The Adult education initiative (Initiative Erwachsenenbildung) is a binding agreement reached between provincial governments and the federal government in 2012. It enables young people who have completed compulsory education to acquire basic competences and adults to complete compulsory schooling. Both programmes are free of charge and guarantee high standards.
According to a recently released evaluation report of the initiative, about 9 000 people participated in basic education courses in the first programme period (2012-14), and about 4 700 attended adult programmes to complete compulsory schooling (Pflichtschulabschluss). Targets set at the launch of the initiative were exceeded in the basic education programme, but were not reached in completing compulsory schooling.
The evaluation assesses the Adult education initiative as follows:
- most specifications and quality standards are considered major stimuli;
- the three-year funding period increases planning certainty and contributes to professionalisation;
- the programme landscape has seen further differentiation; additional services such as childcare and open learning are frequently offered;
- participant satisfaction is very high;
- participant capacity to act has been strengthened;
- there has been criticism that linking funding with acquisition of compulsory schooling qualifications encourages ‘creaming’ of participants in admission processes (selection of the most promising applicants).
The evaluation recommends:
- top-up budget, better to meet current needs but also to enable programmes to be held in remote regions;
- address more intensely employed target groups, older individuals and those furthest from the labour market;
- for compulsory school-leaving qualifications, focus on developing appropriate teaching methods for target groups and teaching materials relevant for their living environment;
- in-service training of trainers programmes should be made available;
- towards the end of the course, cooperation with VET or labour market policy institutions should be intensified to support transition to VET programmes.
Latest projections show that the target group for basic education programmes in Austria is about
243 000 people; this is nearly five times the originally estimated demand for basic education and is almost 2.9% of the total population. For completing compulsory schooling, the target group is now estimated at around 220 000 people.
The agreement between the federal government and provincial governments has been extended for another three years. Using the European Social Fund, it will be possible almost to double resources for the basic education programme.