Keeping the ACE flag flying: lessons from the history of adult and community education in Aotearoa New Zealand
Adult and Community Education (ACE) policy and practice in Aotearoa have unfolded in the context of domestic and global historical, political and cultural developments (Tobias 1994, 2004). We begin this paper with a brief overview of that history, insofar as it is relevant to ACE’s development. We examine changes in the fortunes of ACE from the idealism and reforms of the seventies, the setbacks and struggles of the eighties and nineties, to the fragile optimism of the past decade. We describe current threats to ACE from a government unsympathetic to the broader aims of adult education, a climate of financial restraint and the persistent dominance of neoliberal ideology. Finally we highlight lessons from the history of ACE which can help practitioners and academics steer a way forward in difficult times.
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