two small villages in the province of Castelló
(Spain) throughout the year 2013. About 50 people from different collectives have
participated: Red Cross volunteers, Casal Popular of Castelló members, teacher degree and
Master of Peace students of University Jaume I of Castelló, local networks for citizen
participation in Vilanova d’Alcolea and Sant Mateu, and the coordinating team.
With this paper we make a tour through the theoretical basis applied to the project, with
special emphasis in the description of the different phases of the participative investigation –
action process followed in its implementation. Thereby, we report those different phases of
the process involving, first, to disseminate the project to attract voluntary. Secondly, to
involve different types of participants using different training actions. Then, intervention in
the villages through cultural immersion of nomad volunteers in the territory, different actions
to approach local reality to them, and developing a shared discourse about that reality and the
ways to make possible the dreams of local communities. Finally, there was an evaluation day
where the voices of the different collectives involved could be heard. The research
methodology used has been the case study developed in both villages where the project has
been carried out. In order to gather evidences, we have mostly used qualitative tools like
research team diaries, participant observation, diaries written by participant people and
collectives (nomads and local networks), audio and video recordings, and discussion groups.
With this evidences, we have carried out a thematic content analysis that has enabled us to
reduce and categorize data to address later its discussion.
Among the main results obtained, we highlight the impact the project has had on the villages,
and in people and groups involved as well. Thereby, in the field of local development, some
of the implemented actions have led to a greater contact and intercultural dialogue between
local networks and nomad groups, the recovery and sustainability of different environments,
or the appreciation of cultural diversity and immigration as factors for development and
personal and community enrichment.
1. Basis
The project Intercultural Missions was conceived by Garbell Seminar24. This is a space that
gathers together a group of professionals in the fields of local development, education, social
and cultural management, working in the province of Castelló.
This Seminar has become an agent of personal and social transformation, which aims to
promote citizen participation as a process to improve the quality of life in towns with less than
5,000 inhabitants. People who take part in it, exchange information in order to research and
promote participation in their action areas, they foster horizontal relationships, and they look
for the creation of distributed networks, through an open, cross-wide and autonomous
communication (Aguirre, Moliner & Traver, 2012) . At the same time, they also promote
investigation – action, through participatory projects, as in the case of Intercultural Missions.
The theoretical foundations that are at the basis of the seminar, and are reflected in this
project, are as follows:
1.1. Inclusive Education
In our educational contexts, the educational institution has become an inscrutable
compartment where little or nothing of the local surrounding reality is known. In this regard,
every time more sharply, there are learning processes that are taking place outside the
classroom. It’s a kind of learning that can happen anytime and anywhere (Acaso, 2012). We
consider school must be porous, and it must interact with the surrounding environment. For
this reason we foster, as researchers, investigation – action processes that take place both
inside schools and beyond. Specially, we want to encourage truly inclusive non-formal
learning processes that serve for personal and collective growth. For this purpose, we work
with citizen participation community networks which are interested in transforming reality.
1.2. Radical Democracy.
In these investigation – action processes, which are located in non-formal and informal
educational contexts, our position always tends to the horizontal. We think in education as a
bidirectional process whereby we educate ourselves as a community. Therefore, educational
projects we are involved in are characterised by giving voice and power to act on equal terms
to all participants, thus we come to the ideals of the vita active explained by Hannah Arendt
(2005). Thereby we intend to create synergies for the empowerment of individuals and
communities who collaborate on these projects.
1.3. Cooperative Learning.
The projects in which we participate have a caring nature, understood as a fraternal
relationship between people who are part of a community, a sense of belonging to the same
group, and a common consciousness in terms of their interests (Traver, 2005). In this regard,
our intention is to contribute to the cooperative construction of knowledge in non-formal
educational spaces. For this purpose, we work with three basic components that are present in
coexistence and learning contexts where action takes place: equality, difference and dialogue.
The first two terms are intimately related to the question of cultural identity, which we will
refer later. Difference should not be understood as inequality and, similarly, equality as
uniformity or unanimity. To feel different inside a community implies the right to be
considered equal to the other members in terms of social justice. The way to achieve this
balance is based on the establishment of a dialogue in which our own assertion requires the
presence of others (Escámez, 1985). Thereby, using cooperative learning, we intend to unite
groups as a way to establish learning communities, learning to cooperate, share and live
together and, eventually, cooperating to learn, proposing actions to teach teamwork.
1.4. Complex Thinking
Traditionally, the training we received answers, in the best case, to a classical scientific
paradigm, whereby reality becomes fragmented in order to be treated methodologically and,
then, to propose hypotheses, ignoring that fragments may end up being more than a sum of
results. Consequently, the proposed approach is to develop mechanisms for analysis and
interpretation of reality that transcend objectivity. Recovering subjects, paying attention the
complexity of their actions, of their flexible contexts, and the relationship with the discourse
that goes through them, is an imperative for the analysis of an increasingly paradoxical social
reality. That is why we also contrast the considerations of the paradigm of complexity (Morin,
1997) with our scope.
1.5. Socio-community perspectives.
From socio-community perspectives, social context enhance learning and participation of all
people from a plural and common point of view. Thereby we propose the transformation of
the contexts in which we work, in terms of plurality, integration, inclusiveness and equal
opportunity. Consequently, the main educational sources from which we start are social
interaction, community participation, and transforming context through dialogue.
1.6. Interculturalism.
We work in diverse social contexts, from a cultural point of view, where tensions can arise
depending on the management of the relationship between equality and difference. Thereby,
processes we propose are intended to create a more intercultural and inclusive society. We
understand interculturalism as a dialogic process, and therefore horizontal, through which
individuals and cultural groups know each other and recognize their cultural identities as
equally valid. In terms of interculturalism, the big challenge is to achieve higher levels of
equality for all people while respecting their right to be different. Both concepts, as we said,
are inseparable in this process: if the difference does not value equality we walk towards
exclusion and, when in the name of equality we do not accept difference, we generate a
homogeneity that leads to more exclusion and inequality (Traver, 2009).
1.7. Nomadism.
Cultural diversity is essential to the development of mankind. It is an invitation to dialogue,
respect and mutual understanding among peoples and between people. When we talk about
cultural diversity we have to refer to cultural identities matters, both collective and individual.
All people, except those who still live in isolated contexts, share characteristics of their own
unique cultural identity with different communities of reference. Therefore, while culture is
dynamic, it is also diverse: we are not born with a prefabricated culture. Our culture is
learned through interaction. This is because, throughout their lives, people are exposed to
ongoing performativity that constantly changes them, and often without becoming aware of it.
This argument invites us to think that, while our lives and societies tend to sedentariness, our
cultures are nomadic: they change position and, in this constant transit, they communicate
with those from other backgrounds and become enriched.
2. Context
Intercultural Missions have been developed, in its first edition, in the towns of Sant Mateu
and Vilanova d’Alcolea. These two villages, with respectively 2,100 and 700 inhabitants, are
located in the province of Castelló (Spain).
This territory is characterized by a marked demographic inequality between a highly
populated coastal strip and an interior area that, since the early Twentieth Century, has been
steadily losing population.
Choosing these scenarios was not accidental. They have been selected because they are
located in the range of action of the Socio-cultural Activities Service (SASC) of the
University Jaume I of Castelló, and they actively cooperate with its programs. And also, as we
have said, because they are municipalities in an area that can be described in terms of
inequality, if we compare them to other areas with larger population. This inequality is
reflected in the daily mobility of a considerable proportion of the inhabitants form the inner
zone to the coast and, in particular, to the city of Castelló de la Plana, because of work or
shopping (Aparici, 2007). But it is also perceived in relation to the difficulties in access to
basic health, educational and cultural services by the inhabitants of the area (Segarra, 2013).
Therefore, it is difficult to determine if these villages are part of a rural area, in a classic
sense. From a social point on view, agricultural and rural areas base their relations in a
community emerged from the conjunction of land and people, with all that this entails in
cultural and economic fields (Ginés and Trilles, 2011). The own physical characteristics of
the rural world make inevitable a series of social relationships based on need, exchange,
neighbourhood, the fluidity of relationships and the inability to go unnoticed in the
On the other hand, we must consider that the main economic sector is no longer farming. The
city, through the capitalism system has occupied the productive sphere of rural word, and
industrialisation is at the expense of the countryside. Less and less, agricultural rhythms mark
the rural calendar, even the senses that provide social roles to the cultural community
phenomena disappear.
Therefore, the latent inequalities in relation with more populated areas, and identity
singularities exist, and they are the cause of a process of reproduction in a cultural sense.
Following this argument, it is necessary to say that we believe that the functional approach of
the school as a mechanism for reproducing the dominant ideology (Giroux, 1985), is
applicable to non-formal and informal learning spaces related to participation in cultural life.
Thus, in our context we observe how the activities related to tradition, religion and folklore
are socially recognised, and give legitimacy to a certain type of values over others.
This reproductive function involves a contradiction. On one hand, it maintains and reinforces
the most characteristic features of the local cultural identity and faces the globalising cultural
processes. However, at the same time, it is the cause of exclusion of those who do not share
these dominant identity traits. This applies in particular to people coming from different
contexts and it discourages those processes leading to the recognition of cultural diversity and
working form an intercultural perspective.
3. Objectives
The overall project objective is to contribute to the achievement of an inclusive society that
encourages full economic, social, cultural and political participation of all persons on equal
terms of treatment and opportunities.
From this general aim, specific objectives set in the project are related to local development
through active participation in cultural life, as a meeting between identity manifestations of
culture, cultural diversity and non-formal and informal education. All of this is articulated
through the following lines:
3.1. Increasing the role of culture in the territory.
The project aims to contribute to the construction and consolidation of a fair society from the
dynamic role of culture and education. The specific objectives of this cultural activity are
related to the equalisation of basic rights and obligations of the population, and nondiscrimination on grounds of racial or ethnic origin, nationality, gender, disability, age, sexual
orientation or any other reason, as well as equal opportunities as a guarantee of an inclusive
3.2. To deepen cultural development.
By this axis we aim to promote the integration of diverse cultural identities within a
framework of coexistence without any other limit than mutual respect and cooperation. At the
same time, we attempt to contribute to the promotion of intercultural coexistence spaces in
different areas of social life, from coexistence to living together and preventing and
overcoming situations of hostility.
Finally, we would like to link local development to immigration in a positive way, with the
encouragement of wealth generation, employment and economic promotion, as well as quality
of life for all, and enrichment of the social fabric in townships.
3.3. Strengthen articulation of cultural and local networks.
The project aims to consolidate the existing mechanisms of citizen participation, enhance the
presence of foreign-born population in common areas of participation, develop or strengthen
sectoral or specific participation organisations in contexts of diversity, and reinforce
We intend, in short, to boost citizen participation in general terms, to promote the
associationism, and to incorporate all cultural identities to the general areas of participation.
4. Introducing the action
4.1. Diffusion of the Project and volunteer recruitment.
The Project starts in May 2013. The first phase consists in spreading it among certain groups
unrelated to the reality that they will intervene. This diffusion communicates the general
aspects of the project in terms of fundamentals, context, objectives and developmental stages
of the activity. The groups belong to the sphere of the city of Castelló de la Plana: Red Cross
volunteers, Casal Popular of Castelló members, teacher degree and Master of Peace students
of University Jaume I of Castelló. This aims to find a group of persons who may provide a
different look, from the urban environment, on the reality of a rural setting, but always
starting from assumptions of horizontality. The project is well received in all cases.
This same diffusion is carried out with local participation networks that exist in the towns of
Sant Mateu and Vilanova d’Alcolea. In this case the response of the population, although it is
favorable as well, reveals a certain fear to embrace the external group, which is called nomad:
people who are part of the local network, must host home a member of the nomad group, that
is, they must live and connect with a stranger. However, there are enough people willing to
participate in both populations. This action is absolutely necessary to achieve an immediate
immersion in the local reality of the nomad group.
Once volunteers have been recruited to participate in the project, local networks concentrate
on the definition of those problems relating to local reality which they will intervene during
its development.
4.2. Increasing awareness: workshops.
Once the different groups participating in Intercultural Missions are formed, the coordinating
group schedules a set of theoretical and practical workshops throughout one week. These
workshops take place in September, first with the nomad group and then, with both local
networks (in one single session). This responds to the need for participants to take ownership
of a number of theoretical and methodological tools, to know each other and to know the
context in which they will work. Workshops developed as follows:
Group connection. The objective of the first workshop is that participants know each other.
During the intervention phase, they work collectively. So it is necessary to carry out group
connection dynamics, games and cooperative learning techniques. This seminar is
supplemented by two texts (Pallarés, Rodríguez, Traver and Herrero, 2007; and Lederach,
1995), which were distributed among all participants.
The complex look. In this session, participants face the fundamentals of complex thinking ,
initiating a process of interpretation of human and social reality from the perspective of
complexity, and showing that the community environment where the project is going to be
developed can be characterised using this point of view as well. The paradigm of complexity
arises from the difficulty, expressed from time ago, that suggests the simplified and
fragmented approach to the analysis of the human being and society. In this situation, there is
a need to articulate the different approaches emanating from the field of Human and Social
Sciences. When applied to field of community development, complex thinking makes
possible a better understanding of its dynamics, and a more effective action proposal. The
workshop mainly involves a practical and dialogic approach. The activity is based on two
books by Italo Calvino (1997 and 1999), a film by Woody Allen (2011), and two newspaper
articles by Juan José Millás (2013) and Jorge Wagensberg (2000).
The historical references. Through this session we intend to convey that Intercultural
Missions do not just happen, but it is partially inspired by previous experiences: Misiones
Pedagógicas, during the Second Spanish Republic, the Cuban Brigadas Serranas, and the
Mexican Misiones Culturales. We carry out a description of the main features of these
references highlighting their history, political context in which they took place, starting
problems, general objectives, involved authorities, promoters, target population, popular
participation, contents and actions, challenges and results. Subsequently, people involved in
the different workshops are invited to identify such features in the context of Intercultural
Missions. This is intended to deepen their knowledge of the project, and also to contribute to
the creation of its story, and to make this speech of their own. It must be said, in terms of this
section, that these historical references contain a very clear ethnocentric bias. Thus, the
coordinating team considers that these references must be reinterpreted and adapted to our
geographical and social context, and therefore cancel this bias.
On local knowledge. In this case, through reading and conversation from the proposal of
several texts, we aim to highlight the importance of cultural diversity and the need to be
aware, as human beings and as a collective, about the limits of our own gaze. So this session
is based on the principle of equality of all cultures and reflection about the production of
situated and shared knowledge. All cultural practices are valid, within the respect for Human
Rights and Cultural Rights (Fribourg Group, 2007). Since cultural life is intensely expressed
in local context, knowledge that is in this area is an important part of our cultural legacy. The
texts from which begins the workshop are, between others, a short story by Galeano (2004)
and the introduction to the fourth chapter of the book School is dead, by Everett Reimer
(1986). Moreover it should be noted that int the increasing awareness carried out in the
villages, the coordinating group decided that sessions on complexity and local knowledge
would be taught to both local groups together. Thus, the session on complexity is carried out
in Sant Mateu, and local knowledge in Vilanova d’Alcolea. With this we intend that all
participants are aware that they are sharing a common project. Both sessions are preceded by
some group cohesion dynamics. Thus we intended to break the ice between neighbours in
both populations
Introducing ourselves. The last day of this phase is dedicated to project a virtual introduction
of the other groups participating in Intercultural Missions. Self-introductions with two videos,
one on the nomads and the other on local networks were prepared. Thus, both groups can put
a face to their other companions in the project and, at the same time, to know their interests.
In these videos, each participant introduces him or herself (name and origin), and describes
the reasons why he or she has decided to participate in the project Intercultural Missions.
After this introduction, and in the case of the session carried out with nomads, we delve into
the description of the reality of both populations where intervention is going to be performed:
number of inhabitants, economic sectors, equipment, condition of cultural life, etc. Issues /
dreams that local networks have identified, and for which they will work in the intervention
phase, are also presented and described.
4.3. Intervention phase.
Intervention phase took place between 9 and 12 October 2013. The first day, it is necessary to
break the ice. Therefore, the only activity that takes place is the reception of nomads by local
groups, then, they take a guided tour through the town that allows them to become familiar
with it. Dynamics includes a small snack to facilitate group cohesion and, finally, nomads are
escorted to the foster homes, where they dine with families.
The bulk of the intervention work is carried out on 10, 11 and 12, following similar routines
in three days. The two local networks have previously worked the concision of the problems
affecting both communities, and the ways to provide solutions. Nomads have a minimum
knowledge of them, thanks to the communication on the last day of the awareness phase. In
this way and in addition, it is necessary to prepare a set of activities to bring the nomad group
to these problems and, in general, to the reality of both towns.
Mornings are devoted to contact with the territory: visits to institutions such as schools and
associations; contact with the productive sectors of the towns, agricultural facilities, tourist
accommodation; workshops on local knowledge or environment. Moreover, the
accompaniment of foster families, both inside and outside home, approaches the nomad group
to the daily life of each town.
Afternoons are time to share views. Each session is dedicated to addressing one specific
problem of those proposed by the local network.
In the case of Vilanova d’Alcolea problems treated are, in first place, the low participation of
the population in scheduled cultural activities and insufficient cooperation inside associations,
which are always activated by the same people. The next day was dedicated to the lack of
integration of the immigrant collective. Finally, they tackle the issue of the loss of values in
terms of respect, conservation and awareness concerning the environment, which is becoming
more pronounced.
In the case of Sant Mateu, the following aspects are addressed, expressed not as problems but
as dreams. First place, they want to stop population decline in the town. In this regard, it is
essential to generate employment opportunities. Secondly, they think in a more participative
population, where differences do not lead to conflict, and where cultural diversity is seen as
an asset. Finally, they hope to encourage relationships between different generations, through
shared spaces and recovering traditional knowledge.
Sessions follow a script that has been previously exposed to the participating groups, which
include the phases described below.
First, the problem to work with is introduced. The local network expresses its point of view
on that problem or dream. This is explained by providing data, images or other resources that
allow a greater and deeper argumentation. Then, the nomad group reveals its approach to the
problem or dream. The starting point is the information provided during the awareness phase,
which nomads have minimally worked on their own in the same session by an exchange of
views. On the other hand, contact with reality contributes to a stronger exposition. The aim is
to find those points of approach for every specific problem, while delving into the complexity,
and therefore on the critical of every topic. Their presentation, as in the case of that one made
by local groups, is carried out simply on their own voice, or using photographs or other
documents that communicate the problem in a clearer way.
Secondly, they begin to work in small groups. As the previous phase generates new
approaches to the problem, it is necessary to reflect on them, to prioritise those nuances that
are considered as the most important, and to provide the new insight that each participant has
about the problem. In this phase, the two collectives, local and nomad, work in mixed groups
of four to six people.
Then, as a final stage, they all together hold a sharing and prioritisation of concepts and
actions. Each small group presents its ideas that have just become more precise. Then, they
try to prioritise the most important concepts of the problem, and the actions need to provide
solutions. For this, two own techniques of cooperative learning are used, the snowball and the
dreams tree, based on a new division of the large group into smaller mixed groups.
4.4. Evaluation phase.
The Project, in its intervention phase, ended on 13th October with an evaluation session in les
Coves de Vinromà, a town halfway between Vilanova d’Alcolea and Sant Mateu. This
session involves all participating groups: local network and nomad from the two towns, host
families and coordinating team. Every group has a speaker.
This evaluation session materializes with separate meeting of the five groups involved:
Vilanova nomads, Sant Mateu nomads, Vilanova local network, Sant Mateu local network,
and coordinating team.
Groups are requested to value the following points: personal impact of the project; impact of
the project on the town and on everyone in their groups; project appraisal (reviews,
suggestions and contributions) in reference to its structure, timing, awareness phase,
community life activities, work dynamics; and finally, what has left and what has taken every
group during the intervention phase or, in other words, what has been learned and what has
been taught.
4.5. Dissemination of results phase
This is the stage where the project is today. In addition to the various papers that are being
presented at different conferences from a more scientific point of view, a documentary and a
book that will be presented at the towns where the activity has taken place is in progress. This
action aims to give back to society the result of this experience and to disseminate it in other
5. Results
Regarding the project results, we consider interesting to expose those that have to do with the
process, and with the sensations experienced by participants.
First, the proposals for transformation concretised during the intervention phase, have been
formulated from the joint construction between all participants, both local networks and
nomad groups. This shows how the process and participation dynamics put in practice
facilitated the inclusion and intercultural dialogue between different groups and individuals.
Furthermore, the project has led to the opening, from a standpoint of equality, of some ways
in the area of participation in public affairs and in shaping society. This experience has
favoured greater openness of municipalities towards a “glocal” perspective that facilitates the
exchange of different views between a local and global perspective. The traditional hermetic
nature that preside dynamics and cultural processes of these municipalities, which are widely
present in rural areas in the province of Castelló, has been broken.
There has been a change in the look of those people involved, especially around issues related
to local development and the actors on which it depends. In addition, it was considered
necessary to move towards a more inclusive society, where immigration can be seen as a
value and not as a problem. In this sense, immigrant groups have achieved greater visibility,
and this has created a greater sense of belonging to their new society. This situation has also
slightly increased their inclusion in the processes of citizen participation. On the other hand,
local participation networks, which bring together the associative structure of each town, have
been consolidated. The other participants in Intercultural Missions have joined them. This
consolidation results in the continuation of the work of both networks once the project is
completed. At present, nomads have become part of these citizen networks, where actions
affecting the social and cultural life of both towns are proposed and analysed.
6. Conclusions
Cultural and educational public policies in the Spanish context, are managed by the regional
administration, because of the transfer of powers by the State. In this sense, planning tends to
be centralised in these regional bodies. Municipalities sparsely populated and remote from the
centers of power, which also concentrates most of the population, become peripheries in
terms of attention and access to services. These policies are often based on the call for grants,
which often do not respond to the needs and reality of these places.
In this situation of neglect, if not punishment, those municipalities have found support,
especially from a theoretical but also practical approach, in the University Jaume I. This
educational institution has become a benchmark for the inland towns of the province of
Castelló, thanks especially to the University Extension Program managed by the Sociocultural Activities Service. This service welcomes the concerns of the territory and cooperates
with it, through a participation network of local managers involved in social and community
development processes. Members of this network are trained and they participate in focus and
action groups, through which projects addressed to alleviate the unequal status of these
populations are proposed. One of these projects is Agenda 21 for Culture, which was
introduced in Sant Mateu and Vilanova d’Alcolea in 2008 and has been active thereafter.
Through it, there is a proposal to encourage the active participation of people in cultural life.
It is noteworthy that this project was the germ of Intercultural Missions.
This support is not given form a position of superiority but horizontality, equality and even in
some cases, of curiosity and admiration of many aspects that constitute the reality of these
In fact, through Intercultural Missions project participants, both nomads and local networks,
have given a new value to living in these contexts. The latter, especially, are proud to live in
villages, and the project has impacted positively on the vision of their own locality. This
revaluation has been especially produced because the project has not been raised from a
position of superiority on the part of the University, or the urban reality regarding the context
of action. It is not intended, in any case, to acculturate from a positioning of imposition, but to
start a dialogue based on the problematization of reality.
The project, on the other hand, also raises difficulties, being “welcome” that which is
identified as the most important. To accommodate somebody, puts host families in a difficult
situation. On the other hand, this also presents a challenge for the nomad group, since they
completely ignore the habits of those. The project, in this sense, poses a challenge to opening
to an unknown otherness, which affects the entire familiar ecosystem and mobilises it, while
generating unanticipated interactions as work overload for families.
Certainly, despite the difficulties, the success of this welcoming process has been the
strongest point of the project and we will not renounce to repeat this format in future editions.
Welcoming has had a very special, intense, committed and global significance, and it has
contributed to the creation of strong links between nomads and families. Thus, this welcome
involves sharing an exciting joint project of transformation, local development and citizenship
education, and it is a full immersion in the local reality and involvement by all participants.
Another interesting aspect is the problematization, which takes place throughout every phase
of the project. This contributes to its understanding by all participants. The above paragraphs
show how the fact to problematize and discuss about diverse theoretical and practical aspects,
promotes critical reformulation of the project itself, and helps to shape expectations regarding
their participation, as well as welcoming or as nomads.
Thus, participants have made the project belong to them, through a “reformulation of
meanings” in the pre-intervention in the municipalities involved, which was aimed at training
participants, but also during implementation and evaluation phases, from a practical point of
view, and sometimes accidentally. There is no doubt that the analysis after the
implementation of the project, which is still in process, will provide new results that will
substantially enrich this shared construction of meanings.
Finally, the question of how will be told the project’s action, raises the dichotomy underlying
the whole story of human actions: both nomads and local networks might like a story that
should cede the spotlight on the community as a “social subject”, without highlighting any
personal action; a story that was radically truthful and even humble.
However, they would also like that this story about the project had an exciting future role in
potential participants, emphasising values and attitudes that leave themselves
7. Acknowledge
The authors wish to thank the Intercultural Missions coordinating team, MEICRI Research
Group, the people who are part of local networks and nomad groups, the Councils of Sant
Mateu and Vilanova d’Alcolea, Universitat Jaume I involved agencies and departments
(Socio-cultural Activities Service, Cooperation for Development and Solidarity Office,
Department of Education, Social Development and Peace Interuniversity Institute, Philosophy
for Peace UNESCO Chair), the Casal Popular of Castelló and the Provincial Red Cross
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Innovative Forms of Adult Education - Bringing people together for rural
development in East Germany
Mandy Schulze1 & Judith C. Enders 2
Humboldt University of Berlin, Institute of Education, [email protected]
Hans-Boeckler-Foundation, Political Science, [email protected]
Abstract. After the social and political transformation, followed by a process of
deindustrialisation and a very high mobility of young people, the working shortage and
demographic change is having an impact on the development of communities in East Germany.
Young person leaving their home regions for educational reasons or job opportunities. Like all
brain drain regions, East Germany is loosing their high potentials to the big cities. Almost
paradoxally in certain branches of industry and especially in services in this regions is a lack of
qualified employees. Young people are seen as the future for regional development not only as the
parents of the next generation but formost as innovative agents of changes. The following article is
focused on the question which kind of impact open adult education could have on innovative rural
development to improve the attractiveness of such areas. This contribution presents the challenges
of rural adult education, describes the demographic change in East Germany and provides research
results from the perspective of the “missing” people in order to regard practical approaches for
local development. In a wider perspective regional development emphasises more than the
possibility to work.
Keywords: adult education, rural development, demographic change, East Germany
Thinking about adult education in rural areas requires on one hand viewing the characteristics
of the term ‘rural’ in the context East Germany and on the other hand considering the role of
adult education in the current situation and the possible impact on regional development. In
Germany rural development as a challenge for adult education is theoreticaly and practical
neglected (Klemm 1992, 1997, 2002). Adult education in the context of rural development is
not a new approach, but the context in which rural development takes place has changed
lately: (1) in the conceptual framework of adult education and (2) in the ways rural
environement is linked to learning (Atchoarena/Sedel 2003). This article describes the
challenges of adult education in rural areas. We show briefly six different models of learning
adult education as an interactive service. Basic facts from eastern Germany will help to
considerate the need for a wider understanding of adult education as an interactive tool for
rural development. Having described the demographic change as a challenge for development
related to trends of mobility and rural conditions, the article shows the results of a study
regarding the missing generation as workforce potential. Three innovative examples of adult
education were briefly explained at the end of the article to show which innovative potentials
adult educational can promote local emancipatory practices and projects..
1. Challenges of rural adult education
Adult education in predominantly rural areas25 is seen as an important factor of regional
development in terms of economic, social, cultural and political dimension. But mostly it is
Three area categories are then defined at regional level (NUTS 3): 1. Rural areas ('predominantly rural'), with a
proportion of people living in rural communities is over 50%; 2. Transition regions ('intermediate'), 15-50% and
seen as an economic impact: (1) usually as education for unemployed people or (2) as an
upgrading of workers in their workpotential. In this way adult education is mostly seen as a
tool to support the subjective adaptation of a changing economic environment.
“Programmes supporting regional development are guided by the priority of economic
development, thus defining a specific function for continuing education” (Faulstich
1996, p.151)
The challenge of rural adult education where summarised by Klemm (1992, 1997). It is
devided in two dimensions: (1) the concepts of adult education and (2) the institutional frame:
1. For the content of rural adult education a conceptual crisis and a lack of innovative
concepts is regarded. There were little participatory programs because the interests of
promoters and organizations prevent always a need-oriented education. Apart from
participatory programs there are methodologically and didactically deficits in the lack of new
forms beyond the lecture and course/seminar work. Process- and action-oriented forms are the
exception. Adult educational programs are depoliticised and community-oriented issues are
missing. The programs are mainly focused on the leisure sector like crafts, languages, health
or dance.
2. Institutionally adult education in Germanys rural areas works with an aging infrastructure
and a low potential of flexibility. There is a lack of funds for new projects. The staff of the
organizations is low professionalized and full-time employees are underrepresented. The
whole infrastructure is determined by voluntary work. The organizations established a distinct
egoism, which shows a policy of differentiation, separation and competition among different
organizations. Territorial demarcations are dominant and networking or cooperation in the
field is an exception. As a result, community-oriented initiatives leave the organizationss of
adult education and organize themselves : Political education and cultural work establish new
spaces because the established organizations are not useful for demand-oriented community
work (see Klemm 1997, 2002).
The callenge of rural adult eduaction is to get away from a predominant leisure profile and the
idea of shaping people to supposed economic demands. The aim is to counteract a "nostalgic
individualism" and a "non-critical utilitarianism" in adult education (Hahn 1994, p. 125). It
should be developed in a interactive way to improve social changes together with rural
communities. That means dealing with challenges in politics, business and society which are
completely different to metropolitan areas.
According to Terluin (2003) the activity and capacity of local actors (knowledge, skills,
behavior), rural internal and external regional networks and bottom-up processes are very
important for rural development. Endogenous or mixed endogenous-exogenous approaches
causes good economic development. Therefore adult education programs, methods and forms
need to open up for new ways of learning and should reflect classical ways. The following
models explain different formats in a systematic way.
2. Six models of adult education
3. Urban regions ('predominantly urban'), with a proportion of people living in rural communities people below
15%. For the purpose of delimitation of rural areas can use different criteria. In the case of the Free State of
Saxony, the criterion of the size of the settlement as the requirements for a settlement and spatial structure
reproducing demarcation best. Accordingly, for the purposes of this program, all localities are attributed to the
rural areas of Saxony, with less than 30,000 inhabitants (EPLR p.4 http://www.netzwerk-laendlicherraum.de/themen/eler/eler-in-den-laendern/sachsen/)
Adult education can be seen as a service for development in the sense that learning always
needs a provider and a user. Learning and education occures in the interactivity between
them. It is a mistake to think the service of adult education and its programs are like products
made up by an organiszation and just looking for the right consumer. Production and
consumtion happens in adult education in the same time and only in this interaction emerges
the product as visible. Success and failing lies in the responsibility of both sides (see Schäffter
Figure 1 Sechs Strukturmodelle institutioneller Kontaktprozesse.
Source: Schäffter, O. 2014, p. 64
Schäffter (2014, p. 61-83) presents six different models (see figure 1) of adult education
describing as educational service profiles. Each model shows on the horizontal level the field
of the educational service provider and the field of the user. On the vertical level all models
are described by their intension and level of reception in each model. In the model (1) and (2)
the intension is on the side of the providers. The user are receiving the service. In model (3)
and (4) the intension is on the side of the user or learner. The relation between provider and
user is balanced in models (5) and (6). These models will be presentated very briefly and will
be used to understand innovative forms of rural adult education and their challenges:
(1) The Delegation Model offers programs for identified target groups which are delegated to
attend the training. The decision to participate in the training does not necessarily lies in the
individual user and the aims of the trainings are embedded in a field of practices. This model
is used in adult education in order to train people within their organizations like companies or
(2) In the Intervention Model providers of educational services are looking for users in an
active searching process. The educational activities are not only directed to individual
learners. It is rather a socio-educational access to a specific learning group. This model is
found in community organizing concepts where educational activities aim to change life and
work in institutions. In the context of rural development the intervention model is useful as a
participating approach for adult education because the intention is oriented on problem
solving and the needs in the participant’s life. The results are depending on the manner of
intervention. The learning needs are determined by an external assessment and based on
general facts like low density of public transport in rural areas for example. The assumptions
are checked with the affected people in order to search and learn together for solutions in
communication with stakeholders in this field.
(3) In the Supply-Demand Model, the activity between the education providers and the users
is balanced. An educational program is provided and is either accepted and used or not. The
model works when the 'right' program in competition with others is provided and related to
the needs of the users. Because the program is already established and standardized, the user
has little influence on it. The limits of this model in the rural areas are seen in the fact, that
adult education specialised programs can not be supplied for all regions in the same way. The
specific challenges in rural areas cannot only be tackled by standardized learning processes.
(4) The Mediation Model is based on an institutional understanding of subsidarity in the form
of open content and supportive concepts. An intermediate instance provides with information
a didactical structure, a transfer between the institutions of adult education as service
suppliers and the groups of learners. This model has a special impact on learning fields where
the content, methods and forms are not clear but allready part of the learning process.
(5) In the Self-Learning Model the activity is in the field of the learners. Self-conscious
learning groups or individuals formulate their learning needs and use dedicated learning
spaces. This openness to the self-determination of learners demand a broad withdrawal of
pedagogical intentions and therefore the waiver of the provision of content-related learning
objectives. The learning support is derived from a pluralistic understanding of education.
There can be hardly given a greater sense or target from outside. It is important to support the
learner to develop through his assumptions, expectations, interests, goals a satisfaction,
meaningful learning. In this model the aim of organized adult education is focused on the
development, encouragement and promotion of autodidactic skills in civic learning spaces.
The teaching assignment in this model is mainly represented as a learning guide. The demand
of learning has to be determined but, the answer is less a special program than a more
communicating process in order to develop a context. This model has great similarities with
the concept of self-directed learning (Long 1995).
(6) In the Self-Organising Model the learner themselves organises in their immediate living
environment learning processes and get experts of their choice in the field. The experts offer
education as service with tailor-made material, methods and guidance.
Having described the six models of adult education from Schäffter (2014) the next chapter
explains the background of challenges through demographic chance in the rural regions of
East Germany and focuses on a special generation and their latent or obviously learning
3. The demographic situation in East Germany
The rural regions of East Germany are ahead of a demographic trend. Since 1990 they have
continuously boast a negative net migration population (see Figure 2). This has to be justified
especially with an inadequate supply of jobs and the demographic decline after 1989:
“In the GDR, the average number of children per woman was still in 1990 at 1.52. In
the uncertainty of the period after 1989 they broke and fell in the eastern states in 1994
to a historic low of 0.77 on average. Meanwhile, this so-called total fertility rate has
reached the West German level, 2008, it was in the former territory of western Germany
at 1.37, in the new states of Germany at 1.40 and in the whole german territory at 1.38
children - and still well below the so-called consisted sustaining level of 2,1” (Berlin
Institut 2010, translated by the authors).
