Lifelong Learning and Community-based learning

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1 Lifelong Learning Council Queensland Inc. (formerly Adult Learning Australia (Qld Branch) Inc. PO Box 5054, West End, Q 4101 Lifelong Learning and Community-based learning Background information paper This paper is intended to complement the paper Lifelong Learning and community-based learning: a discussion paper about developing a whole-of-government policy for Queensland. It was developed as part of a project to assess the needs of community learning organisations and promote adult learning, undertaken by Adult Learning Australia (Qld Branch) Inc. and funded by the Gaming Machine Community Benefit Fund. What is lifelong learning? Lifelong learning is a broad concept where education that is flexible, diverse and available at different times and places, is pursued throughout life. The Delors (1996) report identified four 'pillars' of education for the future: learning to know; learning to do; learning to live together (and with others); and, learning to be. What is community-based learning or adult and community education (ACE)? Community learning has been described as the fourth sector of education (Senate Standing Committee on Employment and Education and Training (1991). It is an important, but in Queensland under-recognised, component of lifelong learning. It forms part of a long tradition of continuing education. While there is no single definition of community based learning or ACE, there is general agreement on a number of its characteristics, these include that community learning is: better described as a learning process than by its content diverse, making provision for people's vocational, personal, cultural and social development regardless of their employment status. Programs include literacy and numeracy, adult basic education, English and community languages, liberal education, small business, general adult education, public education, to name but a few areas geared to the adult status of its participants and is committed to building their self-esteem, empowerment and sense of confidence through skill acquisition, access to information and introduction to new fields of knowledge, and, through this means developing social capital occurs at times and places appropriate to the participant's needs, these can range from very informal to formal fundamentally a learner-centred and needs-based practice characterised by its active concern for accessibility, inclusivity, democratic processes, and social justice successful as measured primarily in terms of its relevance to the needs and aspirations of the individual participants responsive to and supports local communities and communities of interest in identifying and meeting the learning needs of their members able to strengthen communities by building diverse skills and capacities, contributing to the development of a cohesive, culturally diverse and creative society. There are a number of terms that are used interchangeably in Queensland to name the type of provision described above. These include adult community education, adult education, adult and Mission: partners in lifelong learning reconciliation - learning together Secretary: Terry Clark, ph: , ABN

2 community education, community education, and adult learning. There is no clearly agreed upon terminology. How does community based learning serve Queensland? Vocational education and training, especially for industry, as the current training system is substantially designed, caters mainly to large scale community needs, such as housing construction, manufacturing, etc. While it makes a contribution in these areas, community learning, however, plays an important role at the margins of the economy by building economic diversity. At times this takes place before credentialled training becomes available. As one example, the growth in the importance of renewable energy as a contribution to the economy emerged, in part, through community learning activities. In many areas, where critical numbers are not available to fill programs, community learning providers have enabled people to develop the skills required by that community, especially in rural and remote areas. This is an important contribution to community capacity building. Through its focus on being accessible, inclusive, empowering and responsive, community learning builds social capital in communities. Given the nature of much of the provision of these learning opportunities through community organisations, building social relationships is a key to the success of the organisations and their communities. Another important contribution played by community learning is the development of pathways for ongoing learning and education. A study by McIntrye & Kimberley [1999], demonstrates the wide variety of pathways into employment and training available to participants in ACE programs. Their report documents 46 case studies. What types of learning programs are provided? The provision of adult learning programs spans the spectrum from informal, non-accredited learning, that may occur as one-on-one mentoring or small group activities, and other activities including learning circles, field days, etc. through to formal vocational education and training provided through accredited courses delivered by Registered Training Organisations and continuing professional education. Who delivers the ACE component of Lifelong Learning? By comparison with the schools, VET and higher education sectors, adult and community education has traditionally, but not exclusively, been community owned and managed. Private groups offering a range of the same types courses are generally considered to be engaged in a commercial activity (that can have many of the same outcomes) The following list is by no means exhaustive, and is not in any order of priority: Universities of the Third Age Community / Neighbourhood Houses / Centres Specific interest community groups Community Literacy Program providers ACE in TAFE (short courses) School based P&C and P&F Associations - Leisure and Learning Programs Community-based adult education providers University extension programs Distance learning providers Employment training providers Community workplace training providers, eg. the former Youth Sector Training Council, Volunteering Qld, amongst many others Community Services, such as Disability providers, Aged Care providers, Housing groups Church groups offering a range of courses amongst others. How is ACE / lifelong learning currently funded in Qld? ACE is funded in a variety of ways in Queensland. The main methods of funding include: Full cost recovery / User Pays Lifelong Learning and community-based learning: Background information paper page 2 of 5

