Tag: adult learning

2019 Centenary Commission on Adult Education

Image of the front cover of the report. Rights reserved.

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.

Adult Education and Lifelong Learning

“A Permanent National Necessity…” – Adult Education and Lifelong Learning for 21st Century Britain

100 years since the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee published its Report on Adult Education, the centenary commission I  sit on has published our report which argues that adult education and lifelong learning must be a permanent national
necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, vital to addressing the huge societal divisions and challenges to democracy we currently face.

You can read the full report here: http://www.centenarycommission.org/

The challenges include the climate crisis; communities more divided than in living memory, with many feeling excluded from today’s politics; and artificial intelligence threatening to disrupt jobs and permanently alter the nature of work forever. The report mostly focuses on England but we did manage to get in some references to Scotland and Wales and to the potential of digital to transform the ways in which adult education can be offered and enjoyed. Funding for adult learning and apprenticeships has fallen by 45% in real terms since 2009-10, cutting adult education participation dramatically.

Our Report calls for:
• A national Adult Education & Lifelong Learning Strategy, with a participation target to reduce the gap between the most and least educationally active.
• A Minister with specific responsibility for Adult Education and Lifelong Learning to report annually to Parliament on progress.
• Community Learning Accounts, alongside Individual Learning Accounts to provide funding for informal, community-based learning initiatives led by local groups.