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Celebrating adult learning

The Festival of Adult Learning Ahurei Ākonga was celebrated with a day focused on showcasing local learning through performance.

Organised by Wairarapa’s Rural Education Activities Programme [Reap], the day featured performances from local groups, interactive displays, and informative sessions about adult learning opportunities.

Community team leader Tracy Graham said the festival was “really about celebrating and highlighting adult learning opportunities”.

Adult learning opportunities through REAP are highly flexible with something for everyone, she said.

If there’s not something already offered that fits the bill, Reap is open to ideas – “and if that doesn’t fit with one strand of funding, we’ll find a way to run that with a different strand”, Graham said.

Reap kaitakawaenga [facilitator] Makuini Kerehi said she hoped event days like the festival would show people the many opportunities available to them for adult learning and encourage people to join.

“Celebrate with us, celebrate the learning that’s going on in our community.”

The week-long festival ran from September 4–10 and aimed to highlight the crucial role of adult and community education in “fostering personal and societal growth” while focusing on lifelong learning.

“Our commitment to the community is rooted in the belief that adult and community education should be accessible to all, and that learning should never stop,” ACE sector capability manager Tai Samaeli said.

“Together, we can make a positive impact and build a resilient and empowered society,” he said.

The Festival of Adult Learning has been celebrated in Aotearoa New Zealand since 1998, when the Adult and Community Education Association of Aotearoa New Zealand [Acea] and the National Resource Centre for Adult Learning and Community Education [NRC] collaborated to organise events for the week.

The inspiration for the New Zealand festival came from a Congressional Breakfast organised for adult learners by the American Association for the Advancement of Education [AAAE] in the late 1980s.

Over 40 countries now celebrate the festival every year.

The UNESCO initiative also includes International Literacy Day, which falls on September 8. The week promotes learning “as a pathway to wellbeing and self-determination”.

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