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Amidst the Negative Impact of Alienating Policies, NIACE Strive for Adult Literacy Improvem

Amidst the synonymous media howls of falling standards and following controversial government policies alienating thousands, the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) has been quietly pushing forward in its campaign for improving literacy and numeracy amongst adults.

The Learning for Living consortium, led by the NIACE, will unveil a series of guidelines this month for those working with adults who have learning difficulties and disabilities. The guidelines, entitled “Learning for Living”, follow two years of intensive research and development, addressing all tiers and management structures in the hierarchy of adult education. Joyce Black, NIACE Project Manager for the Learning for Living Consortium, explains: “The Consortium has sought input from a wide range of voluntary, statutory, campaigning and specialist advocacy organisations.”

A Dynamic Approach

Understanding the significance of garnering the views and attitudes of those they wish to inform has been pivotal in the formulation of the guidelines. “This suite of guidance documents is an absolutely essential resource. We have consulted with practitioners, managers and with learners at a range of curriculum levels and with a variety of learning needs”, remarks Joyce. “From this dynamic approach, we have been able to listen to and see first hand, the remarkable energy, vision and creativity.”

To be launched throughout March 2006 at a series of national events, the guidance documents have followed a painstaking route, cataloguing various institutions in their quest for advice and opinion. These institutions have included colleges, day centres, prisons and community organisations.

For the Learners!

This cornerstone of focusing on the needs of the learner has not been lost. “You will always achieve better if you are doing something that interests you”, commented Susan, one of the learners who took part in filming for the DVD’s. “It’s why this has been a success, because we all chose something that we were interested in.”

Addressing the complicated and intricate nature of adult learning in a straightforward manner seems to be the key. “We hope that colleagues will use [the guidelines] to share and encourage, more widely, the necessary development and change needed in this complex field”, explains Joyce. “We see them as a way of highlighting effective and creative practices in literacy, language and numeracy learning.”

The guidelines will be launched alongside eight DVD’s and will be showcased at three events during March 2006: at Prospero House, London on Monday 6th March 2006, Renaissance in Manchester on Wednesday 15th March 2006 and the Botanical Gardens in Birmingham on Friday 31st March 2006.

Vijay Pattni

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