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”Adult education in Eastern Europe relies heavily on the European Social Fund”

Authors: Tuomas MacGilleon Published:

The EU offers funding and transnational learning opportunities – but it could do even more for adult education. In three articles, professionals from Germany, Romania and the United Kingdom reflect on the importance, impact and issues that the European Union has brought to adult education in their countries.

Romania: Mariana Matache

  • Director of Asociatia Euro Adult Education, an NGO that focuses on promoting and supporting continuous learning by adults in Romania in accordance with European standards.
  • EAEA board member.

“There is not much state funding available for adult education in Romania, so the financing that EU offers is really crucial to our work. The situation is the same for many other countries in Eastern Europe.

From our perspective, the most important funding tool is the European Social Fund. While programmes like Erasmus+ focus on exchanging information and experiences between countries, the ESF gives NGOs the opportunity to create large, sustainable projects that directly benefit the people.

For example, we are now working on a three-year project “Romania Home – Diaspora Start Up’’ in the frame of the European Social Fund Programme. It gives people who live abroad the chance to move back home and apply for a grant to start up a business in Central Romania.

Our expenses are covered for three years, and 26 people will receive a grant of over €30,000 to start their own business. Each of them will then commit to employing two other persons.

Projects of this scale are expensive and would not be possible without the European Union and the ESF – they simply would not happen.

IT IS NOT EASY TO GET FUNDING. There is of course competition between different projects, institutions and organisations, and the application process is not that simple.

There are also clear prerequisites and conditions that you must meet in order for your application to be successful – sometimes I wish that there were more flexibility and possibilities to present your own project ideas.

One problem with EU funding is that the money is sometimes paid out later than it is actually needed. You have a project that you have to start implementing, but you do not have the money to do it. This creates difficulties, especially for small NGOs and other organisations.

Another thing that I would like to change is the amount of bureaucracy attached to funding. You must send a complex report with a lot of information, and this takes up a lot of time that you could use doing something else.

All in all, I think that ESF is a central funding tool for non-formal adult education – not only in Romania but all of Europe. It promotes social inclusion and creates links between communities, authorities and the labour market.”

Continue to read the other two voices, from UK and Germany.

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Tuomas MacGilleon is a freelance journalist based in Tampere, Finland. Interested in science and how it affects our everyday lives. Contact: Show all articles by Tuomas MacGilleon
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