The high unemployment rate in eastern Germany after the reunification was a consequence of
the rapid de-industrialization process, which should adap the less competitive former GDR
economy to the circumstances of market economy. Since 1990 the unemployment rate in East
Germany lies continuously above the national average. There is a persistent imbalance in east
germanies labour market to the detriment of workers, and particularly at the expense of junior
staff (Lutz et al. 2010). These settings have caused many people to leave their places of
origin. Through migration East Germany lost between 1990 and 2006, approximately 1.2
million citizens. This represents about 7.5 percent of the East German population in 1990
(Martens 2010).
Figure 2 Components of population change in East Germany including Berlin (East Berlin just before
1991). Source: Blum et al. 2010, p. 15
Especially the upcoming generation left East Germany for qualifications, study and work. So
40 percent of this mobile people were between 18 and 30 years old. Especially rural areas and
small towns were affected by migration (Luy 2009). Today there can be found places and
tracts of land in East Germany, which correspond to projected demographic parameters of the
future (Kröhnert et al. 2011). Few areas in Europe are unable to show a similar rapid upheaval
such as East Germany, but it is expected that elsewhere similar movements will happen. In
this respect East Germany takes with its demographic development a European pioneer
position as a laboratory of development in rural regions. The results of the migration bears the
fact that the available supply of skilled labour is low and the current workforce will retire in
the near future from professional life. This shift from a junior staff surplus in the 1990s to a
pronounced shortage of skilled workers take a lot of firms and regions unprepared. Especially
small firms in rural areas are characterised by a very homogeneous age and qualification
structure associated with a lack of expertise on Human Resources (Lutz et al. 2010).
Summarising: The people and institutions in that regions have to deal with those challenges of
unemployment and a de-industrialised future. Also at the same time with a lack of workforce.
Therefore they start to look for needs and potentials of the people who stayed or plan to come
or to come back in their home areas, to build up families, engage in the community activities
and funding companies.
4. The Third Generation26 of East Germany
The Third Generation of East Germany is described as those who were born between 1975
and 1985 in East Germany. It involves about 2.4 million young people who can be considered
as a generation due to their cohort membership and by a similarly stored imprint of the
experience of 1989 and the subsequent upheaval. They are migrated in large numbers from
their regions of origin (Kröhnert et al. 2011). Being characterised by a very high mobility
these people in the age between 29 and 39 are missing in rural areas in East Germany as
active members of the society. This generation is for two reasons of particular interest in the
discussion of rural development in East Germany. First they have explicit and implicit skills
and qualifications of economical interest. Secondly a latent sense of place and the crucial
difference when it comes to analysing (re)migration potentials. Aging and migration are
influential facts for a long-term economic development also in the context of cultural
offerings. Fewer people also mean lower cultural and social offers for this target group and
vice versa. But not just this vicious circle is to be feared. Young, well-educated people are
often carriers of innovation, company formation and socio-political commitment.
A qualitative research yielded important information regarding the Third Generation East
Germany as workforce potential to specify the role of adult education in the promotion of
local emancipatory practices and projects as solution to it. People born in the regions of East
Germany were asked in narative interviews about their ideas and plans for the future to find
out more about their relevance, systems and interpretations (Meuser/Nagel 2002). All
interviews were transcripted and evaluated by a group of interprets. With the choice of
narrative interviews as an empirical basis, we have found an excellent tool to understand the
personal, subjective decisions of young East Germans. We do not claim to be representative
in a strict sense, but try to understand how motives and personal dispositions are stored. With
the use of a uniform, but openly designed interview guide, we have secured the thematic
comparability of the interview material. The results were organized into three priority areas:
profession and career, family and employment and sociocultural environment (Enders et al.
2013). The interviews bring insight into visions of the future and can’t hold the fact that many
The initiative “3rd Generation of East Germany”, founded in 2010 in Berlin is focused on the generation born
between 1975 and 1985 in East Germany. One goal for a network between this people of a special generation is
to gather potential of engagement and to support local development. In the first place to make the engagement of
people in eastern areas visible and on the second place to learn from each other and to engage others. Many
projects in this direction were done like conferences, scientific debates and workshops.
of the presented views and attitudes have their roots in the past. The main results of the study
useful for the tasks of adult education are:
1. We found a considerable sense of identity, which refers to East Germany. It is apparently
not limited to the places of origin, but used East Germany as a reference frame. The
experiences in the places of origin, even if dated back a long time, built on an image of East
Germany, which makes it difficult to develop a vision for the future. The migrated part of this
generation takes a picture of East Germany in itself, which is ten to fifteen years old. Due to
the economic and social development in East Germany, the current relationships and
circumstances of life are significantly different - compared to the time at which the migrated
people left their places of origin. Their experiences and meetings with their home regions are
taking place at the holidays during visiting the family and by the negative and stereotypical
media presence. The results makes clear that methods and forms of adult education for this
generation have to adapt their accessibility and a content which surprises the picture in mind.
Therefore it would have a greater potential to see the regions in East Germany as part of a
global transformational society instead of a special case. It is worth a discussion to ask, which
facts influences the choice where mobile and well qualified people want to live and work
(Enders et al. 2013, p. 36).
2. The interviewed people showed a great pragmatism in the choice of their work and living
spaces. The pragmatic and adaptable lifestyle raises the question, if this generation is suitable
as agents for innovative change or as a kind of "filler" in the rural areas where they come
from. The study concludes that they have a very high potential to initiate new developments
(through the combination of cultural connection ability, newly acquired stocks of knowledge
and patterns of behavior and the situation to make the career because of their age structure
currently) - but: this generation doesn’t know this, they don’t know about their own
In the study some requirements were named which could be seen as tasks for rural adult
education in order to initiate a process of learning - individual and insitutional - in the rural
areas of Eastern Germany: (1) to initiate a change of image and identity of ‘the East’ while
gathering knowledge about innovative and new developments and reflecting the special
history of East Germany and (2) to demonstrate the potential and connecting facilities for
people, by developing creative “braindrain-back-concepts” by identifying and communicating
best practice projects.
The evaluation of the interviews provides the opportunity to bring attention to issues of adult
education to support local development in the regions of East Germany. Seeing life shaped by
institutional procedures and constructions of normality and historical cohort effects,
individuals and their learning is always linked with the collective through their life course
(Alheit 1996). Seen in this perspective adult education as life long learning is to reflect
historical and social transformation as a searching process (Schäffter 2003) to find innovative
and individual solutions. It will be important to guide structural and individual learning
processes. Communities are facing the challenge of creating learning spaces top down and to
provide support for buttom-up developments. Only in a continuous, cooperative and
communicative atmosphere between politics, business and civil society the potential of rural
areas can be activated and connected to the migrated people.
5. How to bring people together for rural development - A glance into
Having summarized the challenges on rural adult education and the models for adult
education, the challenging circumstances in the rural regions of East Germany were briefly
described and a special group of people were focussed in order to play a special role as user
and provider of adult education. It looks really far away and irritating that people who
immigrated from their hometowns will transform into learners of adult education in order to
develop their places of origin. A glance into practices will show innovative ways to think
about the possible aproaches of rural adult education in a new way:
The first example is the network DORFPLATZ 3.0: the first digital project-developmentplatform as a digital neighbourhood for non-profit regional development. Under the heading
“create your home” all people are invited to create projects for their hometowns, to share
knowledge and to organize meetings. The idea of the network comes from two migrated
people belonging to the Third Generation of East Germany in order to move something back
in their places of origin. Experts for learning like programing, crowd-funding etc. were
invited or called for special projects and demands.
The second example is the network BÜNDNIS OBERLAUSITZ which focuses on the
organization of learning in the context of regional development while offering regulary events
in winter and summer holidays in cooperation with rural communities. Called the winter or
summer future nights everybody is invited to meet and to discuss about special problems in
the region. The events adapt to the accessibility of the migrated people and their holidays.
Themes like mobility in rural areas, local services like education, culture and questions of
energy supply in ageing and shrinking communities were discussed with experts and new
projects were found. The projects demand certain inputs like moderation or funding as
learning needs in order to develop ideas. Being organized in different places, planed in
cooperation of scientists, local firms, local mayors, responsibles of the commune etc. The
evenings offer a wide network of people. Gatherings are mostly looking for a special theme
like empty communal buildings and their possible future or the problem of the missing young
“Here people come together with their dreams and ideas and develop joint forces and
projects for the future of Upper Lusatia. Ideas are affecting the changes; commitment
and patience are the ones who let attractive places to live and be; Enthusiasm is the
engine. With you together we try to develop a new quality of communication and selforganization in Upper Lusatia. We invite you to participate within the framework of
your own time, material and creative possibilities. We are free and open to all who want
to participate.” (http://www.zukunft-oberlausitz.com, translated by the authors).
The third example are BIOGRAPHICAL WORKSHOPS. With the slogan “Let´s walk
together on the trail in our past!” People from the "Third Generation East Germany" invite to
talk about home and the turning mental images of "East" and "West", as well as institutions of
the GDR. In real but also in digital rooms, the guided workshops have an impact on engaging
the people for the future by reflecting their past:
“On one hand, the subject seems to put East and West more and more into the
background - it is for our generation apparently no longer appropriate at all to deal with
it or to cherish positive memories of the GDR. On the other hand, many families in the
GDR have made negative or even traumatic experiences that have not been processed
yet for the most part and now reverberate in us. In the biography workshops, the focus
is on understanding personal experiences and feelings in the context of socio-political
events and express. This will change their own perspectives and there may be new
(http://www.dritte-generationost.de/projekte/biographieworkshops.html, translated by the authors).
Bringing people and themes together offering adult education within a wide range of forms:
from social media discussion, network gatherings, to thematic workshops or a seminar in
crowdfunding. By cooperating with other networks, they support engagement and
empowerment for individuals and institutions in East Germany. Regarding the challenges of
adult education in the beginning of this article, this projects are participating and political on a
local level. But the elder organistions of adult education are rarely involved in creating and
supporting this learnings in open and mainly selforganized context. The practical examples
described above are mainly converging toward model 5 or 6. More research and empirical
work is necessary to answer the question which kind of support people involved in such
projects of rural development need, and how organizations of adult aducation can benefit here
and offer support.
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What (de)motivates continuing education? A study on the transition to
higher education for holders of vocational training in Brazil
Paula E. N. Sales1, Rosemary Dore2
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Faculty of Education, [email protected]
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Faculty of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. Studies focusing on the transition to higher education are relevant in the current
Brazilian context due to the trend in increased schooling, mainly because of the difficulties in
finding employment and the raising standards of qualification demanded by the labour market.
Therefore, this study examines what (de)motivates the student transition from federal vocational
schools to higher education in Brazil. This paper highlights results from surveys conducted with
1,570 students who graduated or dropped out of their vocational courses between 2006 and 2010.
Among them, 969 (68%) entered higher education and 601 (32%) did not. Statistical factor
analysis was used to identify the motives for entering or not entering higher education. Among the
entrants, the most influential factors included interest and personal realization, career and wage
expectations, university’s perceived high quality education, no cost, and location. The main
reasons for those who did not enter higher education included lack of time and money, perception
that there was no need for higher education, unpreparedness and difficulty of entrance exam, lack
of access to institutions and courses. This study has potential benefits for students, educational
counsellors, vocational schools, and educational policy makers.
Keywords: Educational Transition; Vocational Training; Higher Education.
The higher the educational level of a country’s population, the higher the economic and social
development of that country. Moreover, individuals with a higher education are more likely to
understand society and play a proactive role in it. In this sense, it is important to understand
the pathways that lead individuals to go into higher education.
Studies focusing on the transition to higher education are relevant in the current Brazilian
context due to the trend in increased schooling, mainly because of the difficulties in finding
employment and the raising standards of qualification demanded by the labour market.
However, little Brazilian research was done on student’s transition to higher education.
Therefore, this study examines the student transition from federal technical schools to higher
education in Brazil by considering the following research question: What (de)motivates the
transition of students to higher education for holders of vocational training?
The study considers theoretical approaches linking academic performance and transition of
students to cultural, economic and social aspects (Abrantes, 2005; Duru-Bellat, Kieffer, &
Reimer, 2008; Gomez, 2009; Lamb & Mckenzie, 2001; Reay, Davies, David, & Ball, 2001;
Reay, 2002). In regard to these approaches, access to higher education differs according to
students’ socioeconomic profile (level of parents’ education, income and employment status),
academic aspects (school performance and type of school attended), and personal
characteristics (gender, race, and age).
Abrantes (2005) highlights that transitions can involve moments in which school inequalities
are accentuated because groups that usually have lower educational outcomes are particularly
vulnerable. Youth from more educated families and advantaged social classes tend to present
academic privileges by being less susceptible to the negative effects of the transition. These
negative effects can lead to greater distances between school culture and specific youth, as
well as local, ethnic, or class cultures, thereby resulting in significant social exclusion.
The transition from secondary education is understood by Gomez (2009) through the
metaphor of the "bridge", which relates to the transition between the high school and the
various options of life, study, work and personal realization that await graduates in their life
after school. The quality and relevancy of the received education are decisive for educational,
professional and personal destinies. Indeed, secondary education is the final level of education
attained for many students. It can be the last chance to complete the citizenship education as
well as understand the complexity and diversity of life and opportunities that may be available
after schooling. For some, this education guarantees entry into higher education, but for
others, the absence or weakness of this type of education does not translate into the
continuation of studies and playing a positive productive role in society. Namely the "bridge
is broken" for those that are excluded in employment, economics, and culture (Gomez, 2009).
Focusing on the transition of young people after high school, Lamb & Mckenzie (2001)
exposed the problem of exclusion and inequity regarding access to the labor market and
formal education. They point out that social background is strongly related to the educational
and professional opportunities, which are more favorable to young people who have a higher
socioeconomic status.
From these complex interrelated individual, institutional and contextual issues, this paper
seeks to understand the (de)motivating aspects influencing the student transition from federal
vocational schools to higher education in Brazil. It includes a description of the study's
methods, results from quantitative data, and main findings and conclusions.
1. Data and Methods
The data analysed in this paper are from surveys (n=1,570) with students who graduated or
dropped their vocational courses between 2006 and 2010. The analysis includes participants
who studied in 37 vocational schools in Minas Gerais, Brazil. After leaving these schools, 969
(62%) of the students entered higher education and 601 (38%) did not.
Probability sampling (Babbie, 1999) was used for participant assortment due to its efficiency
in selecting a set of individuals of a social group that adequately represents the heterogeneity
of the group as a whole. Babbie (1999) points out that a sample is representative of a given
population when all members have equal probability of being selected for the sample. Thus,
the selection by random instrument is the key to probabilistic sampling method, which allows
for drawing inferences about the larger population from which the sample was derived.
A structured questionnaire was the survey instrument used to collect quantitative data. It
contained questions about the motives for not entering higher education and were answered
by those who have completed high school. As well, there were questions about the motives
for stepping into higher education, responded by those who chose to continue education.
Statistical factor analysis was applied to classify the most significant motives declared by the
respondents. Factor analysis is a multivariate statistical technique used to analyze correlations
among multiple variables, indicating an inherent set of common dimensions, called factors.
These factors are constituted to maximize the ability of explaining the full set of observed
variables. This type of analysis is useful when a study includes a large number of variables
and there is a need to represent a small number of concepts, instead of many facets(Hair
Junior, Anderson, Tatham, & Black, 2005).
Thus, two factor analysis were conducted: one included the main motivating factors for
further education and the other one, the key demotivating factors for not progressing to higher
education. The variables present in each factor are highly interrelated, since the grouping
variable has the standard statistical correlation criteria among the participants' responses. The
linear association is given by the factor loading value. The higher this value, the greater the
importance is the load in the interpretation of the factorial matrix. The factor loadings higher
than ± 0.30 represent the minimum level; the values of ± 0.40 are considered more important;
and if they are ± 0.50 or greater, they are considered with practical significance (Hair Junior
et al., 2005).
In order to examine the adequacy of the data to conduct factor analysis, the following
statistical tests were performed: the Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) measure and the Bartlett test
of sphericity. The Barllet test served to verify the presence of correlations between variables
by considering the significance of the reference value equal to or less than 0.05. The KMO
measure tested the adequacy of the sample size for the use of the technique. Values greater
than or equal to 0.6 were accepted. In the factor rotation, the orthogonal Varimax method was
selected, which raises the maximum independence of the factors among themselves.
Regarding factors selection, the criterion of eigenvalue greater than 1was considered. Factors
with eigenvalues less than 1 are insignificant and should be discarded(Hair Junior et al.,
2. Motives for entering higher education
Out of 1,570 surveys participants, 969 (62%) entered higher education after vocational
training. The entrants answered questions regarding the motives that influenced their decision
to participate in higher education. In order to select the most significant variables, exploratory
factor analysis was applied to condense the variables into a smaller number of factors.
Statistical tests, which are used to verify the data adequacy for conducting factor analysis,
showed the following results: χ2 = 1652.78; df = 45; p <0.001 (Bartlett) and 0.73 (KMO). The
tests exposed high significance of the correlations among variables and adequacy of the
sample size for the use of this type of analysis. Three factors were identified based on the
criteria of eigenvalue greater than 1, which together explained 53% of the observed variance
in the variables.
The exploratory factor analysis results are in Table 1, which contains the extracted factors, the
categories associated with them, the factor loadings, the number of respondents per category
and the respondents’ average in each group or factor.
Table 1- Factors Associated with the Transition to Higher Education
Factor 1
Affinity or liking for the field/profession
Interest and
personal realization
Knowledge and skills acquisition
Personal realization
Respondents’ average
Factor 2
Possibility of having a good wage
Career and wage
Potential to accomplish professionally
Need to obtain a higher education degree
Profession valorization in the labor market
Respondents’ average
Factor 3
Course quality and credibility
Higher education
Education gratuity
Location of higher education institution
Respondents’ average
Source: Developed by the authors
Regarding the influential motives for the transition to higher education, the results of the
factor analysis condensed the succeeding factors, which were placed in a hierarchical order of
The Factor 1, “Interest and personal realization”, relates to affinity, liking and interest in the
chosen study field, as well as the quest for personal or professional fulfillment, and expansion
or acquisition of new knowledge and abilities.
The Factor 2, “Career and Wage Expectations, included the possibility of having a good
salary, improving on work or on the chosen career, profession valorization by the labor
market and the need to obtain a tertiary education degree.
The Factor 3, “Higher Education Characteristics”, included programs’ high quality education
perceived by students, no cost, and convenient location.
These results show that interest and identification with the area of study and quest for
personal and professional accomplishment were the students’ main explanations to continue
their studies. The need to remain professionally developing by increasing their level of
education was also a significant aspect. Other important motives relates to instrumental
features that are represented by seeking for socio-economic and professional ascension in the
labour market.
Furthermore, the characteristics of higher education institutions and courses (perceived
education quality, convenient location and education gratuity) were influential in continuing
studies, suggesting that contextual aspects related to the university and higher education
programs can favor or not favor the transition.
These results are consistent with the study’s theoretical approaches that state the process of
access and permanence in the educational system is influenced by contextual factors of the
educational institution, such as quality of education offered, resources and structural
characteristics and geographic location (Dore & Lüscher, 2011; Fini, 2007; Rumberger, 2011;
Silva & Hasenbalg, 2002).
The data analysed in this session indicate that the academic opportunities goes beyond
individuals’ economic, social and cultural aspects. This supports the idea that the educational
institution contextual features can affect education outcomes.
3. Motives for not entering higher education
From the total of 1,570 participants in this study, 601 (38%) did not enter higher education
after completing or leaving the vocational education. This group of non-entrants responded to
questions about the influential motives for choosing not to progress into higher education.
Results of statistical tests showed the adequacy of the data to perform the second factor
analysis: χ2 = 729.492, df = 45; p <0.001 (Bartlett) and 0.64 (KMO). The explanatory factor
analysis extracted four factors, which explained 59% of the observed variance in the
Regarding the issues that hampered students’ pathways to postsecondary education, Table 2
presents the four main factors. These factors were named as follows: (1) lack of time and
money; (2) perception that there was no need for higher education; (3) unpreparedness and
difficulty of entrance exam; (4) lack of access to institutions and courses. The first factor
included an average of 194 respondents; the second factor, 157 respondents; and the third and
fourth factors, 128 and 117, respectively.
Table 2 - Factors Associated with the Non-Transition to Higher Education
Factor 1
Child and/or home care
Lack of time and
Financial difficulties
Difficulty in balancing work and study schedule
Respondents’ average
Factor 2
Desire to enter higher education at another time
No need for higher
Satisfaction with vocational training
Factor 3
Unpreparedness for entrance exam
and difficulty of
entrance exam
Difficulty level of the entrance exam
Poor quality of secondary education
Respondents’ average
Respondents’ average
Factor 4
Unavailability of courses in fields of interest
Lack of access to
Lack of institution close to home or work
Respondents’ average
Source: Developed by the authors
The Factor 1, "lack of time and money", is mainly linked to socioeconomic status, which
averts the transition to higher education for lack of financial resources. Besides financial
issues, lack of time to study is another important factor. The difficulty of combining
professional activities and study or by the prioritization of domestic work, such as caring for
children and/or the home can be barriers to such education. Socioeconomic status and
availability of time are key elements that can lead students to choose work instead of study.
Both are substantial indicators to academic performance and persistent behaviour in relation
to study (Rumberger, 2011).
The Factor 2, "perception that there was no need for higher education", is represented by lack
of interest in attending a higher education course at the moment and by the view that
secondary vocational education is sufficient as a career training. This demonstrates
satisfaction with the technical career, which leads to unconcern to further education.
The Factor 3, "unpreparedness and difficulty of entrance exam", encompasses issues in
accessing higher education, due to the lack of training or difficulty to pass in the entrance
exams or because of the poor quality of secondary education. These problems suggest
deficiencies in the education system starting from the primary levels. These deficiencies can
lead to learning difficulties, dropouts and not of continuing to study into university. As a
premise that students with severe delays are more likely to not continue studies, it is important
to observe education lagging indicators or retention, (TCU, 2012).
The Factor 4, "lack of access to institutions and courses", is related to the withholding of
courses in fields of student’s interests as well as the absence of higher education institutions
next to their work or home. These problems highlight the need for more public investment in
expanding the supply of higher education.
These set of factors indicate that the transition into higher education is influenced by students’
individual factors, including lack of time and financial resources, satisfaction with the level of
education achieved, and lack of preparation for college or university entrance. This lack of
preparation can also be related to the school context (lack of quality of K12 education). Other
contextual factors include the lack of availability of higher education courses and institutions.
These factors that demotivate the continuation of studies present the need to think of new
strategies to support students’ transition and provide effective opportunities to further
4. Conclusion
The study on student trajectories from vocational training to higher education aimed to
identify a variety of individual and contextual factors that influence the continuity of studies.
The main motivations for transitioning or not into higher education were considered from the
perceptions of different students who completed secondary education and chose to progress or
not into a post-secondary institution.
Regarding the motivations for entry into higher education, the main factors included interest
and personal realization, career prospects and salary expectations, and characteristics of
university (perceived high quality education, convenient location and gratuity of course).
These results show not only the quest for personal and professional development as well as a
raise in wages, but also the demand for quality and free higher education and in places
accessible to students.
Among the group of non-entrants, the most influential reasons for not continuing studies
included a lack of time and money, the perception that the level of education achieved was
sufficient, lack of preparation and difficulty of the university entry exam, and the difficulty of
access to institutions and higher education courses.
These results suggest the need for policies to expand opportunities of access to higher
education for individuals with low income and alternatives for those who live in places with
limited access to higher education. They also have potential benefits for students,
educational/vocational counsellors, public and private vocational schools, as well as
policymakers and evaluators of educational policies.
5. Acknowledgement
We thank the Education Observatory Program (CAPES/INEP), the Brazilian government,
who funded this study, and the Federal Vocational Education Network of Minas Gerais for
providing student data and supporting the research work.
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Dialogues on work process and activity: collective construction of
knowledge in a clothing production cooperative
Maria Clara Bueno Fischer1, Carla Melissa Barbosa2
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Departament of Education, [email protected]
Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Departament of Education,
[email protected]
Abstract. This paper describes a methodological procedure undertaken in a research named "Pedagogies of
associated work: uses of the self and circulation of values and knowledge of adult workers". The research
aimed at clarifying the uses of the self and the circulation of values and knowledge of adults in associated
work. It lies at the interface between the fields of study: Adult Education and Work-Education, based on
theories about the work activity, the Ergology, and studies on the integration between research and formation.
The empirical object of investigation was a cooperative of clothing in the city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do
Sul /Brazil – called UNIVENS , which is integrated to Solidary Economy. The cooperative has three work
sections: cutting, sewing, and screen printing.
It describes and analyzes the methodological procedure called "workshop", which was held with members of
the UNIVENS Cooperative as a unique experience of dialogue on the work with the workers, inspired by the
Ergology Three-Pole Dynamic Device (DD3P). The workshop was built to foster the visualization,
organization, analysis, and understanding of the process and work by the people of the three sectors of the
cooperative. Consequently, the identification and analysis of the uses of the self, knowledge, and values
present in the daily work activity. Interchanging of words, perceptions and looks among the participants,
mediated by photographs and their subtitles, have contributed to the emergence and mutual problematization
of knowledge and values about each stage of the work and its dynamics.
Keywords: participatory methodology; work knowledge; solidary economy; co-operative; ergology.
This paper describes a methodological procedure undertaken in a study named "Pedagogies of
associated work27: uses of the self and circulation of values and knowledge of adult workers".
This research aimed at clarifying the uses of the self and the circulation of values and
knowledge of adults in associated work. It lies at the interface between two fields of study:
Adult Education and Work-Education, based on theories about the work activity, among
which Ergology stands out, and studies on the integration between research and personal
development. The empirical investigation was a case-study in a cooperative of clothing in the
city of Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil – called UNIVENS28 , which is integrated
with Solidary Economy. It is part of a Solidary Ecological Cotton Chain named "Justa
Trama"29 which is a network of cooperatives that extends throughout Brazil. The cooperative
has three work sections: cutting, sewing, and screen printing, and currently 25 women and
The term "associated work" is a form of organizing work that is characterized "by the collective ownership of
the means of production, by the equitable distribution of the fruits of labor, and by the democratic
management of the decisions regarding the use of the surplus and the direction of production. (Fischer &
Tiriba, 2009).
UNIVENS - Unidas Venceremos -; that means “United we will win”.
JUSTA TRAMA – Fair Network.
one man are members of it. This article describes and analyzes the methodological procedure
called "workshop", which was held with members of the UNIVENS Cooperative. It was a
unique experience of dialogue on the work with the workers, inspired by the Ergology ThreePole Dynamic Device (DD3P). The workshop was designed to foster the visualization,
organization, analysis, and understanding of the process and work by the people of the
cooperative’s three sectors. Consequently, the identification and analysis of the uses of the
self, knowledge, and values present in the daily work activities were intrinsic to this
procedure of research. Interchanging of words, perceptions and perspectives among the
participants, mediated by photographs and their subtitles, have contributed to the emergence
and mutual problematization of knowledge and values about each stage of the work and its
Dialogues on work process and activity: collective construction of
knowledge in a clothing production cooperative
A local group convenes with a strong belief about the legitimacy of each one when
he/she is positioned as a producer of knowledge. Thanks to an appropriate procedure,
method and dynamic, any person committed to the life, to the life that forces us to
choose, can forge concepts that will reveal hidden knowledge in the activity and will
allow this knowledge to be confronted with those already formalized. (Durrive, 2010,
To better understand the sectors’ work activities of Cooperativa Univens, from the individuals
to the whole company, workshops were held with the workers. The workshops were held with
workers aiming at learning about their work activities and the work process. One of the
objectives was to help the workers to better know their own activities, trying to show how
complex it is. The workshops were inspired by the Encounters on Work.
According to Durrive (2010) the objective to promote the Encounters on Work is to multiply
the debates and questioning about the work activities. The purpose is to create moments that
allow the worker to stop and look at the work and confront their doing. At the same time, the
researchers can to look for workers on their own work and thus promote further dialogue
about the activity.
We sought to investigate the potential of the workshops, designed as Three Poles Dynamic
Device (DD3P), to help the workers recognize, reflect and transform their work through their
detachment and confrontation to their work activities. Thus, we helped them identify the
knowledge and values produced in the realization of their work activities. As a fundamental
resource to undertake the workshops, flowcharts of the work process were produced as a key
element to help the workers to create distance, recognition, visibility and confrontation to
their work activity. Flowcharts were constructed based on previous researchers’ participant
observation30 and photographic recording of everyday workers’ activity at the cooperative and
also using photographic recording taken by the workers themselves. In the workshops,
workers interpreted the flowchart and changed it as a result of dialogues provoked by
questions posed by the research team. Therefore the workshops allowed workers detachment
The term "associated work" is a form of organizing work that is characterized "by the collective ownership of
the means of production, by the equitable distribution of the fruits of labor, and by the democratic management
of the decisions regarding the use of the surplus and the direction of production. (Fischer & Tiriba, 2009).
from everyday work activities, promoting important debates on the individual and collective
choices based on workers knowledge and values.
The Work Activity and the Uses of the Self
The keyword is activity, synthetic operator in action, especially at work, whose multiple
facets will be discovered along the way (Durrive, 2010, p.309).
A myriad of situations, experiences, big and small decisions, feelings, emotions, conflicts
permeate the work process and activity. At work, while the workers are performing routine
tasks, they are not just repeating or running them. They are thinking, reacting to the
unexpected, and assigning new meanings to the experience. Thus, their activities are not only
a playback of the prescription or of what others have already thought, but also results of
dialogues with themselves, with their own anticipations. Somehow, the workers reinvent the
way they are doing things all the time.
The individual reacts to the unexpected, i.e., to situations that were not anticipated, intended
as routines of their work activity. Thus he or she makes many small choices at work, making
changes and therefore producing knowledge based on values that influences the choices. “The
work acts do not find the worker as a soft mass on which the memory of the acts to be
reproduced would fall passively” (Schwartz, 2000, p. 41).
Upon carrying out their work and responding to situations that were not foreseen, the
employee makes use of himself: it is the individual in its being that is called upon, and the
resources and capabilities are broader than those that are explicit (individual virtues). There is
a specific demand (free disposal of personal capital), and there is a manifestation of a subject
who reacts according to historical conditions and those of his own. This is because the
individual, when involved in work activities, does not remove his knowledge, values, history
or his human characteristics from himself. Men and women at work continuously oscillate
between the "self" (si) and the "I" (Eu) (Schwartz, 2000, p. 45). This is the center of expertise
and choice that determines itself on the basis of ideas and symbols transmitted by the
historical heritage and by contradictory projects that the future is bearer (self - si). The microchoices reveal from which point this "self" (si) is used and how the individual develops
himself face-to-face with relationships, antagonisms, and potentialities of life that the social
relations engender in history. It means, therefore, to think that there is not a mere execution at
work, but contradictory uses of “self” (si) by oneself and uses of “self” (si) by others.
"Fundamentally, every act of work is developed in this hybrid manner" (Ibid, p.42).
Nevertheless, when someone talks with the workers about their activities at work much of this
is hidden31. So such rich use of oneself remains unrecognized by the workers.
[...] Following the same scheme that hides the singularity of the operator in the
transition from the instruction to the result, we tend to form too quickly an idea of the
work: either it is mistaken with the job or the task, or it is seen as the product of an
isolated individual. (Durrive, 2010, p.313)
Data collection was conducted through interviews along with the observation of actions and dialogues in the
workplace, and the use of photography, all of which was done by the researchers and those who were studied,
conversations overheard at the machines, etc.
According to this author it is necessary that the worker engages him/herself in a dialogue with
others in order to recognize everything that is invisible in his or her work, since one person
alone cannot realize the complexity involved in the work process and activity. It is necessary
that someone poses questions, facilitating the dialogue in order to help the worker to quit
his/her routine, enabling awareness about the person´s activity at work.
The person alone - especially when he/she faces social and personal difficulties - cannot
build this point of view. He/she needs a “face to face” that mobilizes him/her to an
enlightening replica. I would say that this kind of interlocutor helps him/her “to give
birth to his/her own knowledge”, to paraphrase Socrates ... […] It seems tough to enter
into what is not codified, to put into words what is lived. (Durrive, 2010, p.296)
The worker hardly talks about the work in all its complexity. Through dialogue stimulated by
questions posed by the researchers, the cooperative workers were challenged to talk about the
work. When workers were asked, for instance, about their relationship with to their machine,
it is possible to see their affection for the tool. They showed feelings and values that made
both researchers and workers comprehend a little bit more about the complexity of their work
Researcher: Do you talk to the machine?
Therese: Yes we do talk to it!
Lisa: When it [the machine] is nice to me I compliment it!
Therese: I scold it! haha .The machine is my mate!
I think for those who like to sew the machine is a companion! A person who enjoys his work,
even if he or she is stressed. Sometimes, the machine and all these accessories and the work
are companions.
Researcher: In the work of the cooperative, the dressmakers have it different from other
sectors. Each one has a special relationship with their machine. It's different
Paty: Yes, because it [the machine] is ours. You know, the machines are ours. Although some
machines are those of the cooperative, everyone has one. We have invested in our own
Rose: Do you know that if we worked at a factory [not in a cooperative] the machines would
not be ours?
Researcher: Yes, that's what I was just about to ask.
Rose: I've worked in a factory, but at that time I used to say that the machine I worked at was
mine because I was working with it all the time…
Researcher: Did you talk with that machine?
Rose: Yes! I understood that it was “mine”.
In the interactions and in the interviews, the researchers seek to understand the differences
between the way the workers relate to their tools and work activities.
We also have as an example the case of Rose reflecting about the profound relationship the
workers have with their machines in general. The relationship that a worker establishes with
his tools is present in the workday activities, but it is usually not treated this way. And it is in
these collective moments of discussion that the complexity and the intricacies of the work
process can become explicit.
Creating collective moments to talk and learn from the worker´s own
The purpose of the Encounters on Work network is to multiply the places of debate
about the activity, because they are unimaginable reservoirs of energy for individual and
collective education and development. (Durrive, 2010, p.309)
The idea of the Workshop (within the research context) was developed and inspired by the
propositions posed by Durrive (2010) 32. The purpose was to create moments of discussion,
recognition, exchanges, confrontation, and self-confrontation of knowledge among the
participants, contributing to their awareness of the process and the actual work activities in
which they were engaged, thereby expanding their knowledge and the knowledge of the
research team about their work. The point of view adopted by the researchers was that “…
work is a place of debate, a space of possibilities always to negotiate where there is not
execution, but rather use, and the individual as a whole is called up in the activity (Schwartz,
2000, p.34). According to Durrive:
The step by step of the meetings is not linear: it circulates among some major issues that
each one can ask him/herself about on his/her field of action¹. It is a progression in three
stages: promoting awareness of their own activity; problematizing the activity; calling
up formal knowledge and establish the confrontation [with the experiential knowledge].
(2010, p.312)
Making the work activities visible is complex, since the work is often seen only in its
descriptive form, i.e., in the way it is planned and anticipated, projected, and not in the way it
happens in practice. Regarding this aspect, the author says:
[...] when replying to the question "tell me about your work", the answer, first, refers to
the list of tasks, i.e., to the ever anonymous encoding (of the craft, of the job), in the
sense that it goes for anyone. Rather, what resists to the communication is this famous
“inner activity” that is very personal, of course. It takes some time and it demands to
have a minimum of technique to make the point of view of the activity to emerge.
