Expected results

Project results are developed in order to contribute to the project general and specific objectives as follows:

O.S. 1. enhancing the professional development of 120 adult educators working with low skilled/qualified migrants and minorities from the 5 partner countries – by equipping them with important knowledge, improved abilities and offering them an original training kit for using autobiography in adults’ education – this objective will be achieved by the following results:

  • O1: Training kit for adult educators “Autobiographical Method for Migrants’ and Minorities’ Inclusion in Communities they are living In” – in English and each partner’s language
  • O2: A set of 20 case studies (4 from each partner) related to best practices/successful stories in using autobiography
  • O3: Comparative study on how the autobiographical method worked on 10 different target groups (1 group of migrants and 1 of ethnic minorities from each partner country) – with recommendation and “tips&tricks” for future users – the main research part will consist in 10 learning programs – 2 (1 for migrants and 1 for ethnic minorities) in each partner’s country, designed based on the training kit O1, adapted to particularities of adult learners from each partner organization. – 200 low skilled/qualified adults (100 migrants and 100 ethnic minorities) involved in these tailored learning programmes
  • O5: The documentary movie “It’s my life” about 20 low-skilled/qualified adults (10 migrants and 10 ethnic minorities) and how this project improved their lives C1 – Pilot training course for promoting and improving the training kit Local activities – 5 training sessions for professionals in adult education (1 in each partner country)
  • E1-E5: 5 seminars “Autobiographical Method for Migrants’ and Minorities’ Inclusion” that will promote the project in general and O1, O2  in each partner country. Each event will gather minimum 25 persons
  • E6: An international seminar with 90 participants (60 from Romania and 30 from abroad) aiming to promote the whole project and collect feedbacks from professionals in adults’ education from Romania and abroad O.S. 2. developing and testing (on 10 different groups of low/skilled/qualified adults from migrants and ethnic minorities groups – 2 from each country involved) new, innovative and flexible (easy to adapt) training materials based on autobiographical method.

Besides the results described above this objective will be reached by:

  • 200 digital stories published on the project blog
  • a movie for dissemination the whole project (including project description, partners, objectives and pictures/movies from activities, some interviews with beneficiaries etc.)

O.S. 3. fostering international dimension of low-skilled/qualified adults’ education by developing training materials that use the expertise of 5 countries –  this objective will be achieved through all results described above

Other results:

  • project blog – that will make available all project outcomes, photo-galleries, movies (with digital stories and from other relevant moments from the project)
  • visibility materials:
  • about 40 press articles (20 in Romania and 2-3 in each of other partner’s country) about the project, two TV broadcast on a local Romanian TV channel
  • 6 newsletters about project evolution, activities, results –
  • 3 transnational meetings reports
  • over 11000 persons informed about the project (over 3000 in Romania and about 2000 in each of other partner’s country)

Impact

On the participants to the pilot-training/learning activities:

  1. professionals in adults’ education – 120 adult learners (20 taking part to C1 and 100 in local ToT for testing O1, all of them being then active involved in the whole project):
    1. increased level of knowledge in the topic (autobiographical method, digital storytelling and other
    2. increased competence in foreign languages – most visible for the 20 participants in C1 but also at the level of the other 100, as they will work together in an international project for almost two years
    3. increased self-confidence, self-esteem, empathy and communication with vulnerable groups – as a result of practicing autobiographical method on themselves
    4. increased level of digital competence – by helping producing their own digital stories and after help adult learners in producing theirs, also by using on-line resource centre (particularly uploading training materials, participating in discussions on the forum section and social media)
    5. more active participation in society – as they will become active factors in low skilled/qualified adult learners’ social inclusion and able to support, then the social inclusion of other vulnerable groups, by using autobiographical method
    6. an increased level of motivation, interest and responsibility both for their professional qualification (and Long Life Learning in general) and self development; also improved learning to learn, social and civic competencies, cultural awareness and expression – all of them as a result of practicing autobiographical method on themselves (as detailed at C1 description)
    7. increased opportunities for professional development – by increasing expertise in using autobiography – a method becoming more and more popular and used in adults’ education and supporting social inclusion of different vulnerable groups
    8. increased motivation and satisfaction in their daily work
  2. low-skilled/qualified adults – 100 migrants and 100 ethnic minorities
    1. an increased self-esteem, sense of belonging and confidence in their own possibilities – as this is one of the main effects of “autobiographical reconstruction”  that will lead to reconstruction of their trust in public institution and diminish the risks of unsocial behaviour and, on the other hand, an increased availability to enrol in a form of lifelong education and/or VET – a decreased level of “minority stress”
    2. improved key competences as:
      1. communication (verbal and written) – telling and writing their own memories participants will gain rich experiences with words, sounds, intonation and rhythm whilst constructing meaning through the use of language that will contribute to their oracy and literacy development, also to memory development, observation skills, vocabulary development, sequencing, problem solving, engagement in language play and making predictions.
      2. imagination, creativity and learning to learn – telling and listen memories will encourage adults to use and develop their imagination, that will contribute to self-confidence and personal motivation. It also empowers adults to consider new and inventive ideas, developing crucial skills in problem solving and in considering options and consequences
      3. cultural awareness and expression – by autobiography we discover who we are as people, as families, and as subcultures within the larger society – that is more important for minorities who live in a permanent duality them/others. Sharing these life experiences – especially for migrants/minorities, provides them with a sense of history, a sense of community, a sense of generations, a sense of heritage.
      4. social skills – close engagement with others’ stories will help participants with the development of empathy and emotional literacy, by hearing another’s difficulty as described in his/her life story, the listeners will empathize and see the results of the protagonist’s actions. The process enhances self-reflection and self-expression, besides providing potential role models

On the participating staff

        1. a deeper insight into various modern methods used in adult education – an increased experience in social inclusion for vulnerable groups
        2. an increased experience in working in a intercultural environment -more knowledge and improved skills as follows of experiences exchanged with colleagues from partner countries.

On the partner organizations

  1. innovative approaches to addressing their target groups, by providing more attractive adults’ education programs, in line with individuals’ needs&expectations;
  2. greater effectiveness of activities for the benefit of local communities; – new practices to cater for the needs of disadvantaged groups and to deal with social, linguistic and cultural diversity; – increased capacity and professionalism to work at EU/international level

An innovative project

The main innovative aspect of this project is the strong learner-centred approach. Indeed, there are a lot of training materials and courses about using autobiographical method in adult education – basically all partners were involved at least in one project of this type and their already gained experience is will be the basis of all project activities and intellectual outcomes.

The added value of this project is the particularly focus on delivering high quality learning opportunities tailored to the needs of individual low-skilled/qualified adults, coming from migrants/ethnic minorities group materialized in three main approaches:

  1. a “cascade” approach that involves an increasing number of participants with its advancement. Based on this we will develop a “triple testing” of the training materials developed: – at international level – on 20 professionals in adults’ education from 5 countries – who will give first step of feedback – at national level for professional in adults’ education – including 100 persons in (20 in each partner country) – who will give second step of feedback – at national level for low- skilled/qualified migrants/ethnic minorities – including 200 low skilled/qualified adults from 10 different groups 2 from each partner country (20 migrants and 20 ethnic minorities – detailed at E1) – who will give second step of feedback. These groups have in common the main characteristic described at pag. 3 and at chapter C and E1, but also there are a lot of cultural, economic, social, educational particularities highlighting the different approach for 10 different groups. This diversity is like a tree with two trunks (migrants and minorities) each one having 5 branches (for each country) and from this a lot of combinations and possibilities arise.
  2. The “cyclic spiral” theory – practice – theory on which we base the process of development the training materials: we start from general theories (including the practical experiences of partners in previous projects based on using autobiography in adults’ education), put it in practice at three different levels, collect feedbacks, improved training materials and developing again a theoretical support that could be adapted for a wide range of categories of low-skilled/qualified adults.
  3. The international dimension of the project is an innovative aspect itself – as the partnership involves 5 organizations covering the whole Europe (from North – Sweden – to South – Italy and from West – UK to East – Romania) with different backgrounds, expertise and approaches of adult education issues, particularly of tailoring learning opportunities to the needs of individual low-skilled/low-qualified adults. So both the intellectual outputs and all the activities of the project will combine the skills of experts – trainers, tutors, researchers, technical staff etc. from all partners’ countries, which means that a wide range of tools will be used.

