Susana Galván, executive director, tells us about the meeting that took place in Catalonia to see possible collaborations between the two territories due to the shared challenges regarding formal and non-formal education.
The event was titled “Territories in transition”. Why this title? What does it refer to?
The idea was to recognise the shared challenges in the field of education, economic development, international engagement, social inclusion, green issues and digital technology while promoting Wales and Catalonia as globally responsible nations.
We also aimed to identify opportunities for education and international collaborations between potential partners in Catalonia and Wales.
What was the objective of the event?
The objective of the meeting was to identify ways of collaboration in the field of formal and non-formal education across the Youth, VET and Adult Education sectors by bringing potential partners together in a virtual conference.
Why did you have a networking event between Wales and Catalonia?
Taith has been working on cultivating international links to facilitate exchanges between Wales and partner countries. We have had meetings and discussion with partners in several countries to discuss how we could maintain existing links and develop new ones across the sectors that Taith provides funding for (Schools, Youth, Further Education and Vocational Education and Training, Adult Education and Higher Education).
There have been links between Wales and Catalonia for a long time, in many cases based on exchanges of best practice in the fields of bilingualism, language planning and policy. Using this existing relationship as a platform, we aimed to explore what other opportunities there were for collaboration in other thematic areas.
What is Taith? What was the purpose of creating this programme?
Taith is Wales’ programme for international learning exchange programme. It provides opportunities for people in Wales to study, train, volunteer and work all over the world, while allowing organisations in Wales to invite international partners and learners to do the same here in Wales. The programme is funded by the Welsh Government to Wales and its international partners to continue to benefit from exchanges in a similar way to the opportunities that flowed from Erasmus+, both in Europe and further afield. The current cycle of the programme runs between 2022-2026 with an investment of £65 million.
What relationship do the two territories share?
Both Wales and Catalonia are sub-state actors within the political framework of a central state. As such, both have different degrees of autonomy and decision-making powers in certain areas, while at the same time depend on decisions made at the national level for other aspects.
Therefore, there are some commonalities between both countries and also some differences with regards to the degree of autonomy. The Welsh Government through its international strategy prioritises engagement with some countries or regions within countries.
What do you think could be the benefits of creating a network between entities and organisations from both territories? What are the benefits of internationalisation?
The benefits of internationalisation are manifold. Taith aims to create opportunities to broaden horizons, experience new ways of life, share best practice and bring back lessons from international partners to Wales. One of the disadvantages for Wales of not having access to the current iteration of the Erasmus+ programme is not having access to extensive European networks.
To bridge this gap, Taith aims to facilitate contact between international partners and Welsh organizations who may be engaging in international exchanges for the first time, so it is crucial that, as a programme, Taith is plugged into as many international networks as possible.
What were the outcomes of the event?
The Territories in Transition event was a starting point of a dialogue that we hope will develop between Catalonia and Wales and that will result in exchange projects that will strengthen the cultural and educational links between both countries. After the successful online discussions in December 2022, we have followed up with some organisations and put them in touch directly with Catalan counterparts who were interested in having a more in-depth dialogue.
What are the next steps?
Taith has opened a new call for Pathway 1 funding (mobilities). The deadline for submitting applications is 16th March, 2023. We have already put some Welsh organisations in touch with Catalan counterparts, with the idea of organising reciprocal exploratory visit to identify ideas for collaborations.