In this sense the workshop was the way found by the research team to hold a conversation
about the work activity and the uses of him/herself in the work. In other words, "tell me about
your work" means to go beyond the simple list of tasks that are expected to be met by
someone. Therefore, we had the guiding idea:
Durrive (2011) explains the goals and logic of meetings about the work being done by ergoeducators. The
idea is to create places for discussion about the work activity from the perspective of the Ergology. In a concise
explanation it is possible to say that these meetings, that dynamically incorporate research and training, are
constructed in three stages: Confronting the activity; working on the construction of an argued viewpoint, and
comparing the established knowledge.
[...] to help that person to put into words what he/she lives in a situation of production,
because the point of view of each one on his/her own work is never completely ready to
be expressed. (Durrive, 2010, p.296)
The dialogue during the workshops mediated by images and the questions from the
researchers enabled the identification of aspects and stressful situations experienced by the
workers. The workers of the sewing sector, when questioned by investigators about the use of
the sewing machine by the individual and by the collective, commented on the differences in
the care of machines:
Therese: “It's horrible, because sometimes you will pick up the machine and, for example, a
colleague broke the thread and did not put it back, or the needle is crooked. Or. Where are
the tweezers? Where are the keys? Hence it is bad, you have to keep asking your colleagues to
make purchases… right?”
Therese shows the researchers how difficult it is to combine collective and individual
perspectives at work.
Rose: “Or when one of us arrive at work and the thread gets busted or dirty!”
Rose reinforces the idea of how complex it is to combine the collective and individual
dimensions at work.
Researcher: “But you are talking about yourselves, right?”
The researcher asks more, trying to stimulate them to talk and think more about the issue.
Rose: “Yes, about ourselves!”
Isaurina: “This happens when you are working collectively!”
Someone says: “On that machine, for instance, everyone works. Then when you see, there is
no oil in the machine!
Someone says: “Then you take a machine and something happens… you think 'oh, I will not
fix it! I’ve got it already broken! I’ve got it busted, I'll leave it busted” Researcher: “Does it
take a lot to have to make this adjustment?”
Paty: “Sometimes yes, sometimes no”.
Helena: “It depends on the machine.”
Researcher: “Does everyone know how to do it?” (Researcher asks another).
Marilia: “Most of us know.”
The dialogue above is an illustration of the challenge that must be addressed: Recognition of
the work activity and a production of workers argued their viewpoints about the activities. At
the same time, it is a challenge for any group of workers to listen to and have dialogue with
others who work together, as values and ways of thinking and acting at work vary.
The Workshop as a Three-Pole Dynamic Device (DD3P)?
The human activities of work imply re-situating the relationship between the pre-existing
knowledge about the work and the knowledge that is originated in the human experience of
work. This generates in Schwartz (Schwartz, 2001, p. 10) words an “intellectual discomfort”
in relation to both: pre-existing definitions and concepts about the work, as well as the
creations in act that are waiting to be conceptualized. At the edge of this tension knowledge
can be produced which is closer to how the work is really carried out. This is the matrix of
changes and therefore of variability and unforeseeable things. Facing the demand for
verbalization by the worker of the happenings in activities and at the same time the
problematization of the aforementioned, through concepts and norms about human labor,
workers and researchers are called upon to engage in a dialogue. In order to make the
dialogue deeper, a Three-pole Dynamic Device (Schwartz) takes place. (Cunha, Fischer,
Franzoi, 2011).
This device was developed by Yves Schwartz and his colleagues from the Department of
Ergology/Provence University. Sant’Anna and Hennington (2010, p.6) summarize the DD3P:
In this scheme, pole A represents the pole of knowledge and constituted values in
scientific universes, that is, those that were built and are available to anticipate the
activity. Pole B, represented by the knowledge processed and re-processed in the
activity, consists of the pole where the learner and the people who work with him are: it
is the meeting of several protagonists around what happens at work, not only to look at
the work itself and the application of the constituted knowledge available in pole A, as
for looking at work as a unique moment, where the protagonists should be inventive to
find solutions to the work.
Finally, pole C, which constitutes the pole of questioning, is described as Socratic. It
has a double direction, where the meeting of different protagonists around what happens
at work supposes a certain kind of demand that is, at the same time, a demand of
learning, of mastering concepts and verbalization of work and, also, a demand of
entrepreneurship learning (Schwartz, Durrive, 2007), described as a form of humbleness
regarding the work activity that represents a source of information about the form with
which one can put into practice the wisdoms constituted in pole B. The use of this
scheme shows that, when meeting at work, one will never leave unhurt, since the threepole dynamics engage all its protagonists. (p.6)
The Workshop was inspired by this concept and the steps proposed by Durrive (2010) in his
article called “Pistas para o ergoformador animar os encontros sobre o trabalho” (Clues for
the ergoeducator to facilitate encounters on work), where he explains how to conduct
research-educating Encounters on Work.
In the Encounters on Work, each group gathers people interested in this coming and
going between knowledge and experience. None of the participants adopt the posture
that he/she is ignorant and comes to learn from a wise person. Each one, when
confronted with the notion of activity, recognizes him/herself and the others as
producers of knowledge - precisely because they are producers of history, novelty,
thanks to the inventiveness required to manage the distance to the prescriptions in any
circumstance of the activity. (Durrive, 2010, p.310)
Nevertheless, other theoretical references and experiences were somehow used in the design
of the Workshop and the flowchart: the Marxian concept of the work process; the experiential
knowledge of the research time on the craft of sewing, the work process in industry, uses of
photography (especially photo-ethnography) in research, and familiarity with the Latin
American Popular Education approach, specially the methodology of systematization. In this
paper we highlight the approach of Ergology. But it is not difficult to see the heritage of other
theoretical repertoire33.
It was crucial to build epistemological-ethical-political conditions for the desired dialogue.
The relentless pursuit of effective and affective conditions for real communication with the
cooperative members led us to design the Workshop after various incursions into the
everyday life of the cooperative.
Prior to the Workshops we made participant observation, which included photographic
records and descriptions of work situations in the form of field diaries; the application of a
questionnaire, and also the production of photographs of work situations by the workers
themselves generated a large amount of information and perspectives about the cooperative.
All this material allowed the researchers to get a representation of each step of the work
process of the three sectors: cutting, sewing, and screen printing. Subsequently, this material
was used to create the flowcharts in an attempt to express the work "in progress". This was
the first synthesis of knowledge constructed by the research team on the work process 34. The
aim of understanding the relationship between the work process and a worker’s activity was
always in focus.
Such knowledge and skills observed in the labor field produced a representation - somehow
external, somehow internal – of the process and functioning of the three sectors of the
cooperative: the flowcharts. Flowcharts functioned particularly as knowledge maps by
supporting the encounters on the job. The workshop and the flowchart were born together to
produce knowledge in a process of dialogue. Anyway, we must emphasize that the flowchart
produced an important mediation between researchers and those who were researched for
mutual recognition of knowledge, as well as reflections on the process and work activities of
all involved. It allowed workers an overview of the sector for each of its members and,
conversely, a collective vision of each step embodied by single individuals interconnected by
the working process, but always marked by singularities. We can say that it was a kind of a
map of each sector constructed by several hands, creating more favourable conditions for the
dialogue in the workshop. The flowchart had visual marks of the subjects involved in the
work under analysis. The exercise of the visual flowchart representation facilitated the
dialectical process of workers detachment and built up a wider understanding of their work.
This can be seen in the first moments of the workshop when, after an initial observation of
flowcharts, and an attempt to understand whether or not they correctly represented the
working process, the workers began to discuss the steps of the work process and make
Durrive (2010, p.310) himself mentions a famous Freirean expression: “men [and women] educate themselves
together intermediated by the world” in his article “Pistas para o ergoformador animar os encontros sobre o
trabalho” [Clues for the ergoeducator to facilitate encounters on work]. More references to Freire can be found in
recent works by Yves Schwartz, especially regarding epistemology.
The flowcharts of the working process in various sectors were developed by the research team by using
photographs, along with the support of information in a field diary, and audio recordings made during the
observation process. Uncountable pictures of everyday work were taken by the researchers while they were
participating in observation, which were studied later on. There were many discussions among the research
group on the compilation of flowcharts. For example, should we present our synthesis or should we point things
out with l arrows and photographs to let them work? Should we take photographs that represent the group? Does
everyone feel included? Will they look at all the pictures again and will they recognize themselves in the
photographs? How will respondents relate to the photographs at the time of the workshop? We opted to make a
synthesis beforehand. That way the workers would also be confronted with our summary, under our observation.
At the time of the workshop, the synthesis was made by the researchers is returned to the workers, who redo it
based on their work activity.
changes in the pictures and labels of the flowcharts. Bellow an illustration of the workers talks
that followed their process of modifying the flowcharts.
Helena: “I will start changing this step. I start putting thread through the machine needle.”
Researcher: “Does everyone agree”?
Some of the other workers confirm it: “Yes!”
“Okay, how is the order ... There (pointing out a step of the work process)” ...
Sometimes it starts with a serger. “This here is the kind of work we do, isn’t it? Is that right?
... shirts, uniforms… That is just the kind of work we do ... the way we do the work is here,
understand? (points out to the other flowchart).”
Rosa: “This here, is the kind of work we do, right ... shirts, uniforms ... that's right! This is
just the kind of work ... the way work is here, right?”
Researcher: “Does the use of a different machine depend on what kind of thing you sew? Is
that right?”
Lisa: “There are several ways of sewing. There are many different steps and uses of
Therefore, the workshops became the highlight of a long process of data collection,
systematization, and partial analyses of work process and workers’ understanding of it in
which the flowchart was a key element.
We used much time to reflect on the design of the workshops. Several questions were asked:
“What is the best way ahead after making the decision on the flowchart as the basic material
of the workshops? Do we provide photos and captions blank and let the group visually
reconstruct the work process or, conversely, facilitate a representation made by the workers
exclusively? What impact would each of these forms have on the members of the
cooperative? How to deal with the photos taken in the workshop by the staff and those taken
by the workers themselves? Do the flowchart and the questions that trigger reflections
provoke descriptions and analysis of dimensions of the work done in the workplace? How to
combine the Marxian concept of the work process and the perspective of the activity of
ergology? How to deal with the idea of norms and prescriptions versus real work in a
cooperative standard which rules are less formalized and tacit rather than formal? And how to
deal with the heritage of the knowledge of the craft vis-à-vis the knowledge produced in an
actual work situation? How to conduct this exercise so that there is a real researching and
learning process for both respondents and researchers? How to maintain an attitude of
humility and at the same time intellectual rigor?” We had so many questions.
We were concerned with creating procedures that could facilitate communication between
researchers and those being researched. For instance, communication should not be reduced to
verbal or visual language. As outlined below we created conditions for moving the
“materials” that represented the working process through a non-fixed flowchart scheme. This
was an attempt to allow them to use their hands to manipulate the material. There was a
hypothesis that in this way the workers’ mind and body would be treated perhaps in a less
fragmented way, facilitating their openness to get into dialogue.
The Workshops: "step by step"
Three workshops were held with the workers from each sector of the Cooperative: cutting,
screen printing, and sewing. For its accomplishment a "step by step" draft was written with
the aim of guiding the team. This process demanded a long and careful preparation. The “step
by step” guidelines, of course, could be modified in each workshop, comprising: a) a
presentation of the functioning of the workshop; b) an explanation of the flowchart mounted
on brown paper and the reason the photos and arrows were not fixed on the paper, explaining
the existence of blank cards and photos to be used as the group wished; c) a proposition of
some questions for the participants: “does the diagram (flowchart) represent the way each
sector works and functions? What does not match?” By showing the spare arrows, photos,
and cards they were asked to change anything that they thought was not matching their
perception and experience. This moment happens along with a dialogue focused on the
reasons for the changes they made, the place of each one in the sector today, etc. The dialogue
followed the perspective to understand the organization and functioning of the sector through
the history of the cooperative. “Was it always like that? If not, what were the other settings?”
If that was the case, they were asked to represent previous settings. “Why did the changes
occur? What is the place of each sector in other times of the cooperative? Why?” After talking
about the past they were supposed to talk about the future. What were their ideas or desires of
changing the work process? Any personal desires? Why? How would they represent those
possible changes? How would each one be? Finally we explored the theme of knowledge and
values produced in different sectors: What kind of knowledge and values used by them
nowadays were learnt on the factory floor? What knowledge do they demand to improve their
work? Why? Were there values that should to be developed? Why? At the end of each
workshop an evaluation was conducted with the participants and general comments were
Therefore, in each Workshop, after the “new” flowchart was finished, the participants were
invited to talk about the work, and the conversation was recorded through photographs, audio,
and video35. The researchers explained the synthesis and the proposed work, making other
photographs and blank strips available to include other new images and written captions if
needed. The participants assessed the flowchart, analyzed it, taking into account their own
experience in daily work activities, and made changes in it. During the movement of members
of the cooperative, dealing with photos and arrows brought up an ongoing conversation about
how the team saw and represented the work and how they saw it.
After this rich and eventful process, a new flowchart emerged with a closer look of who the
subjects of the work activity were; we stayed all around the flowchart on the brown paper and
continued the conversation, conducted more or less by the script prepared by the researchers.
There was a rich discussion about knowledge and values, differences between the way each
one works, comprehensions about standards, and how to build a vision by working in a
cooperative. The overall aim was to seek ways to provoke talks about work activity.
In the workshops, workers interpreted the flowchart and changed it by exchanging ideas, such
as looking and moving things on flowchart, or walking around the place where the flowchart
was. All the time they were provoked by questions posed by the research team. There was
much discussion of values, and they questioned and talked a lot, including about standards
and renormalizations. There were some points of tension, which was not an obstacle for the
majority of them interacting and engaging in dialogue. They were open to discussion and
possible criticisms and suggestions. Relationship problems appeared in tensions regarding
aspects such as financial gains, errors in production, distribution of work according to
preferences, pressure and productivity. There were also tensions related to the quality of the
The compilation of flowcharts served as a trigger of on-the-job encounters. The use of photos associated with
the field work of researchers in the process of compiling the flowchart was made as a representation like a
parts produced related to standards and the uniqueness of the workers, which were present in
the end products.
The flowchart below shows the version with the modifications made by the workers of the
Figure 1 Flowchart of the cutting sector - UNIVENS
Flowchart: top - down, right - left:
1) arrival at the work place; 2) receiving the order; 3) writing down the order and specifications; 4) choosing the
fabric; 5) bringing the fabric; 6) opening the fabric; 7) workers from the cutting sector in activity; 8) checking
the order demands; 9) order without ribbing; 10) order with ribbing; 11) choosing the patterns; 12) unfolding the
fabric (spread length); 13) fixing the fabric with clips; 14) setting the patterns and designing; 15) machine or
scissor-cutting; 16) preparing the batches; 17) assigning the work of the day; 18) writing down in the booklet;
19) sending the order to the sewing sector; 20) checking ribbing demands; 21) cutting the pieces and the ribbing;
22) sending order to the silk screen sector; 23) packing the pieces of clothing; 24) deliver to the customer.
The Workshop somehow allowed a detachment from everyday life, promoting important
discussions among the workers about their choices at work, based on values and experience
and professional knowledge. The issue, for example, of schedules and renormalization
appears in the words of this worker:
Last year we started to write down a timecard, I had to take a whole day off we've been taking
some time off too. Then I wrote down that day, the end of the month came, I received, shared,
and paid back that day I had purchased from colleagues, [but] then we did not pay anymore
because we thought it was absurd. Nobody leaves unless it is necessary. These days a
gentleman friend of mine died, I was at the funeral. So, it's not for us to play, we are adults,
responsible, it is not because I miss an afternoon that it will hurt the others. When I'm here
I'm always trying to work as much as I can; of course I stop a little bit, but we are very
responsible. (Worker’s talk)
The discussions led to recognition, mobilization, and production of values and knowledge.
They talked a lot, some criticized themselves, and some were open to criticism. Some
examples are: problems regarding a sector that earns more and does not pay for the mistakes
and criticism against the distribution of parts for sewing among the women, among other
issues. They also debated about issues related to the way they were building up their way of
acting collectively and the quality of the products they are selling in the market.
For those who are buying, no matter who sewed, no matter that little letter there, what is in
important is that clothes are part of [the cooperative network [Justa Trama, of which
UNIVENS is part] or are produced by the cooperative. It is our name that stands there and
not the one of each seamstress. (Worker´s talk)
All these workers’ words made us, as researchers, think about what else they have been
learning and teaching each other and which are the choices that are faced every day. Which
values beyond what they manifested made them go in one direction or another?
We considered that the collective discussion about issues such as skilled labor and
renormalization versus norms, the quality of the products, work relations, and division of
labor was a moment to increase awareness about the work. This, perhaps, can trigger
transformation in the workplace led by the workers themselves, as the dialogue establishes an
exchange of knowledge and values in order to allow the worker to look at his/her work from
other viewpoints, thus expanding the possibilities.
To be aware of the permanent process of reworking the norm, of which we are authors,
of our own adventure every time we enter in activity to accomplish a task, can have
decisive consequences. Indeed, to the extent that I can say something about the
persistent gap between what someone asks me to do (through the requirement or norms)
and what it requires of me (what leads me to rework this norm), I'm much better
positioned to negotiate my place in a collective work, to learn from experience,
effectively anticipating the problems to be solved, to transmit what the confrontation
with reality teaches me (Durrive, 2010, p.309).
The workers’ participation in the production of pictures about the work itself became as
objective as possible, thus allowing greater ownership of it. For the researchers, it was
possible to know the work process beyond what the research required, which was enabled by
ethnographic inspiration. The collective discussion about the flowchart that was compiled by
the researchers was given new meaning and was compiled again by the workers, making it
possible for them to become detached from their own work. Upon talking about the work it
was possible for the researchers to better know about the work and for the workers to take
over more of their work, thus going beyond the routine, mechanical activities of it. The basic
idea is that the process of representing the everyday enables workers to get closer to it and at
the same time be detached from it, thus becoming educational as they recover from the
historical point of view, raise a number of questions, try to explain, make an analysis,
evaluate whether their work could be different, and come to some conclusions. The results of
the process for the workers, the visualization, and reflection on the work itself will be the
results of a process that is ongoing in the continuity of research, and which will afterward
become immersed in the next moment will dive into the uniqueness of the workers in their
professional careers.
Final Remarks
The workshop in the way it was framed in the context of the research "Pedagogies of
associated work: uses of the self and circulation of values and knowledge of adult workers”
was an exercise based upon an important issue addressed by Ergology, which informs us that
the work needs to be known in dialogue with the workers and their experience, and not just
from, sometimes, abstract theoretical categories imposed by the researchers. Inspired by this
idea, the workshops made it possible to know the process of creation and mobilization of
knowledge and values in the work activities that perhaps, we could never get.
The dialogue produced, mediated by the flowchart, allowed the workers to detach themselves
from their work, creating conditions to speak about their choices, knowledge of the work
process, rules (explicit or not) and re-normalization that occurred in the course of the activity,
an inexhaustible source of production of knowledge. It broadened the scope of the workers’
participation in the research as well. In the Workshop the participants confronted the adhered
and non-adhered knowledge to the experience, mediated by a unique feature, the flowchart, a
key element to support the oriented dialogue.
When the workers explained and discussed on what a “top quality” process and product
within the context of solidary economy would be, it made both the researchers and the
workers question this concept for future problematization that will demand access to
established knowledge, norms, etc., as well as the genuine adhered knowledge. It was clear
that values and knowledge were interconnected and expressed both the products and in the
work process and activity: the role of the solidary market and/or capitalist market; or, in micro
level sewing in one way or another; etc. As someone closely approaches the activity, the live
world of production becomes a complex. A new insight on the way micro and macro levels
relates to each other is something enlightening for the workers and for the researchers.
It is important to say that the experienced opening for mutual recognition of knowledge that
occurred in the workshop occurred, in part, by the kind of relationship that was built between
the subjects involved in research. That was guided by the posture of mutual recognition of
incompleteness and, therefore, epistemological humility. Everyone was interested in
broadening the understanding of the industrious activity of the cooperative members to grasp
the concepts to be formalized and to help the improvement or changes in the day to day work.
But it should not be forgotten that this cooperative has been researched and visited by various
groups from universities, research centers, and social movements. Therefore, there is a culture
of opening doors. That certainly was a positive element that favored the dialogue.
The experience of the workshop revealed that although it is clear that it was a rich process that
helped the work experience in its complexity to be visualized and verbalized, it also alerted
one about the necessity of creating new moments for deepening and confronting norms and
knowledge established (on working in cooperative and producing clothes, for instance) to
those generated by the choices made at work.
Finally, one can say that the act of distancing to visualize what is done in the daily life of
working, accompanied by thinking about it, potentially contributes to a process to legitimate
the worker´s invisible knowledge. It may result in a process, often imperceptible, to recreate
the work that may be creating a "reserve of alternatives" (Schwartz, 2000) for new social
ways of working and living, beyond the workplace.
Cunha, D. M., Fischer, M. C. B., & Franzoi, N. (2011). Atividade de trabalho. In: A. D.
Cattani, & L. Holzmann (Orgs.). Dicionário de Trabalho e Tecnologia (p. 47-50).
Porto Alegre: Editora Zouk.
Durrive, L. (2010). O formador ergológico ou “ergoformador”: uma introdução à
ergoformação. In: Y. Schwartz, & L. Durrive (Org.). Trabalho e Ergologia: conversas
sobre a atividade humana. (, p.295-307). Niterói: Ed.UFF.
Durrive, L. (2010). Pistas para o ergoformador animar os encontros sobre o trabalho. In: Y.
Schwartz, & L. Durrive (Org.). Trabalho e Ergologia: conversas sobre a atividade
humana. (, p.309-318). Niterói: Ed.UFF.
Sant'anna, S. R., & Hennington, É. A. (2010). Health promotion and reduction of
vulnerabilities: a strategy for knowledge production and (trans)formation of healthcare
work, based on Ergology. Interface (Botucatu) [online], 5, 0-0. Retrieved May 04,
<http://socialsciences.scielo.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S141432832010000100013&lng=en&nrm=iso>. ISSN 1414-3283.
Schwartz, Y. (2000, July). Trabalho e usos de si. Pro-posições, 1 (5), 34-50.
Schwartz, Y. (2001, May). Trabalho e educação. Presença Pedagógica, 1 (38), 5-17.
The training impact in professional and organizational development: A case
Marília Azevedo
University of Minho, Education Institute, [email protected]
Abstract: Vocational Training was assumed as the engine can boost productivity, efficiency and
enhance the personal and professional development of employees, reflecting the social and
economic development of the country.
This case study is the result of a research – intervention, carried out in municipality for a year. The
main goal was to realize the impact of training on productivity indexes development and
performance of the Organization, through the evaluation and supervision process of learning
transfer to workplace (LTW). As regards the specific objectives we wanted to understand the
complexity of the process inherent in the formative cycle; adapting the training plan to the specific
needs of employees; implement the quantitative and qualitative evaluation in LTW process;
establish and implement training supervision tools.
Methodologically, we opted for the combination of qualitative and quantitative methods which
resulted in an inter-methodlogic triangulation. The construction of a prioritization matrix,
based on Gravity, urgency and Trend vectors has enabled us to define the priorities of our
intervention. Subsequently, we implemented the training diary we administer questionnaires and
Focus Group session. As regards results, noted recognition on the part of graduates of
training while acquisition and recycling of theoretical and practical knowledge process which
they consider to be extent of improvements or the relational point of view, whether from the
perspective of career development; awareness of the factors inhibitors and facilitators
of learning transfer; the importance of needs assessment in the legitimating of the training.
Keywords: transfer
Learning to the
development; Organizational development
training, professional
In the current socio-economic situation marked by dizzying escalation of
unemployment and of the quality of work at the global level easily if you know looking
for versatility, transformed
into a relentless search for a skills
profile more
and competitive the business level. Productivity and effectiveness are like two pillars of a
sustainable and competitive organization. Indeed before the reorganization of the business
subject to tissue changes that fit the new requirements of the market, it is assumed that the
vocational training fits in this demanding context for change with the objectives of
contributing to the improvement of organizational performance (Velada, 2007). We adopt the
training while strategic method of closing loopholes for human resources development and
productivity level requires that it take over as a process of effective utility, change producer
product that promotes the expected impact in organizations. In recent years, the formation
of adults have been receiving a lot of community funds intended for the development
of European countries, which raises the requirement to the usefulness of training practice,
especially as regards the assessment of transfer of Learning to the workplace which
assumes a crucial role in the reflection on the proficiency training for participants and on his
return (positive or negative) being naturally expected that this contributes to the improvement
of services provided by the organization.
Through out this article, we will address the following topics of analysis, framed in four
themes: 1) Contextualization and relevance of theme and theoretical references; 2)
methodology adopted in the development of the study; 3) The main Results; 4) Conclusion,
which is makes a critical analysis of the results, the implication of the same and disclosure of
the impact that the study might have on the organizational development of the economic
1. Context and relevance of the topic presented and their theoretical
The focus on the problems of vocational training began to take on increasing importance since
the early 20th century. On training it is intended that graduates increased success,
change, real and effective improvements, in order to achieve this, it is also necessary
to use techniques which allow to control the quality of the process, their gaps and
factors impeding navigation for that change and the desired success be achieved.
As Rodrigues e Ferrão (2006) "vocational training only makes sense if it is regarded
as a productive investment" (Rodrigues e Ferrão, 2006, p. 2), it is intended that the vocational
training achieve an "organizational performance improvement by means of new technical and
behavioral qualification acquired by this employees, through processes of formative
intervention, determined and framed at the management level of the organization” ( idem,
p.2), moreover, it is intended that to able to respond to organizational needs and is geared for
purposes. The last two decades have been exponential in the expansion of training, as
summing participation in training would translate into real improvements in the performance
of workers and there before would improve the activity of organizations.
The sustained growth of the world economy required a bet effective in increasing
the qualifications of all frames and corporate sector workers, what justifies the hefty funds
injections in training activities ( Silvestre, 2003), which the Portuguese context promotes a
boom in adoption of vocational training by enterprises, there is growing concern of forming
workers increasingly versatile, flexible and able to respond to all the problems, thus
creating a market logic which meant a maximum yield at minimal cost, so
more quality, less manpower, more profit and less expense. Aware of this, vocational
training is one of the foundations promote change, "most of the processes of change in
involves interventions focused in
their workers, considered the keyfactor for organizational success (Pfeffer, 1994 cit. in Velada
, 2007, p. 4).However, as stated by Silvestre (2003), "if the dimensions of the training and
education of a country doesn't develop and monitor (…) technological developments,
economic, scientific and digital, for more capital injections, everything will fall apart. Invest
in training/education is not do it strategically with specific training/education; invest in
training/education is to take into account, permanently changing the the world suffers. Soon,
devise training/education is to take into account the needs of constant adaptation to new
profiles that appear; is to create conditions for growth and development; is to awaken
consciences who frequents this training/ education” ( Silvestre, 2003, p.72). Increasingly, the
aim is to understand which factors promote or inhibit the operationalization of learning’s on
return to the workplace after the formative activity.
Indeed, we stress the importance of the supervisory process of assessment of transfer of
learning to the workplace as the central issue of this study. Not only try to understand the
factors that facilitate or inhibit this transfer, as we try to understand this process through the
qualitative analysis of the evaluation that was nonexistent in the organization under study, as
well as, they weren't implemented training Supervision techniques, once in Portugal the
supervision is mainly related to the training of teachers, not being commonly associated with
the organizational management. Like this based on the issue of the importance of vocational
training and on the issues of the usefulness of training for workers ' efficiency in returning to
the workplace after the formative activity, we highlight how problematic this central study the
added value of the practical implementation of supervision while monitoring phase evaluation
process, crucial for the monitoring and control of the quality of training practices. Throughout
this study, we have highlighted the importance of evaluation as a process of collecting
identification, obtaining and providing descriptive information that allow us to evaluate the
achievement of goals proposed at the beginning of the training process. In the context of
transfer of learning to the workplace, we consider that this reflection would be highly prized
with the information collected through the monitoring process achieved through the
implementation of pedagogical supervision practices in organizational context, the
supervision comes as a follow-up of the training management process contributing to the
consistency of the evaluation of the results of the training. The supervisor may be a figure
who acts in the "background" of training, since the selection of the participants to the
validation of the results from the training, the trainees will be able to have contact with this,
just in time for the evaluation of training results. Contrary to expected, according
to Brinkerhoff and Gill (1994), 80% of the investment in training tends to be a wasted
effort and, if not overturned this trend, we are compromising and put into question
the social and economic role of education. Thus, we assume the importance to look at in the
investigation of the evaluation of learning transfer to the workplace, its impact and return.
Thus, in this study we analyze the impact of the training for the range of more satisfactory
practices and actions in the everyday performance of each employee and by third-level
evaluation of the hierarchical model of Kirkpatrick (1959) – Learning Transfer to Workplace
– which aims to answer two key questions: “the extent to which the knowledge acquired/
developed during the training were effectively applied?" (Instituto para a Qualidade da
I.P, 2006, p. 203) and "to
extent the
application of
knowledge acquired/developed allowed achieve the desired outcomes?" (Instituto para a
Qualidade da Formação, I.P, 2006, p.203).
Even if few empirical investigations reveal about the factors inherent in the process of
transferring learning to date the approach proposed by d. Kirkpatrick in 1959 remains the
more applied for part of the training bodies. In its taxonomy Kirkpatrick sought to give a
logical sequence of assessment interventions, constituting an important contribution towards
the management of the evaluation process, dividing it into four levels, in this intervention we
chose to focus on only the level 3 which consists in assessing the behaviors in the real context
of work, questioning the changes of employees with regard to their behavior and methods of
work, on the basis of the learning they have acquired and developed based on training this
evaluation may be carried out immediately after the training participation, and/or a few
months later, depending on the situation; This seeks to answer questions: learning can be
effectively applied when graduates return to work? What were the most relevant knowledge
and techniques that used? Was a change in behavior and a sustained level of knowledge? The
trainee will be able to transfer their learning to someone else? There is awareness of the level
of importance of learning for change in behavior? (Kirkpatrick in Kirkpatrick's learning and
training evaluation theory, s/d). In training, or the assessment or the supervision of the
training are regarded as a form of control, however, it is intended that the supervision if you
take as a monitoring process that allows you to "improve internal efficiency, modify the plan
of activities or the affectation of resources" (Afonso and Ribeiro, 2009, p. 8) contributing to
decision making assertions with regard to ongoing activities. Although distinct, the
supervision and evaluation are two processes commonly associated with, however cannot be
considered synonyms of each other, the connection between these two processes is especially
close and complementary. The supervisory process develops as an internal process that is
performed by the responsible of the project and used to assess their progress at regular
intervals, identifying irregularities and quickly adopt corrective measures.
Throughout the formative process, supervision is used as an accompaniment with the goal of
ensuring that decisions are made assertions regarding the management of daily processes
and so that they can be given accounts responsibly and rigorously about how the capabilities
and opportunities are being used. Reiterating the importance of the complementarity of
supervision while monitoring method of evaluation “increasingly recognizes that the ex – post
evaluations and impact of certain types of development interventions that focus population are
very difficult to perform if the monitoring system has not collected the necessary base line
data” (Afonso and
Ribeiro, 2009, p. 10). It
is also,
increasingly, the
value of participatory evaluations that combine the skills and the views of all stakeholders to
assess interventions, however, it should be noted also that the interdependence of these two
processes once the evaluation also provides crucial information to the oversight process of
training through theexisting studies are fundamental bases for monitoring activities.
2. Methodology adopted in the development of the study
Over two months, tried to identify the real needs of Department of Training in which we carry
out the
intervention. In
process of survey
and diagnosis
needs conducted Brainstorming sessions, Focus groups, interviews and documentary
analysis of all training-related projects that were underway. Based on the guidelines of the
methodology of Project Planning by objectives (Pena, Rui and Bee, 2005), the initial phase of
the intervention had as objective the construction of problems that can be considered
reductionist tool of reality to establish cause – effect relation, and there must be aware of that
fact and these relation are systemic and complex "actually (sorry, 2005, p. 18).However, we
have opted for this, since it was necessary to arrest of a tool that allows to
synthesize, reduce the complexity of context and thus obtain an instrument allowing
the communicational discussion and the search for consensus (Pena, 2005).
Main Problem
Problems / Terminal
Figure 1. Problems Tree 36
In order to assess the consistency of information previously collected, built, based on the
theory of Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin Tregoe (1960) Decision Making has built up an
array GUT – a decision support tool that priority the intervention, built on the basis
Pena, Rui & Bee, 2005, p.26
of the problems identified in
terminals tree problems. This
tool for
analyzing priorities organizationally and comes into consideration for Gravity, urgency and
the tendency vectors for each problem evidenced. With regard to its operation, was filled in
by each employee of institution’s training department, being established a form of calculating
position of
the speakers: Administrative sector is 1,Technicien sector 2 values, Top leaders 3 values, resu
lting these weights in the formula for calculating G*U *T. Thus, the severity of the
impact analysis assumed that the problem will have on the process and their long-term
effects if the problem is not resolved; as to urgency was considered the time to hatching of
damage or undesirable results if you act/intervene on the problem; in relation to the trend we
analyzed the growth potential of the problem, reduction or disappearance of this, as well as its
development in the absence of intervention. All dimensions were evaluated used Likert type
scale (from 1 to 5). Indeed managing to prioritize actions, outlined general objectives:
Implement supervisory practices that allow the monitoring of the evaluation while crucial
phase formative process and defined specific objectives: 1)stimulate a more integrated and
systemic approach of the
processes linked to the various stages of the cycle of
formation; 2) monitor the development of the grid C&F; 3) to increase the degree
of suitability of the design of courses to the characteristics and specific needs of the
workplace; 4) enhance the understanding of process LTW; 5) design, implement and evaluate
supervisory instruments which make it possible to monitor the evaluation of training. So that
the goals were achieved, we resorted to using some instruments of information gathering and
monitoring of the process: the training diary, populated along the training action for each
form; to the questionnaire to evaluate data with regard to the process of transferring learning
to the workplace, after 3 months of practical training and streamlined to focus group sessions
six months after forming in order to consolidate the data collected through dialogue with the
trainees. Thus, taking into account the different techniques used, it was considered that this
research should focus on the complementarity of qualitative and quantitative research. Like
this we are dealing with an intervention located in socio-critical paradigm as a basis for the
development of a case study based on theory of action-research in education. Indeed, the
option for this eclectic position aimed at "removing the greatest possible information from the
context of the investigation, proceeding to the crossing of different methodologies, regardless
of its epistemological assumptions" (Sousa, 2005, p. 33). As Denzin (1989) we believe clearly
that the intersection of information of both methods, through the triangulation of the data
collected via various sources, even though the same object of study, or through the
triangulation which consists in the option of placing each method in confrontation in order to
maximize its validity with reference to the same object of investigation. During our
intervention, we believe that the combination would be the convergence of research results,
since it would be considered valid if it would lead to the same conclusions. With regard to the
processing of qualitative data, we opted for the "content analysis the data analysis is the
process of systematic organization and search transcripts of interviews, field notes and other
materials that have been accumulated, in order to increase their own understanding of these
same materials and allow him to present to others what he found (Bogdan & Biklen, 1994, p.
