Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Adult learning accessible in Pincher Creek

Annie Steward and Monica Sczyrba-Davis

“I’ve never received so much information to help move me forward in such a short amount of time! I have my transcript, know what courses to take and can take some of them online,” said a young mother after using the learner services help she received from Annie Steward at Pincher Creek Community Adult Learning Program.

This student is an example of the impact education can make in an adult learner’s life. Returning to learning as an adult is often a challenge. Many adult learners must juggle family life, work, finance, and other demands. Accessing support for learning in their own community can make these demands a little easier. The Adult Learning Programs know this, and strive to help adults starting on their learning pathway by providing them supports needed to succeed, no matter what their goals. “As first point of access for learners, the community-based learning system has the crucial role of providing a non-threatening, flexible learning environment, and raising awareness and creating a culture of learning in communities”, states the 2015 Community Adult Learning Program Guidelines.

The new provincial guidelines for community adult learning programs reflect a strong focus on supporting adult learners. According to the new provincial guidelines for community adult programming, grant funding will be directed toward supporting adult learners reach learning goals in their own community. Pincher Creek Community Adult Learning Program is part of a pilot project exploring ways to help adult learners reach their learning goals and stay in their own community.

The project involves five community adult learning programs (CALPS); Pincher Creek Community Adult Learning Council, County of Lethbridge Community Adult Learning Association, Taber and District Community Adult Learning Association, Newell County Adult Learning Association, and Big Country Community Adult Learning Association in Southern Alberta as well as Lethbridge and Medicine Hat Colleges. This spring, the program carried out an in-depth needs assessment to determine the priority programming and service actions for fall. Based on the results, the Community Adult Learning Program will offer services such as the following:
  • Post-secondary connections: Provide information such as costs, funding, and learning strategies. Help with application and registration process
  • Mentor adult learners
  • Provide a warm and comfortable space for learning, 
  • Help learners build supportive community connections 
  • Refer learners to other community and employment services and supports
  • Give access to and help with basic technology
  • Help newcomers with citizenship and immigration, and supports for adapting to life in Canada 
After the fall pilot, recommendations for future services will be developed. The results will be used to create a template or model for other provincial CALPS to follow as they move forward and adjust to the new mandate. Monica Sczyrba-Davis, Coordinator for Pincher Creek Adult Learning commented  “This Pilot Project offers support for a growing gap in our community, we see 3-4 new faces every day that are looking for help with the next steps on their Learning Journey; the Lethbridge College signage is helping create awareness for our extended services at 732 Kettles Street”.

Jane Brenner, Executive Director of Taber and District Adult Learning Association, and Leah Wack, Manager of Regional Stewardship at Lethbridge College were the driving force behind the pilot project.

Leah Wack sees the project as a chance to enhance college relationships with rural communities.

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