3 Programs offered through University Extension and to an increasing degree through the ACE provision in TAFE are full cost recovery. Participants pay for the programs they undertake. Some levels of subsidy may still be embedded in the use of the facilities of the host organisation. Partial cost recover Programs such as those offered by many Parents & Citizens or Parents & Friends Associations rely in part on the voluntary contribution of coordinators, and the in-kind support from the school for the use of facilities, and payment by the participants. Subsidised ACE programs are subsidised through a large range of sources. These include the funding available through Government departments, for example: Department of Families Youth and Community Care funds services in Neighbourhood Houses and Community Centres. Many of these centres offer learning programs. This department also funds a range of other programs through its various Program areas. Department of Employment Training and Industrial Relations funds two programs targeted to ACE providers. Both of these programs have played an important role in the development of community-based provision. Community Literacy Program grants to community groups who are Registered Training Organisations, or in the process of becoming so, who deliver the accredited "Course in Adult Literacy and Numeracy". This funding supports the provision of functional literacy programs to disadvantaged adults. It also draws on substantial community support through volunteer tutors who undertake training. ACE - VET contracts to community groups who are Registered Training Organisations (RTO) or who partner with an RTO to deliver accredited courses where specific community needs have been identified. A wide variety of training has been made available through this program. Other Government Departments provide a wide range of funding programs to community organisations which are considered part of ACE provision, eg. Landcare, DPI extension, Health Department programs, Office of Multicultural Affairs, etc. Philanthropic or other grant making bodies support a wide variety of ACE programs. Frequently the cost to the participants through any of these programs is nominal or small. Voluntary Providers such as U3As, many community groups, church groups and others offer programs using volunteer tutors, facilitators or trainers, and often access other in-kind support as well. These organisations also frequently need to fundraise to provide their programs. There are sometimes minor costs involved to participants, but largely the program is offered through in-kind community contributions. National Background and Context The Senate Standing Committee on Employment Education & Training, 1991 report titled "Come in Cinderella : the emergence of adult and community education" recognised the importance of community-based adult education programs, and the development of this type of education as the "fourth sector" of the education system (after Schools, Tertiary and Technical and Further Education). In 1993 the Ministerial Council on Education, Training and Youth Affairs, comprising Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers, endorsed a National Policy on Adult Community Education (ACE). The Senate Employment, Education and Training References Committee revisited the development of adult learning in its' 1997 report titled "Beyond Cinderella : towards a learning society". This report acknowledges how the Adult Community Education sector has integrated lifelong learning principles into its structure and practice (p. 2) Subsequent to this report, the National Policy was revised, and endorsed by the Ministerial Council in June This policy (p. 6) states "the ACE sector can assist the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in developing a more flexible and competitive labour market, and in developing an informed citizenry and enhancing the cultural vitality of the nation." It also states (p. 9) that "ACE is an important part of a continuum of learning which offers choices of learning outcomes at various stages of an individual's development". This policy is currently being revised. Lifelong Learning and community-based learning: Background information paper page 3 of 5

4 Lifelong Learning and community-based learning: Background information paper page 4 of 5

5 Developments to date The recognition, by various State Governments, of the contribution made by Adult Community Education has been very mixed since the policies and reports have emerged. New South Wales and Victoria each established Boards to promote and assist the development of lifelong learning. Along with an ACE Council, housed in the Department of Education Training and Employment, South Australia has established the Centre for Lifelong Learning and Development within the Premiers Department. May 1999 saw the first meeting of a Queensland ACE Advisory Committee to the then Vocational Education, Training and Employment Commission. This committee had met five times prior to the passage of the Training and Employment Act 2000, which supercedes VETEC with a Training and Employment Board. The Training and Employment Board has established a Community Learning and Skilling Advisory Committee in October The new Training and Employment Act 2000 is very directly concerned with the Vocational Education and Training System in Queensland (credentialled aspects of adult learning only). This Act provides little scope for the whole area of life long learning and the contribution played by adult learning organisations, more particularly those in the not-for-profit sector. The Access & Equity Unit of the Department of Employment Training and Industrial Relations which has recently been integrated within the Division of Training, undertook two projects earlier in 2000 to collect data to develop a Queensland ACE Policy, and to map the ACE sector. A report titled The Untapped Potential was released in This report recognises the breadth of adult learning. However, given the current Training and Employment Act s limited scope with respect to the breadth of adult learning and the absence of broader policy frameworks for adult learning, if an ACE policy is developed within the Department of Employment Training and Industrial Relations, it may be too narrowly focussed on credentialled vocational education and training. By definition this will not take into account the full scope of recognition needed for lifelong learning. The challenge which needs to be faced in Queensland is how to develop and implement a broad policy framework for lifelong learning as this grows more critical. References Adult Learning Australia (2000). Lifelong Learning: making it work. Canberra. Delors, J. (Chair) (1996). Learning: the treasure within : report to UNESCO of the International Commission on Education for the Twenty-first Century. UNESCO Publishing Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (1993). National Policy : Adult Community Education. Carlton South: The Council McIntrye, J. and Kimberley, H. [1999]. Planning pathways : a resource for providers developing pathways for women from ACE to VET. [Perth]: Access and Participation Directorate, Western Australian Department of Training. Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (1997). National Policy ; Adult Community Education [rev.ed] Ralph, Denis (2000). Lifelong Learning for all - The Australian Approach, in Jolli : Journal of Lifelong Learning Initiative. Glasgow, Scotland : The Planning Exchange, no. 18, June. Senate Standing Committee on Employment, Education & Training (1991), Aulich, T (Chair). Come in Cinderella : the emergence of adult and community education. Canberra: The Committee. Senate Employment, Education and Training References Committee (1997). Beyond Cinderella : towards a learning society. Canberra: The Committee For more information contact the President: Helen Schwencke, ph , January, 2002 Initially prepared March, 2001 for Adult Learning Australia (Qld Branch) Inc. Lifelong Learning and community-based learning: Background information paper page 5 of 5

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