EAEA and its members strongly believe that the challenges faced by the adult education sector, and society at large, can only be solved in cooperation. The policy paper “Partnerships and Cooperations in Adult Learning” concludes the thematic work of EAEA on the topic in 2018.
Based on the collection of best practices, interviews and feedback from EAEA members, as well as desk research, the paper looks at the benefits of collaborative partnerships. It closes with recommendations for the policy level and adult education organisations.
Recommendations for building partnerships
Define clear objectives. Our members agree that a partnership cannot be an end in itself. It needs clear objectives.
Start building a network. Joining an existing umbrella organisation, such as EAEA, or an informal network, might be a good idea when starting to look for potential partners. Attending events and conferences or being active on relevant online platforms (for example EPALE) can also be helpful.
Take one small step at a time. Start building partnerships with similar organisations, those that share your vision. Build up partnerships starting with organisations that you already trust, and then branch out to new partners that could offer expertise needed.
An intermediary might help. EAEA members suggest taking the time to explain your background as an organisation, and sometimes even the role of the adult education sector as such. Using the help of somebody who knows both organisations might be useful in establishing the first connection.
Be clear on the idea, and on the benefits for each side. Coming with an idea for the cooperation, and how it can support each side, helps to set the right expectations.
Agree on the terms of the cooperation, and be careful what you sign. A few EAEA members expressed their disappointment with partnerships where the task division was not clear, or where they were not consulted on the scope of their involvement beforehand.
Be patient and flexible: the results might not come easily or immediately. One size does not fit all, and a successful exchange of best practices does not mean that they can be transplanted from one national context to another, or even from one local context to another. Best practises are frequently about changing the attitude more than using a specific method.