Learning Society

South Waikato Lifelong Learning Group > Lifelong Learning > Learning Society

The Benefits of a Learning Society

A Learning Society brings with it significant economic and social benefits.

  • If there are more entrepreneurial businesses in town then there is more employment, more money changes hands and more opportunities arise.
  • If the community is better educated and better skilled, then they can demand better pay rates, raising the economic viability of each family, which in turn means raising the economic viability of the town.
  • If the community are more involved with each other, more supportive of each other, and contribute more to the community, the social benefits are enormous. 
  • If the community is busy and active, then productivity is raised. 

Outcomes of a Learning Society have included a reduction in crime, in graffiti, and other anti-social behaviour, because of a rise in the community’s aspirations and esteem. The community becomes more caring; there has been increased learning opportunities, business opportunities and in personal achievement. 

Why develop the Learning Society Concept 

The Learning Society Concept is a response to the challenges posed by 21st century changes, including. 

  • Economic changes
  • Social changes
  • Technological changes

In a Learning Society, agencies and providers should no longer compete with each other but should ensure the best opportunities are delivered to potential learners.

It provides a more cohesive and connected pathway, designed for the benefit of the learner by:

  • providing opportunities and how to access them 
  • providing co-ordination between them

Sample Learnig Society Charter

This sample City Charter, which could be used at a public declaration of becoming a “Learning Society”, offers some valuable and constructive objectives in meeting the requirements of a Learning Society.

1. Developing productive partnerships between all sectors of the city for optimising and sharing resource and increasing learning opportunities for all.
2. Discovering the learning requirements of every citizen for personal growth, career development and family well-being.
3. Energising learning providers to supply learning geared to the needs of each learner where, when, how and by whom it it required - lifelong.
4. Stimulating demand for learning through innovative information strategies, promotional events and the effective use of the media.
5. Supporting the supply of learning by providing modern learning guidance services and enabling the effective use of new learning technologies.
6. Motivating all citizens to contribute their talents, skills, knowledge and energy for environmental care, community organisations, schools and other people.
7. Promoting wealth creation through entrepreneur development and assistance for public and private sector organisations to become learning organisations.
8. Activating outward-looking programmes to enable citizens to learn from others in their own, and the global, community.
9. Combating exclusion by creative programmes to involve the excluded in learning and the life of the city
10. Recognising the pleasure of learning through events to celebrate and reward learning achievement in organisations, families and individuals.

Practical Considerations

Once the Charter is announced, progress depends on several factors, including:

  • Do you have premises available or need to procure some, or refit some?
  • Do you intend to employ the Director of the Learning Shop full time or part time to begin with?
  • Can you use part of your civic functions budget for festivals, conferences, and other public meetings?
  • Do you have office furniture, computer and other technological equipment readily available?
  • How quickly you want to implement the project?

Initially, very little cost is concerned. From an existing building, rooms could be provided; there are the ongoing costs of power, telecommunications, cleaning, depreciation and so on. However, if council already owns the building, these costs are already budgeted for.

Costs of stationary, photocopying, postage etc would also need to be met while establishing partnerships, gaining sponsorship, promoting festivals and conferences (both of which are user pays for those promoting their programmes, and for conference guests but free to the members of the community). 

Many of these costs can be mitigated if the costs of conference material and information booklets could be recouped by conference fees and advertising, for example.

The biggest cost would be staffing. A Director is an absolutely essential appointment, but maybe someone could be temporarily transferred from other duties, or employed only on a part-time basis. However, should your council wish to take immediate and proactive action, then initial costs of implementation would be higher, with the employment of an Education Officer to communicate with learning providers, and/or a Community Liaison Officer to communicate with community groups, and/or general office staff.

There does not have to be a increase in rates to develop a Learning Society.

Implementation can also be achieved through reassessing the objectives, performance measures and targets of existing budgets, such as:

  • Democracy and the community
  • Economic Development
  • Community Services

See Also:

South Waikato Lifelong Learning Group

South Waikato Lifelong Learning group

Skills Gap Project
Group Members

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