A new European perspective with GUTS: Generations Using Training for Social inclusion in 2020

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Maurice de Greef | 24.07.2015 | Projects - Articles
GUTSTo date, 20% of the European older population are considered at-risk-of-poverty or social exclusion. In this context the European Commission underlines the necessity of investing time, effort and resources to lift at least 20 million people out of the risk of poverty and social exclusion by 2020. Specific population subgroups are particularly vulnerable.
The Belgian Ageing Studies conducted among circa 70.000 older people show that especially older people above 80 years are more socially excluded from daily society. This is even more so with marginalised groups as women and immigrants experiencing loneliness and social inequality. Besides this the problem of youth unemployment increases rapidly. More and more countries are confronted with youngsters who are out of the labour market. These youngsters have less opportunities and are disadvantaged concerning their social inclusion in daily life. Due to the fact that youngsters are the future "engine" of our economy and society their opportunities and chances to participate actively in daily life should increase.

Intergenerational learning seems to give a good solution in order to aim increase of social inclusion of both groups.

The European project GUTS

A European project, GUTS, will combine the strengths of older people and youngsters in order to learn from each other and increase their skills facing daily problems in current society (referring to the goal of the decrease of poverty and social exclusion of the Europe2020 Strategy). Most important is the realisation of new strategic cooperation between local, regional and national partners in Europe in order to facilitate new pathways of learning (according to the goals of the Erasmus Plus Programme).

Policy makers should be aware of the possibilities and opportunities in education and training. Therefore the present GUTS project will focus on developing, testing and implementing 10 innovative, intergenerational and cultural, learning areas based on a constructive and valid desk research. These learning areas will be developed by the innovative methodology of co-creation between older people and youngsters. Both seniors and youngsters will learn in group and individual sessions new skills and knowledge and internalise new attitudes in order to increase their understanding of each other’s position and improve their place in daily society. The topics of these learning areas can be diverse and depend on the needs of the learners themselves. During the learning process itself the innovative learning areas will be scientifically investigated in order to develop an action manual for professionals and policy makers to facilitate new European learning areas.

In the intergenerational and cultural learning area youngsters will provide older people with up-to-date knowledge and will try to upgrade the seniors’ skills in order to increase the social inclusion of these older people. On the other hand the older people will stimulate the youngsters to develop their key competences in order to find a better place in society. Eventually this innovative learning process will attract more youngsters in joining education and training in order to acquire better key competencies fitting the goals of ET2020. According to the contents of these learning areas it should be flexible and fitting into the local context of the learners (serving the goals of the Renewed Agenda for Adult Learning).

Desired strategic impact

Based on the experiences of the learning areas during the European GUTS project a toolbox for professionals will be developed in order to organise comparable learning areas. This tool box offers tips and tricks for local and regional institutions advising them in realising learning areas fitting policy and the organisational framework of the institutions themselves.

Besides the toolbox for professionals policy makers will get an action manual (developed by the consortium of GUTS) in order to develop strategic plans on local, regional, national and European policy level in order to facilitate future cultural and intergenerational learning areas. Part of the action manual will be practical recommendations for stakeholders and policy makers.

In addition to this each country will organise multiplier events in order to ensure sustainable use of this action manual and future innovative intergenerational learning areas for older people and youngsters.

The European consortium of the GUTS project aims to increase the possibilities for setting up more intergenerational learning areas. Therefore this project will involve policy makers and other stakeholders. In order to ensure future possibilities for intergenerational learning policy makers have to get concrete and constructive tools in order to facilitate new learning areas throughout Europe.

Objectives to be achieved

This European strategic partnership of the GUTS project would like to achieve specific goals for three target groups, to mention:
  • Participants themselves
  • Educational professionals
  • Policy makers and stakeholders
Participants: Older people and youngsters
The older participants of the learning areas become aware of the necessity to prepare themselves for the challenges of growing older and ensure their social inclusion next to the fact that the youngsters will realise a better place in daily society. They both make the experience to be the developer of their own learning spaces. Thus the older people (including women, migrants and oldest old) and the youngsters use the new learning environments to improve their daily life situation and life quality.

