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Adult Learning Key to Rebuilding Communities

Media Release July 17 2014

Adult Learning Key to Rebuilding Communities

Adult learners Alysha West and Rozarna Partridge are barely out of their teens but have already experienced the challenges of juggling learning and family responsibilities.

The two “learning champions” from Kaitaia are the new faces of this year’s Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga.. They were discovered at last year’s launch of ALW/HTM in Kaitaia where they were not only acknowledged for their own incredible learning journeys studying towards qualifications in social work and ante - natal care while raising children, but also for their encouragement of other young mothers in their community.

Less than a year later, the young women have realized another dream – that of opening a learning hub in Kaitaia for young mothers like themselves to provide support, advice and encouragement.

During Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga, September 8-14, stories of adult learning success like those of Alysha and Rozarna are shared and celebrated throughout Aotearoa – stories which reflect the positive impact of adult learning on communities especially those in crisis.

This year the week will be launched in Christchurch on September 8 with a focus on how the rebuild has encouraged women into trades. The launch will be held at the Ilex Centre in the Botanical Gardens and will feature women currently undergoing trade training.

New Zealand has a strong culture of adult learning and every year tens of thousands of people take part in some form of community learning.

Dr Jo Lake, Director of Adult and Community Education (ACE) Aotearoa says many communities in Aotearoa have been transformed through community learning initiatives provided in schools, community houses or on marae.

She says, “it’s not just technical skills that are enhanced through learning. When adult learners share their stories, they talk about improvements in speaking, reading and writing English, understanding numbers, and speaking Māori. They also talk about benefits like better self-esteem, greater tolerance, confidence and career prospects. Participation in communities is another outcome related to learning. Learners often want to give something back.”

The Government priorities for Adult and Community Education (ACE) include literacy, numeracy, English language (ESOL), te Reo Māori and sign language. Providers all over New Zealand offer learning in these core areas and many others. Courses not eligible for funding are often run by volunteers.

Adult Learners’ Week/He Tangata Mātauranga, celebrates all adult learning whether it’s upskilling for a better job, preparing for further study, improving life skills or having fun. It is supported by the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO and incorporates International Literacy Day on September 8.

ENDS

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