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Chapter 1 - Context: embedding quality in learning regions partnerships

Page history last edited by Randolph Preisinger-Kleine 8 years, 12 months ago

Dr. Ciprian Fartusnic

Observatory for LLL, Romania



As an area largely emerged on a bottom-up approach, with involvement following the patterns of a community of practice rather of more formal partnerships, learning regions initiatives had for a long time a low interest in the issue of quality assurance. Emerging in the '80s as a movement placing a new role to learning in local and regional development policies these initiatives also played a role in the "development of the capacity and will of distinct communities of interest and geography to engage in dialogue about solutions to problems of common concern" (Yarnit, 2011)[i]. The main criteria of the learning regions success was therefore considered the capacity of different actors (public, private and non-governamental/not for profit organisations) to follow a common agenda, linked with adult learning or lifelong learning practices, or explicitly focused on learning promotion.


Even after the learning regions initiatives started to be more developed and became part of specific public policies, quality remained rather an external demand to take into account or to comply with and less an inner practice embedded in the life of the partnership. We could even say that quality remained more a problem related to the outcomes of the projects promoted by the partnership and less with the process itself and the way the partnership was developed during the lifetime of the project.


What were the consequences of this situation? First, without a specific quality assurance methodology, learning regions practitioners have a limited capacity to observe and measure the degree in which the overall objectives of the partnership are met during the lifetime of the program/project.


Moreover, without an objective view on the progress achieved, improvement activities could appear only on an ad-hoc, unsystematic basis, and could not cover all the development needs of the partnership actors: public authorities, social partners, enterprises, education and training providers, employment services, research organisations and other relevant stakeholders.


Secondly, without an internal quality assurance process, the opportunity of supporting key EU initiatives contributing directly to the promotion of adult and lifelong learning policies, such as the Bruges Communiqué[ii], is largely missed. Without an explicit embedding of quality assurance policies in learning region initiatives/cities initiatives, the priority of fostering the excellence, quality and relevance of both initial and continuing VET is difficult o be achieved. As indicated in the updated version of the Communiqué (2010), in order to guarantee improved quality, increased transparency, mutual trust, the mobility of workers and learners, and lifelong learning, participating countries should establish explicit and reliable quality assurance frameworks.


Our approach is therefore addressing the priority set at EU level in relation with establishing at national level a common quality assurance framework for VET providers, which also applies to associated workplace learning and which is compatible with the EQAVET framework recommendation[iii] by the end of 2015. R3L+ project addressed all these challenges by proposing a closer look to the learning regions initiatives in several European countries (Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, Romania, Sweden) in order to understand how they could be overcome. The project started from two simple questions: what are the most important quality areas to be taken into account by learning regions promoters during the lifetime of their networks? And what aspects might indicate quality in each area identified? The following section will briefly present R3L+ progress in addressing these questions.

[i] Michael Yarnit, presentation at CR and DALL seminar series Learning cities and regions revisited: R3L+ project in Glasgow, University of Glasgow, 17th of November, 2011.


[ii] Bruge Communiqué, version December 2010: Communiqué of the European Ministers for Vocational Education and Training, the European Social Partners  and the European Commission, meeting in Bruges on 7 December 2010  to review the strategic approach and priorities of the Copenhagen process for 2011-2020.


[iii] EQAVET system, once EQARF, was introduced by European Parliament through a Recommendation adopted on 18th of June 2009.


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