A new sense of community

MORE THAN 20 years ago the Alexander report was about adult education and youth and community work. It has taken that time to produce another overarching study of community education, and the bywords today are lifelong learning, social inclusion and active citizenship. The difference is that community education has become part of social policy. It is now at the heart of Government thinking.

Community educators ought to be cheered by that thought as they read the generalities in which the working party's recommendations are framed. A detailed circular to local authorities is promised. Its significance will be judged by how close it comes to making community education a statutory responsibility.

The demand that councils prepare community learning plans should go a long way to building protection for classes and services on the ground. The aims pursued in the new report - personal betterment through education and an attack on deprivation - have a long history. So has the poor take-up of opportunities, especially by men with no qualifications from schooldays.

Assured funding, not least for half-closed libraries, is a prerequisite of progress.

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