724 61 Västerås
Västerås Folk High School is an adult education centre with 60 employees in the city of Västerås, providing predominantly basic and secondary education for adults.
Västerås is an industrial city of 110 000 inhabitants on the shore of Lake Mälaren in the Västmanlands county in central Sweden, about 100 kilometers west of Stockholm. The municipality includes a number of surrounding communities so that the overall population is 145 000; of which 26 000 who were born in other countries, including Iraq, Iran, Somalia, Turkey, Bosnia-Herzegovina and former Yugoslavia.
Various industries (with companies such as ASEA, ABB and Westinghouse) have been the main economic pillar of Västarås for a long time, and are still important. The largest employer today, however, is the municipality with 11 000 employees. Västerås is also a centre of higher education. Interesting with regard to education is also Rudbeckianska gymnasiet, the oldest gymnasium in Sweden, which was built by Johannes Rudbeckius in 1623.
Västerås folkhögskola is one of Sweden's currently 154 folk high schools. Folk high schools offer courses for adults from the age of 18. Many folk high schools are run by popular movements, such as organisations within the workers', temperance or Free Church movements. Others are operated by county councils or regions. The schools have different profiles and emphases in their activities. The folk high schools are not guided by national curricula, but instead are free to shape their activities on their own.
Principals of Västerås Folk High School are:
- ABF - Workers' Education Association
- LO - The Swedish Labourers´Organization
- Hyresgästföreningen - The Tenants´Organization
- IF Metall - Swedish Metal-workers´Organization
- Handelsanställdas förbund - The Commercial Employees´ Union
- Riksbyggen - A company owned by the building unions
The overall objective of Västerås Folk High School is to provide general civic education. Integral to this aim is to provide not only knowledge and skills, thus raising educational standards, but also to provide experiences and social awareness leading to a broader and deeper democratic participation. Västerås Folk High School offers a unique opportunity to enhance each individual’s human resources.
The traditional independence of the Folk High School has led to extensive educational innovation, including problem-orientated pedagogy and theme work in small groups, in which active participation by the students is emphasized and this is why Folk High Schools continue to be a necessity within the Swedish society. A certain level of interest has also been directed towards groups with special educational needs, e.g. people with short basic education, people with various disabilities and immigrants.
Västerås Folk High School offers general courses, suitable for those who have not completed their secondary education, since they can provide equivalent knowledge. The subjects studied here closely resemble those in comprehensive schools or upper secondary schools; however, a different approach may be adopted. There is no centrally established curriculum, as we determine our own programme.
The participants study from one to three years depending on their previous educational background. The lowest age of admission is normally 18 years.
Västerås Folk High School has permanently about 500 students in various courses, attended by 60 employees. The headquarters of the school are close to the city centre.
Västeras folkhögskola follows the Scandinavian tradition of daytime, long-term adult education with the goal to strengthen democracy. The approach of Folk High School is unique in its view of knowledge as something to be shared in the group and of participants being equal with the tutors. Many of our politicians and leading personalities in the world of culture have been fostered in this environment of education.
30159 Hannover, Germany
VHS Hannover, founded in 1919, is a non-profit adult education institution affiliated to the municipality of Hannover. With a salaried staff of about 100 (74 FTE), plus up to 800 freelance teachers, it offers a programme of around 115 000 teaching hours per year, attended by 30 000 participants per year. The programme includes all aspects of general, vocational, social and cultural education.
- Society, environment, education,
- Culture, creativity, design,
- Health, nutrition, well-being
- Foreign languages
- Basic skills, school-leaving certificates,
- Work, vocational training, career development, IT skills
- Integration and German language courses for immigrants
VHS Hannover also organises public events, exhibitions, panel discussions regarding topics of public interest etc.
As local continuing education centre, VHS Hannover is operating every day including weekends. It offers daytime courses, evening classes, weekend seminars, study excursions and other events.
The main objective of VHS Hannover, laid down in its statutes, is to help citizens to participate in all aspects of society and to develop their personality.
VHS Hannover is a member of the Deutscher Volkshochschulverband, a national umbrella organisation including 900 (typically municipal, or similar) adult education centres. They are financed though course fees and public subsidies. Volkshochschulen are regarded as Germany’s most visible non-profit providers of general adult education including continuing and vocational training, second-chance education, and all sorts of activities in the field of culture and health education.
VHS Hannover is part of the administrative structure of Hanover municipality. Its learning offers, however, are independently designed, without interference from overall administration.
VHS Hannover holds several certificates of quality management.
