The cooperation between Asian and European countries is increasing, very much associated with a stronger regional perspective. This is true for the political and economic spheres, but culture and education are not left out. The ASEM (Asia-Europe-Meetings) has clearly expressed the need for a “social, cultural, and intellectual pillar”, and declared education to be a major theme.
Exchange visits between adult education institutions are on the increase as well. More recent exposures have been by the Chinese Adult Education Association (CAEA) to France and Germany, including the participation in the general assembly of the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) in 2004. Representatives of the Asian South Pacific Bureau of Adult Education (ASPBAE) came to the conference on valuing learning of EAEA in 2005, and in the same year EAEA participated in CAEA events. Japanese adult educators have been involved in additional visits to Sweden and Germany, and expect to visit UK adult education in 2006.
To bring together a larger group of adult educators from different Asian and European countries with governmental, NGO, civil society and university background, a conference plus study tour is planned by CAEA, EAEA, ASPBAE, and DVV in Beijing, October 2006.
The provisional title is: “Adult Education for Learning Societies – Asian and European Perspectives for a Globalized World”. Key issues shall be analysed and presented in the plenary. There shall be specific themes covered by a number of workshops related to migration, social inclusion, gender, environment and others. Specific topics related to adult education policy, legislation and financing as well as training, methods and research could be dealt with in seminars.
The Chinese hosts have offered to combine the conference with a component of study visits and tours. Issues of migration, integration and social inclusion are more prevalent in big cities like Shanghai, environmental issues are related to big dams, forestry and agriculture in Hunan, minorities and intercultural learning in Yunan. A case study approach of best practice is one of the possibilities of following-up what before was presented in the conference.
There was a concern of how this exchange could be brought into the context of other major international debates and events. In 2007 will be the World Assembly of Adult Education, organized by the International Council for Adult Education (ICAE). In 2008 there shall be the regional conferences in preparation for the UNESCO World Conference CONFINTEA VI. Early contact should be made to ICAE as well UIE (UNESCO Institute for Education) to find out whether they are interested to collaborate, and how the processes could be linked properly.
The number of participants is expected to be around 200. About 100 shall be coming from China, 50 from other Asian countries, and again about 50 from Europe, including representatives from the international level.
The languages shall be Chinese and English. There shall be prior translation of documents. Sessions, meetings, and tours shall be supported by interpreters.
The provisional dates have been set for October 27 arrival, 28 to 31 conference, November 1 to 4 for study tours, departure on November 5. The conference should be in Beijing, and the study visits parallel in smaller interest groups to different parts of the country.
The preparation should be in the hands of an organizational committee with one person each as representative from CAEA, EAEA, ASPBAE and DVV.
It has been suggested to offer an internship or volunteer position in the EAEA-office in Brussels to a younger Chinese colleague for a period of 3 to 6 months in 2006 to support the preparation. This could help considerable in communication and concrete activities to be done. Additionally it may be advisably to have a volunteer based in the CAEA.office in the preparatory period. This should at the same time be seen as an investment into the future of cooperation.
The timing involves January 2006 as a period of in-country and regional consultation; February has meetings of the EAEA board and ASPBAE executive; March and April for detailed planning, informing and inviting participants; May meeting of DVV in Berlin with delegations from the organizing associations for final agreement on the different programme components; June to September for all the necessary details to be finalized before the conference and study tour in October and November.
The financial implications have been discussed by looking at several points: the Chinese expect to raise the funding for their participants plus a certain amount for overall costs. A major ASPBAE meeting on leadership and women shall be organized back to back with this conference and involve some 25 people from different Asian countries. European and international participants should expect costs within the range of about 1.500 € per person, depending on flights, categories for board and lodge, and the selected study tour. A conference fee for the foreigners of about 100 € was suggested by CAEA to cover costs for printing of documents, translation and other overheads.
There are plans that EAEA shall apply to EU Socrates for a project under accompanying measures; first discussion with the Grundtvig section has started.
This proposal should be discussed and decided upon in the EAEA-Board meeting in February.
More information on www.eaea.org