EPALE is the first online platform in Europe entirely dedicated to the adult education sector.
The national support service is managed by INDIRE’s Erasmus+ Agency.
Since 2014, the year of its official European launch, EPALE’s primary objective has been to open up a national debate at a European level on adult education schemes. The system also offers a tool to search for contacts to strengthen online collaboration and create new synergies inside its community.
The platform is mainly designed for those with a professional role in adult education (students are not directly involved). However, membership is open to anyone who would like to get to know the studies, educational practices and most up-to-date reflections on a topic of growing interest among European strategic initiatives.
Numerous EC documents, such as the Europe 2020 Strategy and the European Agenda for Adult Education, stress the fact that lifelong learning and the development of skills are key elements for sustainable and inclusive growth, and to respond to the burning issues of our time (the economic crisis, ageing populations, the European Union’s economic and social strategies, etc.). Nevertheless, the Agenda brings out many significant shortcomings in adult education, underlining the poor performance of Europe compared to that of Asia and the United States. In Europe, a fifth of the adults show very low levels of literacy, and a quarter are unskilled in using digital technologies.
EPALE would like to help improve Europe’s results for adults by fostering debates, discussions, and the exchange of good practices and dialogue among the sectors of the variegated world of adult education, creating synergies, boosting the use of Open Educational Resources, facilitating mobility of staff and partnerships, and encouraging innovation, knowledge of sector legislation, and financial strategies.
EPALE has introduced some important innovations. First and foremost, it has brought together two spheres that are often separated and disconnected, namely, professional training and adult education, in formal, non-formal, and informal settings. In addition, the choice of a multilingual platform with the possibility of always-open membership underlines the desire to involve myriad players and represent the many characteristics of the sector.
After registering, it is possible to publish comments on blogs, take part in forums, and initiate discussions on new topics.
Five macro-themes have been chosen at a European level to frame the discussion:
- Support for Learners
- Learning Environments
- Skills for Life
- Policies, Strategies and Financing
The platform offers numerous highly useful tools, including a calendar of the events, a glossary of specific terms, specific reports for each country, a library of resources and all the latest news on adult education in Europe. EPALE also means support with planning: in fact, it offers the possibility of advertising conferences, courses and seminars organised throughout Europe and is therefore a superb channel for promoting an organisation’s activities at a European level. The events included in the calendar are then publicised through EPALE’s accounts on social media (Facebook, Twitter) to reach the widest audience.
EPALE is also an important tool to support the Erasmus+ programme. For anyone intending to present a mobility project or a strategic partnership, the platform offers a space dedicated to partners’ research work in which to collaborate and instigate new projects.
EPALE is an initiative of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC). Supervised by the Education, Audio-visual and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA), it is managed on a day-to-day basis by a Central Support Service (CSS) as well as National Support Services (NSS), which enrich the EPALE platform with specific contents.