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Unlocking Freedom through Adult Education: The role of adult education in supporting the de-institutionalisation of people with disabilities in the community
Start date: Sep 1, 2015, End date: Aug 31, 2018 PROJECT  FINISHED 

It is priority of the European Union that adult learners of all abilities have the right to access quality life-long learning opportunities. However, despite this fact, people with disabilities do not have an equal chance to avail of adult and community education because more often than not, mainstream provision is not tailored to meet their needs. This is most poignant for people with intellectual disabilities who continue to live in institutions, or who may have already moved into the community but remain institutionalised and socially excluded from society. This project is clearly linked to the objectives of European policies relevant to the field of adult education and disability. The European Agenda for Adult Learning highlights the need to increase the participation in adult learning of all kinds (formal, non-formal and informal learning) whether to acquire new work skills, for active citizenship, or for personal development and fulfilment. Most importantly it recognises that learning is essential for social inclusion and active citizenship which is paramount to this project. The policy of de-institutionalisation is also a priority of the European Union, identified in the European disability Strategy and Article 19 of the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, already ratified by the EU. There are three key objectives of this project. - To improve the life-long learning opportunities and social integration of people with disabilities through adult and community education. - To bring local adult education providers together with local community based services/facility operators with the aim of devising or adapting curriculums to support their new role in including people with disabilities in their activities. - To address the formal education needs of staff moving from institutional to community based provision in order to challenge the institutional culture of the organisation and to maximise their support to integrate people with disabilities fully into the community. The target group and activities are framed around the three central objectives noted above. They include people with disabilities, primarily intellectual, adult educators and community leaders and finally, the support staff. In the first objective, the most excluded will be targeted. Some have been living in their community for a long time while others are at an early stage of moving from an institution to community living. These people, who often have profound and significant disabilities, are less likely to have the capacity to attend higher level institutions. Therefore it is within adult and community education settings that a real difference can be made in supporting their re-integration into society. The second and third objective target the circle of support around the person such as their support staff and adult educators themselves. The project proposed aims to support the de-institutionalisation of people with disabilities through the medium of adult education. Through the innovative development of new learning and training resources it will facilitate the independent living and social inclusion of sample groups of people with disabilities at different stages of the de-institutionalisation process. The design and delivery of the project is aimed to ensure the full inclusion of disabled participants and will have a meaningful impact on people with disabilities in service delivery, their circles of support, adult and community education providers and the communities where they are living. It will be possible to replicate and use the training resource templates delivered through this project, using open source methods.

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