For example (but not resuming on this) Italian partner, besides its strong theoretical background, has a good practical experience in using digital storytelling, Swedish partner experienced autobiographical method in supporting people to develop on-line presentations (using “prezi” software), Bulgarian partner has a good experience in using autobiography together with educational instruments based on drama and theatre, British partner is expert in using autobiography for supporting people in making their stories known on a radio station.

Not at least, the coordinator already gain an important experience in using autobiography at a deeper, psychological level – as some of our volunteers, psychologists, successfully used the method in sessions of group therapy. Each partner will be in charge with the coordination of an intellectual output but also they will bring a proper contribution to all IO such as the whole project will have an important added values not only because partners put in common their experience but also because they will interact and create a dynamic structure, a system that is much more valuable than the sum of its individual components.

Another important innovative aspects is that the project uses complex but clear and measurable and verifiable tools for evaluating the impact of the project on 16 samples of adult learners (6 groups of professionals in adults’ education and 10 groups of low skilled/qualified adults coming from migrants and ethnic minorities groups). We will not only measure very carefully this impact but we also analyse it and insert these analysis in two intellectual outputs – O4 and O5

Context, objectives, target groups

The project context is best described in a recent document of European Association for the Education of Adults – the current crisis in Europe extended in many different areas, five of them having the biggest influence on adults’ education: the economic crisis, the social crisis, the crisis of European cohesion and identity, the ethical crisis and the personal crisis – particularly due to the status on labour market.

On this general European background, as all partners have a strong expertise in adults’ education they developed SWOT analysis as base for their short, medium and long term strategic documents, having a few common points as follows:

  • Common strengths:
    • good experience in previous LLL and Erasmus+ projects and in adults’ education – both in formal and non-formal ways;
    • a particularly focus on improving and extending the supply of high quality learning opportunities tailored to the needs of individuals-especially from different marginalized groups;
    • also a complementary expertise in different topics related to the project (autobiographical method, educational research, ITC and others)
  • Common weaknesses:
    • not enough resources (human, financial, logistic) to better reach out adult learners from different marginalized groups they are working with, particularly low-skilled/low-qualified ones – as migrants/refugees and ethnic minorities; all partners currently work with one or both these categories. From this issue appears a continuous need to have experienced and well informed people working with them and support their integration, to improve the qualification and expertise of their adult educators (trainers, tutors, facilitators, lecturers etc.).
  • Common opportunities:
    • starting from their main focus on adults’ education issues, their previous experience in multinational partnership and their complementary expertise in different adults’ education fields partners share a common agreement on the importance of transnational project for improving the quality of their services – in this respect each partner explicitly mentioned in their development strategies, as a main and transversal development priority, an increased participation to transnational projects
  • Common threats:
    • losing the contact with their most vulnerable target groups. Even partners have different backgrounds and areas of activities all of them have an important mission to contribute to social inclusion of vulnerable groups. Thus, in the absence of adequate instruments and proper resources they can’t focus enough on this. So they need to develop sustainable educational approach, tailored to the needs of these vulnerable groups that could be inserted in their current activities and services

Autobiographical method could create a comprehensive solution for supporting low-skilled/low-qualified adult learners. By sharing the story of our lives at any age and in any context, we may strengthen a process of self-knowledge, self-awareness, self-education. The more important is this method for people with a “double identity” as migrants and ethnic minorities – who are in a permanent inner fight between two social and cultural identities: one of the majority they live in and one of the minority they come from (even is about a country they just migrate from or their ancestors came many years ago or the ethnos they belong to).