205).Within the quantitative questionnaires to transfer learning’s were categorized and
analyzed using the statistical analysis program Statistical Package for the Social Sciences
(SPSS), at the end were integrated the information collected through the different methods
and listed the main results.
3. Presentation of the main results
With the end of the intervention described, it was possible to analyze and compare the
results obtained with the objectives initially proposed with the literature existence on the same
topic: transferring Learning to the workplace.
Thus, it should be noted that the results obtained, it was noted that despite training promoted
by the Organization be considered valid and pertinent on the part of employees, the fact
that some of the issues concerned have sporadic use, there is a great difficulty in being able
to operationalize the learning’s, since these do not reflect most tasks performed on a day-byday is seen as one of the major inhibitors to transfer of learning. There for it was possible
to suggest strategies that this particular embarrassment, in particular through the simulate
actions put into practice the knowledge acquired, in particular as regards civil protection and
natural phenomena as well as, presented a series of content which would make it possible to
build a new training plan in accordance with the objectives and actual practices of
employees having contributed to the construction of an array of competence and functions
that allowed prioritize different sector of the city as your needs, as well as training of its
Understand the complexity of the processes inherent in the formative cycle associated with
the learning transfer
process was accomplished effectively, since
were quite participatory at all times that were requested, particularly in filling of training
and in
achieving "Focus
Group" sessions,
infer conclusions that, through their written reflections and discussions generated allowed to
realize the trainees ' point of view on the procedure for the learning transfer. In
these two supervisory instruments of transfer
to the
workplace we
consider as focus ofthe formative evaluation issues participationwith central focus on relation
ship between formative and participation processes of Learning transfer to the workplace,
so we
focus the
instruments in
register of
shares, transfer obstacles and
possible changes to
make the
return to
workplace. It
that through, only, use of the questionnaire would not be possible to understand, in depth, the
link between the activities carried out and the impact of training for the same, since
the subject is
not open
closed to
responses showed characteristics
this instrument, however, were
clear, when the
same question
is raised openly
and during group discussion. From the theoretical point of view the results of this
showed the theory
about learning transfer, however, this differentiates itself by the fact that use entirely
different instruments. Many
into the
of transfer
of learning (Veiled, 2007,Diogo .2008,Marques, 2007) usedthe already validated Learning Tr
ansfer System Inventory of Holton (1996) which consists of a list that enables you to
make a diagnosis of learning transfer. This investigation had markedly the option to bring
out the importance of qualitative research in the evaluation of training.
Muchinsky (1991 quoted by Diogo, 2008) describes us three different ways of classifying the
transfer: positive results in improved professional performance –the analysis of the results has
shown that, in its generality the transfer of learning has been achieved in a positive
way, once the
trainees stressed
the training
had contributed
to an
improvement of performance, to
the quality
performed and contributed positively to increase trainees ' labour roles adaptation, something
you can infer whether through questionnaires TPT or through the analysis of the "Focus
Group". However, we must stress that the positive transfer of training also depends on the
of knowledge
gained during a relatively
long period
time (Baldin & Ford, 1998 in Diogo,2008). On the downside, considers that the transfer
may result in a deficit in relation to the previous performance, which was not evidenced in
any of the results obtained. Finally, the transfer may be neutral, when has no effect
on employment performance, when the trainees considered that the formation only served to
these remember some concepts and skills added. Throughout this investigation, as also
stressed by the trainees the need for proximity between training and real context, what
translates in need practical component in the training. Laker (1990 in Velada, 2007) stands
next transfer concerning the proximity between what is learned in the context of training and
the situations that exist in the real context of work and far transfer which refers
to a situation in which the contents of the training are different working context. These two
different ways of looking at transfer and training have been taken into account in all
instruments used in this training, and, only on of qualitative nature achieved collect the
opinions of trainees that turn out to be positive, since it can make parallels between the
formation, the contents of this and their daily functions. However, if we were to
follow Holton & Baldwin (2000 in Velada 2007), considered to be facing a transfer next for
short-term results and far transfer imply long-term results.
The contents of the training, demonstrate have extreme importance to the implementation of
the learning process, it should be noted that, in this investigation, the factor "lack of fit
between the content and the function", along with "lack of opportunity to apply
the learnings" appear
as the
hinder the
transfer and thestudy of Baldwin & Ford (1988 in Velada, 2007)demonstrates that even consi
ders that the generalization and maintenance of contents are influenced by three main factors:
1 )characteristics of learns; 2) working environment through support and opportunities for
application; 3) the retention of learning which is directly influenced by the design of the
training that encompasses learning principles, sequence and content of training. In fact, in this
study, we can also observe that "the way training is designed contributes significantly to the
success of a training action, providing the forming, or not, the ability to transfer training
for the workplace" (2007, p. 36).
Holton et.al (2000 in Velada, 2007) in investigations suggest the lack of validity of content as
an important factor in the context of learning transfer "the validity of content is defined
as the degree
which the
trainees consider
that the
content of
the training reflects adequately the requirements of their function and that the methods and
used in
training are
similar to
used in
workplace" (Velada,2007, p. 37). However, and despite several authors assirm the relevance
of the contents in the learning transfer ( e.g. Baldin and Ford, 1988; Garavaglia, 1993), few
are those who are able to demonstrate empirically the relation between these two
variables (Velada, 2007), as it was not possible to assess effectively which correlation
between variables that analyze the contents of training and effective improvements in
the workplace; the statistical level, however, we were able to infer the importance of
content using the instruments of supervision.
4. Conclusion
In summary, are the key elements, indicators of the impact of the study. Thus, we consider
that the objective:
to stimulate a more
integrated and
approach of
processes linked to the various stages of the training cycle was hit as it was possible to
collect data that would allow us to infer and generalize about the different phases of
the training cycle, and to enhance the use of tree problems that allowed us to do a review
of all stages of the cycle of formation and from the field beginning our intervention.
With this work, it was possible to increase the degree of suitability of the design of courses to
the characteristics and specific needs of the workplace, as was noted in the analysis of "Focus
Group" of logs was
can contribute
to the
design of some course
and, since the logbook was an
instrument adopted,
even after the termination in
intervention in
A systematic
analysis of
the Journals allows effectively tailor the courses to roles, expectations and objectives of the
the trainees. Indeed, once achieved the objectives initially proposed, it is concluded that it is
more advantageous to understand the processes LTW by crossing of quantitative and
qualitative data as it was reiterated that the questionnaire, by itself, does not allow to realize in
full the
of transfer
of learning, qualitative research has
allowed to
realize further the process that leads to results that emanate in the questionnaires. Overall, it
was possible to implement supervisory practices that allow the monitoring of the
evaluation while crucial phase formative process that was the primary goal and, indeed, to
promote supervisory practices in vocational
although acknowledging some
ambition in
this statement, this
also serves to
motivate all those who wish to explore a new path in this area.
In conclusion, it is suggested that organizations to analyze the impact of training in the
development of
employees will
be favorable
and evaluation
training enhancer conducting periodic Focus Group, in selected samples in order to continue
to collect data on the perceptions of the trainees in greatly contribute to the success
of training activities;
In the context of transfer of learning to the workplace, it would be ambitious, but could
also bring added value to the institution the deepening of level three evaluation using
the inventory of Holton (1996), the aforementioned LTSI. As would be expected to continuity
of supervision while this practice in monitoring and evaluation of training at a most basic
level achieved by monitoring training diaries, betting finally in the evaluation of return and
financial investment proposed by Phillips (1991) .
AFONSO, M., RIBEIRO, M., (2009), Guia de Avaliação – 2ª edição, Ministério dos
Negócios Estrangeiros, Lisboa
BARDIN, Laurence (1995) Análise de Conteúdo. Lisboa: edições 70
BASTOS, Lilia da Rocha; PAIXÃO, Lyra; MESSICK, Rosemary greves (orgs) (1978),
Avaliação educacional II: perspectivas, procedimentos e alternativas, Vozes,
Petrópolis: pp. 121-150.
BODGAN, Robert & BIKLEN, Sari (1994) Investigação Qualitativa em Educação – uma
introdução à teoria e aos Métodos. Porto. Porto Editora
DIOGO, Paula (2008) Avaliação da Formação e transferência de aprendizagens – Um estudo
de avaliação de um curso do sector bancário, tese de Mestrado, Faculdade de
Psicologia e de Ciências da Educação – Universidade de Lisboa;
FERRÃO, Luís; RODRIGUES, Manuela, (2006), Formação Pedagógica de Formadores,
LIDEL, edições técnicas LDA, Lisboa.
Instituto para a Qualidade da Formação, I.P (2006), Guia para Avaliação da Formação, IQF,
MARQUES, Vanina (2007) Avaliação da Formação através de um estudo de transferência
de aprendizagens – Um caso na Força Aérea Portuguesa, Tese de Mestrado, ISCTE,
PENA, Rui e BEE, Consulting, (org) (2005) Metodologia de Planeamento de Projecto por
Objectivos – Manual do Formando, Porto
SOUSA, Alberto, (2005) Investigação em Educação, Lisboa, Livros Horizonte;
VELADA, Raquel (2007) Avaliação da Eficácia da Formação – Factores que afectam a
transferência da formação para o posto de trabalho, tese de doutoramento, ISCTE,
VENTOSA, Victor J. (2002), Desarrollo y evaluación de proyectos socioculturales, Editorial
CCS, Madrid;
Kirkpatrick in Kirkpstrick’s learning and training evaluation theory, s/d) article acess in
website: http://www.kirkpatrickpartners.com/
Schürkmann, (2007) Ser Supervisor in www.supervisio-eu.org
Virtual learning environment aimed for social emancipatory processes
Maria Alzira Pimenta1, Sônia de Almeida Pimenta2, José Furtado3, Mabel Petrucci4
Faculty of Paulínia, [email protected]
Federal University of Paraíba, Department of Education, [email protected]
Institute for the Sustainable Development of Campinas, [email protected]
State University of Paraíba, [email protected]
Abstract. This article describes the research carried out within the Citizen´s Observatory (CO) of
Campinas (Brazil), based on Robert Merton's Social Structure Theory. Among the objectives of
this research is the understanding of the CO program's potential to build up citizen action by
identifying how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) could be better used to
promote emancipatory processes. The individual, while dealing with Technologies, creates new
meanings to it which show his ability to act, recreating objects and changing his daily life. Its
relevance is based on the need to seek new formats and educational processes that match the so
called Knowledge Society, especially when we consider the huge amount of information promptly
available due to the increasing use of ICT. The CO proposal is to build Digital Learning Objects
(DLO) in two versions and make them available over the Internet and to be used with instructors’
assistance, promoting emancipation and empowerment within the society, deriving from the
creative use and from the experimentation with the power that the technologies provide. Data
collection from CO users will be done by polls available at the same virtual learning environment
under evaluation to define which aspects of the DLO that, in the user´s point of view, better
provide citizenship education and emancipatory processes. Namely: a) if it brings information that
is significant to the citizen; and, b) if the information is easy to understand and use. The results is
empowering citizens to participate in intelligent discussions, to propose and decide on relevant
social themes like: city planning and solid waste policies, for instance.
Keywords: Citizenship Education. Digital Learning Objects. Knowledge. Local Development.
Transparency and social control are still taboos in Brazil even more than 30 years from the
end of authoritarian military dictatorship and 25 years from the enactment of the 1988
constitution. One of the national issues that the 1964 Coup d’état (government overthrow) had
promised to solve, active corruption remains still attached to social body. The average citizen,
at the same time that judges the corrupt officials, is not able to see themselves as corruptors
belonging to the same engine.
While the 1990’s has been known for setting the legal frameworks looking for a Brazilian
“redemocratization”, this decision making process was not followed by institutional
arrangements that could ensure a critical analysis about accomplishing a satisfactory degree of
democracy. For example, even after two decades of the end of the bi-partisanship era,
Brazilian community face a great difficulty in dealing with a current scenario of 32 party
system whose ideological identity – at least when there is one - is hard to figure
Politicians are usually associated with active corruption/bribery and mismanagement of public
funds, plus the misunderstood identity of political parties led to a turning point that triggered
2013 social protests, where one of the most popular saying/motto was “this politician does not
represent me!”. From this, we can say with a low margin of error that Brazilian political class,
whichever is the polical agenda they follow, is highly worn and tear.
In this framework where representative democracy is far away from adressing the average
citizen’s needs satisfactorily, civic engagement and social control, understood as public
authority monitoring strategies accomplished by the civil society are essential to the stability
and improvement of the Brazilian society. In fact, Brazil has witnessed the emergence of
several non-governmental organizations (NGO) focused on citizen empowering to deal with
public authorities and institutions.
Instituto Campinas Sustentável (Institute for the Sustainable Development of Campinas) is
one of these NGOs. “Campinas Que Queremos” (Campinas We Want) is one of their
programmes which resembles to others alike spread amongst few Brazilian cities. The
programme aim is to encourage civil engagement in city planning, critically monitor the
implementation of the budget, monitor indicators of quality of life and, last but not least, work
in several instances improving and creating new ways of citizenship education. This set of
actions is called Observatório Cidadão (or Citizen Observatory) (OC).
This article discusses the use of Digital Learning Objects (DLOs) as a technological
instrument capable of promoting citizenship education (one of OC’s objectives). This
proposal emerged from the need to seek new formats and educational processes which, rather
than adapt to the characteristics of so-called society of knowledge, could contribute to
improve it. Amongst these features we can highlight the huge amount of information
available, mainly due to the increase of the Information and Communication Technologies
It should be emphasized that although information is the knowledge building block,
knowledge is not limited to that; the exposure to information doesn’t necessarily guarantee
the construction of knowledge. Moretto (2010 ), when discussing education planning to
develop skills, alerts us to how pedagogical practices may lead only to the reproduction of the
content instead of preparing citizens for life in its social context. To be more than mere
transmission of knowledge already consolidated, it is necessary that the pedagogical practice
understands knowledge as a representation of the reality not its description. As say Moretto
(2010 , p.38 ):
This representation is constructed (constructivism) as a social interaction process
(sociointeracionist) between the person that is learning and the socialized and
legitimated knowledge socially constructed. In such perspective, the
truths/representations are not a description of an ontological reality, but a representation
of a socially constructed reality.
In this framework, knowledge is the result of internalized information by the individual that is
learning. This information makes sense in his/her cognitive structure, joining other existing
and forming new meanings in this context. Therefore, to construct knowledge in a particular
social group one should assume that, in addition to providing information, it is necessary to
contextualize it in order to make possible that knowledge is internalized and acquire meaning
for learners. After all, we agree with Moretto (2010 , p.42 ) who argues that : " ... knowledge
is an individual construction mediated by the social."
In this study “Learning: The Treasure Within”, Delors (1996) proposes an integrated vision of
education based on the paradigms of lifelong learning and the four pillars of learning to be, to
know, to do, and to live together. Delors (1996) recommends that ICT:
(…) should give rise to a general deliberation on access to knowledge in the world of
tomorrow. And recommends: the diversification and improvement of distance
education through the use of the new technologies and greater use of those technologies
in adult education and especially in the in-service training of teachers;
ICT are a set of tools that facilitates a variety of human actions, including learning, thinking
and, in the specific OC context, to promote citizen active engagement. They can promote
virtual interaction resizing physical distance and time. These characteristics allow different
approaches in training processes in which people demand their own flexibility of rhythm,
interests and availability to learn. In this case, ICT use is recommended since the OC is
accessed by different public profiles.
Morin (2005) considers the democracy decline as being a civic challenge to be faced by
education. To overcome it, he supports the perspective of a citizenship education where
technological resources and a new way of thinking about society and the phenomena are
essential. The human-technology interaction reveals new ways of behaving, enabling the
reinvention of objects and changing the daily routine. We agree with Morin (2005, p. 14) that
educating for contemporaneity demands that we give to our students of all ages the tools to
understand "what is woven together, e.g., the complex".
To understand this phenomenon we based upon the Theory of Structure created in the early
twentieth century by Robert Merton and updated by Giddens (1991) to postulate the concept
of reflexivity, which suggests in these days that time and space do not follow traditional
pathways of logical thinking, widening the boundaries of thinking about present and future.
Giddens (2002) points out that the actions that create the institutional models are also
modified by these forms, promoting society dynamism and formation of new identities. For
Giddens, modern institutions build the mechanisms of self-identity and may influence its
constitution. The construction of self-identity of active social beings not determined
exclusively by purely external influences contributes to social influences turn into global.
From the construction of Digital Learning Objects (ODA) the Citizen Observatory (OC) then
proposes the processes of emancipation and empowerment of civic awareness that come from
the creative use of such technologies (Santos, 2004).
1. Citizenship education and ICTs
Schugurensky (1999), in a Canadian context, refers to a lack of consensus in the definition of
citizenship as well as the legal framework construction, which often implies in a citizenship
education inspired on a banking education model that only fills a supposed "civic deficit" (p.
189). Such framework is also observed in Brazil. Brazilian citizenship education, whose
traditions are based on Active Education and Popular Education, in the words of the same
(…) is an education that fosters the development of pedagogical subjects with better
skills to critically analyze reality and transform it, which means better capacity to think
independently, to promote dialogue, to investigate collectively, to organize, to plan, to
evaluate, etc.. Such education feeds on the rich experience of popular education, but
constantly reinvents itself in order to adapt to new challenges. (p.190)
Shogurenksy (1999, p.191-192) brings out some of these challenges, which are: a) to enable
different learning methods in formal, non-formal and informal educational settings; b) to
consider the State as an arena of negotiation and confrontation among social groups; c) to
promote the redistribution of the ‘political capital’ (understood here as the ability to critically
analyze the social reality and to influence policy decisions), d) remove unhelpful dichotomies
to link local and global in a common project of social justice. This perspective meets those of
Paulo Freire (1974, 1996) who draws attention to the necessity of mutual education, where
one person educates and is educated by another one and globally build a critical autonomy.
Citizenship education may be the most important role and the biggest challenge of those
committed to build a fair and ethical society. Thus, the education concept that assumes a
process of personal humanization, socialization and individualization (Charlot, 2000)
emphasizes the development of self-sufficient and critical thinking. On the other hand, this
kind of thinking requires knowledge (which has been mistakenly believed as ‘information’,
rather abundant on the web). Guaranteed access to information is essential but by itself it is
not enough, there is still a demand to draw attention to the urge and necessity to transform it
into knowledge. It is essential to distinguish knowledge from information and use the latter to
build the former to promote empower citizens able to feel themselves included and actively
participate in the social control of government activities.
Children, youngsters and adults who learn to make such discrimination are able to understand
the function and dynamics of social institutions. This is a condition that makes possible
effectively contribute to reconfigure the relationship between the State and civil society, so
needed in our country, and perhaps in many others.
We can highlight inter-institutional relations amongst emerging and controversial issues that
have mobilized extensive discussions and deep divergences (even though they are not
explicit). City growth and development requires efficient and complex financial management
that present lots of embezzlement opportunities. These weaknesses drive the average citizen
to a greater social participation and subsequent empowerment to take part of the social control
in the various levels of government activities.
According to Castilho and Osorio (Pontual, 2005, p.63), the citizenship education aims to
foster the development of strategies that allow intervention in processes as a whole and public
agendas and favor “training for citizen lobbying; the public interest actions and the generation
of efficient and creative public movements able to work as networks of social players”. From
our point of view, public interest combined with social networks enables the construction of
an ethical and fair-based society.
To think in terms of citizenship inserted in a global society also remind us about identities that
are necessary for the construction of the citizenship itself. Castells (2008, p. 24) notes the
'resistance identity' that is “generated by social players who are undervalued or in
discriminated positions. They are pockets of resistance”, besides the ‘legitimizing identity’
linked to dominant institutions; and the 'project identity', which kicks in “when social players
use any kind of cultural material at their fingertips to build a new identity that redefines their
position in society and, in doing so, end up transforming the entire social structure.”
The typology pointed out by Castells (2008) for understanding the processes of identity
construction make us think that OC is, in fact, an educational virtual space that allows the
development of 'resistance identities' either to hegemonic and to unsustainable projects, as
well as to the 'project identities' which transform their positions in society.
It is also essential to consider the media and its relevance in the culture since, according to
Vorraber (2005, p.109), this is as much a way of life (ideas, behaviors, languages, practices,
institutions and power relations) as well as a range of cultural productions and cultural
artifacts (texts, goods etc.), among which we include, in general the mediaand, specifically,
the virtual environments.
The Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are valuable resources since they integrate
different elements (sound, still and moving images, documents, etc) allowing management
and operation of online courses and offering resources for its preparation and implementation.
According to Okada (2005, p.34), the VLE “corresponds to the set of technical and mainly
human elements and their network in cyberspace (the Internet) with its own identity and a
specific context created with the clearly intention of learning.”
When dealing with distance learning via digital media, Almeida (2003, p. 7) notes that VLE
students “learn by themselves in contact with the objects available in their environment,
carrying out the proposed activities at their own pace and physical setup”. The freedom of
autonomy and interactivity provided by ICTs opens up space for creation of relationships
based on cultural exchange and communication enabling “knowledge production, as it
happens in virtual collaborative communities.” One of these OC’s action strategies focuses on
the web. Designed as a virtual learning environment, OC’s webpage allows children and
young scholars as well as their teachers to understand the reality around them.
1.1. OC (Observatório Cidadão) and Digital Learning Objects (DLOs)
The OC is an informal educational environment that offers a learning platform for a diverse
range of social players. It is nonpartisan, secular and pluralistic and structured around four
pillars: Transparency of Public Management, Participation and Social Control, Citizenship
education and Fair and Sustainable City.
Its mission is to encourage transparency in the actions of the government and the full exercise
of social control, creating conditions for promoting citizenship awareness. Two premises
underlines its actions: a) the average citizen is unaware of the functioning of the three
branches of government (judicial, legislative and executive) which implies a weakness in the
exercise of citizenship rights; b) economy, health and education data available on official sites
on the web are incomprehensible to anyone who is not an expert, which makes its analysis
and use difficult. The educational work of OC aims to create information and knowledge from
these data which will broaden and deepen the discussion on topics relevant to all citizens.
One of the ways found to promote interactive learning in the OC was using digital learning
objects (DLOs) which constitute a resource to online learning, inviting the visitor to
investigate and explore the information available according to his/her interests.
There is a wide range of terms about this issue: digital online resources (Sá Filho and
Machado, 2003), digital learning resources (Jordão, 2010), digital learning objects (DLOs)
(Schwarzelmüller and Ornellas, 2006), virtual learning objects (VLOs) (Antônio Jr. & Barros,
2005; Spinelli, 2007), and others. We adopted the term digital learning objects (DLOs)
supported by Wiley (2000): “digital entities deliverable over the Internet, meaning that any
number of people can access and use them simultaneously”, which cites as examples
“multimedia content, instructional content, learning objectives, instructional software and
software tools, and persons, organizations, or events referenced during technology supported
learning (LTSC, 1999)”.
To better characterize it, Sá Filho and Machado (2003) state that the DLOs must “have at
least one clearly defined educational purpose” and not “being so large that its application is
restricted to a single context or educational purpose.” Spinelli (2007) complements noting that
DLOs both help in concept learning and stimulate “the development of personal skills, e.g.
imagination and creativity.” In our point of view the potential to develop imagination and
creativity justifies what Wiley (1999) observed: “the LEGO metaphor frequently used to
describe learning objects”.
Accessibility, durability, modularity and reusability are characteristics of DLOs - the latter
being the most important characterist (Sá Filho and Machado, 2003; Jordão, 2010), allowing
them to be reused; applied in different contexts and objectives; and combined with various
objects "to create rich and flexible learning environments " (Antônio Jr. & Barros, 2005).
The construction of DLOs and its use in various forms and different educational objectives
links with what Levy (2000) called collective intelligence. For this author, the collective
intelligence foes beyond writing and language while information is distributed and
coordinated all the way through. Thus, instead of being controlled, human knowledge
naturally should integrate human activities and, especially, would be equally socialized.
Difficult to achieve at first, this proposal becomes less utopian when considering the
interactive potential made possible by ICT.
2. The survey via web
To achieve our goals of understanding the potential to build citizenship education through the
OC website and to identify how ICT can be used to promote citizen emancipation and
empowerment, we chose virtual environments for the construction and execution of our
empirical research. To achieve this, we formulated a a poll available at the following URL:
The poll was available by email invitation, fan pages, some other websites and pages related
to the OC. We targeted an audience that is somewhat familiar with social networks and virtual
environments. The universe of respondents was wide and diverse. The final number of
participants who completed the form and composed the sample was 40 respondents.
Below we list three examples chosenbased onour DLOs definition:
1) The documentary “O Valor da Água” (The value of water - program 16) was produced by
TV PCJ and maintained by Agência das Bacias dos Rios Piracicaba, Capivari e Jundiaí
(Watershed Consortium of the Piracicaba, Capivari and Jundiai Rivers) which manages water
resources in a 9 million population region. The14 minute long video explains how the water
intake and supply system work. This DLO uses graphical computing resources, integrating
satellite images, graphics, diagrams, speech and texts (Figure 1) available at the following
URL : http://goo.gl/uIwhzn
2) “Na boca do povo” is an one minute film directed by Kawe de Sá and Bruno Medaber
which ranked 6th in a contest called “Concurso do Minuto” by Controladoria Geral da União
(CGU) in the category “public choice” with the theme “Public Information: the right of all.
No excuses, no secrets”. With a few resources of image and sound, the silent movie can
convey an important message about the problems and issues related to social participation
(Figure 2). Available at: http://goo.gl/3quiWS
3) Some slides produced by the OC staff, Campinas Que Queremos, addressing issues related
to the socioeconomic and political situation, brings out some reviews and questions about the
struggle against corruption, social control and water supply crisis (Figure 3). Available at the
OC website URL: http://goo.gl/PvKagt
Figure 1 – DLO 1
Figure 2 - DLO 2
Figure 3 - DLO 3
The three examples above are the links that users were presented when first accessing the
survey.People who agreed to take the survey had to click on the first link that gave access to
the other three. Then they had to fill out an online questionnaire about Citizenship Education.
Next we present in sequence the questions and their respective results:
1) Which one do you like best (considering appearance, content, duration, etc)?
The results: despite the longer running time, the documentary “O Valor da Água”was the
winner, followed closely by the one-minute film “Na Boca do Povo”.Showing a considerable
low score, the slides produced by Campinas que Queremos team ranked last, as shown in
Figure 4 and Figure 5.
Figure 4 – DLO ranking
1 40
DLO – Slides
DLO – Documentary
DLO – Animation
19 20
21 22
Figure 5 – Attributing scores 1 to 5 to each DLO
Although the documentary and animation ranked very closely, they are particularly distinct in
their running time: while the former was almost fifteen minute-long, the latter one is just a
minute-long. Both use audiovisual language but while the documentary uses direct language,
the animation requires some interpretative skills. The first one informs while the other deals
with life values. The questionnaire had some space for comments where some people
criticized the DLO format, technical issues that affected the image quality and the negative
influence of the pace of modern life that diverts our attention. These comments are available
My choice was impaired by the other two options due to image quality and theme.
(Respondent 20)
I really enjoyed the film about water, but it consumed a lot of my time and showed a
little about the importance of not wasting natural resources. The slides were weak and
lacked adequate control of time, so I have chosen the one-minute film as the best. It’s
short, simple, and has meaning.(Respondent 21)
The simpler the format, the more objective and pleasing to the eye, the more
efficient.We are always in such a hurry that if things do not catch our attention, we do
not heed them. (Respondent 30)
2) What duration is more convenient?
The vast majority suggests less than 5 minutes(with expressive number of votes of less than
10 minutes according to Figure 6). Nowadays, people have access to much more readily
available information than what one is able to absorb. In addition, the continuous and intense
flow of information we experienceby instant messaging has conditioned our way of seeing
and being in the world. In this case, it means people seek short lastingmessages, usually of
five minutes on average. One respondent noted the need to consider the relationship between
the length and the media:
Regarding the duration, the most appropriate response would depend on the method
chosen and the media used. For example, 10 minutes is a long time for TV, especially
for advertisements. For a thematic program, it would be possible to allocate more time.
(Respondent 20)
Less than 3 min.
Less than 5 min.
Less than 10 min.
The time it deservs
Figure 6 – Duration of an ideal DLO
3) Which format is best suited to citizenship education?
Despite its longer length, the documentary was the runner-up by a small margin to the
animation. Both DLOs obtained ahigher preference than the slide format. These results,
althoughdiffer from question 2 result (favored duration was less than 5 minutes), is
understandable due to the significant amount of information the documentary brings - one of
the characteristics identified as relevant in DLOs (as you can see in the following question).
4) What characteristics are relevant to a DLO?
The results reveal that respondents demand information. Moreover, we realize that this
demand is qualified because respondents think DLO must also present inquiry, dynamism and
simplicity. These features reinforce the DLO as a tool able to contribute to education in
general and to promote, in a simple and dynamic way, social interactions based on
information. To tackle complex issues it is necessary some knowledge about the information
as well as mastery of language and the values that shape them. The DLO features identified
by survey respondents are not only those that lead the citizensatisfaction but also to their
social engagement.
In the context of citizenship education, the content (information) is essential for the
development of critical questioning when using a simple and accessible language adapted to
different realities (Figure 7).
Figure 7 – Desirable ODA features
5) Regarding,citizenship education, which topics you consider the most important? (options:
voting system, political organization, tax and taxation, corruption and social control,
sustainability, rights and duties of citizens, public spending control, transparency, etc.).
The answers show that the subject “political organization” is the most important. Not
coincidentally, understanding the political organization should drive all other suggested
topics. Indeed, voting systems, taxation, social control and adequate sustainability are
constructed only with a political system consistent with citizens’ interests. The responses
reveal that people ask for more information on this topic (Figure 6).
The second most voted theme was rights and duties of citizens. In our opinion, this theme is
essential and highly connected with the previous one, hence it should be on the political
agenda. Therefore, it is necessary that people feel informed and think about it, which explains
its high importance given by our respondents.
T r an
T ax
l con
tr o
r ol
p a r ti
te a s
a cit
s of
al or
Figure 8 – Desirable ODA topics
We emphasize that OC, as a set of actions for citizenship education, has sought to contribute
to the development of citizen’s identity and commitment to the social control of public
management. Therefore, the development and use of DLOs is one of our strategies to insert
OC in the society of knowledge because we believe that making available qualified
information will provide the average citizen with knowledge, as mentioned by Levy (1993,
(...)retain what was learned. The interactive multimedia, due its non-linear
patternenables an exploratory attitude towards the material to be assimilated. Therefore
it is a well-adapted tool to an active pedagogy.
One example of thisactive andparticipatory activity can be found in the comment of one
Regardless of the type of equipment used in the learning process, the most important
thing is that people learn the content and discuss with others the ideas and suggestions
that may arise. (Respondent 36)
In the same context, the use of DLOs has proved to be an effective strategy of socialization of
information and knowledge; in raising awareness of the urgent issues (corruption, misuse of
public funds, among others) and in calling citizens to social engagement.
We would like to emphasize three aspects of this survey. First, the transparent procedures
adopted, from data collection to socialization of results, since each of its stages is available at
the OC website, our fan pages and other web locations. We believe ICTs are tools that foster
the empowerment and development of knowledge. A spreadsheet with the tabulation of
responses is available at the following link: http://goo.gl/698NJB
Second, the team can assess the effectiveness of DLOsthat were developed. The amount of
choices reveals that we need to define new strategies to achieve our goals. Moreover, we
found that our practice is an example of reusability since we also provide DLO material that
was not developed by us.
Third, the results of our research offer important insights for the development of other
DLOssince it is based on the receiver perspective (in format, length, theme and desired
characteristics) both to the OC team and others interested in this subject.
Finally, we understand that knowledge and understanding are essential cognitive processes to
build active citizenship. These skills make up the autonomous and critical thinking necessary
to unfold a collaborative attitude necessary to transform mere indignation into strength,
motivation and organized actionto target better times and conditions for the whole society.
3. Acknowledgement
We would like to thank, firstly, to the institutions that supported this research with financial
resources: Faculty of Paulínia, Federal University of Paraíba, State University of Paraíba and
Institute for the Sustainable Development of Campinas. Second, to any person that
anonymously and with generosity, publicized and answered the enquire that this research is
based on.
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Convincing resistant and discouraged adults for lifelong learning: the role
of national strategies and local communities
Ana Cláudia Valente1, Ana Simões2 and Filipa Santos3
Centro de Estudos dos Povos e Culturas de Expressão Portuguesa (CEPCEP), Universidade
Católica Portuguesa, [email protected]
Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos (IESE), [email protected]
Instituto de Estudos Sociais e Económicos (IESE), [email protected]
Abstract: Making lifelong learning a reality for all is still a very demanding task. Lifelong
learning opportunities are unequally distributed and adults’ access to education and training varies
considerably by level of schooling. Those having low educational levels are often less
participating in learning activities throughout life. To understand why low educated adults
participate less in learning activities seems to be a crucial issue, particularly in Portugal where
regardless of participation in lifelong learning has increased in recent years, further progress may
be seriously limited and uneven access to learning continuously deepened. Based on the statistical
analysis of IEFA 2011 data, our research shows that about 80% of the adult population (aged 18 to
69 years old) seem to be discouraged and resistant to participate in lifelong learning and that age
and educational level significantly determine the likelihood to participate in learning. Those being
elder and low educated have much less chances to engage in learning activities, are much less
motivated to, and are more unable to take up these opportunities either by particular life conditions
or prevailing personal dispositions. Thus any effort to raise lifelong learning participation in
Portugal and make it a reality for all needs to convince a huge number of discouraged and
resistant adults by addressing their distinct motivations and particular conditions. Local
communities and multiple local actors will certainly have a crucial role in providing opportunities
for lifelong learning and make them accessible, attractive and relevant especially to those who
need them most.
Keywords: lifelong learning; adult participation in lifelong learning; motivations and obstacles to
Raising adult participation in lifelong learning, and particularly that of the low-skilled, is still
a necessity. At European level, one in four individuals aged 25 to 64 have at most a lower
secondary education level and only 3.9% of them participated in lifelong learning in 2012, a
figure that has remained unchanged from 2010 and significantly lower than the 9% registered
in total participation. Moreover the participation rate of adults with higher education
attainment is double that of medium-educated and four times that of low-educated adults.
“This illustrates the use of lifelong learning programmes to get ahead rather than to get by,
which still does not match the emphasis on the low-skilled as set out in the ET 2020 strategic
framework” (European Commission, 2013:68) 37.
