Thursday 16 April 2009


Lifelong education starts at, or before, birth and continues until we draw our last breath. It is not necessarily about work skills; it’s more about living a full life.

Whether we are conscience of it or not, we are continually learning. But to realise our full potential, we need to work at learning, and that’s where Adult Education comes in.

Adult Education is not, or shouldn’t be just an add-on hobby to make us feel good. It can be central to our continual development, however old we are.

It’s interesting to note that about half of all Adult Education participants are concession card holders. This would indicate that people are working at continuing to learn, even after retirement. Or I hope it does.

It might indicate that Adult Education is not encouraging enough young people to participate.

Now this meeting is taking place amidst concerns about the future of Adult Education in Tasmania.

And particularly about the State Government’s dedication to the concept of continuing education.

Some of these concerns centre on changes in the enrolment process and increasing costs.

Let me say that the success of any of these Government-imposed changes will be judged on whether enrollments increase.

If the Government is genuine about its desire to see Adult Education strong, it will be creating policies to encourage more people to participate.

There doesn’t seem much evidence to me that Adult Education is attracting enough participants. Is this because it isn’t promoted enough?

Or perhaps because people see barriers to participating?

Or is there just not enough enthusiasm out there?

Let’s see policies to get more people into Adult Education. If we do, our society will benefit in many ways.

There’s the concept of social capital. It’s hard to quantify, but by any argument, adult education produces social capital---and we can’t have too much of it.

Politicians talk from time to time about a smart nation, or a smart state.

Let’s see the evidence through an expansion of adult education with fewer barriers for participants, not more.

As I said earlier, if the State Government is genuine about adult education, in 12 months time it will be able to show an increase in participation, particularly among younger people.

If it cannot demonstrate an increase, it has deceived us about the present changes, and it has failed in an important area of social capital.

If that’s the case, we may well be justified in asking ourselves why we have a State government.