Do you know that the British Chancellor is suggesting that funds for adult education should be cut by 25% and 40%?
I’ve no head for figures, so I’m going to give you what the WEA have to say about it:
Less than 6% of Government spending on education and training is devoted to adult further education and skills. Further cuts, on top of the 24% and 3.9% per cent cuts to the Adult Skills Budget already announced this year, will have a devastating impact on a service that is life-changing for many people.
Putting that in context, over the next 10 years there will be 13.5 million more jobs but only 7 million young people coming into the workforce. At the same time employer investment in skills and training has declined by 2.5 billion since 2011. Apprenticeships alone will not fill the gaps. In addition, the research shows that adult education improves health and wellbeing, develops confidence and builds better communities.
I’m standing up here to say that I have a vested interest in Adult Education. Not only do I teach adults through the WEA, I became a mature student when I was in my twenties, and I still like to go along to other people’s courses, when they fit in with my timetable, and I hope to continue to do so. I do it because I like to top-up my skills, and because I’m interested.
What happens when I get there is I meet interesting new people. They could be any age between 19 and …well, the oldest student on one of my classes, so far, is 94. On an adult education course people come from all sorts of backgrounds to share their ideas. I can’t think of any gathering more diverse. What we have in common is an interest in knowing more about the subject.
What we get is something more than we might have expected. A sense of community develops. My horizons are continually broadening. We get into stimulating discussions, and I go home buzzing with ideas. A good class is a tonic.
That’s why I’m adding my letter of protest to the others that are going out to our local MPs and the Chancellor, to say, think again. What Adult Education provides is precious. It’s not just a second chance, it’s about getting out of the house. Instead of looking at how much it costs, I would say look at how it improves our sense of self and community. We want more of this, not less.
If you’re interested in finding out more about the WEA campaign to save adult education, you should take a look at their facebook page.