ENABLE – a 24 month, 300,000 euro, EU-wide Leonardo project, which aims to bring e-learning to marginalised learners – is making such impressive progress that it is attracting interest from outside Europe and has received an enquiry from McGirr Associates, of New Zealand.


The ENABLE project involves Learning Light, The Workshop Sheffield (TWS) and the learning development consultancy, The MRS (all based in Yorkshire), along with partner organisations in Italy, Greece, Romania and Poland. The first phase of the project – recently completed – involved research in these four countries as well as the UK.


David Patterson, Learning Light’s operations director, revealed: “Learning Light is co-ordinating the pan-European project to enable ‘marginalised’ learners to develop their knowledge and skills via e-learning. This is exactly the audience which McGirr Associates is also targeting in New Zealand – and Mandy McGirr, of McGirr Associates, has contacted us.


“In the UK, we studied the Somali community living here. In Poland, we studied women who were returning to work and we looked at other groups in Italy, Greece and Romania.


“We’ve developed two e-learning applications  and we’re now rolling out this initiative across Europe, using the experience and expertise we’ve built up to identify and contact people who find it difficult to undertake formal learning,” he added. “The aim is then to engage these people in learning through more flexible learning delivery methods and technologies, including e-learning.


“Mandy McGirr is interested not only in the research and results of the Leonardo project but also in the range of e-learning materials that Learning Light has developed covering various aspects of waste recycling operations,” said Patterson. “Having piloted these successfully in the UK, we’ve seen them put to use most effectively in Nigeria recently – among workers who, for a number of reasons, are unlikely to attend formal face-to-face training courses.”


These e-learning programmes deal with disassembling electrical equipment in the most environmentally-friendly way, following the requirements of the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE Directive). They aim to reduce the amount of this waste going to landfill and improve recovery and recycling rates – thus helping the environment.


Comment: Using e-learning to provide learning and development opportunities to people who, for one reason or another, would not be able to access these opportunities any other way has to be one of the most noble and beneficial uses of this genre.


While there are elements within some societies who disagree with the view that anyone and everyone should be allowed to develop their knowledge and skills to their full potential, there are many more people who would argue that only in this way can a civilised society grow and achieve more than can currently be envisaged.


It’s easy to criticise the Brussels bureaucrats for wasting the money in their care but the ENABLE project has all the hallmarks of money well spent – and, it seems, not purely for the benefit of the disadvantaged in Europe.