Experience with learning offers for disadvantaged
In Lower Saxony with its 8 million inhabitants, about 750 000 individuals are found being not able to read even simple texts. Nation-wide, 14 % of those aged 18-65 are considered functional illiterate. (Figures for persons with German as first language.)
In this context, VHS Hannover has been developing numerous learning offers for low-skilled adults in recent years.
400 persons per year participate in literacy courses (40 courses, 4200 teaching hours) offered by VHS Hannover. Another 1000 adults attend courses to achieve a school leaving certificate (basic secondary or higher).
In addition, VHS Hannover is one of 8 adult education providers in Lowers Saxony chosen by the government to serve as Regional Basic Education Centres (RGZ), meaning that they get special funding in order to develop and provide special offers to low skilled.
VHS Hannover also offers courses for immigrants to learn German language and culture. Currently, about 120 classes with 14 participants each are held per semester. (4000 participants and 27 000 teaching hours per year).
A special field of work is providing courses for adults to achieve a school certificate missed when yet at school-age. Courses are offered on all levels (secondary education equivalent to 9-13 years of regular school). VHS Hannover employs 20 full-time teachers to provide such courses.
Consorzio O.P.E.N. - Offenders Pathways to Employment National Network
Vicolo Pozzo 23
37129 VErona, Italy
VHS Göttingen Osterode gGmbH
37081 Göttingen, Germany
Göttingen is a town of 120 000 inhabitants in the South of Lower Saxony in Germany. The town is famous for its university founded in 1734.
VHS Göttingen was initially the municipal adult education centre (and is still maintaining this character). It is now however registered as non-profit limited company, a step that was taken during a recent merger with the adult education centre of the neighbouring rural city of Osterode. Osterode is a city of about 22 000 inhabitants. Due to its geographical situation in the picturesque Harz mountains and its architectural heritage, Osterode is a centre of tourism. As a consequence, VHS Göttingen Osterode now covers both urban and rural areas, with the respective population and its social characteristics.
VHS Göttingen Osterode offers education and training in subjects such as
- Foreign languages
- German as foreign language (currently highly needed for refugees and other immigrants)
- Cultural education, arts, literature
- Health education
- Vocational training / continuing training
- Basic education and literacy, including second-chance courses for completion of primary and basic secondary education
The Basic Skills department of VHS Göttingen Osterode targets both adults with a low level of reading and writing skills, and institutions working with low-skilled people (e.g. job centres, homes for disabled, and companies employing low-skilled people).
VHS Göttingen Osterode has got a distinctive profile for basic skills development:
- We have been organising reading and writing classes for over 25 years.
- Since 2012 VHS Göttingen has been responsible for the “Center for Basic Education” in this town, one of 8 such centres in Lower Saxony (see: http://rgz-nds.de).
- We offer workshops of how to identify people with low reading and writing skills.
- We have an innovative, close cooperation with the Göttingen city library focussing people with low reading skills. In March 2017 we organised a joint workshop “How to welcome people with low reading skills to the library” which was attended by over 20 directors and employees of German public libraries. Focus: What should the staff know about people with low reading skills, which easy-to-read books should be offered? What campaigns can be made?
- In cooperation with a local newspaper, we have been publishing a monthly supplement to that paper in “easy-to-read language” since 2015. This is also available online (http://vhs-goettingen.de/index.php?id=381)
- In 2015 the VHS transferred the Swiss model “Go” to Göttingen. “Go-Niedersachsen” aimed at upskilling employed adults with low level of literacy in training events that were organised on the job. This included developing basic English courses strictly along the workplace needs of employees in the health sector, especially in accident and emergency units.
- From 2012 to 2015, VHS Göttingen was responsible for the German federal project KOMPASS focusing basic training on the job. Publications are available at
as well as
http://www.alphabund.de/1733.php (only 3b.1 and3b.2)
The final conference “Challenge Nursing Care – Who should? Who is allowed? Who is doing it?“ was held on September 3rd and 4th, 2015 in Berlin.
INFREP - Institut National de Formation et de Recherche en Education Permanente
8 Rue des Tanneries
75013 Paris, France
Pilot projects presented briefly
Herbert Depner, Die Wiener Volkshochschulen (Austria)
Jazmin Petersson, Västerås folkhögskola, Sweden
Gundula Laudin, Volkshochschule Göttingen Osterode
Claudia Ducange, Fondacione Casa di Carità, Torino
Svilen Andreev, Združenie “Znanie”, Loveč
Sébastien Dubost, INFREP, Cherbourg, France (Institut National de Formation et de Recherche sur…
Saray Baquedano, Centro Público de Educación de Adultos, Cariñena/Zaragoza
Christian Geiselmann, Volkshochschule Hannover (Germany)