Barriers to Learning

South Waikato Lifelong Learning Group > Lifelong Learning > Learning Barriers

Research Findings

As defined in the "Towards a European Learning Society" report by Professor Norman Longworth of Napier University in Scotland, the four highest ranking barriers to learning were:

  • Low aspiration - perception of learning as not important enough
  • Low self-esteem - learning is for others not for the likes of me
  • Poor family culture of learning
  • Bad childhood experience of learning 

The four lowest ranking barriers to learning were:

  • Distance from educational provision for large numbers of people
  • Lack of local creche provision for parents
  • Lack of facilities for the disabled
  • Perception that the benefits system discourages learning.

Because the most significant barriers were low aspiration and low self-esteem teamed with a poor family culture of learning the culture of Lifelong Learning must be developed over time. 

Lifelong Learning must give people confidence to try something out, learning something of importance to them, and then allows them to move onwards and upwards as they find success leads to more success.

Conclusions arising from the research

  • It is vital to remove the barriers that prevent people from accessing or taking up learning.
  • Resulting outcomes must have measurable economic and social benefits to the community - if you cannot measure it you cannot manage it. 
  • Potential learners need to be advised properly and sent to appropriate courses that meet their particular needs, skills or interests, rather than just being sent on any established ‘agency’ courses, such as JobTrack and TOPS, regardless of the content.

See Also:


South Waikato Lifelong Learning Group

South Waikato Lifelong Learning group


Skills Gap Project
Group Members




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