In 2019 and 2020 I gave a chunk of my time to being part of the 2019 Centenary Commission on Adult Education. Our report is here: https://www.centenarycommission.org/
And news of our ongoing campaigns and events are here: https://www.centenarycommission.org/news-events
That was mostly pre-covid, of course. It will be interesting to see how the adult and community education sector, which has traditionally relied on high-touch, small group, locally based delivery changes for the future. I expect there will be a renewed emphasis on economic recovery and reskilling.
A hundred years ago, as Britain recovered from a devastating World War, the Ministry of Reconstruction published an extraordinarily powerful report, visionary in its scope and practical in its detail, on the key role adult education had to play in fostering an active democracy, enriching communities, and nourishing curiosity and a love of learning. Adult education was it argued, ‘a permanent national necessity’. We took these words from the 1919 Report as the vision for our Centenary Report. ‘We believe that ‘universal and lifelong’ access to adult education and learning is as necessary now as it was in rebuilding our society in the aftermath of the War to End All Wars.’
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation UNESCO defines lifelong learning :
The integration of learning and living, covering learning activities for people of all ages (at home, at school, in the workplace, in the community, etc.) through formal, non-formal and informal modalities, which together meet a wide range of learning needs and demands.
The UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 supports adult education ‘to complement and supplement formal schooling, broad and flexible lifelong learning opportunities should be provided through non-formal pathways with adequate resources and mechanisms and through stimulating informal learning, including through use of ICT.
So digital education will be key.