Generally the term has been associated with the long-established and deep-rooted problems of poverty and unemployment that have been exacerbated by growing social and economic inequalities. In response to these problems the stated aim of the social inclusion policies of governments that are designed to bring about social justice is to ensure that all citizens, whatever their social or economic background, have opportunities to participate fully in society and enjoy a high quality of life. These rather bland and meaningless phrases have been used to argue that education and lifelong learning have a central role to play in this process. This is because it is suggested that lifelong learning programmes have the potential to ‘change people’s lives, even transform them’ (Fryer 1997:24) and give excluded people an economic and political voice through participation in the labour market and enhanced citizenship.