Adult and community education must be formally recognised in public policy for its role in providing accessible learning opportunities for adults in local communities that meets their needs and supports place-based community development.
Adult and community education (ACE) is a discrete fourth sector of education in Australia that is not for profit and community based. Research shows that ACE providers offer a platform for disengaged and/or disadvantaged adults to:
- transition back into learning
- develop basic skills for work
- improve language, literacy and numeracy
- pathway into formal learning programs.
ACE programs build community capacity, enhance social cohesion and promote health and wellbeing. They foster skill development and provide vocationally focussed education and training programs and pathways. ACE enables inclusive learning by recognising that there is a broad spectrum of learners with individual needs and preferences. ACE learning programs are highly focussed and offered in a friendly, flexible and supportive environment.
However, ACE continues to be marginalised in terms of policy and resources despite its recognised ability to provide lifelong learning opportunities that are both accessible and inclusive.
ALA is calling for:
- formal recognition of ACE as a discrete fourth sector of education in Australia, offering accessible learning opportunities for adults in local communities that meet their needs and support place-based community development
- a renewed Ministerial Declaration on ACE
- recognition of the role played by ACE providers in attracting and supporting key equity groups through the provision of community service obligation funding
- specific and complementary roles for not for profit community providers, the public TAFE system and for profit providers
- pathways and foundation skills funding primarily offered to ACE and TAFE providers
- funding support for Adult Learning Australia to provide professional development and support to the ACE sector and to continue to coordinate Adult Learners’ Week annually
- funding support for Adult Learning Australia to research the role of ACE social enterprises in tackling social issues and supporting sustainability.
Resources and research
- Policy platform
- Fact sheets
- ACE environmental scan
- ACE in rural and regional Australia
- ACE infographics
- Disengaged youth and ACE
- The ageing population: What are the implications for ACE?
- The role of ACE in support equitable mental health reform
- 2008 Ministerial Declaration on ACE
Other policy areas
- Adult language, literacy and numeracy
- Lifelong learning communities
- Inclusive learning culture
- Educating for sustainable development