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Adult learning is essential to our education system, says new FE Minister

“Adult learning is not a luxury, it is an essential component of our education system,” the new Minister of State for Further Education, Lifelong Learning and Skills said yesterday.

Tory-Lib policy announcements have so far neglected to officially detail the role lifelong learning will play in the coalition government’s education strategy, leading many in the sector to fear it could be subject to significant cuts.

However, speaking at a conference organised by NIACE, the non-government body for lifelong learning, Conservative MP John Hayes assured delegates of his passion for adult education.

“I say plainly that adult learning is a cause which I have upheld throughout my whole career in Parliament that I hold close to my heart, for which I argued passionately in opposition, and with equal passion will champion in government,” he said.

“I know that some of you may have been concerned that adult education is not mentioned in the coalition agreement. I understand that. But please bear in mind that the document clarifies areas of potential difference between my party and the Liberal Democrats, rather than those on which we agree.”

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His comments came as providers across the UK host thousands of activities and events to celebrate Adult Learners’ Week (15-21 May).

Mr Hayes added: “Especially in Adult Learners’ Week, it is right to state clearly that not all learning needs to lead to qualifications.

“For people whose first experience of education was not positive, it’s more important to be encouraged by an inspiring teacher, or to be engaged, maybe for the first time ever, in the acquisition of knowledge and skills – to again, instil a thirst for learning and a hunger for more.

“The transformation that’s required to build a truly inclusive society is not only economic, it’s social, too.”

Jason Rainbow

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