The headline target set up by the Strategic Framework for Education and Training (ET 2020) is 15% of adults
(25-64) participating in lifelong learning by 2020 (2009/C 119/02). The indicator refers to participation in formal
or non-formal education and training during the four weeks prior to the EU Labour Force Survey. Also
recognising that adult education has been the weakest part of the lifelong learning systems, the Council of the
European Union appeals for a new ‘European Agenda for Adult Education’ to be considered until 2020, which
intends to allow all adults the opportunity to develop and improve their skills throughout life. Adult learning is a
vital component of the lifelong-learning continuum, covering the entire range of formal, non-formal and
In this context, Portugal faces a rather huge challenge. Having around 65% of the adult
population with low educational qualifications, raising participation in lifelong learning is
certainly a very demanding task. The share of low-educated adults participating in learning
activities has increased recently - 6.2% in 2012 compared to 1.5% in 2005 – but it is less than
half of those with upper-secondary education (14.5%) and less than a third of the participation
rates of adults with higher education (21.5%).
Hence the research presented here will address particularly the Portuguese case. Different
behaviours and attitudes towards lifelong learning participation and the reasons why some
individuals are more likely to participate in learning activities than others are addressed. As
some of these reasons may be targeted by educational reforms and local development
initiatives, the results may provide sound evidences for policy making.
We start by reviewing the literature on adults’ motivations and barriers to learning. A
particular attention is given to the effects of low education attainment on lifelong learning
participation. Based on the insights of previous research, and the particular case of Portugal,
we then present our research questions (section 3). Section 4 summarizes the methodological
approach and the empirical results are presented in section 5. Finally discussion of the main
research findings as well as the most relevant conclusions and some policy implications are
addressed in section 6.
1. Literature Review
Literature has been fruitful in showing that formal education plays a very important role in
people’s lives. Several disadvantages on labour market participation and earnings prospects
are highly related to low educational attainment (OECD, 2010). Also civic participation and
social engagement as well as health benefits seem to be persistently poorer to those who
failed to reach high levels of education (Hoskins et al, 2008). Nevertheless one of the most
important drawbacks of low education attainment is in further learning participation. There is
increasing evidence that learning leads to learning (OECD, 2012). As Jenkins at al. (2002)
showed, undertaking one episode of lifelong learning increased the probability of the
individual undertaking more learning. As low-educated individuals participate less in lifelong
learning, further progress may be seriously limited and uneven access to learning
continuously deepened. Therefore understanding adults’ motivations and barriers to learning,
and particularly of the low-educated, is a very policy relevant issue.
According to Knowles (1980, 1984) adults are distinct as learners, particularly in what
concerns motivation to learn. More commonly adults are motivated by external factors
(extrinsic motivation) as promotions, salaries and pressure from authority figures. However,
as Knowles et al (2005) showed, internal reasons for learning such as solving daily problems,
improving self-esteem or getting more job satisfaction tend to be more powerful motivators.
Reasons and purposes why adults learn are varied at different life stages and depending on
personal and social and economic conditions. In this sense, a comprehensive understanding of
the individual learner and its socio environment conditions is needed “as motivation and
barriers to learning are created, formed and changed in these two spaces” (Chao, 2009: 905).
According to Cross (1981), barriers or obstacles to adult learning may be classified as
situational (depending on a person’s situation at a given time), institutional (all practices and
procedures that discourage adults from participation) and dispositional (personal attitudes
informal learning activities, general and vocational, undertaken by adults after leaving initial education and
training (2011/C 372/01).
about self and learning). Situational and institutional factors are external to the individual or
beyond his control. Both are structural in nature, while dispositional barriers, also referred to
as learner-inherent factors (Fagan, 1991) are individual level impediments. Lack of selfconfidence, prior negative experiences in education (Gorard & Smith, 2007), perceptions
about learning difficulties or low expectation about the benefits of learning may affect
individual disposition to engage in new learning activities throughout life.
Also situational and institutional barriers may have an important effect on adults’
participation in lifelong learning. Multiple roles and responsibilities at work, family and
community may influence the amount of time one can or is willing to invest in learning
activities, and the level of support received to do so. Institutional barriers related to the
availability and quality of information about learning opportunities, the complexity of
admission procedures, and particularly the level and type of credentials required, the way
learning activities are delivered (time, location, costs,…), the quality and availability of
particular services such as information and guidance, or the existence of financing support are
also important.
From a policy making point of view, to understand why adults are differently motivated to
engage in lifelong learning is being an increasing relevant issue. In fact, structural barriers
result from the ways institutions design, deliver and manage learning activities, and how they
are targeted and suitable to the needs, expectations and particular conditions of adult learners.
According to the ‘bounded agency’ model, proposed by Rubenson & Desjardins (2009), the
ability and potential of individuals to participate in learning as adults is affected by structural
and institutional conditions, as well as targeted policy measures. Different welfare regimes
(e.g. liberal, conservative, social democratic) and targeted policy measures can have a direct
effect on structurally derived barriers, and indirectly could also influence people’s rational
choices, awareness and assessment of the options available to them.
However, in what concerns participation of low educated adults in lifelong learning, demand
remains one of the critical issues to address. Apparently it is not sufficient to merely provide
economic support or the availability of time for learning as a study by Federighi (2008),
covering several practices in low skilled adult education in 33 European countries, concluded.
“Good practices prove that ongoing educational and training activity is only possible in
situations in which the individual is also motivated to learn, generating ‘awareness’ of the
human potential that is amplified with the growth of personal and instrumental knowledge”
(Federighi, 2008:39). Even if particular efforts to reduce structurally derived barriers have an
important role, it seems that placing the individual at the centre and making learning more
attractive can help to increase participation as motivation is one of the key issues of lifelong
learning (OECD, 2003). Otherwise, participation may still remain low and shaped by the
‘Mathew effect’, when individuals with low qualifications, who are most in need of lifelong
learning, are still the ones who less benefit from it.
2. Research questions
Based on empirical data, there is already considerable evidence in Portugal on who is
participating or not in lifelong learning and why. However, besides participation rates, the
willingness to participate in learning have not been sufficiently discussed although its
relevance for policy making. Quite often low educated adults have not only fewer
opportunities to participate in lifelong learning but also less motivation to do it. Also
particular life conditions and personal dispositions may prevent them to take up these
opportunities. In order to have well targeted and more effective strategies to raise LLL in
Portugal, we need to address particularly the ones lacking the motivation to engage in
learning activities.
Having this in mind, our research is firstly focused on those who, having or not participated in
lifelong learning, did not express the willingness to. Who are they? Are they prevalent in
Portugal? And whether there are some kinds of obstacles – institutional, situational or
dispositional ones – which are particularly inhibiting them to participate or participate more in
lifelong learning. Given the fact that Portugal still has a huge number of low-educated adults,
we assume that discouragement and resistance to lifelong learning is prevalent and that low
education levels significantly reduce the likelihood to participate in lifelong learning.
3. Methodology
This research is based on the analysis of the IEFA – Adult Education and Training Survey
2011 (INE, Statistics Portugal), applied to a sample of 14.189 adults with 18 to 69 years old,
between October 2011 and February 2012. We firstly distinguish and characterize four groups
of adults by using two dichotomous variables - participation in lifelong learning (formal and
non-formal education) and willing to further participate in the 12 months prior to the survey
application. For each group, motivations and obstacles to participate in lifelong learning
activities are analysed. To explain the probability of participation, a binary logistic regression
model is tested using relevant socioeconomic variables as predictors (sex, age, educational
level, labour market status, income level, parents’ education and the individuals’ region of
residence) 38. An additional set of three other variables, denoting for individuals’ attitudes and
behaviours towards lifelong learning participation, was also included39. Results from the most
explanatory model are present and discussed in the next section. The research team conducted
also 8 interviews, 3 case studies, 1 workshop and 1 focus-group in order to address particular
challenges for lifelong learning in Portugal.
4. Empirical results
4.1. LLL participation profiles: Four distinctive groups of adults
Based on IEFA 2011 data, 41.8% of the adults participated in lifelong learning activities in
the previous year. There is still a large proportion of individuals not participating in education
and training (58.2%). Using an additional variable - if they intended to participate or
participate further during that period of time -, four groups of adults may be identified as
having distinct attitudinal and behavioural profiles towards lifelong learning participation
(Table 1). These groups are: (1) the ones who participated and wanted to participate more –
we call them the Converted; (2) those who have participated in lifelong learning but did not
want to participate further – the Discouraged ones; (3) the ones who even not participating in
lifelong learning in the previous year, wanted to – those are called the Hopeful; (4) and finally
the Resistant, as the ones who did not participate and did not want to.
These variables have strong and statistically significant correlations with the variable participation in LLL.
These variables are: have looked for information regarding formal and non-formal education; have started a
further level of education and dropped it; have wanted to participate or to participate more in education and
training in the previous 12 months.
Table 3 Lifelong learning participation in Portugal: Four distinctive groups of adults (18-69
years old)
Wanted to participate
Did not want to
participate (further)
Did not participate
Source: IEFA 2011 database (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Statistics Portugal).
Note: the names of the groups were given by the authors.
Counting how many individuals are in each group, we may notice that half (51.2%) of the
adults in Portugal were resistant to lifelong learning as they did not participate in any formal
or non-formal education activities and did not want to participate. Moreover 30% of the adults
may also be considered discouraged to lifelong learning: even participating in some formal or
non-formal education they did not want to participate further. These results give us a clearer
picture of how difficult and demanding could be to raise adult participation in lifelong
learning in Portugal. Around 80% of the adults, having or not participated in lifelong learning,
did not express the willingness to.
In order to characterize each of the four groups identified, we performed a descriptive analysis
of some of the most relevant socioeconomic variables (age, sex, educational level, and labour
market status).
Table 2 Lifelong learning participation profiles: Four distinctive groups of adults (18-69 years old)
Did not participate
60% ISCED 3-6
73% ISCED 0-2
60.5% women
63% women
68% 18-44 years old
69% 35-64 years old
53.5% employed
25.2% unemployed
21.3% inactive
Wanted to participate (further)
Educational level
Labour market status
70.5% employed
53% ISCED 0-2
85% ISCED 0-2
52% women
51% women
62% 18-44 years old
71.4% 45-69 years old
Did not want to participate (further)
Educational level
46.6% employed
40.6% inactive
Source: IEFA 2011 database (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Statistics Portugal).
Note: the names of the groups were given by the authors.
Labour market status
68.5% employed
As Table 2 shows, there are significant differences between these groups, in particular
between the converted and the resistant. Converted adults are mainly younger people (68%,
18-44 years old), having higher educational levels (60% ISCED 3-6) and being employed
(70.5%). They participated in education and training activities in the previous year and
wanted to participate more. The resistant to lifelong learning are mainly low educated
individuals (85% ISCED 0-2), older than the others (71.4%, 45-69 years old), and being
employed or inactive persons. They neither participated in education and training activities in
the previous year nor wanted to.
We should also give attention to the discouraged to lifelong learning as they represent 30% of
the individuals. Although they seem to be a more diffuse group, still half of these adults have
low educational levels (ISCED 0-2), most of them are employed (68%) and 62% are between
18 and 44 years old.
Additionally we may notice that low educated as well as older individuals are mostly
represented between those who did not participate in LLL. Employed adults are mostly
represented in the participating groups while the resistant group shows the highest proportion
of inactive adults (40.6%).
4.2. Motivations and obstacles to lifelong learning participation
In order to understand better the main reasons for participating or not participating in LLL in
each of the four groups of adults identified, we present the descriptive analysis in tables 3 and
4. Data on motivations refer only to those adults who have participated in LLL in the previous
year (41.8%), and distinguish the discouraged and the converted ones. In both cases, we have
information on whether it refers to participation in formal or not formal education. Table 4
indicates the obstacles to LLL classified by their institutional, situational and dispositional
nature, as Cross (1981) typology suggests. In this case, data are available for all the groups of
individuals considered.
As Table 3 shows, the most referred motivations to participate in LLL are to acquire
knowledge/ skills useful for my day-to-day life and to develop knowledge/ skills in a subject
that interests me. Between 86.2% and 92.4% of the adults participating in learning activities,
irrespective of the kind of activities (formal or non-formal education), refer to such reasons.
Also do my work better and/or improve career prospects are highly important – for 70% to
77.8% of these individuals – and equally important both for those who participated in formal
education and those who participated in non-formal education.
Table 3 Motivations to participate in lifelong learning by type of education (formal or non-formal)
Reasons to participate in formal and/or nonformal education
Do my work better and/or improve career
Less likely to lose my job
Increase the possibility of getting a job or
changing jobs
Starting my own business
I was forced to participate
Formal education
Non-formal education
Acquire knowledge / skills useful for my
day-to-day life
Develop knowledge / skills in a subject that
interests me
Obtain a certificate / diploma
Meet new people / for fun
Source: IEFA 2011 database (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Statistics Portugal).
Note: the names of the groups were given by the authors.
However, it is also possible to identify different reasons to participate in formal or non-formal
education (Table 3). Adults who participated in formal education indicated more often the
need to obtain a certificate/ diploma, to increase the possibility of getting a job or changing
jobs, and to meet new people / for fun. On the other hand, nearly one third of adults who
participated in non-formal education admitted they were forced to participate which suggests
they are employed persons complying with the companies’ annual mandatory training.
Surprisingly there are no significant differences between the two groups of participants in
lifelong learning – the converted ones and the discouraged ones – regarding their motivations.
Although 30% of these individuals may be considered discouraged to pursue new learning
opportunities, as they did not want to participate further, their initial motivations were similar
to those converted to lifelong learning.
We must then give a particular attention to the reasons why adults did not participate or did
not want to participate (further) in lifelong learning. However it should be noticed that data
on obstacles are only available for 36% of the total individuals surveyed.
As Table 4 shows, lack of time was the main obstacle indicated in all cases, but particularly
by the discouraged adults (65%), those who having participated in learning activities did not
want to participate more. Family responsibilities, as a situational barrier, were also referred
but in a much less expression (from 8% to 16.4%). In what concerns institutional obstacles
only money (training was too expensive) and distance (no training provided at a reachable
distance) assumed some relevance, even though at low levels (16% to 25%), and just for
those who wanted to participate (more), having participated or not (the converted and the
hopeful adults).
Table 4 Obstacles to participation in lifelong learning (formal and/or non-formal education) (%)
Discouraged Converted
Did not have the prerequisites
Training was too expensive
No training provided at a reachable
Lack of support from employer
Training was unnecessary for the job
Training occurred during working hours
Did not have access to a computer or the
Internet to participate in distance learning
Lack of time
Family responsibilities
Lack of confidence with the idea of
“going back to school / back to studying"
Training was unnecessary at a personal
Due to my health
Due to my age
Source: IEFA 2011 database (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Statistics Portugal).
Notes: the names of the groups were given by the authors; obstacles to participation in lifelong learning
were grouped according to Cross’ (1981) classification as institutional, situational and dispositional
For those who have been resistant to engage in learning (did not participate and did not want
to participate) we find other type of obstacles such as health and age conditions (but just for
18.5% and 14% of them, respectively) which suggest resistant adults are elder. Also some
resistant adults proclaim education and training was unnecessary at a person level (10.4%)
and unnecessary for the job (9.7%). Even at a very low expression, these dispositional and
situational barriers to participation in lifelong learning are relatively more pronounced for the
resistant adults than for the other groups.
4.3. Explaining lifelong learning participation
A binary regression model was tested to explain the probability of participation in lifelong
learning activities. The most explanatory regression model (with 8 variables40) explains
41.3% of adult participation in lifelong learning activities. Age per se explains 19.2% of the
adult participation. Educational level has the second highest percentage in the model (11.5%).
All of the other 6 variables are significantly less important41 although all together they explain
10.6% of adult participation in LLL.
As Table 5 shows, the probability of participation in learning activities is higher when adults:
are younger; have higher levels of education; look for information regarding formal and nonformal education; have higher levels of income; have mothers with higher levels of education;
have not started an additional level of education and dropped it; are employed; live in regions
considered convergence regions (Centro, Alentejo, Algarve and Autonomous Region of
Table 5 Binary regression model: adult participation in lifelong learning
Variables entered in the
Educational level
Probability of adults
participating in
lifelong learning (%)
The variable have wanted to participate or to participate more in education and training in the previous 12
months has not been included in the final model due to its weak explanatory power (less than 0.002%).
Looking for information regarding formal and non-formal education, 4.4%; income, 3.8%; mother’s
educational level, 0.9%; having started a LLL activity and dropped it, 0.5%; labour market status, 0.06%; region
of residence, 0.004%.
Convergence regions have greater advantages when it comes to receiving EU funding.
Looking for information
regarding formal and nonformal education
Mother’s educational level
Have started a further level
of education and dropped it
Labour market status
Region of residence
1º quintile
2º quintile
3º quintile
4º quintile
5º quintile
Source: Based on IEFA 2011 database (Instituto Nacional de Estatística, Statistics Portugal).
These results also show some more interesting findings. Firstly, participation considerably
declines with age and beyond what can be explained by any objective decline in individual
capacity (McNair, 2009) or expected benefits from education and training. Adults aged 25 to
44 years old have less than 40% of chances to participate in lifelong learning than young
adults, aged 18 to 24 years old. Secondly, having at least an upper secondary level of
education (or equivalent) increases in 83% the likelihood of lifelong learning participation
suggesting that it is a real ‘minimum learning platform’ which should be guaranteed for all.
We should as well notice the intergenerational effects of education also on the likelihood of
adults to participate in LLL. Having a mother with an upper secondary level of education
almost doubles the likelihood of the adult to participate in LLL. In addition past negative
experiences in the school system considerably reduce the probability of participating in LLL
activities. In this case, those who have started an additional level of education and dropped it
have less 70% of chances to participate in learning activities.
5. Discussion and conclusions
Although Portugal has been able to increase adult participation in lifelong learning, there are
still a huge number of discouraged and resistant adults. Actually about 80% of the adult
population (aged 18 to 69 years old) seem not willing to participate in education and training
activities. The resistant to lifelong learning are mainly low educated individuals and older
than the others. The discouraged to lifelong learning although they are younger, still half of
them have low educational levels.
Age and educational level significantly determine the likelihood to participate in lifelong
learning. Adults aged 25 to 44 years old have less than 40% of chances to participate in
lifelong learning than young adults, aged 18 to 24 years old. Those having at least an upper
secondary level of education (or equivalent) are 83% more likely of participation in lifelong
learning than those with just a basic level of education.
However besides the effects of socioeconomic conditions, not much is known yet about their
reasons to not willing to participate in LLL. Data from IEFA 2011 on the obstacles to LLL is
only concerning 36% of the total individuals surveyed and the numbers show that, in general,
the institutional, situational and dispositional barriers considered are of low relevance. Only
the lack of time was significantly referred, and in particular by the discouraged adults (65%).
Institutional obstacles such as money (training was too expensive) and distance (no training
provided at a reachable distance) assumed some relevance, even though just for those who
wanted to participate (more). Dispositional and situational barriers to participation in lifelong
learning (health, age, unnecessary training at a person level/ for the job) are relatively more
pronounced, even at a very low expression, for the resistant adults than for the other groups.
In fact, as previous studies have shown, rather often the potential learned is affected by
different barriers and some of them may be of particular intensity, or perceived as hard to
overcome, in certain situational conditions. Those being elder and low educated have much
less chances to participate in lifelong learning, are much less motivated to, and are more
unable to take up these opportunities either by particular life conditions or prevailing personal
In terms of policy implications, our results show that any effort to raise LLL participation in
Portugal and make it a reality for all needs to: (1) take into account the real impressive
number of discouraged and resistant adults to participate in lifelong learning; (2) be well
targeted and particularly focussed on their motivations and obstacles to learning, as these
individuals may be the most difficult to convince for lifelong learning; (3) address especially
their intrinsic motivations by providing meaningful learning opportunities that help low
educated adults’ self-confidence and skills improvement throughout life; (4) and finally,
provide also access and progress in formal education, since low education attainment
persistently reduces the likelihood of further participation in lifelong learning.
Previous adult education programs showed that supply-side innovations and local networks
played an important role in addressing individual disposition and conditions to learning
(Valente et al, 2011; Valente, 2011). While time, money and information constraints matter, a
wider and far reaching approach to adult education which encompasses personal fulfilment,
educational progress and social outcomes is to be essential. In this sense, a “lifelong learning
for all” approach, even when supported by national strategies, will have to call for the action
of local communities and multiple actors’ networks. These new institutional arrangements
have a crucial role in providing opportunities for lifelong learning and make them accessible,
attractive and relevant especially to those who need them most.
6. Acknowledgement
We would like to thank the collaboration of all the entities that participated in the Study and
specially POAT FSE - Technical Assistance Operational Programme for financing it.
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Sustainability of community, health education and adult learning
Hyun Mi Son1, Byung Jun Yi2
Pusan National University, College of Nursing, [email protected]
Pusan National University, Department of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. Health education is emphasized as a long-standing education for sustainable
development in the community. Objectives This study is conducted to identify the status, practices
and perceptions related to health and to investigate the health educational needs of community
residents according to life cycle. Approach The self-reported questionnaire data was collected
from 756 community residents over 20 years old, in a county of Korea, from September 1st to
November 30th, 2011. The method of data collection is a stratified sampling from a population of
different age, sex, and residential district. Results The older adults are less involved in leisure
activities than other adults. Regarding mental health, it was found that stress levels are high in
older adults and depression levels are high in middle-aged adults. In middle-aged adults, the level
of both health-risk behavior and healthy behavior is higher than in other adults. Different age
groups have different health educational program needs. Young and middle-aged adults prefer an
educational group environment, combined with personal counseling from a public health center or
other professional organization in the afternoon. On the other hand, older adults want health
education from a nearby public health center and a senior center in the morning. Implications
These results suggest that health educational programs for the sustainable development of a local
community should be developed into more specialized accessible programs reflecting the needs of
people according to their life cycle. Value For the sustainable development of a community, health
education should include leisure activities and environmental perspectives as well as health
promotion behavior,
Keywords: Education for sustainable Development, health education, Community residents
As the sustainable development and the sustainability have appeared as the argumentative
topics of a society, their applications in education field has emerged as a big issue. The
education for sustainable development utilizes sustainability as its directing point in various
fields of education. The education in South Korea has made no exception to it and there have
been many attempts to achieve the task in the country. Currently, the health education has
become one of the core tasks in the education for sustainable development (UNESCO, 2013),
but its importance is not as emphasized in the adult education. In addition, while the health
education is being perceived as the education for prevention of a disease, it is not also being
recognized as a key challenge of adult education field (Frenk et al., 2010). Nonetheless,
definite attention must be given to the considerations of teachings of health as a part of the
adult education especially since South Korea is becoming an aging society. As Ulju district of
Ulsan Metropolitan city manages RCE (Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for
Sustainable Development), the district is being advanced sustainable development.
Accordingly, we tried to research a current health status and behavior related to health, and
the demands for health education of the residents in Ulju County. Based on the collected data,
an adult education program has been composed and a project has been conducted to practice
the program. For the survey, we have had to extend the basic concept of health education. The
definition of health education used in this study is interpreted as a word that holds a
comprehensive meaning as it obtains the various sections of health from socio-environmental
health to mental health. Foremost, the study discovered the degree of practice of healthy
living and condition of mental health and analyzed the people's demand for management of
health education according to life cycle. Ulju County is a county where compounded
industries such as agriculture and fisheries, and livestock industries and a bed town coexist
and has the population size, 200000.
Research Aims and Objectives
The purpose of this research was to identify the status, health habits, and perceptions related
to health of community residents in South Korea from a sustainable development point of
view. It was also conducted to investigate the health educational needs according to life cycle
for the development of an efficient health educational programme.
The specific goals of this research were:
 Identifying the leisure activities, and perceptions of environmental ecology
according to life cycle from adult period to senile period
 Identifying the status of mental health and the healthy lifestyle practice of
community residents and analyzing the differences according to life cycle
 Investigating the health educational needs of community residents and analyzing
the differences according to life cycle
Research Methods
The research method applied to this study was a questionnaire survey. The subjects were 756
community residents over 20 years old and from 12 districts of a county in South Korea. The
method of data collection was a stratified sampling from the population, selecting samples
from different age and gender groups and different residential districts.
The baseline social and demographic characteristics of subjects are shown in Table 1. 33.9 %
were young adults (20 to 39 years of age), 55.4%, were middle-aged adults (40 to 64 years of
age) and 10.7% were older adults (over 65 year’s olds). There were similar levels in gender.
423 (56.0%) of them lived with a spouse and children, 206(27.2%) with only a spouse, and
72(9.5%) were living alone. There were similar proportions for family monthly income:
respectively 20.9%, 24.2%, 20.8% for 1-2 million won ($1=1,200 won), 2-3 million won, 3-4
million won, and less than 1 million won was 15.9%. Almost all of them (85.8%) had national
health insurance (see table 1).
Table 4 Social and demographic characteristics
Age (year)
below 39(young adults)
40-64(middle-aged adults)
Over 65(older adults)
≤ Elementary school
61( 8.0)
Middle school
High school
Family member
Graduate School
52( 6.9)
72( 9.5)
Spouse with
With spouse and children
55( 7.3)
Total family monthly income <100
(10,000 won)
National medical insurance
Public assistance
Medical insurance
The self-reported questionnaire consisted of questions about leisure activities, perception of
environmental ecology, mental health status and health behaviour. It also included their
perceived needs for sustaining health educational programs. The leisure activities included
activities in the house such as TV/DVD watching, radio listening, resting, reading, gardening,
painting and writing. There were also activities out of the house such as hiking, walking, card
playing, swimming, travelling, volunteering, shopping, attending meetings, and going to bars,
movies, cafés or concerts. The perception of environmental ecology investigated not only
health problems caused by pollution, but also considered residence, food and clothes in
relation to ecology. The questionnaire also included mental health status questions about
stress and depression and health behaviour such as smoking, drinking, and exercise habits. At
last, to assess the needs for health educational programs, subjects were asked about
preferences for educational methods, such as place, time, and number of sessions. .
The data was collected from September 1 to November 30, 2011. Residents with more than
30 percent missing data in the entire survey were excluded and data from 756 residents was
analyzed. The data was analyzed to determine life cycle differences for each characteristic by
Chi-square. Data in this study was analyzed using the SPSSWIN 20.0 program.
1. Leisure Activity according to the life cycle
The leisure activity of subjects in the house was primarily TV/DVD watching. Resting
without doing anything, was the next in order. Notably, the older adults are less involved in
leisure activities than other adults. For leisure activities in the house, there was a significant
statistical difference for all activities according to life cycle (see table 2).
Table 2 Leisure activities in the house according to life cycle
Stage of life cycle
(per 1day)
(per 1day)
(per 1day)
(per 1day)
(per day)
and writing
(per 1day)
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
In all life cycles, the leisure activity of subjects out of the house was mainly walking. The
result showed young adult and middle-aged subjects went to a bar or café in leisure time more
than older adults. Young adults went to a movie and concert compare more than other adults.
There were significant differences in all out of house leisure activities according to life cycle
(see table 3).
Table 3 Leisure activities out of the house according to life cycle
Stage of life cycle
Card playing
Going to a bar
Going to a cafe
Going to singing
Attending a
meeting/ club
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
MiddleOlder Adult
11(13.6) 46.199
35(43.2) 32.474
0(0.0) 18.826
7(8.6) 13.432
6(7.4) 17.887
1(1.2) 154.832 <.001
0(0.0) 36.939
7(8.6) 51.076
Going to movie
Going to a concert
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
Hardly ever do
Less than 1hour
Over than 3
2(2.5) 32.002
2(2.5) 35.174
2(2.5) 103.848 <.001
0(0.0) 54.718
2. Perception of environmental ecology according to the life cycle
In the perception of environmental ecology there are statistically significant differences,
according to life cycles, in knowledge about environmental pollution (χ²=26.689, p=.001) and
the purchase of food material (χ²=32.903, p<.001). As can be seen in Table 4, all subjects
generally had a perception of importance for health problems relating to environment and
ecology. Also, they were considering environmental ecology in relation to residence, purchase
of food and choice of clothes.
Table 4 Perception of environmental ecology according to life cycle
Stage of life cycle
Environment has
an effect on
people’s health
Neither agree
nor disagree
Strongly agree
Have you ever seen No
a person who has a Yes
disease because of
Older Adult
I have to know
about information
of envrionmental
I consider ecology
and environment
for residence
I consider ecology
and environment
for purchase of
food material
I consider ecology
and environment
for purchase of
Neither agree
nor disagree
Strongly agree
Never consider
Not consider
Neither consider
nor not consider
Very consider
Never consider
Not consider
Neither consider
nor not consider
Very consider
Never consider
Not consider
Neither consider
nor not consider
Very consider
3. Mental health status and health behaviour according to the life cycle
In the status of mental health, the everyday stress levels were high in older adults (χ²=69.158,
p<.001) and depression levels in the last two weeks of the study were high in middle-aged
adults (χ²=77.513, p<.001). As can be seen in Table 5, in over half the subjects, the main
cause of stress was financial problems.
Table 5 Mental health status according to life cycle
Stage of life cycle
Stress level of
everyday life
level in last 2
Very high
Very low
Very high
MiddleOlder Adult
49(60.5) 69.158
8(9.9) 77.513
Main cause of
Very low
1(1.2) 72.645
For the health behaviour, there were significant statistical differences of life cycle not only
health risk behaviour such as smoking (χ²=22.392, p=.001) and weekly alcohol intake
(χ²=53.029, p<.001), but also in healthy behaviour such as regular exercise (χ²=22.072,
p<.001) and smoking cessation trial (χ²=12.028, p=.002). In middle-aged adults, the levels of
both health risk behaviour and healthy behaviour were higher than other adults (see the table
Table 6 Health behaviour according to life cycle
Smoking habit
cessation trial in
last 1year
Drinking habit
Try not to drink
in last 1year
Stage of life cycle
Below than 1
4- 5
More than 6
4. Needs of health education according to the life cycle
53.1% of older adults were ‘generally interested’ health education. On the other hand, both
young and middle-aged adults were ‘generally interested’ or ‘somewhat interested’ in similar
proportion. The participants wanted prevention of disease, mental health, and health
promotion to be included in the contents of health education.
Table 7 The need of health education contents according to life cycle
Stage of life cycle
Interest of health
Prevention of
Mental health
Prevention of
Somewhat not
Generally interest
Very interest
Extremely interest
Never need
Not need
Absolutely need
Never need
Not need
Absolutely need
Never need
Not need
Absolutely need
Not need
Absolutely need
Not interest
Never need
As can be seen in Table 7, 80~92.2% of residents had no experience of getting a health
education. Under the needs of health education, there were significant differences in life cycle
for the cause of participation (χ²=25.030, p<.001), and no participation (χ²=27.125, p=.001).
The results showed the main cause for no participation of health education was ‘lack of
information’ in young adults (40.9%) and middle-aged (40.5%), but 43.7% of older adults
answered ‘far in distance’ as the main cause for no participation. There were also significant
different answers for how to seek health information (χ²=108.066, p<.001). All subjects
received health information via broadcasting (42.8% ~51.8%), but more young adults had
been seeking health information via the internet compared with other adults. In middle-age,
15.5% of subjects received health information through participation in a health program.
There were significant differences in preferred method (χ²=105.504, p<.001), place
(χ²=79.439, p<.001), and time (χ²=90.330, p<.001) for health education. Young and middleaged adults preferred an group environment, combined with personal counselling from a
public health centre, or other professional organization in the weekday afternoons. On the
other hand, older adults wanted to get health education from nearby community health and
senior centres in weekday mornings.
Table 7 The need of health education according to life cycle
Experience of
getting a health
Cause for
participation of
health education
Satisfaction on
getting health
Cause for
no participation
of health
How to seek
For getting new
For meeting new
For spending my
spare time
Not satisfied
Useless for day
Not interest
Lack of
Far in distance
Community health
Hospital or clinic
Health education
Stage of life cycle
MiddleOlder Adult
108.066 <.001
Closely related
Preferred method Expert lecture
for health
Movie and video
Printed materials
Preferred place
community health
for health
Hospital and
Village hall
Public center
Cause for choice a Nearby home
educational place Good facilities
Used place
No information of
other place
Education time
1 hour
per one class
2 hour
3 hour
4 hour
1 per 1week
2 per 2weeks
1 per 1 month
Preferred time for
health education
2 per 2 months
Morning of
Afternoon of
Evening of
Morning of
Afternoon of
Evening of
105.504 <.001
The result of this research can be categorized into four major aspects, the mental health
condition, the degree of health living practice, participation status on health education
program and demand for the education. First, as for the mental health condition, senior
citizens have highest levels of stress and middle aged citizens are the ones who are depressed
the most. It has shown that all the respondents get the most stressed over their financial issues.
Second, as for the degree of practice of healthy living life styles, middle aged citizens practice
unhealthy activities the most such as smoking, and binge drinking but at the same time. They
are also the ones who lead healthy living styles the most by attempting grow healthy habits
such as exercise and quit smoking. Third, in regards to the issue of the participation status of
the health educational program, the majority of the local residents have not been educated in
the field. Fourth, in terms of the demand for the education, young and middle-aged residents
want to get one hour long session in the afternoon of weekday. Young adult want to take the
classes in the facilities such as hospital, or public health center. Middle aged people would
like to have longer sessions – 2 hours- of education, whereas senior citizens would like to
have an hour long class in the morning hours of weekday at village hall nearby house. These
results suggest that health educational programs for the sustainable development of a local
community should be developed into more specialized, accessible programs reflecting on
needs according to life cycle.
Frenk, J., Chen, L., Bhutta, Z. A., Cohen, J., Crisp,N., Evans, T., Fineberg, H., Garcia, P.,
Yang Ke., Kelley, P., Kistnasamy, B., Meleis, A., Naylor, D., Pablos-Mendez, A.,
Reddy, S., Scrimshaw, S., Sepulveda, J., Serwadda, D., Zurayk, H. (2010). Health
professionals for a new century: transforming education to strengthen health systems
in an interdependent world. http://www.thelancet.com. Published online November 29,
UNESCO (2013).
international-agenda/education for sustainable development/ health-promotion.
How to survive the lifelong learning as blame policies of the modern world
Ângela Bragança.1, José Castro.2, Joaquim Coimbra.3
University of Oporto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, [email protected]
University of Oporto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, [email protected]
University of Oporto, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, [email protected]
Abstract. Nowadays it can’t be denied that we are surrounded by a widespread and global
discourse, which asserts the crucial importance of promoting lifelong learning. However, as stated
by Edwards, Ranson and Strain (2002), although there was enough debate about the nature, extent
and significance of lifelong learning as a political goal - constituting, as Giddens points out (1991,
99), the "new catechism" policymakers - has existed very little theoretical discussion about what
specific learning lifelong needed to deal with the processes of change against which is supposed to
be an answer. Furthermore,data analysis of the documents produced by the OECD (Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development) in 2003, points to the fact that contemporary
Western societies find themselves marked by an unequal distribution of knowledge, showing
significant level of citizens' qualifications ditches, also highlighting one seemingly paradoxical
question: statistics show that the most qualified adults demonstrate a much higher percentage of
participation in educational or training activities, compared to less qualified or adults belonging to
socially vulnerable groups. In the analysis of facilitators or inhibitors of participation in lifelong
learning, we proposed the need to develop an integrative theory of multidirectional influences of
several variables, distant from an approach that blames only the person for not being participative.
