The council is being relaunched as Community Learning Scotland in April and will be given a fresh direction.
Mrs McTavish's appointment confirms imminent changes in community education practice following publication in November of the results of a Scottish Office inquiry headed by Douglas Osler, senior chief inspector.
Mr Osler called for community education to be more firmly linked to the Government's objectives in social exclusion and lifelong learning and for "a major transformation of attitudes and practice".
He also backed substantial changes at the SCEC following critical HMI inspections.
Three new functions of promoting personal development, building communities and investing in community learning will mean a shift from traditional support for forums in adult education, youth work and community work.
Helen Liddell, the Education Minister, said Mrs McTavish's four-year appointment was a significant step towards the new vision. "A refocusing of the national agency is an essential element in achieving change and ensuring a stronger focus," Mrs Liddell said.
The new organisation, based in Edinburgh, will act as a national focus and source of advice to the Government on community learning and youth issues and help develop local authorities' community learning plans, a key plank of the reforms.
The McTavish broom is likely to result in considerable staff changes as traditional sections are swept away.
Young Scot, the information package and discount scheme for young people, is a likely casualty and is expected to be floated off to an educational charity.
Mrs McTavish, a member of the ministerial working group on community education, applied for the voluntary job after wide experience in linking her further education college with voluntary organisations and local authorities. She has been particularly strong on access to adult education and work in disadvantaged communities.
"We have got a strong Government commitment to community learning in Scotland and with a new parliament and active citizenship it is an important time in the education agenda for us," Mrs McTavish said.
It was not so much the end of community education as a rebirth, she said.
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