Headlines: September 23rd, 2009

An independent report has recommended that public libraries and museums should work in partnership with Further Education colleges to pursue its recommendations for lifelong learning. The proposal has been welcomed by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council and work has started on developing the public library-college model.

The report, ‘Learning Through Life’, calls for a rethink of the way Government, employers and individuals spend an estimated £55 billion every year on lifelong learning. If this investment were to be reshaped radically, the foundations would be laid for a genuinely learning society with entitlements to broad education and training throughout life in the UK.

The present system is heavily front-loaded, favouring the young and already advantaged. This leaves too many people under-equipped to deal with the accelerating health, social, technological and economic changes all adults face as they go through the different stages of life.

As life patterns become more complex and less predictable with increased job changes, greater geographical and social mobility and more frequent family changes, adults need ever greater skills and knowledge to remain successful, fulfilled and independent.

The MLA agrees that lifelong learning has a strong social value and supports the recommendation for a focus on local partnerships to help build confident, cohesive communities. Museums, libraries and archives, working in partnership with local learning providers, can open up more learning opportunities and offer people choice and flexibility about where and how they learn.

MLA Chief Executive Roy Clare said: “The MLA welcomes the breadth of the Inquiry. Museums, libraries and archives are inspirational, local learning spaces that already contribute significantly to lifelong learning and could play an even greater role through the recommendations set out in this report.”