The Government's paper on lifelong learning (FE Focus, page 34) is longest on practical proposals for those closest to the end of compulsory education. The 10-point plan focuses mainly on young people moving from school to further or higher education, or to work where there is or ought to be an educational and training component. Many of the points repeat previous announcements of targets. The paper is much less specific about what is usually called adult education despite the continuing reluctance of most Scots, especially those in manual employment, to contemplate taking classes.
Part of the problem is the focus on vocational betterment.Employers are more readily convinced of the need to give time (and money?) if they think their staff will become more productive or more enterprising. Education for education's sake is much harder to promote, and the Government's paper barely makes the effort.
The long delay in producing the statement must be attributed to the need to wait for such initiatives as the Scottish University for Industry and the outcome of the comprehensive spending review rather than abstruse wrestling with a philosophy of lifelong learning. Progress towards the detailed targets among the 10 points will be welcome, especially in a sector of education where ambition has frequently outstripped attainability. But we could do with a bit more of the "lifelong".