There would be no single “type” of individual that could effectively represent the population of Adult Education learners. A great deal of diversity exists within the 933 Islanders enrolled in Adult Education programs at Holland College (Adult and Community Education, 2006). The program must place a restriction on the minimum age of eligibility so not to encourage school-aged youth to leave the public school system. In fact, one of the only restrictions of acceptance into the Adult Education program is that applicants must be eighteen years of age and out of the public school system for at least one calendar year (an exception would be high school graduates who wish to upgrade high school credits). In fact, the age of students enrolled varies anywhere between eighteen and seventy years old.
As previously discussed, no student enrolled in upgrading programs at Holland College is charged a tuition fee. Funding for the program is provided through partnerships with the federal and provincial governments. An applicant could potentially qualify for funding three different ways. Individuals in Adult Education could receive funding support from Skills Canada (Employment Insurance), the province of PEI (Departments of Education, Economic Development, Social Services and Seniors), or another funding agency such as PEI Workers’ Compensation Board or PEI Native Council. Not only do these agencies fund spaces for students in the upgrading program, but they often provide financial assistance to offset some costs related to educational training, as well as counseling, guidance and other non-financial supports to clients’ learning plans.
Another important factor in understanding what type of learner may be enrolled in Adult Education and who may be responding to the survey is appreciating students’ educational backgrounds. Some learners come to the program with very little formal education, having left the public school system somewhere in the elementary grades. Others may have left during junior high or in the transition between junior high and high school. It is not unusual to have students in upgrading programs who have already received some post-secondary education either at a college or university level.