The South Australian Government has recognised the significant value that adult and community education (ACE) brings to the state. A new government statement, entitled Adult Community Education Program Statement: A Strong ACE Program for 2018-19 and Beyond, has just been published by the SA Department of State Development.
In releasing the Statement last week, the SA Minister for Higher Education and Skills, The Hon Susan Close MP, re-stated the critical and unique role the ACE sector plays in South Australia’s education and training sector.
“It has a long and proud history of offering people who experience social and economic barriers a pathway to formal learning. ACE programs are locally developed, locally delivered, locally owned and embedded in communities, where they are tailored to community needs,” Minister Close said.
The Statement was the result of “a comprehensive engagement process which has resulted in the voices and perspectives of our valued stakeholders being heard and acted on,” Minister Close said.
The Statement notes that 50 community organisations deliver ACE programs in 69 locations across South Australia, to more than 4,000 ACE participants. “Identified as a ‘gateway’ or ‘first step’ on the training and work continuum, the ACE program provides literacy and numeracy training, digital competency and the capacity to develop employability skills.”
Also released last week was the South Australian Training and Skills Commission's 2020 series paper, Recognising the Value of Adult and Community Education, which explores the ACE program as a significant contributor to the education and training sector, delivering accredited and non-accredited foundation skills training in community centres, neighbourhood houses, libraries and councils. This paper includes a series of recommendations (see end of this article for the full list) on funding, regional capacity, needs evaluation, data collection, and the ACE profile.
CCA CEO Dr Don Perlgut comments: “The combination of these two documents shows a significant policy commitment by the South Australian Government. Community Colleges Australia congratulates the South Australian Government and the peak South Australian association, Community Centres SA, on this achievement.”
“CCA is particularly impressed by the commitment that the SA Government made to consultation and listening to the ACE stakeholders. This South Australian release is a model for how Australia should proceed in the long-overdue updating the 2008 national Ministerial Statement on the role and function of adult and community education in Australian education and training,” Dr Perlgut said.
SA ACE PROGRAM FUNDING RECOMMENDATIONS
The Recommendations (page 6) of the SA Training and Skills Commission paper, Recognising the Value of Adult and Community Education, are listed below:
Funding: The Training and Skills Commission recommends that any new ACE program funding consider the following:
- Multi-year funding
- Greater flexibility for ACE providers to respond to community demand and need
- The provision of post-delivery support
- ACE workforce development and capability, inclusive of the additional products, services and expertise required to deliver ACE offerings
Regional Capacity: The Training and Skills Commission recommends a cross-agency project to identify and build the capacity of locally based community organisations in particular regional areas to deliver ACE. The Commission specifically highlights:
- Port Augusta
Complex Needs Evaluation: The Training and Skills Commission recommends a cross-agency project to investigate the increase in the complexity of needs among ACE participants and provide a funding and policy response.
Data Collection Evaluation: The Training and Skills Commission recommends the Department of State Development undertake a systematic review of data collection for the ACE sector taking into consideration:
- Identification of appropriate destination data to be reported
- Limiting the reporting burden on ACE providers
- How to achieve valuable longitudinal data evaluations
Raise the profile of ACE: The Training and Skills Commission recommends the Department of State Development lead an initiative to raise the profile of ACE to create:
- Greater community understanding of ACE
- Greater utilisation of ACE
- Greater recognition of the economic, social, community and individual benefits of ACE