Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


First Adult Learners' Week is held in the U.K.

Adult Learners' Week 1992 was the first UK-wide celebration of the rich and varied achievements of millions of men and women who find fulfillment, enjoyment and reward through learning. The week was also an occasion to promote the commitment and talents of those people and organizations which provide opportunities for continuing education and training.

Initiated and co-ordinated by the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE), the national organization for adult learning, Adult Learners' Week took place between the 9th and 15th of March and involved collaboration among a wide range of organizations and individuals.

The week gave all involved the opportunity to contribute to its planning and impact and share ownership for its success. It drew not only upon the energy and goodwill of hundreds of teachers, trainers and organizers, but also on the enthusiasm and interest of broadcasters in independent television and radio (Channel Four (4) and BBC radio and television). It was supported at the international level by the European Social Fund and at a national level by the Department of Education and Science and the Department of Employment.

The week recognized adult learning wherever and however it occurred. It cut across all sectors - acknowledging independent learning, learning in the workplace and in the community as well as more formal opportunities in colleges, centres, universities and polytechnics.

In this way, the week highlighted the common interests of adults and learners - whether improving their basic literacy or numeracy or pursuing a higher degree. Without ignoring the tremendous diversity of adult learners in terms of their circumstances, experiences, expectations and motivations, Adult Learners' Week emphasized that, compared to children and young people, most men and women have to fit their learning around other commitments such as work and family. They expect and need guidance and support, especially if returning to formal study after a break or with unhappy schooling experience.

In addition, their learning is financed from their own pockets in addition to any contributions from the public purse or from their employers. By focusing on adult learning in all its forms, the week was able to demonstrate not only that adult learning benefits individuals, but also contributes to the cultural and economic vitality of our whole society.

Adult Learners' Week was a time to celebrate life-long learning, to remind people that it is never to late to learn and to help and encourage people to have a goal. The Week, a complex multi-media event, had two key objectives: to celebrate the achievement of existing adult learners, and to stimulate people to take education and training opportunities. A key dimension of the second goal was the encouragement of long term unemployed adults and women "returners" to take up learning opportunities leading to qualifications.

Adult Learners' Week 1992 was an important event for adult learners. It helped to promote the concept that learning provides the foundation for a successful and a rewarding life, equips us with the skills to face new challenges, and helps us to keep pace with the demands and pressures of modern life. In the following years, Adult Learners' Week continued and expanded internationally.


National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE)

Prepared by Lianne Leduc (OISE/UT) Summer 2000

Citation: Leduc, Lianne (2000). 1992: First Adult Learners' Week is Held in U.K. In Daniel Schugurensky (Ed.), History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century [online]. Available:  (date accessed).

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