The Erasmus+ program has been operating in Latvia for 35 years. Although the Erasmus name is more usually associated with student exchange programs, the program also offers additional opportunities in all education sectors – higher education, vocational education, school education and adult education.
"The Erasmus+ program is a tool to ensure that our education is modern, high-quality, and in line with educational requirements. It also offers opportunities for cooperation and opportunities for personnel involved in education to improve with the help of international cooperation," said Jana Meržvinska, head of the School and Adult Mobility Department of the Erasmus+ Department of the State Education Development Agency.
First of all, the Erasmus+ program offers learning mobility and cooperation partnership projects for those people involved in adult education who work with adults, but through membership in an organization any adult can get involved in a project or mobility, including going abroad.
"If we talk about the adult themselves, of course, first of all, we have to get involved in education here in Latvia, and then the organizations that provide adult education, regardless of whether it is formal, informal or everyday, all these organizations have the opportunity to get involved in Erasmus+ projects," Meržvinska explained.
"It is important to understand that learning and education, whether emotionally or practically or financially, is possible, and it is possible to find lessons that do not require a large investment, or even no money at all," stressed Inete Ielīte, the chairman of the board of the Women's Cooperation Network. She reminded listeners that every municipality has an adult education coordinator who will be able to tell about opportunities in adult education.
"They would be the most competent person who could tell what is happening in the territory of the municipality, where you can get involved. I also want to remind you that there is definitely either a women's organization in the municipality, or an organization that unites pensioners, environmental activists or others, and in Latvia, many associations carry out various activities in the field of non-formal education of adults. It could be a good start for any resident to get involved," Ielīte explained.
For example, Iveta Cīrule, board member of the "Project Net" association, represents the association that promotes the idea of university places for seniors in Latvia.
"We currently have 125 older residents studying with us, and I would like to say good, appreciative words about the Erasmus+ program, because thanks to it we participated in a project in 2017 where we met Portuguese partners who are very knowledgeable in the field of education of the third generation, or seniors , and we started [implementing] this idea in Latvia," said Cīrule.
"Currently, senior university students participate in five different Erasmus projects and work on exchanges. This means that we, as an adult education organization, write projects and our students go on exchanges. We will soon take students to Spain, Turkey, and thanks to this program we have such an opportunity," she added.
At the senior university, classes are held once a week from October to May in four areas or basic blocks - digital skills, personal development, languages and healthy lifestyle. Any student of the organization has the opportunity to go on exchanges.
"These exchanges are a very good experience for everyone - both for those who educate adults, to learn and see how it happens internationally, and also for the adults themselves.
People should be interested in the possibilities, that maybe there is an active association in their city, county, where they use these opportunities and write projects professionally," urged Cīrule.