At last John Hayes has made his voice heard on the subject of Adult Eduation in the UK. Linda Hawkins, over on politicalnetworking, has picked up the story first printed in the Guardian. The Conservative Party in the UK has long been campaigning against the recent cutbacks in adult education and the commitment to lifelong learning for all. It is, as I’ve said before, essential to individual and collective social and economic prosperity that people continue to learn. That learning should be encouraged by governmental policies, recognised by employers and permitted by universities and colleges.
This is not only a UK problem although the UK, to its detriment, has recently lost what was a thriving social ‘evening class’ system. Nor is the problem going unrecognised. The Centre for Recording Achievement (I declare an interest as an Associate Director) is UK-based but working interntionally to build employment and academic cultures that encourage individual aspirations to continuous learning and, most importantly, allow the results to be recognised in both sectors. Learning does not stop on leaving school. Adults do need to be able to top up skills or explore new academic avenues as their interests and – frequently disjointed – careers evolve. People who start a first degree in the UK and then work in Romania or Australia, should be able to take a top-up course in that second country before moving on to (say) Canada and signing up with no problem for a higher degree. People who have higher level degrees should not be turned away from undergraduate courses in a different discipline. People who just want to learn ‘something-anything’ should be allowed to do so as they are more likely to be involved in community activities and more likely to keep up to date with the requirements of modern living, so making it easier for governments to plan and move forward. So, Tories, go for it – and may your foreign counterparts work with you.