Educational professionals
In 5 countries (6 partners) about 10 innovative intergenerational and cultural learning areas have to be realised and evaluated. These learning areas take into account both older people in the age up to 75 with a preventive perspective and youngsters. Besides this some of the learning areas will focus on the diversity of the older learners, to mention: older people in the age of 75 and older women and older migrants. Due to the fact that the development and realisation of these learning areas are based on “co-creation” lifelong learning can be more attractive for potential learners and stimulates the involvement of more learners.

Policy makers and stakeholders
The involved organisations (adult education providers, policy makers and cultural organisations) become aware of the necessity, surplus value and the importance of education and learning settings for older people (oldest old, women and migrants) and youngsters. They make the strategic preconditions (and develop policy) to work in this area in the future too. Based on the realised learning areas a scientific evaluation can be conducted in order to describe the impact of learning. As a result policy makers and stakeholders know what they will get in return for investment in learning. Possibly this makes facilitation of learning more likely among the policy makers and stakeholders.

New chances for intergenerational learning in the European GUTS project

With the new European project GUTS 9 partner organisations in 7 countries (Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Romania and The Netherlands) hopefully can contribute to more opportunities for lifelong learning by using an intergenerational methodology. Due to the fact that the project aims to have an impact on different levels (for the learners themselves, the educational professionals and the policy makers) the consortium ensures a strong implementation. As a result new chances can be realised in order to ensure that in all EU Member States trainers and policy makers can facilitate own sustainable learning areas in co-creation with older people (oldest old, migrants, women) and youngsters. This co-operation of different generations and cultures will be practised will contribute to the improvement of daily life situations and social inclusion of each learner.

For more information about the GUTS project see: www.guts-europe.eu



This study has been co-financed by the European Union by the Erasmus Plus Programme. Besides this the GUTS project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

Dr. Maurice de Greef (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) in cooperation with:
Prof. Daniela Grignoli, University of Molise
Margherita di Paolo, University of Molise
Prof. Dr. Tinie Kardol, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Prof. Dr. Liesbeth De Donder, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Dorien Brosens, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
Dipl. Päd. Dieter Zisenis, bbb Büro für berufliche Bildungsplanung R. Klein & Partner GbR
Dipl. Päd. Rosemarie Klein, bbb Büro für berufliche Bildungsplanung R. Klein & Partner GbR
Sanja Cesar, CESI Center for Education, Counselling and Research
Anamarija Tkalčec, CESI Center for Education, Counselling and Research
Prof. Radu Constantinescu, University of Craiova
PhD Alina Vlăduț, University of Craiova
PhD Avram Sorin, University of Craiova
PhD Titela Vilceanu, University of Craiova
Liesbeth Goossens, CVO Antwerpen
Suzy Mommaerts, CVO Antwerpen
Ilze Buligina, Talakizglitibas biedriba
Prof. Biruta Sloka, University of Latvia
Petra Herre, Evangelisches Erwachsenenbildungswerk Nordrhein


Topics/Keywords: Practice => Project
Subjects / Target groups => The elderly
Subjects / Target groups => Disadvantaged people
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About the author

Maurice de GreefProfessor Learning effects low skilled and illiterate learners & owner Artéduc

Maurice studied social work and after that educational science. During his study he focussed on the topic of lifelong learning and the learning progress of vulnerable adults in specified learning environments.

Maurice is Professor Learning effects Low skilled and Illiterate Learners and realised a dissertation (PhD) about outcomes of adult education. He managed local, regional and European projects in innovating learning-environments, strategic policy-making in adult education and developing strategies for approaching learners and realising new courses in local settings. He trains teachers on these topics. He is a member of the national board of non-formal adult education and responsible for the national conferences about adult education. Besides this he is member of the board of the national organisation for civil servants of education. Maurice also acts as project-manager in realising new learning-environments for minority-groups.

Maurice has professional connections in most of the EU member states and also in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Besides his work in the Netherlands and Belgium he cooperates with policy makers, professionals and volunteers who would like to create a common knowledge on lifelong learning. 

Maurice is interested and developed special knowledge in the learning process of adults. Basic themes are: transformational learning, the impact of learning, social inclusion, learning environment, blended learning and transfer.



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