Gender equality, the ‘learning society’ policies and community education LYN TEXT
People learn in many different ways and contexts and if the society in which they live regards learning as a normal activity for people of all ages then everyone, rather than a limited group, is likely to be effectively engaged in some form of learning of their choice. Currently, however, participation in any post-compulsory education and training is both a highly gendered activity where ‘men…receive a greater share of substantial employer-funded education and training for adults’ (Sargant et al. 1997:21), and highly classed, where those who leave education largely unqualified are unlikely to engage in learning later. It appears that if you do not succeed in the first place then you will not succeed later! On the other hand, women outnumber men by 2.5 to 1 in community-based adult education classes (ibid). This is particularly true of education provision in Scotland where a range of community-based adult learning initiatives succeed in engaging with women who do not normally seek out learning opportunities, often offering a first step back into education (see SCEC 1995). This is partly because there is a Community Education Service that, uniquely in Europe, offers an integrated structure for the promotion of lifelong learning which takes positive action to enable excluded people, such as educationally disadvantaged women, unemployed men and minority ethnic groups, to participate in education and training.