In this context the main goal of the project is to contribute to facilitate a bigger participation of low skilled adults coming from migrants and ethnic minorities groups in education/training programmes that will increase their chances on inclusion in society and on the labour market – as a main pillar for their social inclusion

Specific objectives:

  1. enhancing the professional development of 120 adult educators working with low skilled/qualified migrants and minorities from the 5 partner countries – by equipping them with important knowledge, improved abilities and offering them a complex and flexible training kit for using autobiography in adults’ education (tested on 10 different groups of low low-skilled/qualified adults from migrants/minorities groups)
  2. developing and testing (on 10 different groups of low/skilled/qualified adults from migrants and ethnic minorities groups – 2 from each country involved) new, innovative and flexible (easy to adapt) training materials based on autobiographical method.
  3. fostering international dimension of low-skilled/qualified adults’ education by developing training materials that use the expertise of 5 countries and an on-line Resource Center – continuously updatable with training materials and other useful information from all Europe

A project for social inclusion

As a recent publication of European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights underline 17 years after adoption of EU laws that forbid discrimination, about 40% from immigrants, descendants of immigrants and minority ethnic groups continue to face widespread discrimination across the EU and in all areas of life (because of their ethnic or immigrant background, as well as potentially related characteristics, such as skin color and religion) most often when seeking employment. The percent is almost double among over 35 years old adults with low skills (particularly communication in adoption country’s language) and low qualification. All respondents from this category experienced at least one discriminating situation when they looked for a job or tried to improve their education/qualification and most of them gave up after 4-5 tentative. The same study underlines some dramatic effects of discrimination experiences on the subjects, that lead to an increased social exclusion: – decreased trust in public institutions and legal system – lack of participation in lifelong education/VET – decreased self-esteem and sense of belonging – that leads, sometimes, to unsocial behaviour (alcohol/drugs abuse, violence or other law-breaking)

On the other hand, over the past three decades, social scientists have found that minority individuals suffer from mental and physical health disparities compared to their peers in majority groups . Many studies proven that members of groups stigmatized by mainstream society are more vulnerable to psychological distress. This type of issue can occur due to internalizing stigmatization along with having poor social support and in some cases low socioeconomic status. More commonly people experience minority stress in response to being treated with discrimination and prejudice. The concept behind the issues that minorities experience is known as minority stress theory and it emphasizes that the frequently difficult social interactions that occur in these groups can have a serious impact on an individual’s health.

Ethnic minorities typically have worse health overall than the white population because they are exposed to chronic stress related to factors including discrimination, education, neighborhood, lower quality care or lack of access to care, and economic disadvantage. The effects are not visible immediately but generally lead to mental but also physical disorders (like anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, diabetes etc.) At the crossroad of these political and psychological approaches our whole project is built around on the importance of autobiography in education and self-development. According to Duccio Demetrio (the founder of autobiographical method in Italy) adults’ education finds, in the autobiographical practice, a new method of approaching particularly individuals from different vulnerable groups (not only migrants/minorities but also disabled, victims of violence, addicted etc.) in a learning process that place at the centre the subjects themselves in their problematic nature; a training method that encourages people in unveiling their own stories and supports them in making life a permanent search for meaning, getting used to live the future. Creating and testing (on 10 different groups of low low-skilled/qualified adults from migrants/minorities groups) a complex and flexible set of tools based on this method – with a big multiplying potential (as we will show in next paragraphs) is the main way our project fits with the sectoral priority Extending and developing educators’ competences. Having more adult educators with a better expertise and more complex qualification in working with low skilled/qualified adult learners leads by default to the second sectoral priority Improving and extending (…) Moreover, all our activities and intellectual outcomes will serve to this aim, as they are designated to support low skilled/qualified adults in improving their self-development, increasing their self-esteem and become more active in social life, the next step being an improved participation in lifelong learning education and an improved status on labor market and implicit leading to a better social inclusion – horizontal priority.