Keywords: lifelong learning, individualization, blame policies, integrative theory
Investment in lifelong learning has often been touted as central to the development process of
adaptation to a changing scenario, risk and uncertainty, to a world marked by a semantic
constellation of instability, insecurity, turmoil, nonlinearity (Casanova, 2010; Casanova,
Pacheco & Coimbra, 2010; Coimbra, 2005; Gonçalves & Coimbra, 1999; Martins, 2010;
Martins, Gonçalves & Coimbra, 2010), in which subjects are confronted with the seeming
inevitability to continually learn, as the only means of survival in today's world. Advocating
the importance of promoting lifelong learning, this article intends, however, to develop a
critical analysis of the political agendas that underlie the actions implemented on the ground,
particularly in Portugal, also reflecting on the factors that might explain the decision to
participate or not in adult education and training.
1. Is it lifelong learning a magic spell of nowadays?
Indeed, much has been said about the importance of promoting policies and programs of
learning throughout life as a way to deal with a world in constant transformation, so that, as
regards Lambeir (2005, 350), “Lifelong learning is the magic spell in the discourse of
educational and economic policymakers, as well as in that of the practitioners of both
As stated by Edwards, Ranson and Strain (2002), although there was enough debate about the
nature, extent and significance of lifelong learning as a political goal - constituting, as
Giddens points out (1991, 99), the "new catechism" policymakers - has existed very little
theoretical discussion about what specific learning lifelong needed to deal with the processes
of change against which is supposed to be an answer. Therefore it is important to discuss and
reflect on the question of for what purposes are learning to be readily available, what ends
should it serve?
If it is simply in the interests of adaptability to the world of work and the constantly changing
demands of capital or in order to promote de global development of the individual, to create
reflexive and critical citizens?
At present, adults seem to understand the challenge of lifelong learning as synonymous with
accumulation of diplomas, courses and training activities of short duration, often in a
piecemeal and additive logic. This purpose of "collection" of certificates and alleged
competences is closely related to the philosophy underlying many of the adult education and
training policies implemented today, under the array of learning throughout life. As Lambeir
(2005, 351) states, “learning now is the constant striving for extra competences, and the
efficient management of acquired ones. Education has become merely a tool in the
fetishisation of certificates”.
In a context marked by discourses of crisis, unpredictability and exclusion, there seems to be
a rampant use of opportunities not only as a way to equip the individual as much as possible,
with "tools" to help him or her deal with this scenario, but also as a strategy for social
integration, or even survival. The discourse on learning throughout life has been so imperative
that the act of participation may at times be seen as more important than the content the
individual may be engaging with. Since lifelong learning is presented as having broader social
benefits for individuals and communities, people seem to face political and moral pressure to
participate in lifelong learning projects, placing pressure especially upon individuals with
low-level skills, to engage in learning that takes on the status of a moral imperative: people
must learn. Moreover, the non-participation in education and training is thus increasingly
understood primarily as individualization of responsibility of the individual, with the same
blamed for the consequences that may arise from neglecting the opportunities offered in this
field. Thus seems to be an implicit threat that choose not to participate in education-training is
to risk facing a situation of social and economic exclusion against which only the individual
subject should be held accountable. Ultimately, lifelong learning policies and discourses have
shifted the responsibility from the system to the individual, where the learner becomes an
entrepreneur of him or herself and, thereby, what he or she becomes depends solely on her or
himself and the choices she or he makes. It is the discourse of autonomous and independent
individuals who are responsible for updating their skills in order to achieve their place in
society. Contradicting this discourse and its blame policies, this article thus seeks to raise
awareness of the need to develop a comprehensive and integrated view on participation in
structured learning lifelong activities, able to lead the design and implementation of most
critical, reflective, and less unifying sector policies, by therefore, more inclusive, within a
vision of adult education as a social project for empowerment, emancipation and human
2. Can we, indeed, all be inhabitants of a genuinely learning society?
Data analysis of the documents produced by the OECD (Organization for Economic
Cooperation and Development) in 2003, points to the fact that contemporary Western
societies find themselves marked by an unequal distribution of knowledge, showing
significant level of citizens' qualifications ditches.
Also, according to the International Adult Literacy Survey, as mentioned by Desjardins and
colleagues (2006), became visible sections of the population whose gaps in basic skills of
literacy and numeracy puts them in a position risk of social exclusion. These data also
highlight one seemingly paradoxical question: statistics show that the most qualified adults
demonstrate a much higher percentage of participation in educational or training activities,
compared to less qualified or adults belonging to socially vulnerable groups.
What factors might than explain the fact that those who most need to invest in improving their
qualifications, are those demonstrating less likely to participate in structured in formal
learning activities?
A critical analysis of this question must take into account, first, the importance of assessing
whose agenda and whose questions predominate in public educational policies?
In terms of policies implemented, the hegemony of discourses on lifelong learning seems too
focused on the supposed immediate answers that they can provide to a job market
increasingly competitive - against which is necessary to extend the levels of initial training and less in the full development of the individual, in promoting their active participation as
citizens with full rights, promoting opportunities for education and training throughout life,
which, from the perspective of human development ecology, cannot overlook the ways in
which learning is inseparable, as a prerequisite and as a result, of intersubjective communities.
The assumptions today are that the world is in constant and rapidly changing and, that, this
state of change is something that must be merely accepted. Therefore, learning is seen as the
key that enables people to “respond” to change but not as a way to challenge or question the
necessity or direction of the change. There is a notion of responding or reactive to rather than
questioning. In these terms, learning works as a form of socialization and, thereby, everything
that may be considered merely interesting or inspirational is removed and replaced by the
knowledge and skills people need to have in order to have a place in society and in the job
Paulo Freire famously posed the question about education being the liberation or
domestication. The political educational agenda can potentially offer aspects of both. In order
to avoid the potential danger of transforming lifelong learning in little more than State
indoctrination or domestication, is central to instill in active citizenship a real critical
dimension, and help individuals and communities increasing and improving their scope of
participation, evolving from a level characterized only by information and consultation, to a
more critical and citizen-focused collaboration and (real) empowerment.
Learning must move away from a concern with quantitative addition of cognitive and
metacognitive skills to a concern with qualitative transformation of the subject through their
active engagement in the democratic process.
Secondly, a critical analysis of the question of the factors that might explain the decision on
participate or not in adulta education and training must take into account the importance of
assessing the relationship between, on the one hand, the discourses and enacted intentions
and, on other, the reality of the actions implemented on the ground.
Portugal is one of the countries with lower levels of qualifications in Europe, and the last
years have been marked by high political and financial effort to "combat" this problem.
However, both nationally and internationally, and as emphasized by Edwards, Ranson and
Strain (20029, the current adult education policies seem to assume that low and unequal rates
of participation in lifelong learning arises mainly from problems or cultural gaps that can be
overcome or filled with mere increase and diversification of learning opportunities. In this
sense, disregard not only an inclusive and sustainable vision of what learning is, but also the
life contexts of individuals, in which non-participation in certain forms of learning is
congruent with the logic of their cultural and political overdetermination. The excessive
centralization in individualized logical certification and accreditation, the emphasis on a more
cumulative than integrative and reflective learning can lead to an unawareness (intentional or
not) or even to discredit other forms, means and learning contexts in which subjects may be
involved. Moreover, as emphasized by Norbert Elias (1987/1993), when referring to a
"society of individuals", and Bauman (2001), with regard to "individualized society,"
contemporary societies carry in itself a hegemonic mode of socialization (no-normative and
focused on the individual) which results in an unbalanced distribution of knowledge and
freedom of self-assertion, generating insecurity and uncertainty (vd. also Marris, 1996).
Moreover, in a context of increasing individualization paradoxically policies of lifelong
learning seem to have an underlying principle of universality of the impact of permanent
changes that current societies face. In fact, as pointed Castells (1996), the processes of change
have a different impact on different age groups and professional areas, also inducing different
structural changes taking into account the historical and cultural contexts.
Each person builds a unique identity throughout its development, as the result of the relations
established with the world. So, the quality of this relations and the opportunities that the
"natural" life contexts either provide or prevent influence the commitments within these
relationships (Campos, 1989) as well as the level of expectations of the individual in terms of
future investments, particularly in context of education and training. It is therefore important
to understand the issues of the subject's participation in lifelong learning according to a
systemic and developmental perspective, which seeks to frame the building of life paths and,
also, in this sense, learning paths in different contexts, including those relating to
In fact, there are many factors that influence the decision to participate or not in education and
training, with a complex network of relationships established between them.
Boeren, Nicaise and Baert (2010) propose an analysis of the determinants of participation
structured into three levels: individual, in the sense of the needs and requirements of the labor
market that lead the subject to explicitly request training; institutional, ie, on the educationaltraining offer provided by the education system, understood in a broad sense; macro, with
reference to national and supranational authorities governing the relations between supply and
At the individual level, and in general, the authors stress, concurrently with Jung and Cervero
(2002), two main dimensions: the socio-economic and cultural dimension and the
psychological dimension. In the first , we emphasize a perspective of analysis of costeffectiveness in relation to the decision to participate or not in structured learning activities.
According to this theoretical rationale, underlying the decision-making or choice in pursuing
their goals, individuals always seek to achieve maximum well-being or success with
minimum cost (Allingham, 2002). Regarding participation in training, for example, Jung and
Cervero (2002) identified, as potential direct costs, payment of tuition or other fees, and
indirect costs such as those related to the possible need to hire someone to take care the
children, or their enrollment in kindergarten, to be able to attend training, possible neglect of
some household chores, difficulties in reconciling family life, lower willingness to seek
employment if unemployed, ... Regarding benefits, they refer not only those that relate to the
work itself, such as a potential career advancement , salary increases, improved productivity
and performance, job change, ..., but also those related to a more personal nature, such as the
establishment of new contacts and social relationships, leisure time , personal enrichment ,
etc. .. It will also be important to note that some benefits may be visible only in the long term,
assuming a character of uncertainty and risk as to its implementation.
Another important issue relates to the fact that the equilibrium relationship between the costs
and the benefits vary from person to person, and, in the case of some socially vulnerable
groups, this balance tends to refer to a very low participation as where direct and indirect
costs associated with participation in education and training exceed largely, its possible
In the context of the psychological dimension, there are several characteristics that impact on
the issue of participation in learning activities. One of the key concepts to keep in mind is,
first, motivation, which may be characterized, according to Deci and Ryan (2000), as
independent - when the subject value the process of learning for itself - or controlled, when
the frequency of an education or training is related to external pressures, namely the
acquisition of certain rewards or avoidance of penalties. Apart from motivation, other authors
refer to the concept of attitude towards learning. Blunt and Yang (1995), for example,
emphasize the intrinsic value of training for adult’s life, its importance to society in general
and the experience of learning for pleasure, as determinant values for participating or not in
learning activities.
The confidence of the subject in relation to the frequency of training or their perceived self efficacy is also considered fundamental in the decision-making process about participation.
Adults with previous negative experiences demonstrate greater reluctance to participate, to the
extent that may doubt their abilities as learners. The "self-efficacy" construct has a special
relevance in contemporary psychology, and, since its conceptualization in the context of
Bandura’s Socio - Cognitive Theory (1986, 1995), perceived self-efficacy is considered the
basis of the human agency as understood as a centrally acting factor concerning the selfreferencing and self- regulators mechanisms that generate motivation and activity. Among all
the constructs related to self, self-efficacy has been shown to be a more consistent predictor of
human behavior and behavior change than any other, being also distinct from similar
constructs such, self - esteem, self - concept, locus of control , etc..
Taking as starting point the educational and training needs of individuals, education
institutions are expected to drawn pathways able to respond to them accordingly. However,
there is not always a fit between supply and demand and, often , there is a mismatch between
the needs of learners and training plans promoted by the education system, understood here as
including all promoters of relevant education and/or training. In addition to the shortcomings
highlighted, in relation to processes of vocational development, often some of the obstacles
that may contribute to this discrepancy relate to the financial costs of some training courses,
the pre-established formal organization of curricula, as well as the conditions of admission
and frequency, namely age, educational qualification starting level, position with regard to
employment , the control system of attendance , etc... In order to minimize the impact of some
of these obstacles, or even surpass them, it can be activated some coping strategies. We speak,
for example, of the recognition and accreditation of experiential learning, the promotion of
structures and services for career guidance, the allocation of social benefits to the frequency
of actions training, the networking partnerships between different actors , etc.. Another very
important aspect is related to the climate or learning environment created by the educational
institution. In this plan, it is noted, for example, the work of Darkenwald and Valentine
(1986), whose investigations demonstrated that a positive learning climate was associated
with a greater involvement on the part of learners, to a higher level of support from the
educator or trainer, a clear orientation to the task, to a more evident achievement of personal
goals, a better organization, and also a greater intervention from adults in their own learning
In addition to differences in participation in learning activities between individuals and
various groups of the population, the statistics also highlight different participation rates
across countries (OECD, 2003).
These differences in participation can be explained to a large extent, whether the policies
implemented and, specifically, the different support provided by the Governments concerning
obstacles or barriers that adults encounter when faced with such participation, either with the
historic development and culture of each country, which influences, in turn, the design and
implementation of the policies themselves. In this sense, we can not disassociate ourselves
from the heavy heritage of Portugal, in terms of low level of educational and professional
qualification, due to the absence, until the mid-60s, any systematic efforts to modernize the
education system (Machado & Costa, 1998).
Barbosa (2004 ) proposes an approach to the education of adults in Europe through the
analysis of two aspects: one with an institutional systemic character and other witha an
humanistic and community one. Among several key points , the two perspectives are
distinguished, for example, by the fact that the first pursue an logic of education campaign,
since it is believed that the adult problems should be solved by central government initiatives,
while the second posits that they "must be made and resolved by the communities
themselves", being the change "intensified by the awareness and involvement of adults in
solving the problems that affect them." (Barbosa, 2004:196). Furthermore, systemicinstitutional perspective, "essentially values situations linked to the production system and
work , so that the learning arise mainly related to training." (2004, 116), and more severe, is
marked by its instrumentality, functionality and immediate utility, not taking into account the
importance of community for the integral development of individuals as a fundamental goal
of the educational process. Community humanistic perspective emphasizes, on the other hand,
the essential role played by the community, highlighting both the importance and centrality of
their participation in the needs assessment as well as the accountability and involvement of
local authorities in the implementation of joint educational projects as key factors for success.
In Portugal - with the New Opportunities Initiative and the Centers for Qualification and
Vocational Education - current policies orientations of adult education can be characterized
by a systemic-institutional perspective, which promotes an top-down decision making
processes, leading to measures and strategies defined by central power, that do not take into
account local decisions guided by local networks and educational actors involved in the
teaching-learning process. In fact, the priority has been given to the intervention on the
individual, with a logic of quickly certification and processes that do not seem to recognize
the power of learners in negotiating their own itinerary of qualification. The guiding
humanitarian principles of the national system of Recognition, Validation and Certification of
Competency have been abandoned. It is noted, in this regard, for example, the Guidelines that
support Adult Education and Training Courses, on a secondary level, which does not have a
set of skills to develop, but rather a diversity of program content, defined a priori, according
to a perspective of an alleged normativity of the shortcomings highlighted by adults, and that,
therefore, don’t result of any process to select these according to their life history and their
relevance and appropriateness in terms of the relationship with the everyday reality or
development of its forms to perceive the world.
More than foster the accumulation of skills and qualifications as a way to cope with change
and uncertainty - a compensatory or palliative approach targeting the most disadvantaged,
who are transformed into stigmatized recipients of predefined programs - policies and
practices of lifelong learning should enhance the reflectivity of learners, organizations and
societies, to the extent that only the processes of questioning and critical analysis will allow
them to deal with uncertainty and, above all, to form active citizens, able to also promote the
change and not be just only her target. As regards Eraut (2000), the processes of education
and training should aim at transforming the understanding of the subject about themselves, the
world and the relationship established with this, enhancing the sense of personal agency.
One way forward towards a more liberating approach to learning for critical and active
citizenship may be to work with local people and organizations to explore, contest and turn
what we can call invited or provided spaces and places into claimed ones. By claiming this
spaces and places as their own, community members and groups can start to move from being
just recipients or users to assume a more critical and collective role by being makers and
shapers of the policies that affect their lives, being also able to hold the Government to
account regarding the gaps between its rhetoric and its policies.
In the analysis of facilitators or inhibitors of participation in lifelong learning, we, therefore,
proposed the need to develop an integrative theory of multidirectional influences of several
variables, distant from an approach that blames only the person for not being participative.
We must take into account others factors that may influence the processes of decision making:
family and peers, the relationship of learning pathways with increasingly unpredictable job
trajectories, the available network for training and education, the existence of mechanisms of
assistance, the socio-economic context, the values assigned by himself and the community to
learning, the importance that society attaches to diplomas, public opinion about the
educational policies and adult education, etc.
Then becomes urgent to develop an integrative theory of learning, capable of capturing the
multidirectional influences of several variables involved in the decision-making process to
effectively participate or not in further education and training process, in addition to the initial
qualification, since the research focused solely on individual slips invariably to static and
reductive approaches of human behavior and development, that do not regard nor appreciate,
the various ecosystems of which the persons are part and that influence their development.
3. Acknowledgement
I would like to thank Professor Joaquim Coimbra and Professor José Manuel Castro for the
guidance of all the work developed and the systematic encouragement for critical analysis and
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The organization of Federal Education, Science and Technology Institutes
in Brazil
AMORIM¹, Mônica Maria Teixeira, DORE², Rosemary.
¹Montes Claros State University, Center of Humanities, [email protected]
²Federal University of Minas Gerais, Faculty of Education, [email protected]
Abstract. Due to the development of new policies, vocational education in Brazil presents, in the
current historical context, a new scenario. The Federal Technical and Vocational Education
System had been reorganized by the composition of Federal Education, Science and Technology
Institutes, or simply Federal Institutes. It is the major initiative of Lula's government for vocational
education. The Federal Institutes are multi-campuses institutions, offering tertiary level and upper
secondary vocational education. Its organization derives from the integration of two or more
federal vocational education institutions, in the same state, or/and by the transformation of Federal
Centers of Technological Education as well as Federal Technical Schools linked to Federal
Universities. Actually, there are 38 Federal Institutes in the whole of Brazilian states, of which five
in the state of Minas Gerais. The present study aimed to analyze the process of organizing this
"new" institutionalism. The relevance of this research is justified due to the incipience of studies
on the subject. Three levels constitute the structure of the research: literature review, document
analysis, and field research. The field research took place in seven out of the ten federal
institutions of vocational education in Minas Gerais, through the application of electronic
questionnaires and interviews with managers of these institutions. The study indicates that the
current policy, in addition to the proposal to extend the supply of high vocational education,
represents the consolidation of a school system designed specifically for vocational education and
organized separately from secondary and academic schools.
Keywords: Brazil; vocational education; Federal Institutes organization.
During Lula’s government (2003-2010), new policies regarding the expansion and
reorganization of vocational education in Brazil took place. Vocational education expansion
policies figure amongst other programs, as Vocationalized Brazil, E-Tec Brazil and the
reorganization of the federal network of vocational education. This last one implied the
creation of Federal Education, Science and Technological Institutes (IFETs or simply Federal
Institutes – FI, in Portuguese). Such policy is part of the Development Education Plan (PDE
in Portuguese) and constitutes an important initiative of the referred government for
Vocational Education. The Federal Institutes are “superior, basic, multi-curriculum, multicampus and vocational institutes, destined to offer vocational and technology education in
different schooling modalities”. (Brazil, 2008 - 2nd Article of law nr. 11.892, of 29/12/2008,
that created the institutes). The organization of the Institutes aims to function as “excellence
centres” in the training of teachers for public vocational schools and for many diverse areas of
the economy. (Brazil, 2007a, p.43). The Institutes are essentially publics and maintained by
the federal government. Their role is to articulate different public policies (supposed to be
currently dispersed), as well as cooperating to make mediations between central authority and
local communities. Furthermore, the organization of the Institutes is an initiative that provides
a new conformation to vocational education in the country. The government proposal is that
the Institutes can provide to social communities a better life quality at local, regional and
national level. As recommended by the government, vocational education’s emphasis is not
for responding market’s demands, but to improve worker’s education, offering a “vertical
provision of vocational and technological education, articulated with secondary education,
augmenting workers schooling level, intensifying the interaction with the labor world and
science and giving support to public schools”. (Brazil, 2007a, p.44).
A public notice, from the Ministry of Education, invited technical institutions to adhere to the
“new model” of Federal Institutes, explaining the conditions required to elaborate proposals
in order to be part of the government Program. The public notice elucidated that the
composition of a “Federal Institute” demanded the integration of two or more federal
vocational schools in the same state; or the transformation of the existing Federal Centers of
Technological Education (CEFETs in Portuguese) and Federal Technical Schools connected
to Federal Universities. (Brazil, 2007b). Since the emergence of Federal Institutes’ policy
organization, 78 institutions joined the government Program and became Federal Institutes,
resulting in a total of 38 Federal Institutes spread through all Brazilian states. In accordance
with the Ministry of Education, there are few institutes in the country that did not adhere to
the government Program: two CEFETs (from Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro), 25 technical
schools linked to federal universities and 1 Federal Technological University (located in
Paraná state). Actually, 28 Technical Institutions and 38 Federal Institutes, already created,
constitute the Vocational and Technological Education Federal Sector.
Our argument is that the government did not really create a new kind of Federal Institute of
Science and Technology. Indeed, it reorganized the technical and vocational schools that the
country already had, taking advantage of the existing infrastructure and experience built by
vocational education institutions and emphasizing the offering of vocational and technical
education at high school level. The proposal of the organization of Federal Institutes seems to
be associated with the consolidation of a vocational education network, parallel to secondary
and academic school, deepening the duality of school organization in the country.
A lack of research on the subject invited us to study it, considering its political and social
relevance, in order to contribute to the production of knowledge on the Federal Institute of
Science and Technology. Our research enclosed three dimensions: bibliographical revision,
documental analysis and field research. Within this text, we intend to present the results that
emerged from the bibliographical and documental analysis as well as the field research.
1. The organization of Federal Institutes in Brazil: what the research
The analysis of the recent organization of Federal Institutes of Education, Science and
Technology demands to focus on some aspects of Brazilian vocational education history. A
period which is considered a mark for national education policies by historiography is the
thirties of last century. Whilst there existed initiatives for vocational training before the
referred decade, only from this period onwards initiatives gain new conformations with the
growth of Brazil’s industrialization. Dore Soares explains that, in Brazil, the formation of
labour school "followed the trends present in the main countries of the capitalist world. The
biggest differences are related to the structure of the Brazilian industry, which is characterized
by a great technological and organizational weakness”. As per this author, the lack of
significant investments in science and technology manifests itself in educational politics and
in the Brazilian school organization – highlighting vocational tuition. (Dore Soares, 1999,
Vocational education network in Brazil is related to the creation, in 1909, of Craftsmen
Apprentice Schools (Escola de Aprendizes Artífices, in Portuguese). However, it is from the
30´s decade that vocational education is more defined, under the national education
legislations. It is in that decade that higher education was consolidated and when a significant
number of higher schools were created. In that period there was a high school reform which
set the requirements to enter higher school. Vocational education, apart from representing a
parallel organization to secondary school, did not permit access to higher education.
(Romanelli, 2007).
The Federal Constitution of the Country, signed in ’37, placed vocational education as a state
obligation. It should be offered in collaboration with industries and unions, for employees’
children and associates. However, up to now, the organization of this sort of education still
remains parallel to secondary school. During the forties, still in the 20th century, a set of laws
was created (the Organic Laws 43) - contributing to the dualistic organization of high school,
considering secondary school for the country’s conducting elite qualification and vocational
education for the less fortunate people. Manfredi clarifies the issue saying that, at that time,
vocational and technical education became part of the regular education system and offered
courses with duration similar to secondary school, but maintained its structure in a parallel
way, regarding secondary school, and restricted access to higher education. (Manfredi, 2002).
“Due to its characteristics and objectives, vocational education was differentiated from
secondary school”. (Dore Soares, 1999, p.112). Vocational education was responsible to
prepare workers, while secondary education was devoted to graduate the leading elite.
In the 40’s decade of last century, the Craftsmen Apprentice Schools were transformed into
technical and industrial schools, destined to offer upper secondary vocational education. Also
in the mentioned decade was organized the so called “S” System. It corresponds to a group of
schools responsible for the qualification of workers for industry and commerce, offering
apprenticeship courses with short duration44. Ending Varga’s “New State”, after 1945, social
masses started to participate in the political scenery. Then, a series of laws and decrees,
promulgated between 1950 and 1960, made possible the unification between vocational
education and secondary school45. A new National Education Act (N. 4024 from 1961)
institutes the equalization between several branches of upper secondary vocational education
and secondary comprehensive school. Nevertheless, the duality of high school persists.
(Bonamino, 1999).
A team of intellectuals, called “Pioneers of new Education” (Pioneiros da Educação Nova, in
Portuguese) had a significant role in the integration of vocational education and secondary
education. The new school, defended by “Pioneers of new Education”, represented an
advance in public school, incorporating “part of cultural aspirations of the workers in the
education field”, including, amongst other aspects, democratization of accessing to public
school and the establishment of links between education and work. Despite the importance of
Pioneers’ for education in Brazil, this movement did not eliminate social differences in order
to overcome school dualism”46. (Dore Soares, 1999, p.112).
With the military coup, in the second half of the last century, and the economic development
project put forward to the country, Brazilian education was reorganized in order to respond to
The Organic Laws promulgated in Vargas’ government, under Minister Gustavo Capanema’s administration.
This system included the National Industrial Service (created in 1942); the National Commercial
Apprenticeship Service; the Social Commerce Service, and the Industrial Social Service (created in 1946).
The issue is subject of several studies, amongst which we highlight Dore Soares (1989).
See also DORE SOARES, R. Escola Nova versus Escola Unitária: contribution for debate. Education and
Society, v.54, 1996, p.141-160; DORE SOARES, R. Gramsci, The State and the School. Ijuí: Ed. UNIJUÍ, 2000;
e DORE, R. Gramsci and the debate on public schools in Brazil. CEDES books (UNICAMP), v. 26, 2006 p.
industrial growth demands and qualify workers. At that time, the government executed the
higher education reform (Law nr. 5.540/6847) and also the primary and secondary education
reform (Law nr. 5.692/7148). The law related to higher school contributed to upgrade the
duality in education’s tertiary level, due to the introduction of short careers, aiming at
graduating post secondary technicians49.
Under the dictatorship of the second half of the last century, the government established that
all secondary education should be vocationally compulsory (Law nr. 5692/71). This measure
found great resistance from students, private schools owners and other businessmen. In this
midst, many questions arose regarding the quality of education offered in secondary schools.
Apart from not guaranteeing solid comprehensive education, they were not able to offer
vocational education. This situation culminated with the extinction, in 1982, of obligatory
vocational qualification in high school, which was replaced by “preparing for labor”. (Law nr
7.044/82 ). Also during that period, the Federal Technical Schools in the states of Minas
Gerais, Paraná and Rio de Janeiro were modified. They were converted into Federal Centers
of Vocational and Technological Education (CEFETs in Portuguese). These Centers could
offer different levels of vocational education. (Manfredi, 2002).
The economic crisis verified in Brazil during the eighties, allied to the internationalization of
capitalism, brought an intense technological revolution. The supposed claiming for higher
qualification for the workers constituted a fertile terrain to make another Education Reform.
Eight years after the New Federal Constitution, signed in 1988, in a more democratic context,
emerged a new National Legislation for Education (Law 9394/96). Later on, in 1997,
vocational education was regulated by decree (nr. 2208/97). Intending to deepen the duality
between vocational and secondary education, the government forbade that Federal Vocational
Schools would offer comprehensive education. Students coming from secondary schools
could have their vocational education in vocational schools, during or after their high school
graduation. The extinction of comprehensive education in Federal Vocational Schools would
be gradual, until their complete disappearance. Even before the authoritarian measure from
the federal government, Minas Gerais government begane to eliminate vocational education
in all public schools. The argument of the federal government was that technical and
vocational high schools had been deviating from their specific role of graduating technicians
in order to go to the labor market. Instead of pursuing this goal, the vocational education,
offered by the Federal Technical Institutions, were preparing people for higher education
applications. Concerning Minas Gerais’ state, the extinction of vocational education took
place based on the statement that the vocational schools were not accompanying the changes
that occurred in the labour market. (Dore Soares, 1999).
These proposals were inspired on neoliberal principles and influenced by international
intervention of multilateral organisms, interested in the roots of the Brazilian economy. It
brings the defence of a vocational education that favours private initiative, imposing
restrictions in the organization of curriculums (making obligatory the separation between
vocational and secondary education). In this way, the reform reinforces the Brazilian
education duality. (Oliveira, 2005). Dore Soares highlights that the new legislation favours
BRASIL. Law nr 5540/68. Sets Organization Standards and function of superior education and its articulation
with mid school and other measures. Diário Oficial da União, Edição de 23/11/1968. Brasília, 1968.
BRASIL. Law nr 5692/71. Sets Organization Standards and Bases for Primary and Secondary Education, and
other measures. Diário Oficial da União, Edição de 12/08/1971. Brasília, 1971.
See DORE SOARES, R. Education for tertiary level technician in Brazil: from technical engineer to
technologist. Federal University of Minas Gerais. Faculty of Education. Belo Horizonte, 1983. (Thesis, Master in
the creation of a vocational educational system, parallel to secondary and academic school
organization. (Dore Soares, 1999, p.113).
Still in the mentioned decade, the creation of the National Technological Education System
(Law nr. 8498/94) opens the possibility that the existing Federal Technical Schools would be
transformed into CEFETs. However, the CEFET’s model was mischaracterized (decree nr.
2.406, 1997), and only 12 of them were transformed. 07 institutes were not contemplated by
the legislation. The duality of the high school becomes a more acute issue in the 90’s.
In this century, vocational education had several changes. As part of President Lula’s
campaign, in the year 2004 the authoritarian measure which had separated vocational
education from secondary education was revoked by another authoritarian measure. A new
decree establishes the integration between vocational and secondary education. However, it
did not abandon the principles of the previous decree once it allowed both organizations, that
is, vocational education completely separated from secondary education. (Oliveira, 2005).
Due to Lula’s government commitment to allocate investments in Vocational Education in
Brazil, since 2006 a huge expansion of the Vocational School System and the reorganization
of this modality of education in the country have begun. The federal government proposes a
series of programs destined to stimulate supplying high school education and integrating
secondary and vocational education. This is the case of the Brazil Vocationalized Program,
the Innovative High School Program, and the National Program for the Integration of Upper
Secondary Education with Vocational Education in the Modality of Youths and Adults
Education (Programa Nacional de Integração da Educação Profissional com a Educação
Básica na Modalidade de Educação de Jovens e Adultos – PROEJA in Portuguese). This set
of programs is related to the Education Development Plan (PDE in Portuguese). The referred
plan postulates the need to overcome the false opposition created between high school and
vocational education (opposition marked by the prohibition, in the 90’s, of the articulation
between secondary and vocational education). (Brazil, 2007a). Despite the declared intention
of the government to invest in improving Brazilian education, the Education Development
Plan has received a series of criticisms. It is considered that this Plan was not built from
rigorous examination of the 2001 National Education Plan (PNE in Portuguese), that
important interlocutors were aloof from this process, and that the PDE postpones until 2022
some goals that should have been reached before the PNE expiring date – between 2006 and
2011. The PDE has many actions that are overlapped and the focus on quality is lost by
dispersion of attention and resources. There is no way to provide schools with computers, to
invest both in the expansion of Tertiary Education and Vocational Schools, obtaining the
same level of quality.
Under the PDE scope, the federal government foresees the creation of the Federal Institutes of
Education, Science and Technology as a priority action for vocational education in Brazil.
The policy to organize schools under the “new institutionalism” is still going on and there are
few studies examining this issue. The discussions undertaken by Lima Filho (2010), Ciavatta
(2010), Ferretti (2010) and Silva et al (2009) present some contributions, but are not ample.
Lima Filho, for example, considers that from 2003 until present days there was significant
expansion of the federal network of vocational and technological education in Brazil.
However, the author stresses the existence of a movement of the CEFET´s to be transformed
into technological universities, dedicated only to tertiary education, and understands that this
movement was suppressed when the Ministry of Education established the creation of the
Federal Institutes. For the referred author, the idea of technological university requires further
discussion within the Brazilian context. The reason is that there is a risk in guaranteeing the
universalisation of high school, one of the most expensive educational levels. Furthermore,
the notion of university as a space of plurality of knowledge, allied to the complexity of the
term technology, suggests an inquiry: What can be considered technologic and what can be
considered non-technologic? (Lima Filho, 2010).
In a similar direction, Ciavatta invites us to reflect if the technological university would be the
modality for the federal institutes. Referring to the creation of the federal institutes, she
understands that this process is part of a movement of institutions which are searching for
academic ascension. For the author, “the federal institutions have many responsibilities, as
well as the universities, like teaching, researching and making extension activities, and
maintaining the quality of high school as it is its tradition”. The big question goes further, in
the sense of comprehending if the institutions prepared themselves to be federal institutes of
tertiary level and if they will maintain vocational upper secondary education. (Ciavatta, 2010,
Silva (et al) consider that the emergency of a new institution of vocational and technological
education model will occur starting from the expansion of the federal network that highlights
the necessity of discussion in the institutional organization form in the role of vocational and
technological education institutes in the social development of the country. According to
these authors the institutes figure as “privileged space for democratization of scientific and
technological knowledge”, that opens new perspectives for “medium – technical education,
by means of a combination of science education, humanities and vocational and technological
education”. (Silva, 2009, p.9). These authors also clarify that the federal institutes poses “a
singular nature”, because it is not “common in the Brazilian educational system to attribute to
only one institution performance in more than one level of education”. (Silva, 2009, p.22).
The authors also consider that the super evaluation of superior graduation in our culture will
take the modal of the federal institutes to pass through “difficult exams and it will not be
strange if the school communities there composed feel tempted to identify them as
universities, institutions that already have a consolidated social status”. (Silva, 2009, p.29).
Ferretti recognizes the importance attributed to vocational education in Lula’s government
and punctuates that this finding can be considered “motive of jubilee for some “and
“preoccupation for others”. It’s “motive of jubilee” because it represents investment in
updating the vocational education network, as well as an opening of tenders for teachers. It’s
“motive of preoccupation” because the referred government creates federal institutes and
structures a federal vocational education network whose objective is to promote “the
separation between two education modalities – the secondary and the vocational – replacing,
in other basis, the structural duality of Brazilian education (...)”. In accordance with the
author, although the importance of population access to technical and technological
knowledge, the organization of IFET`s emphasizes the dominion of this knowledge in
detriment of others; underplays a “Politicization of science production of technology, of
techniques and takes as a main focus “the production and the market“. (Ferretti, 2010, p.171).
The author’s preoccupation have fundaments, because the exam of the Brazilian education
policies for high school reveals that the social differences of the capitalist system manifests
themself in the school organization, presenting two types of school: academic and technical
The documental analysis, as well as the field research, confirms the results found in the
literature review; they also indicate that the organization of a "new" institutionalism
represents the consolidation of a school system in Brazil designed specifically to vocational
education and organized separate from “secondary” and academic school.
