The barrier of 'social Darwinism'

May 23, 1997

"IF AT first you don't succeed, you don't succeed." This is the stark message of a report published this week by the national adult learning organisation NIACE, the organisers of this week's adult learners' week.

The report, The Learning Divide, demonstrates the unacceptable "social Darwinism" of the education system, according to NIACE director Alan Tuckett. And it highlights the biggest issue facing a new Government which has sold itself to the electorate on its commitment to "lifelong learning", he said.

NIACE's survey, compiled with Gallup, found that more than a third of adults have done no learning since they left school. And eight out of ten say they do not expect to take up learning in the future. Twice as many white collar workers are active adult learners, compared to skilled manual workers. And the gap, the report says, is widening.

"If you're middle class and had a good education the first time around and enjoyed it, you're likely to go back and do a lot more as an adult," said Mr Tuckett. "But more than a third of people have never had education and training, and 81 per cent of them do not see themselves as doing anything in the future."

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