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Keep funding adult learning

In the run-up to the Scottish Parliamentary elections, Workers' Educational Association learners, members and supporters are asking that the new Scottish Government, whatever its political shape, invest in adult education.

We need to support work which reaches out to people in communities and workplaces and encourages them to engage in learning which promotes well- being and is often a bridge to further and higher education.

The political debate is dominated by the future of university education and the need for early years intervention. Both are vital. We won't, however, see a cultural change in attitudes to learning or raise the aspirations of those least well served by the statutory education system without investment in adult education. Community-based courses designed for young parents, for example, are improving the chances of children by helping poorer families build a better future.

WEA has enjoyed support from successive governments with Headquarters Grant funding and we are recognised as an important partner in lifelong learning in Scotland. Our teaching programmes, however, are dependent on a wide variety of public funding sources which in the current climate are under threat.

Unless the Scottish Parliament enables a strategic approach to funding adult education, as exists elsewhere in the UK, we will see a reduction in services at a time of increasing need.

Joyce Connon, WEA Scottish Secretary, Edinburgh.

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