Context of Community Education
In communities which experience disadvantage, low educational attainment and unemployment is generational. Thus Community Education Centres nationally work to address this deficit in order to break the cycle that leads to social exclusion and which can impact positively on future generations
Definition of Community Education
Community Education differs from mainstream adult education in so far as it is normally placed outside any recognised educational institution.
Its aim is:
- the nurturing of self-directed empowered adults who will see themselves as proactive initiating individuals engaged in continuous re-creation of their personal relationships, work and society (Brookfield 1985, p.49).
Community Education is first about freeing the learner from what impedes his/her development and secondly the facilitation of this development. Thus Community Education incorporates through its methodologies ‘educare’ – to skill and ‘educere’ to draw out. “It is only when we adopt a holistic approach to our educative endeavours that we will be able to acknowledge the ‘educere’ element” (Fraser 1995, p.61).
Community Education as Process
Community Education attempts to use all its resources to develop local people to their full potential.
- Process as Procedure: This relates to achieving a specific goal within a limited time with an emphasis on public inquiry and community forums.
- . Process as Community Problem-Solving: The emphasis is on assisting either individuals or groups to identify problems and to develop phases in problem solving.
- . Process as Community Power: This focuses on community action against unacceptable social issues.
- . Process as Psychological & Social Development: This centres on personal development in order to assist people to be fully participant.
The Central Function of the Community Education Network of Crosscare (CENC):
The Principles underlying the CENC approach:
The underlying principles of the CENC are:
These four principles are the foundations on which the practice of Community Education is built. Through commitment to these principles, Community Education groups contribute to the achievement of the goals of Celebration, Empowerment, Leadership and Equality.
The CENC’s relationship with its members replicates the methodology provided within each centre. Since the person with the responsibility of educating and leading must, in turn, be living out of the principles of Community Education, it is only fitting that what CENC offers its members is deeply rooted in these same principles.
This is achieved through:
- The process of dialogue as an existential necessity
- The importance of involvement emanating from this dialogue
- The process of facilitating the coordinator to develop intrapersonally in order see that choices are generated from within and not from without.
- Naming what is the most creative motivational areas to develop in the work place.
- Developing realistic, achievable goals to make the Action Plans a reality.
- Developing higher order capabilities in Balanced Judgement, Wisdom, Political Acumen and Intuition essential for Community Education providers
Measurement of Success
- Through statistical analysis gathered from each of the groups in relation to basic education, further education, training and employment
- Evaluation of Personal Development Courses. The premise being that intrapersonal development mirrors the process of adult education methodology in terms of perspective transformation, critical reflection and affirmative action.
- Using Action Research as a tool for evaluating inter-networking activities and its impact on participants.
There are a broad range of agencies which support Community Education. The CEP recognises the importance of linking in to these agencies from a local, regional, national and European perspective to support collaborative work, shared information and expertise.
- The CENC takes a three prong approach to its members: Personal Support, Peer Support and Professional Support. In so doing, members of the network are affirmed, their work validated, their successes measured and celebrated.
- By being associated with Crosscare as a whole with its overarching principles of Respect, Human Rights, Integrity and Excellence empowers coordinators to continue to support their participants through which social change can occur.
- With the CENC hands-on support to coordinators and to Community Education, the Community Education Programme fulfils the social remit of Crosscare as it:
- Respects & promotes human rights & potential of all people
- Where social justice is the key drive of public policy & social change
- Where high quality social support services are universally available to those who need them.
Implications for Practice
These processes provide a framework through which Community Education is exercised. The key themes assert:
a. No education is neutral – if those who experience disadvantage in our society are to live in the fullness of their human dignity then their education must not be one of passivity but of liberation.
b. Relevance – when the subject matter is of direct concern or interest to the participant then learning occurs. “The only learning that influences behaviour is self-discovered, self-appropriated learning” (Rogers:1969)
c. Problem-solving – assisting participants to recognise those areas of their lives which they would like to change and to seek way of changing them.
d. Dialogue – facilitates participants to be brought to an awareness of the meanings or assumptions which they had previously held and which have impeded educational attainment.
e. A dialogical relationship between educator and participant - creates the freedom to design and implement curriculum activities in a participant-centred manner and enhances participants’ valuing of their own experiences while developing self-reliance. The relationship between education and participant shifts from one of authority-dependency to one of co-intentionality leading to independence.
f. Praxis – Reflection & Action – Community Education endeavours to help participants discover their potential and ability to act effectively with a view to improving the quality of their own lives and the community in which they live.
g. Transformation – Community Education is an organised effort to help the learner challenge presuppositions, explore alternative perspectives, and transform old ways of understanding and initiate actions informed by a raised consciousness. It involves transformation at the personal, the community and societal levels.
h. Self-directedness in Learning - By using their lifelong experience in Community Education, participants build their own progression routes in education, training or employment. “Their readiness to learn becomes oriented increasingly to the developmental tasks of their social roles” (Knowles: 1980) Thus their renewed educational experience has an individual dimension and is connected to a very social event.
Members of the Community Education Network of Crosscare (CENC)
Each member group of the CENC has the following central aims underpinning and informing work.
· To promote social and economic inclusion for their local people through education and training.
· To identify the developmental/training needs of individuals/groups in the community and to respond appropriately to these needs.
· To establish suitably accredited programmes for personal and community development ranging from “Step 1” courses to community leadership coupled with capacity building programmes
· To provide opportunities for local people to become leaders in their own community
· To be actively involved in the support of other community projects
· To actively encourage course participants to take their place as citizens in our society through the provision of Active Citizenship education
The progression routes resulting from Community Education have been a return to employment, further training or further education. While those who have remained ‘industrially’ unemployed, have nonetheless used their talents within their own communities.