Opportunities for adults to learn at all stages and phases of their lives are needed now more than ever before. In 1919, the Ministry of Reconstruction’s Adult Education committee published a ‘Report on Adult Education’, arguing that a population educated throughout life was vital for the future of the country.
“Adult education must not be regarded as a luxury for a few exceptional persons here and there… it is a permanent national necessity, an inseparable aspect of citizenship, and therefore should be both universal and lifelong.”
This report set the groundwork for a liberal approach to adult education for the rest of the 20th century. Its centenary is a vital opportunity to reflect on the needs and possibilities for adult education today and into the century ahead. Back then the report was a response to post-war recovery – our focus now is on recovering from a global pandemic – the ability to access good jobs, protecting our mental health, access to digital technologies and the skills to function online.
We are adjusting to the impacts of leaving the European Union, seismic shifts in the way that work is organised, changes in the way in which our children learn, making sense of a world where we need to have the skills to understand how we get and use news and information.
Our values in Adult Community Learning are driven by a desire to work with communities to enable people not only to function with day-to-day living and build the skills to access good jobs – but also to ensure that people can live life well and become active citizens. Our learners build social networks, find friends and mentors, develop confidence in their abilities and have a second chance at learning in a safe space. Our purpose in Adult Community Learning is to bring learning into the heart of communities and to open the door to learning that may have closed since school days.
We have an ambition to create lifelong learners, to see our learners progress but also to see them become role models within their families, to be leaders in their communities, to have the tools to be happier and healthier in their own lives.
Phil Southard & Martin Walker
Co-chairs, Adult Learning Partnership in Wales