Learning and democracy discussed at Parliamentary event

14 October 2013

Adult learning’s role in improving and enhancing democracy in local communities was discussed at a Parliamentary event on Tuesday 15 October, hosted by SALP together with NIACE as the UK National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning.

Held as part of Local Democracy Week (14 – 20 October), the event reflected on the role that adult learning plays in supporting both local and national democracy to find ways of building bridges between disadvantaged communities and the people who serve them. It also helped to refresh policy-makers’ enthusiasm and commitment to the integral role that learning and democracy share in strong, resilient and dynamic communities.

NIACE believes that learning can contribute to the democratic agenda in the following four key areas:

  1. Voter turnout and Councillor base.
  2. Involvement in local decisions.
  3. Proactive neighbourhood engagement.
  4. Civic Engagement.

Simon Beer, NIACE Programme Manager, said:

“For the four key areas to thrive, NIACE believes that they need to be underpinned by behaviour change in councils and from providers. This follows on from NIACE ‘Colleges in Their Communities’ agenda – which stressed the need to move beyond a ‘qualifications rat-race’ by focusing much more on meaningful democratic and civic outcomes and the impact that can have.

“Providers should not primarily focus on the need to generate institutional, competitive advantage, but more importantly build new value for the community – learners, employers and the wider community. Learning can help create more meaningful and democratic networks which operate across different types of places and localities.”

The event was sponsored by Margaret Curran MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, and hosted by NIACE and Scotland’s Adult Learning Partnership (SALP).