From education to employment

NIACE launches campaign to encourage adults to revisit learning

Millions of children across the UK are kick-starting a brand new academic year this month, but a new campaign, from the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), aims to make adults of all ages think about returning to education too.

NIACE, the leading non-government organisation for lifelong learning in England, will run the Sign Up Now campaign throughout September, when many adult education centres and local colleges are showcasting the range of courses they offer to potential students.

The Campaigns Officer at NIACE, Kamy Basra, said: "The key message of Sign Up Now is learning can completely transform your life for the better. Take the opportunity to change your life this September and do something you’ve always wanted to do. Whether it’s learning a foreign language, brushing up on your reading and writing, gardening, photography or zoology and whether it’s to change or further your career, help your children with their homework or just for the fun of it – now is the best time."

The campaign is delivered through hundreds of adult education centres, local colleges and community and voluntary organisations nationwide. It hopes to increase the demand for learning and skills by celebrating the achievements of adult learners and motivate others to get involved.

One of Sign Up Now’s keenest supporters is Linda Worden, who learnt to read and write on the recent Channel 4 programme, Can’t Read Can’t Write.

Ms Worden insists: "You owe it to yourself to get an education and not anyone else. Don’t educate yourself for the benefit of others, do it for yourself. If you don’t take the opportunity to at least give it a go you will never know what you’re missing. If you don’t do it then you will never, ever know the gain. But in the end the gain to your life is worth everything … absolutely everything."

Paul Lee, aged 36, from Oldham is another converted fan for returning to education later in life. He went back to learning as an adult after being forced to give up bricklaying because of health reasons, and is now due to start a History degree at Cambridge University.

Mr Lee claims: "In many ways, I feel that I have wasted a big part of my life by not fulfilling my potential the first time around. Learning has given me a chance to rectify those earlier mistakes and to finally make something of my life. I never really did fit in as a builder … It is the pursuit of knowledge and understanding which I feel most passionate about – I know that now."

NIACE strives to encourage more and different adults to engage in better-quality learning of all kinds. The organisation was set up to campaign for, and celebrate the achievements of, adult learners across the country.

Ms Basra added: "All over the country courses are about to start at colleges, adult education centres, libraries, museums and community centres. And each year thousands of people get a thirst for knowledge that never dies. Sign Up Now to learning and you never know where it might lead – a dream job, new friends, more confidence or better health."

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