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Commission marks centenary of landmark report

The commission will look at how to tackle the challenges the adult education system in England faces today

Arthur Lionel Smith, master of Balliol College, Oxford, chaired the 1919 adult education committee

The commission will look at how to tackle the challenges the adult education system in England faces today

A commission is being launched today to consider the challenges England faces in educating people throughout their lives, 100 years on from the publication of a landmark report which paved the way for adult education.

In 1919, the Ministry of Reconstruction’s adult education committee published its Report on Adult Education, which argued that a population educated throughout life was vital for the future of the country.

The Centenary Commission, chaired the master of Oxford University’s Balliol College, by Dame Helen Ghosh, aims to stimulate a national debate about the role of adult education, and to “rebalance and enhance provision for adults”. The 1919 adult education committee was chaired by the then Balliol master Arthur Lionel Smith (pictured).

The commission will hold its first meeting today, at Balliol College, to consider the educational provision required in the face of longer lives, changing work, and global challenge.

The commission will explore issues surrounding the following issues:

  • Globalisation and the future of work
  • Civic engagement and democracy
  • Inequality and social mobility
  • Communities, migration and identities
  • Demography and ageing

'Eerie parallels'

Dame Helen said there were “eerie parallels between the problems of 1919 and those of 2019”. She added: “My own work as a civil servant on a variety of local regeneration programmes convinced me that learning at every stage of life is key to economic security, happiness and health and to creating a society in which everyone can flourish.”

The members of the commission include: Dame Helen Ghosh (chair), Sir Alan Tuckett (vice chair), Melissa Benn, Lord Bilimoria, Dr Sharon Clancy, Melissa Highton, Uzo Iwobi, Roger McKenzie, Sir Ken Olisa, Sue Pember, Paul Roberts, Dr Cilla Ross, Sir Peter Scott and Ruth Spellman.

The commission will publish its report in November 2019.

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