The documental analysis focused on the legislation that concerns the creation of Federal
Institutes, in documents published by the Brazilian Ministry of Education in the process of
organizing the "new” institutionalism, as well as documents that present the position of
School Councils involved in the mentioned policy. The analysis of this set of documents
indicates that the arguments for creating the FI are similar to those raised in a study by Dore
Soares (1983), which aimed to explain the creation of superior technical courses in the 1960s
in Brazil. The "new” institutionalism, therefore, does not represent "a new concept". Rather, it
takes on an old project that meets where the demands of the capitalist production process for
skilled workers, regional development, equal opportunities of access to education, and
diversification of higher education appear.
The field research also indicates the same reasons for the organization of Federal Institutes in
Brazil. The performance of the field research took place in seven (07) out of the ten (10)
federal institutions of vocational education in the state of Minas Gerais, through the
application of electronic questionnaires and interviews with managers of those institutions. In
a total of 52 managers, 46 answered to the questionnaire and we made a total of nine
interviews. The data reveals that the current policy for organizing the Federal Institutes in
Brazil, in addition to the proposal to extend the supply of upper secondary vocational
education, represents the consolidation of a school system designed specifically for vocational
education and organized separated from the secondary and academic education. Likewise,
according to the managers’ view, the creation of the Federal Institutes presents as the greatest
advantage the expansion of the federal system, with increased the supply of schools and
places for vocational education – and therein lays the importance of Federal Institutes for
Brazilian education. The main damage appointed was the loss of identity of the existing
2. Research conclusion
The main question of this research was the reasons for the reorganization of the institutions of
the federal system of vocation education in Brazil through the establishment of the IF.
Theoretical study, document analysis, and field research allowed us to understand such
reasons. The set of analyzed data reveals that the organization of the school system in Brazil
presents a dualistic configuration, that goes back to the 1930s: a type of school of vocational
education especially intended for the sub-alternate classes; and another type of school of
academic character, destined to prepare individuals to integrate a dominant elite. Nonetheless,
such duality exists in the majority of capitalist countries, as Gramsci demonstrated (Gramsci,
1977) when analyzing the difference between schools in Italy. His theories about the state and
education bring us to think that, despite a significant expansion of the technical teaching
system and its reorganization, the current policies mean a consolidation of a parallel
vocational education system. Therefore, assenting to the pertinence of the hypothesis drawn
up, that is, that the current policy of organization of the federal institutes in Brazil represents
the consolidation of an education network designed specifically to offer vocational education
and organized in parallel to secondary and academic types of school, despite the proposal of
enhancing public offering of medium-level vocational education.
3. Acknowledgement
Our thanks to all the people and institutions that supported our research, especially to: the
managers of the federal schools of vocational education in Minas Gerais, for participating in
the field research; the Montes Claros State University and the Federal University of Minas
Gerais for all the support; and the Foundation for Research Support of Minas Gerais
(FAPEMIG) and Senior Staff Development Coordination (Capes), for the financial support.
Bonamino, Alicia. (1999). Brazilian Educational Policy. Rio de Janeiro: Fundação
Brazil. Ministry of Education. (2007a). The Education Development Plan: Reasons, Principles
and Programs. Brasília. MEC. Available at http://pde.mec.gov.br Access in
Brazil. Ministry of Education Public Calling nr 002/2007. (2007b). Public call for proposals
for the constitution of the Federal Institutes of Education, Science and Technology –
IFET. MEC/SETEC, Brasília, December 12 of 2007.
Brazil. Law nr. 11.892/08 of 29 December 29 of 2008. (2008). Establishes the Federal
Vocational Education, Scientific and Technological Network, creates the Federal
Education, Science and Technological Institutes and other matters. Diário Oficial da
União, Edition of 30/12/2008. Brasília, 2008.
Cara, Daniel. Education Development Plan: Absences and limitations. CNTE. Available at:
http://www.cnte.org.br/index.php/621-retratos-da-escola/retratos-da-escola-numero01/702-plano-de-desenvolvimento-da-educacao-ausencias-e-limitacoes. Access in
Ciavatta, Maria. (2010). Technological Universities: Horizon of Federal Institutes of
Education, Science and Technology (IFETS)? In: Moll, Jaqueline and collaborators.
Vocational and technological education in contemporary Brazil: Challenges, tensions
and possibilities (pp.171). Porto Alegre: Artmed.
Dore Soares, R. (1999). Technical Education in Brazil: 90 years of Federal Technical
Schools. University and Society (ANDES), Brasília, v.18, pp.108-115.
Dore Soares, R. (2001). High school in Brazil: why not unitary? Site Gramsci e o Brasil.
Available at: http://www.acessa.com/gramsci/?page=visualizar&id=12 Access in:
Ferretti, Celso João. (2010). The tensions resulting from the implementation of policies of
Vocational and technological education in IFSP. In: Dalben, Ângela Imaculada
Loureiro de Freitas et al (org.). Convergences and tensions in the training and teaching
field (pp.417-437). Belo Horizonte: Autêntica. (Didactics and teaching practice). Texts
selected from XV ENDIPE., p.420.
Freitas, Helena. PDE: Responsibilities and challenges. CNTE. Available at:
http://www.cnte.org.br/index.php/621-retratos-da-escola/retratos-da-escola-numero01/698-pde-responsabilidades-e-desafios Access in 30/03/2011.
Gramsci, A. (1977). Quaderni Del cárcere. Turim: Einaudi.
Lima Filho, Domingos Leite. (2010). Technological University and redefinition of
institutionalism of vocational education: concepts and practices in dispute. In: Moll,
Jaqueline and collaborators. Vocational and technological education in contemporary
Brazil: Challenges, tensions and possibilities (pp.141-158). Porto Alegre: Artmed.
Manfredi, Silvia Maria. (2002). Vocational Education in Brazil. São Paulo, Editora Cortez.
Oliveira, Elenilce Gomes. (2005). New directions in Brazilian Vocational Education? In:
Sousa, Antônia e Oliveira, Elenilce Gomes. Vocational Education: Contextualized
analysis. (pp.75-96). Fortaleza: CEFET-CE.
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Silva, Caetana Juracy Rezende (Org.). (2009). Federal Institutes Law 11.892 of 29/12/2008:
Comments and Reflections. Natal: IFRN, 2009, p.9.
Changes in association field and educational dynamics: The example of
CRACS (Coletividade Recreativa e de Ação Cultural de Sousela)
Cardoso C.1, Medina T.2
Master in educational sciences, University of Oporto, [email protected]
Faculty of psychology and educational sciences, University of Oporto, [email protected]
Abstract. In this investigation we sought to understand the life cycle of CRACS, and aims to
contribute to the (re) constitution of its history, and reflect upon the dynamics of associative
participation and learning opportunities it promotes. We consider that associative participation
plays an important role in adult education. Being a case study, several techniques/methods have
been used, namely: the biographical narratives, through which it was possible to “hear” the story
of the association in the last 40 years, told by its main characters; and the documentary analysis of
all the documents that still exist in the association. The path of this association allows us to
understand a close link between its history and the social and political changes that occurred in
Portugal in the last 40 years. The history of the association has been divided into three phases. The
different phases identified correspond to different times of participation of people with
consequences in the opportunities to learn. We understand that there are some experiences
transversals to all the phases such as the experience of being an associate and participate. Those
experiences may allow several learning opportunities. It was also possible to also understand that
participation varies according to the amount and diversity of activity, which has consequences in
the learning opportunities. Therefore it is possible to argue that social and political changes that
occurred in Portugal, profoundly affect the life of the association, as well as its ability to establish
as spaces where education occurs.
Keywords: Adult Education, Association, Associative Participation;
In this lecture we are going discuss the participation in CRACS (Coletividade Recreativa e de
Ação Cultural de Sousela – Recreation and Cultural Association of Sousela) throughout its
history and the learning processes that have been happening. In this introduction we will
present this association, and a brief theoretical framework that supports our investigation.
CRACS is located in the rural parish of Sousela in Lousada. The founding members were José
Pacheco, José Ferreira Neto and Francisco Ferreira Neto, but there were several other people
who were actively involved and made possible its constitution. Its statutes were published in
on September 28, 1976, assuming the following main objectives: “to combine their elements
and promote the recreation, popular culture and social welfare in particular for the habitants of
the parish”. With this objective, the concern of its most active members was to ensure that all
people participate in various activities and management of the community. During the first
years of existence, the association had a large number of people involved, and their activity
was very marked throughout the parish, becoming an important centre for local development,
cultural production and dissemination in many different areas, with profound impacts on the
lives of many people, especially young people and women, who have found an important
place in the community of affirmation and freedom. In recent years, this situation has changed
and there are fewer people participating which translates into a lower activity and a smaller
overall share.
After present the CRACS, it is important to clarify which type of association we are talking
about. Analysing the evolution of associations, we understand that they have been changing
over time, as expected, given that societies have been changing too. To deal with social
changes, different associations have been travelling thru different paths, which means that,
presently there are many types of associations. So, firstly, it is important to clarify the type of
association in study. The CRACS is an association that falls within the “old” or “popular”
associativism, defined like the ones that still preserve their autonomy regarding the power
exercised by the state or the enterprises. (Canário, 2009) The popular associations were born
from the mid-nineteenth century, associated with the processes of industrialization and
urbanization, having greatly increased their incidence in Portugal after the April 25 th of 1974,
associated with the freedom gained and the new possibilities opened up by the fall of the
dictatorship. The popular associations are based primarily on logics of militancy and
volunteer management being implemented from the participation of all partners (Canário,
2009; Ferreira, 2011, Lima, 2005; Martins, s/d).
Once we made the division regarding the type of association over which this study is about, it
is also important to reflect on the relevance of these as an object of education. It is consensual
in the academic community that education is in crisis, a crisis that is not only about the
education itself, but also about the way academics think scientifically education (Correia,
1998). In Portugal (and especially since the European economic crisis) education is intimately
associated with school (Ferreira, 2011), but we know that there are other forms of education
besides the formal education. Non-formal and Informal education are defined as important
contributes to the people education since 1974 (Coombs & Ahmed, 1974). Although the idea
of education tends to be very focused in the school and in the childhood, this is a mistake,
because people personality is a construction thru the entire lifecycle in the different
“places/sapces” where each person lives (Lesne, 1977; Dominicé, 1988; Canário, 2006).
Understood in this way,
“the formation resembles a process of socialization, during which family, school and
professional contexts constitute places of regulation of specific processes that are
entangled in each other, giving each person a unique life history” (Dominicé, 1988, p
From this perspective of education, it is considered that education happens in the different
“places/spaces” where the individual is “placed”. This does not mean that all the spaces in
which each person "moves" will always be "educational", it just means they have that
potential, ie, that in those “places/spaces” people may pass thru a transformation in which
acquires a new perspective about himself, about the others and about the world, recognizing
their role in society. (Medina et al, 2013)
Considering this perspective of education, we support that associations are “spaces/places”
where education can happen. The participation in an association, means access to a very broad
range of learning opportunities, given the amount of activities offered by the associations, but
also by the fact that any member, from his life experience participate in the democratic
management of the association itself. Different associated with different degrees of
involvement in the association, may refer to different achievements. For the most restricted of
those exercising leadership positions, the requirements are higher, but the possibilities to learn
are also higher. Individuals are constructed and construct reality around them, although this
process often is not always conscientious to the individual or to those around. In many
associations, beyond the immensity of learning resulting from mere participation, there are
also various activities with an explicit educational intention, examples of which include music
lessons, playing sports and other. At this moment we emphasized that associations are
“places/spaces” where education processes can occur, but this may not happen within the
participation in all associations, because some of them aren´t governed by the principles and
values of democratic citizenship, and this fact restrain the possibilities to learn (Ferreira,
2011). Thus, while recognizing the associations as spaces where education can happen, it
should be noted that this may be more or less "intensity" according to the logic by which
association operate. Even the popular associations that supposedly governed by logics of
activism, volunteerism, and the exercise of democracy, may change with time their logics of
action and can traverse different phases of government.
1. Methodological Issues: “How you going to do that?”
This was the question that the members of the association made when we started talking with
them about the idea of build an history of CRACS. In different conversations with the current
leaders of the association they express their concerning’s about the decrease of participation
in CRACS in the last years. Joining the first idea of write an history of CRACS, with the
concerning’s of the leaders, and the concerning’s of the investigators, we identified the
following objectives:
Contribute to build one history of the association from the voice of its builders –
Leaders and other people with a significant involvement in the association;
Understand the different stages and modes of participation in the association;
Understand the educative impacts of participation in this voluntary movement, for
those who were involved in the investigation;
To accomplish the objectives of this research, the method considered more appropriate was
the case study, because, we intend to thoroughly study the CRACS. We consider that the
knowledge about association is a contribute to understand other associations that were born
after de 25th of April 1974. The case study is a method that involves the use of various
techniques for collecting empiric material. Yin states that
“…evidence may come from six sources: documents, archival records, interviews,
direct observation participant-observation, and physical artifacts.” (Yin, 2009, p. 98)
While there are these six types of information sources in the research we chose to primarily
mobilize the analysis of documents and biographical narratives, since we understand that
those were sufficient to achieve the purpose of the investigation.
The biographical narratives are a particular type of interview that give greater importance to
the subjects and their subjective narratives, allowing
“another understanding of individual and collective history, the different contexts in
which people were involved and participated and social, political, economic and cultural
factors that influenced their life trajectories” (Medina, 2008, p. 79).
This characteristics of biographical narratives were extremely important in the case study of
CRACS by allowing know more detail the conditions of its creation and how it was surviving
over the years. Similarly, it is also important to understand the dimensions of participation in
the voluntary movement, given that they cover the whole life before, during, and in some
cases, after participation in the community (because some elements are no longer participating
along the time). We had done 14 biographical narratives with 15 participants, a couple has
decided that they would be interviewed together.
Document analysis was another very important technique in that it allowed access to a
collection of information that made it possible to locate in time the different events in the life
of CRACS and corroborating several information collected.
The empiric data collected was analysed thru content analysis. The amount of empirical data
was high, so we decided to analyse them in two separated analysis: in the first one we
categorize the data dividing into 3 chronological phases: In the time of “barracão” (first
years), moving to the new headquarters, the crisis sharpens; in the second analysis we built a
table with the following aspects: period of participation, motivations to participate,
motivations to abandon, most relevant moments, singularities, roles played,
achievements/learnings expressed in the interview, considerations about participation.
2. From the fall of the dictatorship of “Oliveira Salazar” to the rescue of
Troika… From the “barracão” to the severe crisis
CRACS, such as many other associations was born after the end of the fascist dictatorship of
Oliveira de Salazar. In the 25th of April 1974 the Portuguese military force started a pacific
revolution putting an end to the fascism and starting a democracy. During the fascism in
Portugal every intent of the people to join was prohibited. In the small parish of Sousela at
that époque there wasn´t any place/space where people can find each other, there were no
coffee, bar or anything also. The only moment when they could see each other was after mass,
in the church, on Sundays. Some of the youngsters wanted to establish an association and they
try it by different ways, but they never succeed. After the Revolution in Portugal, people
experiment a freedom that they have never experienced before, and from that moment it was
possible to create the association. This point is divided into 3 parts, corresponding to the 3
phases of the history of this association.
2.1. In the time of “barracão”/warehouse
In the time of “barracão” refers to the period (about 15 years) in which the headquarters of the
association were in a space designated for “barracão” (warehouse), because of the lack of the
conditions of habitability. This space “... was the factory of Mr. Neto, it was already empty,
everything was over and we asked if Mr. Neto (father of José Neto) could rent it for us to go
there” (António Gonçalves). Despite being a “barracão” all parties talk about this place and
about the moments spent within longing for a time that was very important and transformative
for them.
The begging of the association was in a night, in which the youngsters of Sousela meet in the
school of the parish and “decided (...) to constitute a society in a spirit of openness” (Jose
Neto). Everything was done in a spirit of openness in a democratic environment they lived
after the Revolution. They started the labour in the association before they have done the
statutes. The process to approve the statues was a very long and discussed process. After de
25th of April, in Portugal, people started talking about politics. Everything was about politics,
because they were in the beginning of a democracy. Of course, in CRACS they discuss
politics while discussing the statutes, additionally there were in the association people
associated to different political parties. They call it a “war”, because they discuss for long
hours and very seriously, but those discussions were described as moments for learning
everything about politics and very good moments. This “war” has continued for several years,
even after the statutes were approved. Initially it was essentially between members of two
families “Netos” e “Duartes”, but few years after the foundation of CRACS the family of the
“Duartes” has leaved this association to found other in the same parish. After they leave, the
political “war” was between “Netos” and “Gonçalves”. Although the “war” was essentially
between those families, there were many people participating in the association and in the
political discussion.
When the CRACS started functioning, the people in this small village didn´t have a good
impression of it, because of the political discussed that started. But after a while, “the social
life of Sousela has come to be made in CRACS" (Jose Carlos Meireles). The CRACS as
become a centre of culture, healthy leisure, playing sports and find friends with respect. They
work with different valences, "we began to create various activities such as the case of music,
library, theatre, bar and football "(Alfredo Gonçalves). There were “five committees, each
with 10 elements and from these ten, one was chosen for this commission to be is spokesman"
(Alfredo Gonçalves). Some time latter they also create a commission of folklore. There were
6 commissions with 10 elements each and the 7 th commission constituted for elements of the
other 6, called the coordinator commission. This commission had the mission of coordinate
all activity of the association, but the decisions were always discussed with everyone. This
was a period of strong activity with the involvement of everyone.
2.2. Moving to the new headquarters
Moving to the new headquarters, refers to the time between the construction of the new
headquarters and the first years in which the association has been in this space. The new
headquarters were built in the '80s, a decade marked by the full membership of Portugal to the
European Economic Community (EEC) in 1986. The integration in EEC had a profound
impact on the country at all levels (political, economic and social), and the interlocutors of the
research felt that this was a moment of hope, strength and possibility of realizing a good work
for the local community.
During construction of the new headquarters, all activities continued to be develop in the
“barracão”, however, all attention and efforts were turned to the new space, which, was built
(mostly) by the members, in an experience of collaborative work and participation of
everyone (including in the economic aspect), as José Neto explains: “The new headquarters
took a long time to build because it was made as we had material, sometimes the city hall give
us some material, sometimes other people in the community, and the rest we needed to buy
little by little. It was done for us…” (José Neto).
After a long period of construction the new headquarters were almost finished, but they
needed to complete so “to end they proposed that people lend money, those who had. In short
time, CRACS was committed, was due money and had to move up here and needed to buy
tables, chairs, coffee maker, refrigerator and so on. But there was no money. Then, came the
saviour, Gomes, and they "sold" to the CRACS to Gomes” (António Gonçalves). It is possible
to understand that, such as CRACS had a due and needed to move to the new headquarters,
Gomes had borrowed money to the CRACS, but he wanted to be the new president of the
association. In a general assembly Gomes was elected and finally CRACS as moved to the
new headquarters. At this moment some of the founders started living the association, and the
participation crisis has started. In the new headquarters the associative life was different, after
José Neto (one of the founders and president of the association until the entrance of Gomes)
leave the association the cultural activity had decrease substantially: the theatre, the folklore
and the library disappeared. The bar that was working with the associates until this moment,
was rented to one person and the coordinator commission was substituted by a board. This
means that CRACS had lost a great part of his democratic decision making. They maintain the
sports commission, mainly with the football and the music commission started working badly.
A few years latter the exploration of bar was given to Ernesto. He was a man of great
dynamism, and with the help of some other members of the association had tried to lift up
CRACS. They organized several parties and football tournaments every year. For three
consecutive years they organize also international folklore festivals with “ranches from
Poland, Italy, France and even had a Chinese ranch” (Paul Castro). For many people those
festivals were the most impressive activity that CRACS has done in his entire lifecycle.
Ernesto was in the bar of CRACS for several years, but, one day Gomes (the director since
the inauguration of the new headquarters) wanted to receive the money he had loaned to the
association and decided to open a call to rent the bar to the person who offers more money. In
this situation Ernesto lost the competition and was retired from the bar.
2.3. The crisis sharpens
The new millennium brings a global economic crisis, which hangs at various levels and in
different ways and Portugal is not alien to her. Portugal entered in the single currency in 2002,
achieving the government objective of entering with the ‘forefront’ countries in the Euro.
Under the guise of compliance with the Stability and Growth Pact and the need to reduce the
deficit, Portugal implement a policy of strong restraint in the public investment and in the
individual wage of each Portuguese person (Medina, 2008). With the policies developed,
somehow imposed by the EU, the purchasing power and various social rights have been
declining, which has consequences on the willingness of individuals to participate in the
associative movement, particularly in CRACS, which also goes into a participation crisis.
This crisis is perceived differently by interlocutors of different generations. For older, the
crisis began when it moved to the new headquarters because CRACS was never what it was in
the time of “barracão”, demonstrating in their speeches a great nostalgia that period. For
anyone who has not lived that time in the association, as Luis Leal, the nostalgia is referring
to the time that Ernesto was ahead of the CRACS bar: “I spent my childhood play the ball
here, in this facility. Was here where I began to realize and know better what CRACS was.
When Ernesto step out of the bar, CRACS fell 500%, in all activities” (Luis Leal). When
Ernesto was retired from the association, there some “black” moments in which there wasn’t
anyone to lead CRACS, and even the bar has closed. After those “black years”, some people
started trying to lift up the association. Currently the life of this association is marked by the
presence of a new generation of leaders, who did not know the time of the “barracão” or some
of the founders, and that nonetheless have a deep desire that CRACS is again a centre of
parish development and a meeting point of people around the various activities.
3. Associative participation "In everything that was done in CRACS,
everyone participated… Everyone had work."
During the first years of the CRACS, people's participation was very high. After the move to
the new headquarters have seen a decline in participation that remains, with ups and downs
until the present. In these circumstances, a major concern of virtually all interlocutors of this
research was the participation, questioning themselves, about how we got to this situation
(limited participation), and why people do not participate, and how to get there more
The way CRACS reached the current situation was presented in the previous point, which
outlined a brief history of the association. However, on issues such as:
“What lead actors to act? Why associate in public projects with interests that are not
directly yours? ( ... ) The answers aren´t obvious and the question is open, even by the
deficiency of research in the field of forms of building collective action” (Guerra, 2006,
Thus, and according to the author, although assuming no immediate answers to these
questions, think participation in CRACS can constitute a contribution to the reflection on the
construction of collective action. The main concerns of the elements of CRACS relate,
essentially on what to do and how people participate. This is an issue that is not limited to
CRACS but discussing at other levels, and being a concern for associations and other various
People can participate in CRACS in various ways:
As a member of the board, being in the centre of the collective decision;
As a member of one of the sections (sports, music, folklore, library, bar and recreation
room), involved in making decisions on the section ;
Participating in classes, activities, etc., with no involvement in decision making;
Attending the café/bar or watching the events.
In the different ways of participate, the commitment to the development of associative action
is different and therefore has different consequences at personal and collective level. At the
same time, participation is also strongly related to the meaning that people attribute to it, as
well as issues concerning the free time to spent on it, and the interest in the association and its
activities. From the analysis of participation in CRACS is possible to argue that it can be
considered at three levels:
Global, the extent changes in society have profound impacts on the lives of
individuals and associations. The fascism restrained substantially the possibilities for
people to associate with each other, when it has finished there were new possibilities
with new freedoms for everyone. The first years of democracy, coinciding with the
time of the “barracão” the Portuguese government stimulate the associations, at that
time, there was in the country a strong will to participate at all levels of social life.
This motivate people to participate. In the 90’s the association was building is new
headquarters, in Portugal people had acquired a better level/quality of life, but the
adhesion to the European Community mark a regression in the social policies, the
public investment has decreased as well as the purchase power. At this moment the
participation in CRACS has decreased too. Presently, Portugal is in a severe economic
crisis, with consequences at all levels of society, but especially in the social sector.
Popular associations, like CRACS, survive with little (or even none) public financial
support. The legal constraints to their action are high, this is a sector much more
regulated than in the past, which difficult their action. Generally people is poorer and
need to work many more hours to support themselves. Those are strong constraints to
The level of the association, which concerns with the form of
organization/management is promoting, or not, the involvement of all in developing a
common project. In the time of “barracão” everyone participate in almost everything,
people felt that they have voice, they were listened and they actually participate in
decision making. Since de José Neto left CRACS this was no longer the way of action.
CRACS as passed to a more hierarchical structure, and the participation has decreased.
This allow us to conclude that participation generates participation. And participation
is about participate in the design, preparation, realization and evaluation of the
different activities (Berger, 2004).
On a personal level, which concerns the motivations to participate or not and are
deeply influenced by past levels and a history of personal involvement or family.
4. Learning Opportunities: “Participate in an organization like this is an
experience that enriches people in many aspects”
Based on the historical path of CRACS, we can say that this is a place to create bonds of
friendship, fun, for leisure time, conversation, interesting activities and also a place where
people experience many experiences and where learning occurs. The CRACS has been
constituted as a particularly significant educational space, within which, through action and in
action, taking initiative, and risking missing, many people have learned. As stated Belém
Neto, “there were errors were committed, that if we had the experience we have today,
probably wouldnt have happened” (Belém Neto), which means that participation in the
associative movement has itself, educational potential. Analysing the history from this point
of view, in the warehouse phase, along with an intense general activity in which many
participated and allowed particularly significant learning opportunities, the association was
organized into various committees that were developing their action in their respective areas
(theater, folklore, bar, library, music and sports), which also allowed for more specific and
individual learning. Nowadays, there are less learning opportunities, coinciding with a lower
activity (limited to football, music and some organized tours) and a logic of
organization/management less participated. As all participants of the research recognize, not
always explicitly, participation allows the realization of multiple learning, first learning to be
associate and to participate, through processes that involve establishing meaningful human
relationships and knowing many people with whom you exchange varied experiences.
From the analysis of the evolution of learning we can conclude that learning opportunities
have changed due to a change in the types of action developed in the association along the
time. So, there are some learnings that are specific and particular, because they occur
depending on the activities offered by the association and the activity each person choose to
participate. There are other learnings that are transversal to all phases, such as being a
member, being a leader, exercise citizenship/democracy or establishing significant
relationships. Both types of learning are influenced by the type or management developed. If
the management is more participated there are more possibilities for people to learn.
5. Some concluding aspects
The history of the association took a great centrality, because people wanted to talk about this
story, which was deeply meaningful in their lives, especially for those who participated in the
time of the “barracão”. For these people, participation in CRACS is a very important part of
his life story.
The association is a process in constant transformation because changes along with society.
Perhaps this change in recent years has been faster, because society is changing more rapidly.
Being a local movement, is exposed to global influences and therefore does not admit any
simplistic readings of the processes.
In the past, all members were volunteers who worked for and in the association for free.
Currently, the situation is not the same. The bar is a concession to someone who is not a
member of the association, the animator/coordinators of some activities are no longer
volunteers. Somehow, one can say that the association rents its facilities to people in different
areas develop their action. Of course all this has consequences, such as losing little by little,
the character of volunteerism and activism that was characteristic of these associations.
Being Sousela a small rural village, through CRACS became known in many other places,
this refers to the impact of CRACS not only in Sousela, but also in other contexts. In Sousela,
was established as a dynamic hub of the town. In addition to the activities conducted by the
herself, sought to develop initiatives with other institutions such as the School, the Parish
Council, City Council and even businessmen in the region involving them in common
6. Acknowledgement
We would like to thank Luis Leal, Alfredo Gonçalves, Bethlehem Neto, Paulo Mendes,
Fernando Gonçalves, Lazaro Costa, José Neto, Ernesto Gonçalves, Fatima Santos, Paulo
Castro, José Carlos Meireles, Pacheco, José Ribeiro, Ernesto dos Santos and António
Gonçalves, for their availability and openness to share their lives and experiences with us. We
also thank all the people who ever gave something of themselves to build CRACS and for
making it possible that CRACS survive until today and is still a mark on the lives of so many
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Students' profiles from Secondary Vocational Education in Brazil and the
school to work transitions: a socioeconomic, educational and occupational
Edmilson Leite Paixão50, Rosemary Dore51, Umberto Margiotta52, João Bosco Laudares53
Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Department of Education, Brazil
and Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE), Italy, [email protected]
Federal University of Minas Gerais, Department of Education, [email protected]
Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE), Italy, [email protected]
Federal Centre of Technical and Technological Education of Minas Gerais (CEFET-MG) and
Catholic University of Minas Gerais (PUC Minas), Brazil, [email protected]
Abstract. The goal of this paper is to present results of a scientific study (Observatory of
Education, CAPES54) and of a Ph.D. thesis 55 about the occupational status of secondary graduated
students and dropouts through the analysis of their transition from technical and vocational school
to work, as well as their occupational profiles. The students' samples come from 37 schools in the
Federal System of Technical Education at Minas Gerais State, Brazil. These investigations are
funded by the Research Brazilian Agencies: CAPES and CNPq 56. They are theoretical research
concerning school to work transition, school completion, school dropout concepts, on the one
hand, and, on the other hand, by means a quantitative and exploratory research that investigates the
occupational profiles of two samples of students from 37 vocational secondary schools at the
Federal Vocational System in Brazil: 1.504 subjects sampled and spread throughout Minas Gerais
State. School to work transition and the Philosophy of Praxis' categories were set as the main
theoretical framework to the thesis research in a historical, political and economical view. At this
paper, as so in the concluding remarks, is presented a comparative overview of the occupational
status of graduated and dropout students based on the analysis of the two statistical samples. It is
also presented a hierarchical factorial factors significantly associated to three different kinds of
students' transitions: the technical course choice factors; the dropping out factors; and the
conclusion factors. So, it is set the key lines of the occupational profiles of these individuals and
their different pathways from vocational school to work transition.
PAIXÃO, Edmilson Leite is Ph.D. in Education by Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil, and
Ph.D. in Scienze della Cognizione e della Formazione by Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE), Italy. He
works as a researcher to the Brazilian Government, Ministry of Education.
DORE, Rosemary is Ph.D. in Education by the Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC SP). She is a teacher at
the Ph.D Program of Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), Brazil.
MARGIOTTA, Umberto is a teacher and coordinator of Ph.D. Program in Scienze della Cognizione e della
Formazione at Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE), Italy.
LAUDARES, João Bosco is Ph.D. in Education by the Catholic University of Sao Paulo (PUC SP). He is a
teacher at the Ph.D Program at Federal Centre of Technical and Technological Education of Minas Gerais
(CEFET-MG) and teacher at Ph.D. Program at Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Coordination for the Improvement of Higher Education Personnel, project 89.
PAIXÃO, Edmilson Leite. Transição de egressos evadidos e diplomados da Educação Profissional para o
mundo do trabalho: situação e perfis ocupacionais de 2006 a 2010. Tese (Doutorado em Educação) pela
UFMG/FaE - Brasil e Tese (Doutorado em Scienze della Cognizione e della Formazione) pela Università Ca'
Foscari di Venezia - Centro Interateneo per la Ricerca Didattica e la Formazione Avanzata (UNIVE / CIRDFA) Itália. Financiada pela CAPES e com bolsa de doutorado CNPq no exterior (cotutela Itália), 2013.
CAPES supports these investigations by means of direct resources and scholarships (890.948,02 Euro,
according to Brazil Central Bank, 30/05/2014), and the CNPq (National Council for Scientific and Technological
Development) supports the researchers and doctoral students with funds and scholarships abroad.
Keywords: School to Work Transition; Socioeconomic, Educational and Occupational Profiles;
Dropping out in Technical Education; School Completion.
This paper aims to present results of a scientific study (Observatory of Education) and a Ph.D.
thesis57 on the occupational status of secondary graduated and dropout students. The research
focus is to analyze their transition from vocational school to work, as well as through the
structuring of their occupational profiles. The two students' samples come from 37 secondary
vocational schools at the Federal System of Technical Education of Minas Gerais State
(RFEP) - Brazil. The researches are supported by the Brazilian Coordination of Improvement
of Higher Education Personnel (CAPES) and by the National Council for Scientific and
Technological Development (CNPq).
The thesis research was done in Brazil and in Italy - co-supervision thesis -, by means of
international agreement signed between the Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG), and
the Ca' Foscari University of Venice (UNIVE). The co-supervisors were professor Rosemary
Dore in Brazil (UFMG, Department of Education), and professor Umberto Margiotta in Italy
(UNIVE, Department of Philosophy and Education). Umberto Margiotta is an Italian expert
in teacher training and school dropout issues (MARGIOTTA, 1997; 2007).
The micro data collection, extracted from the "CAPES Program: Observatory of Education"
(DORE SOARES, 2010), Project 89, was done using two different sets of questionnaires,
applied from 2011 to 2013, to individuals in two main subject samples: 762 dropouts and 742
graduated students from 37 secondary Vocational schools at Minas Gerais State. The micro
data, extracted from primary sources, were related to their academic period from 2006 to
The research key question inquired about the occupational situation of graduated and dropout
students transiting (out) from the Federal System of Vocational Education to the world of
work, by means variables (issues) simple and compound significantly associated in two
surveys. This question was answered by the analysis of three subjects' profiles, namely, PSE Socioeconomic and demographic profile; PED - academic or educational profile and POC Occupational Profile.
To collect micro data, held through two surveys, two complementary questionnaires were
applied to the two different subject samples.
Two research hypotheses also guided the thesis construction: the hypothesis of a better
statistical employment situation of graduated students in face of the dropouts' occupational
situation. The other hypothesis establishes that the two subject samples were coming from
lower economic classes, and not from a "wealthy elite" as advocated since the 1990s, a
Brazilian author named Claudio de Moura e Castro (Castro, 1994; 2000; 2005; 2007; 2008).
From a conceptual standpoint, school dropping out was understood as a situation where "the
student was enrolled in vocational and technical courses and participated in at least 25% of
the school year, but left the course without getting a technical degree and not completing
some of the steps required course: course (s); specialized training program, training program
report" (DORE SOARES et al., 2011, p.15, our translation).
PAIXÃO, Edmilson Leite. Transição de egressos evadidos e diplomados da Educação Profissional para o
mundo do trabalho: situação e perfis ocupacionais de 2006 a 2010. Tese (Doutorado em Educação) pela
UFMG/FaE - Brasil e Tese (Doutorado em Scienze della Cognizione e della Formazione) pela Università Ca'
Foscari di Venezia - Centro Interateneo per la Ricerca Didattica e la Formazione Avanzata (UNIVE / CIRDFA) Itália, 2013.
The graduated student who has finished his/her technical course was considered one "that
effectively concluded the regular studies, training program and other activities under the
technical course plan and is eligible to receive or have already received the diploma." (MEC,
2009, p.10, our translation).
This article presents initially the research context: how the General and Vocational Secondary
Educational Systems in Brazil are organized. Then, it shows some considerations on the
transition from school to work. Finally, it discusses some results by showcasing and
comparing the students' occupational profiles concerning their transition from school to work.
Concluding the text, some comparative reflections on the students' profile from the Federal
System of Vocational Education in Brazil are presented.
1. The General and Vocational Secondary Education in Brazil
In Brazil, secondary education (general and vocational) has registered in 2011 ca. 8.400.689
youths between 15 and 17 years old (INEP, 2011a, 2011b). The secondary vocational
Education at all administrative sectors (Federal, State, Municipal, and Private Sector) has a
total of 1.250.900 students enrolled. From these figures, as a thesis chief research field, this
paper presents results exactly from the Secondary Federal System of Vocational Education
where are enrolled circa 189.988 students at nationwide level.
