The aim of the new Erasmus+ programme is to reach as many people as possible, to get new institutions to join the programme as well as to intensify partnerships. Originally founded as a student programme in 1987 (“ERASMUS – EuRopean Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students”), Erasmus+ is now an integrated programme for education, youth and sports. For a long time now pupils, apprentices, teachers and people in adult education have also been able to take part in the programme.
In the years to come people involved in grassroots sports will also be able to take part in mobility measures. Around 10 million people across Europe will take part in the new programme generation. In the OeAD’s anniversary year another seven-year programme phase will begin, after all mobility programmes in the youth, education and sports sectors at European level were merged into Erasmus+ in 2014. As of the year of its 60th anniversary the OeAD as national agency for Erasmus+ is responsible for the implementation of Erasmus+ Education and Youth and the management of the European Solidarity Corps in Austria.
In the coming years Erasmus+ will focus on inclusion and diversity, the environment and combating climate change (Green Erasmus+), digital transformation and active participation in democratic life. The programme is closely related to political developments. Among other things, Erasmus+ supports priorities and activities set in the European education area and implements the EU Youth Strategy 2019-2027.The European Solidarity Corps supports young people and youth initiatives engaged in projects and activities for the community. The Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes always focus on people and their educational, social, personal or professional development.
One of these people is Ms Polonca Kosi Klemenšak, the Austrian Erasmus+ ambassador for Adult Education in 2019. Ms Kosi Klemenšak has been responsible for the educational programme as well as for EU projects and international measures in the Bildungshaus Schloss Retzhof of the Province of Styria since 2006. Her comprehensive expertise is based in particular on her work in numerous Erasmus+ projects.
“Transnational thinking and acting are part of my everyday professional life,” says Polonca Kosi Klemenšak. “Living in Slovenia, I commute to my Austrian workplace every day. I have always found living and working in different language areas and cultures incredibly enriching. I consider any endeavours that even remotely support such an environment of experience to be the best informal learning and education programme.”
Ms Kosi Klemenšak has gained a lot of knowledge regarding education systems and project structures as well as models of formal, non-formal and informal education through her work in various EU projects. As an Erasmus+ ambassador in the field of adult education she is also happy to pass on this knowledge to interested individuals and organisations in Southern Styria and – even though she is a Slovenian – a daily newspaper named her “Styrian of the month”.
In the last few years the Bildungshaus Retzhof has dealt with topics such as inclusion/accessibility for disadvantaged groups in educational work, democracy education, EU citizenship and EU appreciation through the funded EU projects. The acquired expertise has significantly influenced the staff’s activities and thus all processes and procedures of the educational work. The experiences abroad brought new knowledge about diversity, accessibility, inclusion and community building to their own organisation. The results of the EU projects shape the Bildungshaus Retzhof’s strategic planning and content orientation.
Due to Polonca Kosi Klemenšak’s and the Erasmus+ team’s work inclusive and participatory adult education has a big international network that maintains regular exchange on specialised topics. The implementation of the thematic focuses in the regional framework led to a great learning effect and to the sustainable establishment of good practice models in the participating regions. This approach is the “success story” of all projects that have been implemented so far at the Bildungshaus Retzhof and its partner institutions.