Building a targeted outreach strategy

Building a targeted outreach strategy
The Learning Challenge – Narative
Your courses are quite popular in the local area, yet part of the community is still clearly missing. While you have no problem filling up language and yoga classes, and they are attended by learners of different age groups, you have realized that there is also a migrant community in the neighbourhood that has almost no representation in your classes. In particular, there is a large group of migrant women who struggle with the language, are often out of employment and yet have not found a way to get to your classes. Why are their missing, and what strategies can you put in place to help them get through the door?

Solving the Problem

Suggestion 1

The first question you might want to ask yourself is how much you know about the group you are trying to reach. Is there already research available about what might be keeping them from attending your courses, and their needs, or will it be your job to conduct it? If you need to carry out the research yourself, what questions will be relevant to ask, or issues to analyse for this target group? In the case of migrant women, you might want to think about language barriers, family responsibilities, religious activities, or even their self-image as learners.

Suggestion 2

Who can help you get in touch with the community and build their trust? Is there a former learner from the community that you could contact, who could act as an intermediary? Perhaps there are local services, childcare or unemployment services, cultural centres, faith or community organisations that could help you reach your potential learners. Establishing a partnership with another organisation could be a win-win situation for both of you, and for the community itself.

Suggestion 3

What are the activities that your target group is already participating in? Are there community events they attend or organise? While your paths might not cross every day, you might find that your potential group is already actively participating in the community life of the neighbourhood, and this could be a good opportunity for your outreach activities, or for finding out about their interests.

Solving the Problem – Discussing with educators

As you try to find out about the local context of your target group, their needs and obstacles they might be facing, you might find that one question leads to another. The SUPPORT project consortium has recommended the so-called “Socratic” method to go into depth of complex issues.
A mentoring system could be established to support your outreach work. Ideally it should involve educators or learners who come from your target group and have a better understanding of their situation.
Perhaps a taskforce could be set up in your institution to improve the participation of this particular group of learners. The group could include the management, educators, staff responsible for outreach/communication, but also representatives of learners.

Points for Discussion with Policy Makers

What are the barriers that migrant women are consistently facing to participating in adult learning? How many of them are structural and could be solved by more cooperation in policy? To participate in adult learning and in societies, migrant women need an ecosystem that will support them. A well-functioning adult education ecosystem includes different elements: employers, childcare facilities, social services, municipalities, not only adult learning providers. Adult education cannot be solely the responsibility of the education sector: it is a transversal field that requires horizontal and vertical cooperation at the policy level.