2. The context of Secondary Vocational Education (VET) in Brazil
Brazil is a big democratic country that occupies an area of 8.515.692,27 Km 2 which is 47,3%
of the total area of the South America territory. With a population estimated to be
190.755.799 million people (IBGE, 2011), 47,58% of the South American total population,
the country is living an extraordinary social and economic expansion since its return to
democracy in 1980. 2011, Brazil ranks sixth as major world economy with a GDP estimated
in USD 2.492 trillion Dollars. The last twenty-five years for the country was a period of the
Brazilian international expansion in many areas: economical, political, social, and educational
fields. It has expanded a lot the size and the quality of its educational system: the secondary
vocational education (VET58), and as well specially at the tertiary and post-graduation
3. Brazilian Educational Administrative Structure
Brazil is, administratively, distributed in three political levels: the Federal Government, the 27
States, and more than 5.565 counties. In educational terms, the Federal Government has the
general responsibility of providing educational laws and to manage directly the tertiary and
the post-graduation system (See Figure 1 - VUE59, 2012). Beyond that the Federal
Government manages and provides directly excellent Federal Secondary Vocational
Education through more than 366 vocational schools distributed by the following institutions:
Federal Institutes of Science and Technology (IFET); Federal Centers of Technological
Education (CEFET); technical schools linked to big federal universities, and the Parana’s
State Technological University (UTFPR). This set of institutions are organized and
administrated by the Federal Network of Vocational, Scientific and Technological Education
(Brazilian Ministry of Education).
VET: Vocational Education and Training.
VUE: Visual Understanding Environment is software developed by Tufts University in the University
Information Technology - Version 3.1.2, 2012.
For this paper the Federal Vocational Network is precisely the wider Ph.D. research field
where the subjects have been selected and the surveys and other instruments have been
applied. So, as a note, the major part of the Brazilian vocational educational data registered in
this paper is about this Federal Vocational Network.
At the Figure 1 it is possible to observe some of the key elements from the Brazilian
Educational Administrative Structure. It highlights the secondary VET Educational in Brazil.
So, on this map it is possible to understand clearly the diverse range of the Brazilian
administrative spheres of educational competence.
Figure 1 Brazilian Educational Administrative Structure.
Source: Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC), Brazil. Amplified from Dore Soares e Lüscher
(2008), 2011.
About the structure and functioning of the Brazilian administrative and educational system it
shows that Brazil has a complex Educational Administrative Structure. It has a progressive
Educational System that allows student admission to all educational levels by several
itineraries as illustrated in Figure 1. As example that commitment with the integration of the
secondary VET, on one side, and the (post) tertiary education in a vertical educational system
is highlighted by the conferences of the former and actual Director 60 of the Federal Centre of
Technological Education of Minas Gerais State (CEFET-MG), a centennial Brazilian VET
institution: on the occasion of approval of the CEFET-MG's first Ph.D. Program 61, Prof. Dr.
CEFET-MG former and actual General-directors: Dr. Flávio A. dos Santos and Dr. Márcio S. Basílio.
Computational and Mathematics Modeling Doctorate Program (CEFET-MG) approved on mai 25th, 2012.
Henrique Elias Borges, one of its key leaders, posed in the web institution journal 62 the
following statement: “… the CEFET-MG also achieves one of its most important goals, which
is to provide a public education, free and excellence in all levels of education, from secondary
and technical education to the Ph.D. level" (CEFET-MG, 2012, our translation).
3.1. Brazilian Educational System
The Brazilian Educational System, represented below, Figure 2 (VUE, 2012), has some
characteristics that are important to understand.
Accordingly to the Brazilian Basic Educational Census (INEP, 2011; 2012), Brazil has
194.932 teaching establishments in the country's Basic Education where are enrolled
50.972.619 students (See Table 1).
In public schools there are 43.053.942 students enrolled (84.5%) in public schools and
7.918.677 (15.5%) in private ones. Municipal educational networks are responsible for almost
half of the total enrollments (45.7%), the equivalent of 23.312.980 students, followed by the
State network with 19.483.910 students (38.2%).
Table 1 Brazilian Basic Education Enrollment by Modality, Teaching Level and according to
the Administrative Sector in Brazil – 2011.
Basic Education Enrollment by Modality and Teaching Level
Regular Teaching
Infantile Education
Day Care
(age 0-3)
Fundamental Teaching
(age 4-5)
2.298.707 4.681.345
1.461.034 3.493.307
828.200 1.130.307
30.358.640 16.360.770 13.997.870
16.526.069 11.138.287
neously or
Youth and Adults
Special Education
Source: MEC/Inep/Deed. School Census 2011.
1.The educational modalities in Brazilian Basic Education are Regular Teaching, Adult Teaching and Special Teaching.
The Teaching levels go to Infantile Education to Common Classes of the Special Education.
2.Does not include enrollment in complementary care classes and specialized educational services (AEE).
3.The same student may have more than one registration.
4.Fundamental school: includes fundamental school enrollments of the 8 and 9 years classes.
5.Secondary school: includes integrated Secondary school enrollments to vocational education and normal school teaching.
6.Common Special Education classes: enrollments are already distributed in terms of regular education and / or Youth And
Adults Education.
7.Youth and Adults Education: including presential and semi-presential Youth and adults registrations integrated to
Professional Education and Secondary Education.
As Table 1 shows, the Brazilian Vocational Education has three possibilities of combination
between VET and Secondary School Education to structure the Secondary Technical courses:
1) the Professional Course integrated to the Secondary General School curriculum with only
one registration number per student in a commonly called Secondary Integrated Technical
CEFET-MG. The web journal can be read on <www.cefetmg.br>.
Course; 2) The Secondary simultaneously Technical Course needs two registration numbers
and the student makes his technical course in a VET School and the Secondary General
Course in a Secondary Regular School; 3) in the Secondary Subsequent Technical Course the
student makes his technical course after the completion of the general Secondary studies.
On Table 3 shows the Basic Education enrollments by modality and teaching level in Brazil –
Table 3. Evolution of Basic Education Enrollments by Modality and Teaching Level in Brazil
– 2007-2011
Basic Education Enrollment by Modality and Teaching Level
Youth and Adults
Regular Teaching
Special Education
6.509.868 1.579.581 4.930.287 32.122.273 17.782.368 14.339.905
6.719.261 1.751.736 4.967.525 32.086.700 17.620.439 14.466.261
Secondary Professional
or subsequent)
6.762.631 1.896.363 4.866.268 31.705.528 17.295.618 14.409.910
6.756.698 2.064.653 4.692.045 31.005.341 16.755.708 14.249.633
6.980.052 2.298.707 4.681.345 30.358.640 16.360.770 13.997.870
Infantile Education
Day Care
(age 0-3)
Fundamental Teaching
(age 4-5)
School and
Source: MEC/Inep/Deed. School Census 2011.
Notes: See Table 2 above.
According to Table 4, in 2011 the Federal System participates with 0.5 % of the total Basic
Education Enrollments and has 257.052 enrollments.
Tabela 4 – Basic Education enrollments by administrative sector in Brazil – 2007-2011
Basic Education Enrollment
Public Sector
Private Sector
∆% 2010/2011
Source: MEC/Inep/Deed. School Census 2011
As it can be seen on Table 4, the public enrollments in the Brazilian Basic Education in 2011
has drop 2.1% in relation to 2010 and 7.7% in comparison to 2007. In contrast, the private
network Basic Education grew, in 2011, 4.7% compared to 2010, keeping the trend of
previous years. The major growth of the private Basic Education in Brazil happened between
2007 and 2008, corresponding to 11.20%; after 2008, the private network average growth is
around 3.7% per year. Observing the enrollment by administrative sector, the remarkable
growth of over 9.3% in the Federal Basic Education system, the greatest the country has had,
if compared to other educational systems, as those of the Municipality and the State. In fact,
the Federal Basic Education network average growth, between 2007 and 2011, is around 8.5%
per year.
3.2. The Secondary Education Profile in Brazil in 2011
Secondary education in Brazil presents a difference between the total demographic population
expected to this level and the field reality of 2011 enrollments. That difference is estimated to
be 19.2%. In 2011 there are 8.4 million enrollments and the equilibrium would be reached if
the whole 10.4 million of youth population aged 15 to 17-years-old would be enrolled in it.
The 2011, Brazilian frame of the secondary education designed by the INEP data (2011;
2012) is described below in numbers and rates.
In the Figure 2 is illustrated also a fundamental point: the Brazilian vocational system is not
terminal allowing the secondary VET students to go till the end of the post-graduation
educational system.
The arrows inside the map 2 indicate, in 2011 and 2012, the enrollments increasing,
stability or decreasing trends (INEP, 2011; 2012) in the Brazilian secondary school as well in
the secondary establishments that offers inclusively the ISCED 3 plus VET and properly in
the secondary Brazilian VET schools.
The total number of enrollments in the whole levels of basic educational (BE) in Brazil 2011
is 50.972.619 (INEP, 2011; 2012). Comparing with 2007, the Figure 2 (INEP, 2011; 2012)
indicates that the basic educational (BE) total rates for 2011 had 1,13% of enrollment
decrease, a reduction of 577.270 students, attributed by the government to an educational
system stabilization. The infantile education enrollments rates of 2007-2011 suffered an
increase of 11% especially in pre-school education that caters for children until 3 years old,
before the ISCED 0 (UOE, 2010).
It is possible to identify some stability of the Brazilian Secondary Education enrollments from
2007 to 2011 because the enrollments rate for this level grew only 0,5%.
The fundamental education in Brazil is completed after nine years of schooling in 2011,
nowadays following the statistical framework of OECD countries, namely, ISCED 1 and 2
varying from 9 to 10 years of schooling. That situation was different in 2007 when it only
eight years were necessary for finishing this level.
About the first portion of the Brazilian Basic Education flow, the 6 to 14-years-old
enrollments are superior in 3,9% (INEP, 2011; 2012) of the total Brazilian population
expected to be in classroom at this age. That is 29.204.148 people (IBGE, 2011). This
indicates a student’s hindrance in that educational level. On the other side, according to the
INEP in 2000 the difference was much worse: 20.0%.
VET enrollments
grows 60,0 %
from 2007 to 2011
Secondary Educ.
enrollments grows 0,5 %
from 2007 to 2011
1,13 %
11,0 %
0-3 years-old
Figure 2. Brazilian Educational System trends in 2011.
Legend: the arrow indicates the enrollments increasing, stability or decreasing* trends in
2012 in the Brazilian (VET) secondary schools.
Source: Brazilian Ministry of Education (MEC). Basic Educational
Census 2011 (INEP, 2011; 2012)*. Amplified from Dore Soares and Lüscher (2008).
The Secondary Education institutions (Federal, State and Private Education Networks), the
possibilities of technical and vocational and training education (TVET) itineraries and
enrollments in Brazil are expanding fast stimulated by Federal Public Policies based on funds
releasing and TVET network physical and political expansion. That is the reality during three
successive Brazilian Governments: two terms of the Dr. Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva 63 (20032011) plus the actual Government of Dr. Dilma Roussef (2011-2015)64.
The Table 5 sets with more details the growing rates of the Brazilian Secondary Vocational
Education at the five years.
Table 5 Secondary Vocational Education enrollments by Administrative Sector in Brazil –
Secondary Vocational Education Enrollments by Administrative Sector
Private Sector
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, 35. º President of Brazil ruled for two terms from 2003 to 2011.
Dilma Rousseff, 36. º President of Brazil ruled since 2011 to the present.
∆% 2010/2011
Source: MEC/Inep/Deed. School Census 2011
1. Does not include enrollment in complementary care classes and specialized educational services (AEE).
2. The same student may have more than one registration.
3. It Includes Secondary Integrated Technical enrollment numbers
Those policies for example in the Federal TVET Network are focused and committed with the
TVET advance to the Brazilian small cities and or rural areas. The Brazilian Ministry of
Education is investing for 2014 in the Federal TVET Network more than a half billion Euro in
the Professional Educational expansion policies. It is expected that the actual 354 TVET
Federal school units (400.000 schools) in 2014 will grow to 562 physical Federal units
connecting more than 600.000 school places. Maintaining constant the actual enrollment
offerings of the State and Private TVET networks in Brazil, these numbers of Federal school
places would correspond to 50% of the whole TVET.
Public Sector
Figure 3 illustrates the specific and relative participation of each Administrative Sector in the
Brazilian Secondary Vocational Education in 2011.
Source: MEC/Inep/Deed. School Census 2011.
The Brazilian School Census 2011 (INEP, 2011; 2012), as illustrated by the Figure 3 above,
confirms that trajectory of expansion of VET in Brazil. VET enrollments in 2007 were
780.162 and reached in 2011 the number of 1.250.900 enrollments: 60% growth in that
period. That TVET expansion and strengthening trends are followed and have produced in the
scholar field a decrease of the TVET quality levels.
4. School to Work Transitions
The transitions of young and adult people from school to work, and into adulthood, result
from complex social constructions, and they are loaded with multiple meanings, both for
individuals and for society. This passage, in contemporary times, is no longer a reasonably
quiet, almost linear, transition from school to work as it was in the past with a stable
employment for life: a smooth pathway that occurred for many generations of young people
and adults almost till the 1960's.
This means that the young and adults have to face transitions from school to a work
environment no longer marked by the stability of the traditional professions (HOBSBAWM,
1995; POCHMANN, 1999), inside occupations based on the qualification model (ZARIFIAN
2001; 2003; LAUDARES & TOMASI, 2003), but they must face their insertion in work
scenarios characterized by the logic of competencies, namely marked, for example, by the
individualization of the worker, the weakening of worker-trade union links and by constant
stimulus to the acquisition of new behaviors, skills and attitudes. These attributes are geared
almost exclusively to increase the productivity and they are increasingly synchronized with
the business world (FERRETI, 1994; HIRATA, 1994; TARTUCE, 2002; 2004; 2007).
With the current capitalism, stressed by fast changes, the transitions experienced by young
people occur in societies established upon increasingly complex social relations. Within this
context, the transition process experienced by the young and adult in their socialization
processes, involves the transition to adulthood, the transition from school to work, the
transition to higher education institutions and lifelong learning and studies, inside
environments marked by social inequality (PAIS, 2001; FRIGOTTO, 2003; FRIGOTTO,
The severity of social and economic inequality imposed on young and adults was
appropriately reported from the nineteenth century in Marx writings (1985), and also was
criticized by two other major scholars, namely, Paulo Freire in Brazil (FREIRE, 1987; 1996)
and Antonio Gramsci in Italy (GRAMSCI, 1999).
These scholars provided a theoretical indication that the present capitalism inequalities and
the capitalism itself will be overcome on the basis of its own internal contradictions by a new
and fairer social and political system.
4.1. Theory of School to Work Transition and Professional Insertion
This paper discuss the transition to work based on theoretical considerations of Pais (2001)
and Almeida (2005), in Portugal, and also with reference to Tartuce (2007), in Brazil.
Conceptually, Almeida (2005) understands the concept of transition in a broad sense. Also
she underscores the difficulty of scoring exactly the initial or final events of the transition
from school to the work, showing that these landmarks have no absolute significance, because
the transition may be initiated before the end of the training school and finish long after
obtaining first job.
Regarding entry into the job, Almeida (2005) highlights the fluidity and polymorphism of the
concept of employability. For her, it is difficult to limit the boundaries of these transitions and
insertion processes; also it is not easy to distinguish them from occupational mobility. This
makes it difficult to know if the young man is still in training or work, unemployed or
between jobs, graduating from school or outside it, or even working at home.
For José Machado Pais (2001), the key point is that the transition of young people and adults
from school to work and their insertion in the productive world are commonly performed by
means of informal pathways.
Referring to this precariousness, the Portuguese scholar Pais (2001) analyzes the background
of Portuguese young people transition to the work in a qualitative perspective.
As recounted in his book, Pais (2001) previously conducted a series of 14 in-depth interviews
based on the method of the stories of life in order to understand the strategies used by these
young people to face and confront their own transition to the work and adulthood.
This scholar aims to show the "techniques" used by young people in their transition to
adulthood as a process "they seek to creatively tackle the dilemmas, difficulties and
challenges that come to them" (PAIS 2001, p.16, our translation), namely, strategies to make
money and life processes: sometimes marginality life, it is marked by randomness and
Opposed to linear visions of the transition to work, Pais (2001) argues that the transition to
work is neither stable nor linear, but rather characterized by progressive succession of steps
toward adulthood not always identifiable or predictable.
With this approach, José Machado Pais is a scholar who can capture lucid pleasures, potential,
troubles and conflicts experienced by young people in their transition from inactivity or from
school to work.
The young people, as Pais (2001, p.10) observes, make a transition to work and adulthood
erratically, suffering with a ' Labyrinth Dilemma', that is translated into the inability to decide
upon the life, academicals or occupational pathways to take.
So, an important reflection of his work (PAIS, 2001), therefore, is that the transition to work
is no more characterized by the vocational and stable linearity of the golden age in Europe
and US, but is progressively being replaced by an insertion in a hostile flexible labor market,
especially negative for youth (OIT, 2013). In this sense, policymakers (educational) in Brazil,
Portugal and the world should be aware.
4.2. School to Work Transition: the Brazilian Thesis (TARTUCE, 2007)
Another academic work that has great interest for this paper is the one referring to the Ph.D.
thesis of Tartuce (2007), which addressed to the transition of young people from school to
work in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The aim of his research was "to analyze how certain groups of young people are experiencing
tensions in their transition between school and work and how they represent the processes to
qualify themselves" (TARTUCE 2007, p.128, our translation). She used a qualitative
methodology, adopting open and in-depth interviews to investigate the transition from school
to work in the lives of young people, aged roughly between 15 and 24 years.
That scholar raised and analyzed seven discursive settings related to professional experience
at employment agencies in Sao Paulo.
According to the author, the young people interviewed in the city of Sao Paulo experienced a
backdrop of tensions in the transition between school and work and represent the processes to
(re) qualify in an arena of reduced job opportunities, increased qualification requirements,
productive restructuring, downsizing and high demand for jobs (with an available job demand
in the reserve army).
Historically, to Tartuce (2007) the problem of transition from school to work only presents
itself when compulsory schooling becomes universal in the mid-twentieth century, with the
emerging crisis between school and the labor market and the arriving uncertainty about the
Along the way it proposes to review the young people speeches about their own transitions,
and the scholar identifies seven discursive configurations to help the understanding of their
experiences and representations about school to work transition: 1) Life experience versus
certified experience ; 2) No experience and no college, time to get a steady job, to enable the
study; 3) time to search for technical training to gain experience; 4) With purpose and
dedication, it creates the opportunity; 5) Technical training in the area as a gateway to input
for growth and professional recognition; 6) Primacy of the study in good colleges and high
cultural capital; 7) Fear of entering the adult world.
In summary, the work of Tartuce (2007) is a great account of the complexity of the young
people and adults' transition to the world of work: from a relative stability in the young people
transition between 1951 and 1973 (European glorious years) to an increasing complexity and
instability in the transition from school to work since the 1970's. Such increasing instability
and complexity are also highlighted in the work of other scholars (PAIS, 2001; ALMEIDA,
In these terms, the transition from school to work is seen by these scholars as a very complex
process involving the young people in a maze of possibilities for precarious transitions, where
the Pais (2001) Yo-Yo transition metaphor well describes well the scroll and progress of the
young adults' pathways presented in order to rewrite their professional careers.
5. Micro data analysis
This section is structured as follows: the presentation of the thesis research data and results
related to the two samples (VET dropouts and graduated students), their discussion and some
important conclusions related to these micro data.
5.1. Socio-demographic and economic profile ( PSE )
With the data from Observatory for Education Program (DORE SOARES, 2010), about the
socio-demographic and economic profile ( PSE ) of the subject samples (dropouts' and
graduated students samples), Paixão (2013), at the Ph.D. thesis research, observed that the
average age of both subject samples was about 26 years old with no statistical significant
difference between them (t = 6.40, p < 0.001) .
The gender distribution among the dropouts' sample: 52.8% are young males and 47.1%
females. In the graduated case students, 54.6% of students were male.
Regarding the color, the dropouts' sample, 4.3% did not disclose what their color was, 44.6%
reported they were white, 13.1% black, 36.7% brown, 0.7% yellow and 0.5% Indian. In the
graduated sample, 2.9% did not disclose what their color was, 45.7% reported they were
white, 9.9% black, 40.9% brown, yellow 0.3% , 0.3% indigenous.
About the civil status in 2011, 77.8% dropouts were single and 15.4% married; 4.3% reported
they were living together with a partner. In the other sample, 75.1% of graduated subjects
were single, 19.2% reported they were married and 3.7% responded that they are living
together with a partner.
Declared not having children, respectively, 82.7% and 80,0% of subject samples: graduated
one and dropouts'.
In both samples, demographic settings by sex, race and civil status showed a very similar
From an economic standpoint, the analysis of statistical samples showed that dropouts' and
graduated samples, in the period from 2006 to 2010, didn't come from families of high
socioeconomic status, but that 76,0% of graduated students received per capita less than R$
2.042,00 (668,68 Euro) per month, and more than 60,0% of them earned less than R$
1.450,00 per month (341,21 Euro: 2 minimum Wages in Brazil - SM). When is analyzed the
total number of dropouts and graduated subjects, 62,0% of the total students' sample came
from families earning up to three minimum wages per month, in average (ie, less than R$
2.074,00, 679,15 Euro, in 2013).
The two following figures (Fig. 4 and 5) show the economical and comparative two samples
behavior (technical graduated versus dropout students) in two different average household
incomes: up to 3 Brazilian minimum wages and beyond that.
Comparatively, the Figure 4 shows that the income distance between VET secondary
graduated and dropout students is greater in household average income established between 0
and 3 minimum wages.
Figure 4 Comparative analysis of actual (2013) average household income. Graduated and dropout
secondary VET students in families income between 0 and 3 minimum wages65. Familiar income
established by the midpoints of classes: 95% CI 66.
Source: Observatory of Education, Project 89, CAPES, dropouts and graduated samples. Developed
by Paixão (2013).
Still comparatively, the Figure 5 shows that the income distance between VET secondary
graduated and dropout students becomes lower in household average income established
beyond 3 minimum wages.
Brazilian minimum wage in 2013, R$ 678,00 (222,02 Euro).
Confidence Interval.
Figure 5 Comparative analysis of actual (2013) average household income. Graduated and dropout
secondary VET students in families income exceeding 3 times the minimum wage 67. Household
income established by the midpoints of classes: 95% CI.
Source: Observatory of Education, Project 89, CAPES, dropouts and graduated samples. Developed
by Paixão (2013).
In the two graphics above, it was observed that the current average household income of
dropout students is 7.74 times the minimum wage, while the same average income VET
graduated students is 8,89 minimum wage. Difference of means t test for independent samples
shows a significant p value (less than 1% probability of sampling error) for the difference
between means.
Comparing the two figures (Fig. 4 and 5), it is possible to conclude that the income inequality
is worse exactly where the families are poorer. In another words, the hypothesis to these
samples behavior is: if the average household income between the two different samples
becomes greater, then the inequality between the two groups trends to increase.
In terms of general economic classes68 output, it was observed that, from 2006 to 2010,
36.12% and 47.43% of the dropout subjects were crowded in economic income families from
classes C and D, respectively at the time of dropping out. In 2011, there was an improvement
of household income of those subjects, 47.30 and 34.45%, in classes C and D, respectively:
ten percentage points of growth in the average income level.
As an important conclusion on the occupational status of these two samples data, as shown at
this section (at the perspective from the socio-demographical and economical profile - PSE),
both samples, young people and adults were about 26 years old and came from families of
low socioeconomic classes. The social and economical situation of VET graduated students is
established all times better than those who dropped out in all the analyzed periods of time.
5.2. Educational profile and academic course ( PED )
Regarding the educational profile ( PED ) of the two sample subjects, it was observed that
over 80.0% of dropouts and graduated students have been studying at Elementary Education
and Secondary public schools, and not at private and paid Basic Education schools.
Another statistics that demystified the idea of elitism in scholar enrollment at Vocational
Education came from the fact that, when comparing school data of the dropouts' parents, it
was observed that 47,7% of their fathers and 42,6% their mothers (52.5% of fathers' and
Brazilian minimum wage in 2013, R$ 678,00 (222,02 Euro).
About the concept of family economic income class, check the "Critério Brasil" (CRITÉRIO BRASIL, 2013)
and "classification of middle socioeconomic status" from Strategic Affairs Secretariat of Brazilian Government
(BRASIL, 2012).
46.1% of the graduated students' mothers) had equal or lower than the elementary school level
Only 8.6% of dropouts' fathers and 11.3% of their mothers have reached a college level.
Among the graduated subjects, only 5.3 % of fathers and 9.5% of mothers held tertiary
education at the time of completion their technical course.
Regarding the dropouts' sample, only 8.5% of them have returned to a technical school to do
the same or another technical course. Only 26.2% obtained a diploma in technical course in a
second attempt. This data points to two key elements: the first is about the importance of
public policies that promote the student will remain at the technical school in his first
opportunity to graduation. From another perspective, it indicates the probability of a student
to dropout again when experiencing a second chance in the same technical area
(RUMBERGER & LIM, 2008; 2011) where he has already dropout the first time. Other rates
indicate that the total of those who have dropped out of their courses, 25.3% were "attending
high school", 19.4% were going into tertiary education and 17.5% did not return to more
In Table 6 below, can be observed the distribution of the main technical education mode
course fulfilled for both samples.
It was noted in this table as an important educational itinerary that almost half of dropouts
occurred in the subsequent course model.
The integrated technical courses are represented at the dropout's sample with a third part of
whole respective subject sample.
Table 6 Percentage distribution of secondary VET graduated students and dropouts by type of
technical course chosen at both two samples.
Course Model69
Dropouts' sample Graduated's sample
"Concomitante Externo" (External Concomitancy)
"Concomitante Interno" (Internal Concomitancy)
Source: Data extracted from the Observatory of Education Program, Project 89. Dropouts' and
graduated students' samples. Developed by Paixão (2013).
This finding is consistent with other studies (NERI, 2009; SOARES, 2010; DORE SOARES
& LÜSCHER, 2011a, 2011b; TCU, 2012) that indicate it is generally higher the dropout in
the subsequent teaching modality. By the thesis data, it was understood that it may occur
because the students have incompatible needs and difficulties when attending at subsequent
modality like to combine at once the job schedules with subsequent studies and or other
activities, such as social life, family responsibilities, and personal conflicting projects.
Subsequent: one student's registration number for the technical course made at the VET institution. In this case
the student has already acquired his secondary studies diploma,
Integrated: only one student's registration number for the secondary and technical courses was made
simultaneously at the same VET institution.
External Concomitancy: two kinds of student's registration numbers at two different institutions: one for the
technical course made at the VET institution and the other registration number for the secondary studies.
Internal Concomitancy: two different kinds of student's registration numbers at the same VET institution: one
for the technical course and the other registration number for the secondary studies.
Indeed, as an example, a previous study (TCU, 2012) highlighted some negative aspects
associated with subsequent technical courses: Brazil has low school completion rates in
subsequent education as well in the integrated education at the Federal System of Vocational
Education: 31.4% and 46.8%, respectively (TCU, 2012). This Federal System has a high
dropout rate (18.9%) in Brazilian subsequent courses in face of the dropout rate in integrated
education, 6.4% (TCU, 2012). The dropout rate in the integrated technical course reported in
this study (TCU, 2012) is very similar to the lower European better rates, around 6.0 %
Finally, these data here exemplified on educational pathways and demystify the idea that
students from the two samples of Federal Brazilian Vocational Education are coming from
higher income social classes or they come from families of the Brazilian economical elite.
5.3. Occupational profile ( POC )
After dropping from their technical courses, 38.9% of subject sample in the survey said they
were already working before dropping out of their courses. In this case, the first dropout
profile has 61.8% of subject sample who were already employed 4-60 months. The subject
sample employed 12-48 months was equal to 39.6% of the cases.
From those did not seek work, a second dropout profile: 38.7 %.
In the third dropout profile, 18.1% have achieved their first job after school dropouts: the
accumulated 44.9% of the third profile obtained their first job in the first quarter after
leaving technical school, 64.5%, 72.5% and 90.6%, achieved their first job in the 2 nd, 3rd and
4th quarters, respectively.
These three profiles match in the research about 95.8% of dropout sample cases, and these
figures show that two thirds of the students who have dropped out from their technical
courses were already working with some experience in the labor market.
In terms of educational pathways, the three dropout sample profiles highlighted above pointed
to students who seek surely an education, but one that is different from the secondary
technical or vocational education.
The labor contract in 2011 for the three dropout profiled groups indicates a situation of
relative labor protection of and welfare: 54.2% of formal employees' contract and 12.5% are
government employees; 7.8% are freelancers and service providers and 4.5% are business
owners or have their own business. Are busy in the Tertiary Sector of productive Brazilian
activity, 78.7%, most of the cases; 13.8% are in the Manufacturing (secondary) sector, and
7.5% work in the primary sector of the Brazilian economy.
The relationship between the academical field of training received by dropouts and their
actual jobs shows that approximately 70.0% of the subject sample say they have never
worked in the technical course field.
In another sample, the situation is reversed and 64.5% of graduated sample are working in
2011 in fields related to the technical training received at secondary technical school. That
indicates the efficiency and effectiveness of the technical courses of the Federal System for
Professional Education in inserting these graduated students into the productive world in a
given technical field.
Conclusively, in regard to the above occupational profile, the thesis (PAIXÃO, 2013)
observed that the subjects of the two samples come from families of poorer or popular
economic classes, who needs to work and study (30.9% and 43.1%, dropouts and graduated
students, respectively), and accumulate weekly working time superior to 40 hours (51.4% doe
dropouts and 61.0% for graduated). It is important to emphasize the worker profile of these
subjects' sample: 73.5% of graduated students and 66.4% of dropouts "just work" or "work
and study". So, are strongly embedded in the labor market, pointing to that work and his
earned income is very important for one's academic and professional career and life, including
as part of enabling their transition processes from work to work, and from school to work and
vice versa.
5.4. Factors associated to the technical courses' choice, dropping out and conclusion ( POC )
At the Ph.D. thesis was made a factorial hierarchy of reasons (factors) significantly associated
to the technical course choice by the dropout students. Was made also a list of factors linked
to the dropping out behavior itself; and, finally, another hierarchy of factors associated to the
technical course conclusion behavior.
Below is presented the tables of these three kinds of hierarchies. The theory debate related to
these hierarchy frameworks is based on the 306 significant samples study review made by
Rumberger & Lim (2008).
As a note, in the following tables are placed in bold the factor titles (of choice, dropout or
completion) associated more strongly with the occupational status of graduated or dropout
student samples.
Table 7 Hierarchy of factorial reasons for choosing a technical course in Federal VET System
(RFEP) in Brazil and its relation to occupational status - dropouts' sample:
Technical Course Choice Associated Factor
(sample: 762 students)
Factor 1 - Gratuity and quality of the course
Rumberger & Lim (2008)
Factor 2 - Good salary expectations/profession Individual
Source: VET dropouts' sample by factorial analysis and other statistical techniques. Data extracted
from the Observatory of Education Program, Project 89. Developed by Paixão (2013).
The "gratuity and quality of the course" may have been the factor that is influencing
decisively the students' decision to choose the technical course at the Federal VET System in
Brazil. After this choice, a year and a half, is the time spent for these students for dropping
out and leaving behind that VET choice. That factor is a reason related to the dropouts'
economical and social disadvantaged background, whose bad economic situation can
prioritize the dropouts' choice for a technical course based on its gratuitousness and quality.
This factor can indicate also that these sample subjects come from lower Brazilian economic
classes and that such a choice could be motivated exactly by dropouts' bad economical and
occupational situation marked by low-income.
The second main reason for choosing the VET course, "Good salary
expectations/profession" reinforces that conclusion, because this factor is directly linked to
the student's expectations of who made the choice (future dropout student) to improve his
wage income and get a good placement in the working world in the future.
Still about the second reason (Factor 2), the questionnaires' results highlighted the importance
and centrality of work for subject sample portrayed while their responses emphasizes the
basic need for getting a job and improve their income and occupational status as a central
element and essential to the existence of the individual.
The next Table 8 shows the hierarchy of factorial reasons for early leaving the technical
Table 8 Hierarchy of factorial reasons for early leaving the technical course in RFEP and its
relation to occupational status - dropouts' sample:
Rumberger & Lim (2008)
Associated SubPerspective
Factor 1 - Organize simultaneously work and study Individual Behaviors Work
Dropout Associated Factor
(sample: 762 students)
Factor 2 - Lack of interest by profession or course
Work / Engagement
Factor 3 - Option for Tertiary Education
Factor 4 - Great amount: scholar material or content
Factor 5 - Difficulties: financial or with teachers
Institutional School
Social Relations
Factor 6 - Lack of educational help or support
Institutional School
Factor 7 - School/teacher's detachment for students
Institutional School
Factor 8 - Bad school quality and bad teaching
Institutional School
Source: VET dropouts' sample by factorial analysis and other statistical techniques. Data extracted
from the Observatory of Education Program, Project 89. Developed by Paixão (2013).
Among the first three factors associated with the dropping out, the first of them, "organize
simultaneously work and study" (26.1 % of total dropouts' sample), had strong statistical
relationship as a reason for dropping out and as a youth main decision-making element.
According to the Student and School Performance Model (RUMBERGER & LIM, 2008), this
sub-factor is established mainly on individual behavior perspective (within and outside the
school) and expectations about the employment or job. From this perspective, as factorial
loadings, the decision of the student, especially linked to issues of acquisition of higher
income, is presented as « actually occupational needs of work and professional needs
(financial needs) » and are crucial for the decision-making to drop out the technical course.
The centrality of the work in the decision-making processes also seems to be more linked to
the pragmatic need for better income and stable jobs than the factors connected to subjective
reasons for vocational, professional achievement and personal empowerment.
In a comparative analysis, an earlier study, Soares (2010) developed a statistical survey where
he found about 60.0% of the subjects sample reported that the factor "organize
simultaneously work and study" was the key reason for their school dropping out. The
Soares (2010) research was made at the Regular System of Secondary Education in the State
of Minas Gerais. At this sense, the present Ph.D. thesis confirms and reinforces the findings
of Soares (2010). Another important conclusion of this scholar is that the age-scholar grade
distortion (scholar-age delay) was one of the main variables that hinder the link between work
and study, since the older student, especially male, feels pressured to work, and hence, might
feel forced to drop out the school.
The second most significant factor as a reason for dropouts' decision-making was the "lack of
interest of the student by profession / course" (17.0 % of the total subject sample).
According to the Student and School Performance Model (RUMBERGER & LIM, 2008), this
sub-factor has mainly an individual behavior perspective (within and outside the school),
engagement and the expectations about the work market. At this perspective, considering the
factorial loadings, the student's decision-making to dropping out of his technical course is
linked to the progressive decrease of the student's investment at the course and professional
area. Among the others found, the "Technical Course Content" factor has here also an
important role.
Finally, the following Table 9 shows the hierarchy of facto