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Beyond Rhetoric

Adult Learning Policies and Practices

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This publication aims to identify what works in the policy and practice of adult learning, drawing on the experience of nine OECD countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom (England). It defines the features of a desirable system of adult learning, including ways to motivate adults to learn and methods to deliver appropriate services. This book will be indispensable to policy makers and those involved in the practice of adult learning.

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Desirable Features of Adult Learning Systems

Over the past decade or so, the issue of adult learning has attracted considerable interest among policy makers and society at large. Of course, the issue is not new. Many OECD countries have long traditions of formal structures for adult learning. For example, in Scandinavian countries the folk high school has been an established institution for 150 years. In the United Kingdom, workers’ education associations developed in the 19th century. In Canada, agricultural extension programmes started at the end of the 19th century. In Switzerland, Migros "club schools" sprang from the current of social idealism of the 1920s. In some cases the state has assumed responsibility for both organising and funding such services. In other cases they have been organised by non-government associations with individuals meeting at least part of the costs of tuition. Adult learning services such as these have often been propounded on two grounds: to provide a means for individual, cultural and social improvement; and to address inequities in access to initial education...

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