The European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) Annual Conference in 2016 took place in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on 2-3 June. The conference focused on the experiences of countries in the South-East of Europe in improving levels of adult basic skills. Slovenia, on the eve of the announcement of their PIAAC results and with recent and on-going policy developments in the area provided context for discussions that explored the challenges to cohesion between national and local level policy in adult basic skills and lifelong learning policy. Overview of the conference.
Following the opening speeches of Andrej Sotošek, director of the Slovenian Institute for Adult Education (SIAE) and Graciela Sbertoli, Chair of the EBSN, we had the privilege to welcome Dr. Maja Makovec Brenčič, Slovenian Minister of Education, Science and Sport who talked about Basic Skills and Lifelong Learning Policy in Slovenia. On the European level Dana-Carmen Bachmann, Head of the Vocational Training and Adult Education Unit of the European Commission, talked about their priorities for basic skills and asked us to consider how these align with and support the development of regional, national and local policies in this area.
In relation to Adult Skills in the European Agenda for Adult Learning Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, Head of Promotion and Information Unit and National Coordinator of EAAL at SIAE talked about the Slovenian perspective which was followed by Graciela Sbertoli, Chair of the EBSN, who talked about the Network’s contribution to the Agenda. In the final presentation of the first day Ulrike Hanemann from UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning introduced the education targets within the UNESCO 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Aside from the presentations, a very important element of the conference was the carousel discussions of the six Special Interest Groups (SIGs) on the Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe (EPALE). These are closed groups with the participation of EBSN members concentrating on six different areas in basic skills development.
On the second day of the conference we learnt about the Slovenian model adult skills development from Estera Možina and Petra Javrh from SIAE, as well as findings and recommendations from the local coordinators of the EAAL events in Slovenia facilitated by Zvonka Pangerc Pahernik, SIAE. We also had a roundtable discussion, streamed live on EPALE, with the participation of National Coordinators for Adult Learning in Slovenia and neighbouring countries about the local implementation of national adult learning policies.
As EBSN is strongly represented within EPALE the representative of the EPALE CSS talked about the developments and plans of the EPALE platform; the representative of the Slovenian NSS also introduced their activities.
Finally, the key messages of the conference were summed up by Joyce Black, National Learning and Work Institute (UK) at the end of the conference.