A Report from the Moderator
WHAT WE HEARD
The round two public consultation meetings held in Edmonton and Calgary in May brought together a wide representation of stakeholders in adult learning from across the province. Stakeholder representatives included students, faculty, business and labour, institutional presidents and board chairs, private education and training providers and other community leaders. The agenda for the consultation meetings reflected the structure of the draft White Paper. Participants were divided into small groups to discuss and provide input into the section of the draft White Paper dealing with vision, mission, features, and roles and then to each of the four goal areas and accompanying strategies.
Each small group was asked to answer the following questions:
1. Do the strategies and actions need to be modified, or additional strategies and actions created?
2. Taken as a package, will these strategies and actions lead to the accomplishment of the goal?
The following overview summarizes the answers to these two questions. The input received through these small group discussions represents a collaborative viewpoint reached through a sharing and debate of individual ideas.
Vision, Mission, Features, Roles ---------------
The vision for the adult learning system in Alberta and the mission for the department as proposed in the draft White Paper is as follows:
In the year 2005, Alberta's adult learners will be recognized for the excellence of their knowledge, skills, attitudes and experiences that enable them to
* take responsibility for shaping their futures,
* participate in a changing economy and workforce, and
* enrich the quality of life in their communities.
Alberta's adult learners will achieve excellence by participating in high quality, life-long learning opportunities.
Advanced Education and Career Development will lead and work with other partners in facilitating new directions for adult learning that ensure for learners and taxpayers an accessible, responsive and affordable system of adult learning that is accountable for results.
Many comments were provided concerning the vision.
Overall, general support for the vision statement was expressed although some had concerns about some of the terms used. Many participants questioned a vision centered around the learner in contrast to the goals and strategies which primarily centered on the department and institutions. There was also a concern expressed that the vision was being driven too much by the needs of the economy and was therefore too narrow in focus.
Recommendations concerning the vision included the following points:
* The statement should reflect the diversity of learners within the
* A reference to access to learning opportunities should be included.
* The role of research, particularly with respect to the creation of new knowledge, should be incorporated.
* Alberta's adult learners must be recognized globally for their achievements.
* The vision statement should contain no reference to a date or an endpoint.
* A glossary of terms should be incorporated into the final document and the following terms relative to vision be defined: adult learners, active learners, quality, quality of life and communities.
There was consensus that it was the department's mission to ensure an accessible, affordable, responsive and accountable system of adult learning.
It was recommended that the reference to "learners and taxpayers" be replaced with "adult learners". This change should also be reflected in the Goal 2 statement. It was also suggested that a reference to an endpoint could be included in the mission statement.
There was a general agreement on the features of a renewed adult learning system. The messages that were reinforced emphasized:
* The adult learning system must be driven by the needs of learners.
* The system should remove barriers to transfer from basic education through to post- graduate studies.
* Quality of education and training should remain a priority. Learners should be allowed to participate more fully in measuring the quality of education or training services received.
* Access, including geographically-based access, should be an important feature of an improved adult learning system.
* Individuals should actively take on the responsibility for defining and pursuing the types of learning that they desire.
* Accreditation of private education and training providers should become a feature of the new adult learning system.
* Education and training are both vital aspects of a successful adult learning system and one should not be sacrificed for the other.
Generally, participants agreed with the roles of learners, providers and business and industry.
Participants liked the idea of individual learners playing a greater role in the system of adult learning. It was recommended that the different needs of learners at all levels be recognized to avoid having people fall through the cracks.
A need for greater role integration between stakeholders such as institutions and business and industry was stressed. Collaborative efforts, it was suggested, are the only ways to increase quality. In keeping with the need for greater role integration, participants saw the role of government as a facilitator and not as a "centralized decision maker". The role of government, it was stated, should be to show leadership, through facilitating, coordinating, and communicating.
Some of the individual ideas we heard:
* The roles of institutional boards and the federal government need to
be included and defined.
* With declining resources, an increased role for innovation is a necessity if quality is to be maintained.
* Make a formal reference to the role of universities in the area of research in the White Paper.
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